Empire State Wrestling presents Brawlfest 2021
From: Buffalo, NY
This is ESW’s first show in seventeen months due to COVID-19.
Opening Contest: Brandon Thurston vs. Nick Ando: Thurston takes Ando down to the mat with a leg lock for a moment until Ando reaches the ropes. Ando returns to get arm control on Thurston. Thurston counters and takes Ando down to the mat. Thurston taunts Ando by slapping Ando on the side of the head. They do a test of strength with Thurston managing to take Ando down to the mat and gets a series of near falls. Ando counters with a body scissors, but Thurston rolls through and puts a surfboard submission on Ando until Cloudy distracts on the apron. Ando tries for a slam, but Thurston counters and is met with a dropkick after Cloudy grabbed Thurston’s foot. Ando misses a dropkick to the floor and Thurston brings the action back into the ring. Cloudy sends Thurston into the ring post face first. Ando keeps control with stomps on the mat. Ando knee lifts Thurston and hits a vertical suplex for a near fall. Ando nails Thurston with a dropkick in the corner. Ando hits a top rope hurricanrana for a near fall. Ando drives Thurston down with another vertical suplex for a two count. Ando tries for an abdominal stretch, but Thurston fights it off. Ando manages to be persistent and locks in the abdominal stretch while getting help from Cloudy with an umbrella. Ando forearms Thurston, but is met with a boot to the face after coming off the ropes. Thurston boots Ando in the corner, but Ando delivers a gut buster and a tilt a whirl backbreaker for a near fall. Ando puts a torture rack on Thurston, but doesn’t get a submission. Thurston doesn’t pass out and fights out with right hands. Thurston gets out of a rollup and locks in an arm bar. Ando doesn’t give in. Thurston tosses Ando with an exploder suplex. Ando blocks a suplex attempt. Thurston sends Ando into Cloudy sending both men to the floor. Thurston avoids a piledriver and they trade rollups with Thurston managing to keep Ando down for the win. (***. An enjoyable opener to the show as they kept a good pace and the action featured plenty of impactful offense. I got a vibe that both men are heels in ESW, which I could be wrong about. This is the first time I’ve viewed ESW, so don’t hold me to that. The crowd is pumped for the show and that certainly helps the viewing experience, as well. I think I need to watch more Thurston matches.)
Second Contest: ESW Interstate Champion Frankie Feathers vs. Jerk Cockins vs. Keenan Moore vs. Jeremiah Richter: Moore and Feathers go after Richter while Cockins faked them out. Richter clotheslines both men and Cockins thanks him, but is met with a clothesline as well. Richter shoves everyone away in the corner and big boots Feathers. Richter slams Cockins to the mat and taunts the crowd. Moore leg sweeps Richter and delivers a kick to the head followed by a knee to the face. Feathers stops Moore with a chop. Moore takes Richter out with a suicide dive to the floor. Feathers elbows Cockins, but Cockins hits a dropkick. Feathers backdrops Cockins as Richter returns to the match. Feathers chops Richter in the corner. Richter misses a splash and Moore delivers a few running strikes. Moore nails Richter with a dropkick and Cockins delivers a dropkick as well. Feathers atomic drops Cockins followed by a big boot. Moore dropkicks Feathers and tries for a suplex, but Feathers fights out looking for a suplex. Moore counters with a rollup for a two count. Feathers hits a swinging neckbreaker on Moore. Richter stomps on Feathers until Cockins comes up from behind with strikes. Cockins hammers away on Richter and Feathers helps beat on Richter. Moore is stopped on the top by Cockins.
They do a Tower of Doom spot with Richter taking everyone out in the corner as Moore hit a double blockbuster on Feathers and Cockins! Moore chops Richter a few times, but Richter decks Moore with a forearm. Richter dumps Moore to the apron, but Moore drops Richter over the top rope throat first and hits a slingshot Codebreaker for a two count. Cockins nails Moore with a running knee strike for a two count. Feathers elbow drops Moore from the top and Cockins plants Feathers with a DDT for a two count as Richter made the save. Cockins knee strikes Richter, but Richter forearms Cockins. Richter drives Cockins down with a swinging side slam, but Feathers makes the save with a kick. Feathers covers Cockins to win the match. (**1/2. There were a few clunky spots towards the end of the match, but it was still an energetic four way. I liked that it wasn’t an elimination match and rather a tornado match. Moore looked pretty good in his debut for ESW. Richter did well as a big man, but towards the end was a little exposed working a faster pace. I’d like to see Richter in a singles match to really see what he’s capable of as a big man.) After the match, Roscoe Black makes his way out and he looks pissed. Everyone bails but Moore, who decides to go after Black and that’s a mistake. Black murders Moore with a lariat. Black powerbombs Moore to leave Moore laying.
Third Contest: Facade vs. Kevin Bennett: Facade takes Bennett down to the mat early on and they have a standoff. Facade arm drags Bennett and they have another standoff. Bennett avoids a springboard moonsault to deliver a kick to Facade. Facade shoves Bennett into the corner and does a handstand to taunt Bennett. Facade kicks Bennett away followed by a forearm in the corner and a springboard dropkick to send Bennett to the floor. Facade fakes a dive and lands on the apron before delivering a kick on the floor followed by a back rake. Facade heads to the top rope and is dropkicked by Bennett to the floor. Facade avoids a dive, but Bennett connects with a moonsault off the apron and a dive over the top onto Facade. Bennett leaps off the top to hit a blockbuster for a near fall. Facade connects with a springboard kick and a springboard bulldog/elbow drop combo causing Bennett to roll to the floor. Facade springboards off the ropes to hit a 450 dive onto Bennett outside the ring. Facade walks the ropes and missile dropkicks Bennett across the ring for a near fall. The fans are chanting for both men.
Bennett forearms Facade followed by a kick to the head and hits a twisting vertical suplex for a two count. Bennett misses a moonsault, but lands on his feet. Facade kicks Bennett several times before heading to the top rope. Facade walks the ropes but misses a coast to coast. Bennett plants Facade with a springboard ace cutter for the win. (***. They delivered on the high flying offense no doubt about that. Facade is impressive with his ability to walk the ropes and execute moves really well. I enjoyed the high risk nature of the match.) After the match, Anthony Gaines comes out to confront Bennett regarding something that happened before the shutdown. Gaines has a microphone, but it doesn’t work. Gaines says he’s good at disappointing his father and has been waiting for over a year to get an answer from Bennett. Gaines wants an answer from Bennett and wants Bennett to ‘untuck his balls’. Bennett asks if the fans remember what Gaines is talking about, and they do. Bennett says that Gaines knows all the things he’s gone through. Bennett reflected on what happened and says he’s changed as a person from over a year ago. Gaines mentions that Bennett was the first person to know that he’s gay and doesn’t want to hear about ‘knowing what I went through.’ Gaines just wants an answer and they’ll go back to being brothers. Bennett jumped Gaines back then, apparently. Gaines is going to give Bennett to the end of the night. Gaines warns Bennett that he knows where he parked and knows where he lives. Gaines walks off and Bennett is left silent in the ring.
Fourth Contest: Vinnie Moon vs. James Sayga: Moon has a waist lock on Sayga, but is backed into the corner and they have a clean break in the opening moments of the contest. Sayga shoulder blocks Moon a couple of times. Moon trips Sayga managing to head scissors Sayga to the floor. Sayga heel kicks Moon to gain control of the contest. Moon fights back with a chop and walks the ropes, but loses his footing. Moon tries for an arm drag, but Sayga lands on his feet to hit a sit out slam for a one count. Sayga chops Moon in the corner followed by a scoop slam and an elbow drop. Sayga shoulder rams Moon several times in the corner to maintain the advantage. Sayga drives Moon down to the mat with a delayed vertical suplex. Moon stops Ayga with a few jawbreakers, but is met with a big boot and Sayga almost wins the match. Sayga chops Moon in the corner, but Moon battles back with chops of his own. Sayga chops Moon again in the corner, but misses a splash. Moon tries for a clothesline, but Sayga doesn’t budge. Moon dropkicks Sayga and hits a springboard back elbow, but Sayga doesn’t go down. Moon plants Sayga with a tornado DDT for a two count. Sayga uppercuts Moon coming off the middle rope. Sayga drives Moon down to the mat gut first for a two count. Moon kicks Sayga away in the corner and manages to hit a top rope crossbody for a two count. Sayga plants Moon with a sit out spinning powerbomb for a near fall. Moon gets a rollup on Sayga to win the match. (*1/2. I wasn’t interested in this match and that’s largely because I’m unfamiliar with both men. That being said, it wasn’t a horrible match, but it just kind of dragged along for me. Moon has some decent charisma and Sayga had a good showing of power moves. I might need to become more familiar with both men.)
Fifth Contest: Jay Freddie vs. Bill Collier: Collier shoves Freddie into the corner and taunts Freddie. Collier arm drags Freddie, but Freddie gets right back to the arm. Collier hammerlocks Freddie, but Freddie counters with a headlock. Collier doesn’t budge on shoulder block attempts. Freddie dropkicks Collier on the knee, but Collier doesn’t go down. Collier drops Freddie with a chop. Freddie dropkicks Collier on the knee to finally drop Collier. Collier press slams Freddie across the ring. Collier misses a boot in the corner and Freddie takes Collier down with a dragon screw leg whip. Freddie dropkicks Collier on the mat and leg whips Collier over the middle rope. Freddie leaps off the top to dropkick Collier’s knee over the middle rope. Freddie locks in a figure four in the middle of the ring. Collier breaks free with a few chops. Freddie dropkicks Collier on the knee and takes Collier down with another dragon screw leg whip. Freddie pulls Collier towards the corner and wraps Collier’s knee around the ring post. Collier tries to get back to his feet and Freddie leaps off the top to hit a missile dropkick for a two count. Collier plants Freddie with a chokeslam! Collier clotheslines Freddie a few times and tosses Freddie with a fallaway slam. Collier kips up and holds his injured right knee. Freddie tries to go on the attack, but Collier side slams Freddie for a near fall.
Collier tries for a swinging slam, but Freddie breaks free and tosses Collier with a release German suplex. Freddie waits in the corner to nail Collier with a shining wizard for a two count. Freddie rams Collier into the corner and sits Collier on the top rope. Collier forearms Freddie off the middle rope, but Freddie comes back with a strike. Freddie stands on the top rope connecting with a superplex! They begin to trade strikes while on their knees. Freddie delivers a series of chops and they collide in the middle of the ring. Collier nails Freddie with a kick to the head, but Freddie comes back with a running knee. Freddie spikes Collier with a DDT for a two count. Collier superkicks a charging Freddie and connects with a spear for a two count. Collier plants Freddie with a swinging flatliner, but Freddie kicks out at two. Freddie counters a punch with a Crossface! Collier doesn’t give in and gets to his feet hitting a sit out Death Valley Driver for a near fall. Freddie forearms Collier several times, but Collier buckle bombs Freddie followed by the knockout punch to win the match. (***1/2. That had plenty of intensity and quality action throughout. I loved the finish as it was conclusive and devastating. They worked very well together and I think this was the first time I’ve seen Collier. I’d like to see more of Collier. Freddie has continued to improve dating back to his 2CW days. Match of the night thus far.)
Sixth Contest: Cloudy vs. Tre Lamar: Cloudy starts the match with a boot to the gut and a side headlock. Lamar shoulder blocks Cloudy and hits a dropkick to gain control of the contest. Lamar drop toe holds Cloudy over the middle rope before hitting a dropkick. Lamar fakes a dive and goes to the apron to kick Cloudy on the outside. Lamar takes both Cloudy and Ando out with a somersault dive on the floor. Lamar connects with a rolling thunder splash for a two count. Lamar uppercuts Cloudy and is pulled down by Ando. Cloudy tries to use the umbrella, but settles for a backstabber and a senton splash for a two count. Cloudy chokes Lamar over the middle rope and taunts the fans. Cloudy delivers a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Lamar gets a rollup on Cloudy for a two count before Cloudy gets a two count after a strike. Cloudy forearms Lamar in the corner and connects with a running double knee strike. Cloudy tries for a cover, but Lamar kicks out at two. Lamar forearms Cloudy a few times and nails Cloudy with a pele kick. Lamar goes to the apron and kicks Cloudy off the middle rope. Lamar hits a top rope clothesline and a running forearm. Lamar chops Cloudy before hitting a hammerlock flatliner. Lamar kicks Ando from the apron and plants Cloudy with a slingshot DDT into the ring for a near fall. Cloudy forearms Lamar followed by a sit out spinebuster for a near fall. Lamar elbows free from Cloudy but is kicked anyway. Lamar plants Cloudy with a twisting suplex before hitting a top rope elbow drop, but Ando pulls the referee out of the ring. Ando is ejected from ringside, as a result. Cloudy has the umbrella and nails Lamar a few times with it. Cloudy goes for the cover, but Lamar kicks out. Cloudy elbows Lamar and manages to win the match with a rollup and handful of tights. (**1/2. I was stunned that Cloudy actually won this match even by cheating. Lamar was the standout performer in the match and I think he’s one of the next indie guys to watch out for as his offense was a lot of fun to watch. I could see these two wrestling again considering the finish. I might have put this on before the Facade/Bennett match as that match had a few more bigger spots and this would have been a good prelude to that encounter.)
Seventh Contest: Sean Carr vs. Vince Valor: Carr tries for a shoulder block at the start, but Valor doesn’t budge. Valor shoulder blocks Carr sending Carr reeling into the corner and complains of a hair pull. Carr tries to get the crowd behind him and apologizes wanting to shake hands with Valor. Valor rejects that offer and Carr delivers a boot to the midsection. Carr works over Valor with strikes in the corner. Valor battles back with right hands of his own and a headbutt. Valor nails Carr with an elbow strike and a back suplex. Valor backdrops Carr sending Carr bailing to the floor to regroup. Carr wants a timeout, but Valor connects with a dive over the top to the floor. Valor headbutts Carr on the floor followed by chops. Valor spits a beer into Carr’s face. Valor decks Carr with a right hand against the railing. Carr superkicks Valor and taunts the crowd. Carr drops Valor over the apron with a suplex. Carr rams Valor into the apron back first followed by a chop. Carr tries for a cover, but Valor kicks out. Carr chokes Valor in the corner and continues to taunt the crowd. Carr dropkicks Valor in the corner and delivers a stomp to the back. Valor battles back with strikes in the corner. Carr atomic drops Valor followed by a chop and a pop up powerbomb for a near fall.
Valor elbows Carr in the corner followed by a boot. Carr kicks Valor on the top turnbuckle to gain the advantage. Valor fights out of a suplex attempt with headbutts. Valor hits a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner. They trade a couple of strikes with neither man going down. Valor clotheslines Carr a few times followed by a hip toss turned into a neckbreaker. Carr elbows free, but Valor hits a roll of the dice for a two count. Valor goes to the top rope missing a frog splash. Carr signals for the end hitting a wheelbarrow facebuster for a near fall. Carr misses a top rope moonsault. Carr misses a superkick, but on a second attempt manages to connect. Valor catches Carr coming off the ropes and spikes Carr with a Death Valley Driver for the clean win. (**1/4. Carr was working an old school heel style, which was refreshing compared to everyone else on the show. Carr seemed to control a good portion of the match and his offense held my interest. Valor is over with the crowd and a loss here doesn’t hurt Carr in my opinion. Carr had some great heel work and crowd interaction, which makes me think that he’ll be able to maintain that kind of reaction moving forward in ESW.)
Eighth Contest: Anthony Gaines vs. Gavin Glass: Glass attacks before the bell because Gaines shoved him aside during his entrance. Glass chops Gaines in the corner, but Gaines doesn’t seem to be bothered by that. Gaines backs Glass into the corner and delivers a chop of his own. Gaines delivers a running chop in the corner followed by a backdrop causing Glass to bail to the floor to regroup. Gaines loses his footing on a moonsault to the floor, but Glass did well in protecting Gaines. That looked dangerous regardless. Gaines pulls up the pads on the floor and misses a chop hitting the post. Glass suplexs Gaines onto the concrete. Glass tries for a cover, but Gaines kicks out at two. Glass drives Gaines down with a swinging neckbreaker. Glass sends Gaines chest first into the corner for a near fall. Glass kicks Gaines a few times on the chest followed by a kick to the back of the head for a near fall. Gaines fires back with strikes and runs into a big boot. Glass misses a double stomp, but kicks Gaines on the middle rope follwoed by a roaring elbow in the corner. Glass nearly wins following a backbreaker out of the corner. Gaines blocks a kick and delivers a clothesline to drop Glass for a two count. Gaines tried for a DDT, but Glass counters with an arm trapped facebuster for a two count. Gaines counters a leg sweep with a kick to the head. Gaines forearms Glass, but Glass spikes Gaines with a Package Piledriver for a two count. Glass goes under the ring and grabs a door. Glass sets the door up in the corner and superkicks Gaines. Glass has Gaines on his shoulders and loses his footing. Glass drops Gaines as some music plays and here comes Roscoe Black. Glass bails to the floor allowing Roscoe to be in the ring with Gaines. Kevin Bennett slides into the ring with a chair and confronts Roscoe. Bennett proceeds to whack Gaines over the head with a chair! The referee throws the match out and Bennett taunts the crowd. (**. A fine match with some decent action. I thought Gaines was going to win, but the aftermath makes the no contest perfectly fine to me. I haven’t seen Gaines wrestle in quite sometime since an Xcite show a few years ago, but I’m glad he put some size on and he came across as a viable badass. I like his no-quit attitude and it’s something that I believe fans can rally behind. As you’ll see in the next paragraph, I think they’ve done a good job reminding people of his issues with Bennett and hyping up the eventual singles match.)
Bennett and Roscoe embrace and pushes Gaines down to the mat. Bennett grabs a microphone and is going to reveal why he attacked Gaines. Bennett notes that he’s wrestled for ten years and he use to be the golden boy of ESW. However, everyone stopped caring about him. Bennett says that he’s the reason why Gaines is even in ESW to begin with. Bennett proclaims he’s the one who is supposed to be viral and gets all the views. Bennett says that Gaines is a backyard loser who is riding his coattails. Bennett can take Gaines out of the business just as he brought Gaines into it. Roscoe tosses Gaines through the door in the corner. I thought they did a fantastic job with the angle between Bennett and Gaines. That’s a match I want to see now. Well done, ESW.
Main Event: To Infinity And Beyond (Cheech & Colin Delaney) vs. InZanely Rude (RJ Rude & Zane Bernardo): Cheech and Rude kickoff the tag match. Cheech gains the advantage with a headlock on the mat. Rude counters with a wrist lock, but Cheech flips out and puts a wrist lock on Rude. Cheech arm drags Rude and a leg sweep for a two count. They have a standoff after failed pin attempts. Delaney comes off the ropes to clothesline Rude on the mat for a two count. Rude manages to tag in Bernardo. Bernardo head scissors Delaney, but Delaney comes back with an arm drag. Bernardo uppercuts Delaney to the apron. Bernardo avoids a baseball slide and Rude hits a springboard moonsault to the floor onto Delaney! Delaney is elbowed to the mat and Rude manages a two count after an assisted moonsault. Bernardo comes off the top with an axe handle to keep control on Delaney. Rude delivers an axe handle, as well. Bernardo atomic drops Delaney and Rude hits a blockbuster off the top for a near fall. Delaney heel kicks Rude to avoid a moonsault off the middle rope. Rude drops Delaney over the top rope. Cheech slingshots Rude into the ring allowing Delaney to hit a DDT for a two count.
Cheech double stomps Rude for a near fall. Cheech shoulder rams Rude in the corner and plays to the crowd. Cheech takes Rude over with a snap suplex followed by a senton for a two count. Cheech forearms Rude and Delaney delivers a running boot after Cheech did one as well. Cheech hits a splash off the top for a two count as Bernardo made the save. Delaney stomps on Rude followed by chops. Delaney forearms Rude several times. Cheech continues with a snap suplex for a near fall. Rude drives Cheech down with a sit out Death Valley Driver. Delaney and Bernardo are tagged in with Bernardo cleaning house. Bernardo takes Delaney over with a head scissors and a running clothesline. Bernardo nearly wins with a sit out spinning powerbomb. Delaney stops Bernardo with a stunner and Rude tags back in. Rude avoids an elbow by Cheech. Rude and Bernardo hit a wheelbarrow facebuster combo for a near fall on Cheech. Cheech walks the ropes and hits a head scissors/arm Drag combo. Cheech dumps Rude to the apron and Bernardo collides with his partner to the floor. Cheech takes both men out with a somersault dive to the outside. Delaney walks the ropes while holding the referees hand and takes everyone out with a somersault dive to the floor!
Delaney manages a two count upon returning to the ring. Rude is double teamed in the ring as Delaney and Cheech hit a double team stunner/German suplex. Delaney continues with a DDT out of the corner for a two count as Bernardo makes the save. Cheech is sent to the floor by Bernardo. Delaney decks Bernardo in the corner and boots Rude. Rude catches Delaney allowing Bernardo to hit a Codebreaker for a near fall. Bernardo elbows Delaney, but is met with a kick. Cheech and Rude tag in with Rude cleaning house with forearm strikes. Rude catapults Bernardo into Delaney to hit a Canadian Destroyer. Rude spikes Cheech with a Package Piledriver for a near fall. Delaney stops Bernardo on the middle rope to save Cheech. Cheech has Bernardo on the top rope as Delaney hits a Codebreaker on Rude. Cheech powerbombs Bernardo over Rude’s back as Delaney held onto Rude and Delaney pins Rude to win the match. It may have been a double pin, but I couldn’t tell. (***1/2. I thought that was a great main event. The opening few minutes felt a little off and that may have been nerves for InZanely Rude, but as the match progressed it seemed like they found their groove together and put forth a great effort. Constant action and some great tag team combos by both men. I really enjoyed this and I hope that InZanely Rude are regulars for ESW moving forward. Cheech and Delaney need to be part of a national company, by the way. They are too good to not be given that kind of exposure.)
This was my first time checking out anything from ESW after probably several years of telling myself I needed to check them out. I must say, I think I’ve been missing out on the best NY based wrestling company aside from 2CW. There was some really good wrestling on the show and there wasn’t anything on here that I thought was negative for the show. There is easily enough quality wrestling on the show to give this an easy recommendation. Plus, they promoted a likely grudge match between Bennett and Gaines extremely well. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to ESW in the future and I’ll be taking the time to watch older shows, as well. The runtime is under three hours, which as a reviewer I greatly appreciate.
This show is available to stream on IWTV.
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.