Empire State Wrestling presents Brawlfest 2019
From: North Tonawanda, NY
Opening Contest: Bill Collier vs. Josh Briggs: They shove each other to start the match after a stare down. They lockup, but neither man gets a clear advantage and break apart. Collier is backed into a corner by Briggs, and Briggs cleanly backs off. Collier backs Briggs into a corner and delivers several shoulder rams. Collier uppercuts Briggs a couple of times in the corner. Collier sends Briggs into the corner and tries for a press slam, but Briggs slams breaks free. Collier dropkicks Briggs to the floor. Collier tries for a dive, but Briggs nails Collier with a strike from the floor. Briggs knee lifts Collier and delivers a side slam followed by a splash for a two count. Briggs stomps on Collier and taunts the crowd as Collier kicks out at two. Briggs nails Collier with a big boot to the face and stomps Collier on the ropes. Briggs elbows Collier in the corner and connects with a running boot. Briggs tries for a cover, but Collier kicks out at two. Briggs clubs Collier on the mat several times. Briggs clubs Collier over the back. Collier shoves Briggs away and is met with a forearm strike. Collier kicks Briggs out of the corner followed by a forearm. Briggs misses a clothesline and collides with Collier on a crossbody attempt.
They both struggle to their feet where Collier decks Briggs with clotheslines and a fallaway slam. Collier kips up and misses a splash. Collier spears Briggs for a near fall. Collier misses a strike and Briggs delivers a gut buster. Briggs nails Collier with a big boot and nearly wins the match. Briggs signals for a choke slam, but Collier breaks free and super kicks Briggs. Briggs delivers a swinging backbreaker for a two count. Briggs tries for a powerbomb, but Collier rams Briggs into the corner. Collier headbutts Briggs, but is met with a boot. Collier superkicks Briggs on the top rope. Collier hits a sit out Death Valley Driver for a near fall. Briggs gets out of a slam and tries for a choke slam, but Collier breaks free to deliver a knockout punch and a another sit out Death Valley Driver for the win. (**1/4. I don’t know why, but Briggs doesn’t connect with me at all. Collier comes across as if he’s a star and I enjoy his stuff quite a bit. I’m glad that Collier won and I’d be interested to see Collier in higher profiled matches.)
We see footage from Sky Is The Limit where Anthony Gaines was beaten down by Chris Cooper with a chair. Cooper made his return to ESW.
Anthony Gaines cuts a promo and calls his opponents ass clowns. Gaines thanks his partners for having his back. Gaines focuses on Caesar for bringing in two guys that didn’t matter to the crowd anymore. Gaines pokes fun at one of them carrying Dalton Castle’s bags for five bucks. Gaines brings out his own blast from the past and it’s Jonny Puma.
Second Contest: Anthony Gaines, James Sayga & Vince Valor vs. Caesar, Chris Cooper & Will Calrissian: Sayga and Cooper kickoff the six man tag match. They start off doing a test of strength. Sayga powers Cooper down for a moment, but Cooper counters to get control. Sayga picks Cooper up, but Cooper fights free with headbutts and an uppercut. Cooper catches Sayga looking for a slam, but Sayga breaks free and chops Cooper a few times. Sayga catches Cooper on a crossbody to deliver an atomic drop and a heel kick off the ropes for a two count. Valor enters the match and hits a back suplex on Cooper for a two count. Cooper forearms Valor on the mat and continues with uppercuts. Caesar tags in, but Valor hits a double clothesline. Valor hammers away on Caesar in the corner followed by a headbutt. Valor tags in Sayga, but Caesar tags out and Gaines tags in. Gaines goes after Will with strikes, but misses a spin kick. Will nails Gaines with a throat thrust. Gaines tackles Will and pummels Will with right hands on the mat. Gaines kicks Will on the side of the head and tags in Sayga. Sayga helps Gaines with an assisted senton and hits an elbow drop. Sayga chops Will a few times, but Caesar knee lifts Sayga from the apron. Cooper clotheslines Sayga from the apron. Will sends Sayga to the apron to hit an elevated swinging neck breaker for a two count.
Cooper tags back into the match when Will clotheslines Sayga in the corner and Cooper follows up with a splash. Cooper drives Sayga down with a neckbreaker for a two count. Cooper keeps a front face lock on Sayga. Cooper clubs Sayga over the back with a few strikes followed by a back suplex. Will enters the match and uppercuts Sayga to the mat. Caesar enters the match and stomps Sayga on the mat. Will sneaks a tag and decks Sayga a few times. Will blocks a strike and tries for a backslide, but settles for a knee strike. Cooper tags into the match and Sayga continues to be triple teamed in the corner. Cooper decks Gaines off the apron. Sayga knocks Cooper down with a clothesline, but is sent back into the corner where the heels keep control. Sayga fights out of the corner, but Caesar gets on Sayga with a sleeper. Sayga breaks free by knocking Caesar and Cooper down. Gaines is ready for the tag and finally gets the hot tag. Gaines cleans house with clotheslines and strikes. Gaines chops Caesar in the corner and springboard elbow strikes Will in the corner. Gaines hits a neck breaker on Will to have him also DDT his own partner. Puma grabs Caesar on the floor and Gaines takes them both out with a moonsault to the floor! The referee is out, too. Caesar tries to escape Gaines, but the lights go out again. There is some music playing and when the lights come back on it is… Kevin Grace. Grace dances a bit and superkicks Gaines. Grace puts Caesar on top of Gaines and the referee is rolled back into the ring where Caesar pins Gaines for the win. After the match, Puma makes the save with a chair swinging it around to scare everyone from the ring. Puma has a chair and it’s gotta be a heel turn. Puma asks what they are thinking because they are looked up to. Puma puts over the present and future of ESW. Puma says this is their empire and turns on Gaines driving him down onto a chair. I had a feeling from the jump that Puma was bad news. (**. It’s a fine segment for an angle advancement. Gaines is getting a lot of babyface heat with all these guys turning on him or just getting the better of him. I thought Gaines did a good job on his heat segment to bring energy to the match. For a match involving all local guys, it wasn’t bad to get through and I can see how these guys are probably more enjoyable in singles or regular tag matches where they can shine better.)
Third Contest: Puf vs. Atticus Cogar: Cogar attacks before the bell delivering a kick while Puf is on the floor and hits a slingshot strike to the floor. Cogar continues with strikes on the floor. Cogar wants Puf to die, but Puf responds with a right hand strike. Puf dances on the apron, but is met with a dropkick by Cogar and a springboard moonsault to the back of Puf’s head for a near fall as the match officially begins. Cogar kicks Puf in the midsection followed by another boot strike. Puf catches Cogar leaping off the middle rope and does an airplane spin two times before letting Cogar down and they both regroup from being dizzy. Puf splashes Cogar in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. Cogar avoids Puf and hits a running dropkick to knock Puf off his feet for a near fall. Cogar taunts Puf and attempts a clothesline, but Puf doesn’t go down. Cogar decks Puf a second time, but Puf doesn’t budge. Puf hits a tilt a while slam taking Cogar down to the mat. Puf hits a leaping crossbody. Puf grabs Cogar, but Cogar elbows free and low blows Puf while the referee is out of position. Cogar hits a DDT for the win. (*. There was nothing here to care about and it felt like a cool down match despite it not coming after a match that propped the crowd to a peak by any means.)
Fourth Contest: Dakoda Orion & Ryze vs. Handcrafted (RJ City & Gregory Iron): City and Iron go on the attack before the bell and send Orion and Ryze to the floor. They proceed to pose for the crowd. Orion and Ryze return to the ring to tackle City and Iron. City and Orion start the match with City delivering a boot to the face. Iron tags into the match and rakes Orion’s back to keep control, but Orion responds with chops. Iron hits a cutter and a standing senton for a two count. City tags into the match and throat thrusts Orion. Orion tries for a rollup, but City holds onto the ropes. Ryze hits a top rope missile dropkick. Ryze hammers away on City, but Iron drops Ryze over the top rope throat first. City clotheslines Ryze followed by a clothesline. City spits at Orion and Iron tags into the match to choke Ryze on the mat. Iron kicks the middle rope and gets a two count on Ryze. City returns to the match and they don’t know what double team move they want to do. They talk out their ideas and Ryze nails them with a double Pele kick. Orion tags in and cleans house with dropkicks. Orion hits a standing moonsault on both men for a two count. Iron heads to the top rope as City grabs Orion. Ryze comes in and makes the save by hitting Iron with a knee strike. Orion gets a rollup on City and wins the match. (*1/2. I was not expecting that finish whatsoever. What surprised me even more was how impressed I was by Orion and Ryze. I’d like to see more of them.) After the match, City tells Iron they have lost three times and wonders if that means they have to feud. Iron agrees that they would have to in pro wrestling logic. City asks Iron which one of them should turn on the other. Iron suggests City turn on Iron because he’d get more sympathy. City says he doesn’t like how Iron trims his beard. Iron responds by saying he doesn’t like how City styles his hair, which shocks City. City shoves Iron softly, but the crowd eats it up. This is honestly hilarious. They hug for their feud and City holds the ropes for Iron. They have agreed to feud and leave the ring together. This is comedy done right.
Fifth Contest: Kevin Bennett vs. Anthony Greene: They shake hands before the match starts. Bennett shoulder blocks Greene and hits an arm drag. Greene backs off into the corner to regroup. Greene shoulder blocks Bennett followed by a hurricanrana. Greene puts a full nelson on Bennett, but Bennett breaks free and dropkicks Greene into the corner. Greene cheap shots Bennett on a handshake with a boot to the midsection. Greene punches Bennett in the corner, but runs into an elbow and neckbreaker by Bennett. Bennett hits a standing moonsault for a near fall. Bennett clotheslines Greene over the top to the floor. Bennett kicks Greene from the apron and misses a moonsault. Greene nails Bennett with a superkick on the floor. Greene slams Bennett on the floor. Greene stomps on Bennett’s hand on the apron. Greene decks Bennett on the apron with a right hand. Greene goes for a cover, but Bennett kicks out. Greene rams Bennett into the corner and delivers a chop to drop Bennett to his knees. Bennett comes off the ropes and is met with a heel kick leading to a near fall. Greene splashes over Bennett’s head on the middle rope and delivers a right hand strike.
Greene argues with the referee before putting a headlock on Bennett. Bennett breaks free with a jawbreaker, but Bennett hits a hurricanrana out of the corner. Bennett forearms Greene several times followed by a slam. Bennett is stopped by a left hand by Greene. Bennett pulls Greene down and delivers a slingshot stomp from the apron. Bennett hits a remix splash off the ropes for a two count. Greene rams Bennett into the corner, but is met with a boot to the face. Bennett avoids a superkick by Greene and hits a DDT for a two count. Greene sends Bennett to the apron, but Bennett tries for a slingshot only to be met with a cutter. Greene boots Bennett and hits a modified slam for a near fall. Bennett boots Greene, but Greene hits a boot and a back suplex. Bennett almost wins with a quick rollup. Bennett leaps off the top to hit a cutter for a near fall. Bennett quickly hits a twisting suplex for the win. (***. A solid match by these two with Greene doing a good job in his ESW debut. I probably would have just ended the match after the top rope cutter since that was a far more impressive finisher.)
Sixth Contest: Mark Sterling vs. Jerk Cockins vs. Sebastian Braun vs. Vinnie Moon: Cockins taunts all three opponents, but is met with a big boot from Braun. Sterling shoves Moon into a big boot by Braun. Braun grabs Sterling and delivers a scoop slam. Braun taunts the crowd and Moon hits a springboard head scissors to send Braun to the floor. Moon takes Braun out with a suicide dive to the floor. Cockins decks Moon with a right hand on the floor. Cockins continues to work over Moon with chops in the corner. Cockins misses a splash in the corner and Moon hits a crossbody followed by right hands. Moon arm drags Cockins across the ring. Sterling decks Moon from behind a few times. Sterling tosses Cockins and Moon down to the mat and taunts the crowd. Braun returns to the ring and Sterling delivers a few strikes before taking Braun down to the mat. Braun gets up and plants Sterling with a swinging slam. Braun continues with clotheslines and elbow strikes. Cockins splashes Moon in the corner and Braun does the same to Moon. Braun dropkicks Cockins followed by a spear for a two count as Sterling breaks the pin. Sterling axe handles Braun several times and goes for a suplex. Moon rolls into the ring to help Sterling. Cockins provides help as they hit a three person suplex on Braun. Cockins sends moon to the floor and almost pins Sterling with a rollup. Cockins elbows Sterling, but Sterling responds with blows. Moon returns to hit a springboard double elbow strike to both men. Moon hits a jumping flatliner to pin Sterling. (*1/2. As per usual, these kinds of matches are just filler. Moon seems to be the most over guy out of the bunch.)
Prior to the next match, MJF puts down the Buffalo crowd saying he’s better than everyone in Buffalo and better than Frankie Feathers in every aspect. MJF brags about the contract he just signed with AEW. MJF is going to prove he’s a better dancer than Feathers, too. MJF proceeds to dance and then clotheslines Feathers during his attempted dance sequence.
Seventh Contest: ESW Interstate Champion Frankie Feathers vs. MJF: MJF stomps Feathers and does a mock dance. MJF delivers a knee strike to the upper back of Feathers and continues to taunt Feathers. MJF yanks Feathers down to the mat by his head. MJF continues to taunt the fans. MJF stomps on Feathers hand and pummels Feathers with right hands in the corner. MJF misses a right hand and Feathers pulls MJF down onto the turnbuckle face first. Feathers responds with several punches, but MJF avoids the tenth. Feathers still ends up decking MJF with a right hand. Feather atomic drops MJF followed by a running boot and plays to the crowd. Feathers attempts a pedigree, but MJF avoids and almost hits the referee. The referee shoves MJF into Feathers and Feathers hits a double under hook piledriver for the win. (*1/2. I’d imagine this was shorter than usual because of MJF impending focus on AEW. Regardless, it was a fine segment and obviously a good win for Feathers.)
Eighth Contest: Kate Carney vs. Davienne: Davienne takes Carney down to the mat at the start of the contest, but doesn’t followup on the advantage. Carney avoids a clothesline and chops Davienne several times. Davienne knee lifts Carney, but misses a splash in the corner. Carney dropkicks Davienne managing a two count. Carney puts a full nelson on Davienne and continues with a jawbreaker. Davienne yanks Carney off the middle rope and Carney hit the back of her head. Davienne baseball slide dropkicks Carney to the floor in the corner. Davienne decks Carney with a clothesline on the floor. Davienne covers Carney for a two count back in the ring. Davienne clubs Carney over the back followed by a forearm to the chest. Davienne chops Carney in the corner, but Carney almost wins with a sunset flip out of the corner. Davienne forearms Carney followed by a forearm to the back. Davienne tosses Carney with a German suplex for a near fall. Davienne pummels Carney on the mat with strikes. Davienne slams Carney to the mat and taunts the crowd. Carney hits a reverse DDT/leg drop combo. Davienne misses a clothesline and Carney hits a side Russian leg sweep. Carney nails Davienne with a clothesline and a leg drop for a near fall. Davienne forearms Carney followed by a fisherman suplex for a near fall. Davienne holds Carney, but Carney counters with a DDT for a near fall. Carney and Davienne trade forearm strikes. Carney fights free and hits a modified backstabber for the win. (**. It was maybe a little clunky in spots and the finisher didn’t seem to have an impactful reaction to the crowd or to myself, honestly. Regardless, I thought it was a fine overall match. I enjoyed the action and there wasn’t a dull spot that went too long or anything. They made the most of the time and delivered a quality outing. I’ve always liked Davienne since I watched some of her stuff in Chaotic.)
Footage from Sky Is The Limit is shown where Daniel Garcia came to the ring to confront ESW Heavyweight Champion Brandon Thurston. Garcia had suffered two broken legs in a car crash two months prior, but ditched his crutches to get in Thurston’s face and the crowd went nuts for it. Garcia claimed that nobody cares about what Thurston has to say after his matches. Garcia tells Thurston that he put ESW on the map. Garcia noted that Thurston had wrestled for 15 years and the event was the only one that sold out. Garcia insulted Thurston for not being the main event. Garcia proclaimed he’s the best wrestler Buffalo has ever seen. Garcia ended up slapping Thurston and Garcia responded with slaps. Garcia ends up being held back. Garcia broke free and posed with the title and left with it as he was escorted out.
Ninth Contest: ESW Heavyweight Champion Brandon Thurston vs. Fred Yehi: They start off with a mat wrestling focus, but neither man gets a lasting control and they have a standoff. Yehi takes Thurston down to the mat and keeps arm control for a moment. Yehi hits a snap suplex for a two count. Yehi backs Thurston into a corner, but cleanly backs away after they countered each other a few times. Yehi wrenches on the arm and takes Thurston down leading to another standoff. Yehi takes Thurston down to the mat and they counter each other again. Thurston avoids a strike by Yehi leading to another standoff. Thurston slaps and chops Yehi a few times to send Yehi to the floor. Yehi slams Thurston to the floor and goes for arm control. Yehi keeps a hammerlock on Thurston, but Thurston hits a Samoan Drop and a splash. Thurston goes back to arm control on Yehi. Yehi slams Thurston to the mat and rams Thurston into the corner. Thurston kicks Yehi in the corner, but Yehi dumps Thurston over the top to the floor. Yehi slams Thurston on the floor and demands a count by the referee. Yehi chops Thurston in the corner and Thurston drops to the mat. Yehi stomps on Thurston’s arm and stomps on Thurston’s left arm. Yehi tosses Thurston by his arm and keeps control. Yehi yanks on Thurston’s arm. Yehi knocks Thurston down with a few slaps, but Thurston refuses to stay down.
Yehi spikes Thurston with a brainbuster for a two count. Yehi chops Thurston to the mat and keeps control with a chin lock. Thurston takes Yehi over with a snap suplex and comes off the ropes, but stopped by Yehi. Thurston delivers a jawbreaker, but Yehi connects with an elbow. Thurston kicks Yehi followed by a forearm strike. Thurston sends Yehi into the corner with a buckle bomb from a Death Valley Driver position. Thurston traps Yehi in a tree of woe, but Yehi up kicks Thurston several times while upside down. Yehi hooks Thurston for a suplex, but Thurston fights free and hits a sunset flip power bomb. Thurston goes for a cover, but Yehi rolls over and chops Thurston followed by a German suplex. Thurston collapses after firing up. Thurston almost pins Yehi with a rollup. Yehi knee strikes Thurston several times and hits a Canadian Destroyer, but Thurston kicks out at two. Yehi double stomps Thurston followed by a dropkick and locks in a submission wrapping his leg around Thurston’s head and having a choke locked in. Thurston breaks free and puts an arm bar on Yehi. Thurston delivers a few strikes, but Yehi counters with a rollup. Thurston kicks Yehi several times and puts a knee bar on Yehi.
Yehi grabs Thurston’s nose to break free from the hold. Thurston hits a cutter for a two count. Thurston nails Yehi with several kicks to the chest. Yehi stomps on Thurston’s foot and connects with a dropkick after a leg sweep. Yehi tries for a slam, but Thurston counters with a rollup and pins Yehi for the win. (***1/2. This exceeded my expectations as I was figuring it would be a slow mat wrestling based bout, and it was more of a countered base match with several hard hitting moments. I thought it was a great defense for Thurston. Thurston retaining was never a doubt considering he’s got a match coming up with Garcia for the title.) After the match, Thurston grabs a microphone and says he’s still standing as champion. Thurston puts over Yehi. Yehi declines to shake Thurston’s match and leaves the ring. Thurston ends up challenging Daniel Garcia for a match on June 29th.
Main Event: Ultimo Dragon, Cheech & Colin Delaney vs. Butcher (Andy Williams) & The Blade (Pepper Parks), and Tyler Bateman: Delaney and Bateman kickoff the main event. Delaney gets wrist control for a moment, but Bateman counters with a wrist lock of his own. Delaney pops out and slaps the hand of Bateman away. Bateman chops Delaney after they avoid each other a few times. Delaney hits a springboard arm drag and gets a one count. Bateman also gets a one count after a leg swap. Bateman goes to his corner to regroup. Cheech tags into the match to try his luck against Butcher. Cheech tries for a clothesline, but bounces off of Butcher. Butcher tries to clothesline Cheech, but they just stagger. Cheech leg sweeps Butcher and hits a slingshot senton. Cheech knee strikes Butcher a couple of times. Cheech signals a tag to Dragon and Dragon does make the tag. Blade tags in to square off against Dragon. Blade gets wrist control on Dragon for a few moments. Blade elbows Dragon on the shoulder several times. Dragon fights out of the wrist lock and arm drags Blade across the ring. Blade staggers into a corner, but remains in the ring. Dragon shoulder blocks Blade, but Blade doesn’t budge. Blade flexes for the crowd after another shoulder block. Dragon ducks under a strike and dropkicks Blade. Dragon ducks a strike and nails Blade with a kick to the head.
Dragon elbows Blade in the corner and so do Delaney and Cheech. Cheech gets a two count on Blade. Cheech shoulder rams Blade into the corner a few times. Blade knee strikes a charging Cheech. Bateman enters the match and decks Cheech with a forearm strike. Bateman continues with an elbow strike to the forehead. Butcher tags in and stomps Cheech several times before choking Cheech. Butcher holds Cheech for a gut wrench suplex and Blade delivers a running dropkick. Blade keeps control on Cheech and tags in Bateman. Bateman eye rakes Cheech on the mat followed by a strike to the head. Cheech fights out of the corner and leaps off Butcher to hit a hurricanana on Bateman. Delaney tags in and cleans house with forearms to all three men. Delaney misses a splash in the corner and Blade delivers a boot. Butcher nails Delaney with a bicycle kick for a two count. Butcher grabs Delaney and allows Blade to choke Delaney in the corner. Dragon tries to get involved, but is stopped by the referee.
Bateman returns to the match and clubs on Delaney several times. Delaney fights back with chops, but Bateman delivers a knee lift. Butcher enters the match and chops Delaney in the corner. Butcher continues to chop Delaney, but Delaney is just getting more fired up. Butcher takes Delaney over with a snap suplex. Butcher sends Delaney into the corner and Delaney crashes to the mat. Delaney is met with a double shoulder block and kicks out at two. Blade keeps Delaney on the mat with a sleeper. Delaney fires back with right hands to the midsection. Blade nails Delaney with a clothesline. Bateman elbow drops Delaney and tags in Butcher. Delaney elbows free from the headlock and kicks Butcher in the corner. Butcher nails Delaney with a leaping punch and a gut buster. Butcher has Delaney in a fireman’s carry before passing Delaney to Bateman for a slam to the mat. Blade hits a gut wrench sit down powerbomb for a two count. Blade tags in Bateman to keep control of the match. Bateman taunts the crowd, but runs into an elbow and kick by Delaney. Delaney hits a tornado DDT out of the corner. Delaney tags in Dragon. Dragon delivers a few kicks to Blade followed by an elbow strike. Butcher tags in, but Dragon takes Butcher and Bateman down with a headlock hurricanrana combo.
Dragon avoids a double clothesline and dragon screw leg whips Butcher to the apron. Blade decks Dragon, but Cheech tags in and forearms Blade several times. Cheech connects with a quick suplex on Blade before going to the top rope. Butcher stops Cheech, but Delaney grabs Butcher on the apron to hit a sliding German suplex and Cheech htis a splash off the top for a two count. Bateman made the save and tosses Cheech with a suplex. Butcher nails Cheech with a leaping shining wizard for a two count. Delaney dumps Butcher to the apron and kicks Blade away. Cheech grabs Butcher on the apron and they hit a DDT/Codebreaker combo on the Butcher and Blade for a two count. Bateman fights off Delaney and Cheech with strikes. Delaney kicks Bateman on the top rope and hits a backpack stunner while Cheech hit a double stomp off the top. Delaney and Cheech take out Butcher and Blade with suicide dives to the floor. Dragon is left in the ring with Bateman and pins Bateman with a rollup. (**1/2. Well, if you’re going into this thinking you’re going to get classic Dragon that ended up not being the case. In fact, Dragon did very little. I thought we’d at least get a dragon sleeper. So, in the end it’s just an appearance of a legend and a match to highlight guys who are in ESW on a more regular basis.) After the match, Dragon does end up putting the dragon sleeper on Blade.
This was an ESW show that I remember wanting to attend live, but ended up not going for whatever reason. In the end, I feel like this is a lackluster overall ESW shows especially when I compare it to other ESW outings I’ve watched. Thurston/Yehi is a great match and they are building towards a highly anticipated match between Thurston and Garcia, so ESW does have something good going on there. Aside from that, this felt like an average overall show that could be leaning towards a thumbs down from me.
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.