The Eternal Giv'er: Cody Deaner
John Cena, arguably the face of professional wrestling in North America, firmly holds the record for Most wishes granted by a single individual for the Make A Wish Foundation at over 500. To read and hear about the flag bearer for my favourite sport (that's another article for another time) being so generous fills me pride. And yet, it gives me an even warmer feeling to see such generosity and kindness at the local level, exemplified by Port Bruce, Ontario native Chris Grey aka Cody “Giv’er” Deaner. When I arrived at the London Music Hall, site for Toronto-based SMASH Wrestling’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” event a few hours before showtime,I sat down and took a look around. The night’s performers arrived, one by one, each carrying their own stacks of t-shirts and merchandise, giving out hugs and hellos to familiar faces. That's when I noticed Deaner setting up his table with his clothing wares, his ginger beard and mullet giving him away. But what stuck out to me wasn't the dDT shirts he was putting on display, but the one he was wearing, which read “Stop Bullying.” Knowing he's a substitute teacher in his spare time, it didn't surprise me he'd support such a cause, but the fact he was sporting it at a wrestling event, an event he was performing in, just told me all I needed to know about the character of Cody Del, you'll thank me later).” Deaner wore his persona with pride, and in the night’s main event would be echoed by his actions.
In the final match of the evening, Deaner and fellow London wrestling product Tyson “the Wrestling Machine” Dux took on the villain tag team, the Super Smash Bros., consisting of the mammoth masked luchador Evil Uno and the Spartan-esque Stu Grayson. It was a fast paced but lengthy affair with plenty of crowd pleasing spots, but the crowd seemed already pleased with the simple fact Deaner and Dux, local wrestling heroes, were about to hit the stage. Two kids sitting behind me, at least one clad in a dDt t-shirt, took their folding chairs and moved them to the front row, the audience more than willing to accommodate the youngsters. About midway through the match, Deaner is by our section, clasping one of the Smash Bros. in a a headlock. One of the kids holds up his hand for a high five and Deaner reciprocates with a big bearded grin, and then goes back to punching the opponent. I'll never forget that look of mutual happiness, the child getting to interact with his hero, and the hero looking back to when he was a kid, hoping to touch the arm of his favorites, like Jake the Snake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat.
The match over (Deaner and Dux won hitting double DDTs, with referee Jay Smith counting the pinfall) the London duo cut a promo about how great the Canadian independent wrestling scene is, how proud to they are to be a part of it, and how proud they will be to represent Canada when Smash’s finest return to the London Music Hall on July 14 to take on the best wrestlers from Philadelphia’s infamous Combat Zone Wrestling promotion. Deaner then led the crowd in a thunderous This is Smash chant to end the night.
After the show was finished, with most of the crowd headed home, the ring being taking down and packed up for the ride back to Toronto, I waited by the back entrance to conduct interviews. Deaner came up and said let’s get started. Nervous, I pulled the studio tape recorder out of my pocket and turned it on. Or at least I tried. Apparently, my tight jeans had turned the recorder on during the night, completely draining the battery. I started apologizing, but he quickly said no worries that's life and made arrangements, out of no obligation to me or the station, to call into the studio so we could conduct the interview at a later date. I thought I had blown my first opportunity at being a wrestling journalist but Deaner was not going to let me return empty handed, if for no other reason than an act of kindness. From one wrestling fan to another, I just want to say thank you whole heartedly to Cody Deaner for living his gimmick to the fullest, and helping me on my inaugural ringside assignment.