Cody Deaner returned from ‘Kwaranteen’ to the Impact Wrestling ring on Tuesday, June 9th.
In a surprise appearance, Deaner made the save for his tag team partner, Cousin Jake, and Willie Mack, from a beatdown following their victory over Johnny Swinger and Chris Bey. He even delivered a Deaner DDT to Bey as he cleared the ring.
That felt good. He missed it.
After all, you can always expect Deaner to just giv’er in everything that he does.
That could be wrestling as a featured performer for Impact or continuing to ply his trade on the independent scene. He might even be in a school gymnasium challenging children to dream big.
Deaner could be on the road seven days a week, if he wanted to be. He doesn’t have to be.
His hard work has paid off with a schedule that’s now as full as he wants it to be. During regular times, he can now turn down dates, something he never imagined was possible. That’s his choice as he looks to balance work and family life.
Make no mistake, Deaner still wants to be busy. He was supposed to be on the road for 19 straight days in April. That was his choice.
From a work perspective, though, he could never have envisioned his dates would be reduced to zero for a few months straight as a result of COVID-19. Performing live in front of wrestling fans, motivating students at a school, he lives for those moments. It’s who he is.
“When I speak at schools, I talk to young kids about following their dreams and daring to dream big and following their passions, which is something that I’ve been blessed to be able to do,” Deaner told SlamWrestling.net. “I followed my passion to be a pro wrestler. I’ve done it for 20 years, continue to do it, I’ve transitioned that into speaking. I love it. It is so attached to my identity and who I am as a man and to not be able to do that, to do what you identify as your passion, it’s very difficult.”
That being said, he lives by the words he preaches to children. One message he always presents is: focus on the positive rather than the negative.
“The positive thing that I’ve been focusing on since the beginning of the whole pandemic is I get to spend more time with my kids,” said Deaner, known as Chris Gray around the home. “I have four kids and because I’ve been so busy the last year, I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my family as I’d like to and now I’m making up for all that lost time, tenfold. I’m spending so much time with my kids right now and it’s just been awesome. I get to focus on just being a dad, which is what I’ve been doing for the last few months.”
Last week Deaner posted a photo to his social media pages that showed three of his kids playing with a retro-style toy wrestling ring, in great condition, and a bunch of wrestling action figures of stars from the past like Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Yokozuna and the Bushwackers.
At the time of this interview, Deaner said his son was still playing with the ring and noted he mentioned to his mother that he was surprised her grandson had taken such a liking to it. She, for good reason, asked Deaner why he was so bewildered. After all, that was him as a little boy.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s kinda taken me aback because it’s really just happened all of a sudden and with getting out that wrestling ring, that little toy ring that he didn’t realize I had just stored away on a shelf, it really opened up his imagination and he’s been playing with it non-stop,” Deaner said. “He’s either wrestling with his action figures, he’s wanting to play a wrestling video game, he’s watching wrestling on TV or he’s putting on a lucha mask and doing front flips on our trampoline in the backyard. That’s his days right now. That’s worth more to me than any amount of money I could’ve got from a collector for the ring that I had. It is a collector’s item, but I was like, I don’t want this sitting in a box. When I was a kid I wouldn’t have wanted all my toys sitting in a box. Toys are meant to be played with so we got it out and he’s been playing with it ever since.”
Those are the kind of moments Deaner wants to be home for, as much as possible. He’s serious when he says his schedule could be full all week. That could be speaking during school days coast-to-coast in Canada, wrestling at independent shows during the weekends and, of course, having scheduled dates with Impact.
He lightened his schedule intentionally to spend more time with family.
“It can be a seven-day-a-week thing, I just have to manage my schedule and that’s a good problem to have rather than having not enough dates on my calendar,” he said. “I have too many and now I can be choosy and decide whether or not I want to take a certain booking or make a certain trip. I get to manage that and be my own manager and schedule my own stuff which does surprise some people when I tell them I don’t have an agent or a manager or a booker, I do it all myself. That’s even it’s own job in itself, just trying to keep track of my schedule.”
His busy April schedule would have taken him to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador in addition to his other commitments.
“It would have been 19 days straight, which turned into a giant loss of income and zero days straight on the road,” he said. “It’s been really tough financially, but we’ve been able to make do. Thank God I have an amazing wife, who takes care of all of our money and our finances, she’s a wizard so she’s made sure that we’ve stayed in a really good spot financially. I know a lot of my friends and other people… might not be doing well financially now and I really feel for folks that are getting hit hard because times are tough.”
It’s been sitting in a box forever “increasing in value.”
Then I thought… if my toy ring sat in a box when I was a kid, I never would have found my passion.
— ✖️ DEANER ✖️ (@CodyDeaner) June 3, 2020
While Deaner was thrilled to make his return to the most recent Impact television tapings on a closed set in Nashville, he’s still missing live crowds. He’s also missing speaking to students. He wants to get them engaged. Some are wrestling fans already. Most probably aren’t.
“A lot of them will come up to me and tell me they want to be a wrestler now and they’ve never seen it before,” he said.
That’s great for him to hear and he loves it, but it’s not his goal. The motivational message can apply to all the children, no matter what their dreams are.
“My goal is to get into those schools and inspire them and motivate them and give them the confidence that even if they live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, like I did, or if they are surrounded by small expectations from people around them, that doesn’t mean that they should have small expectations for themselves,” Deaner said. “They can still have big expectations for themselves and big dreams and follow their passions, no matter what that passion may be. For me it just happened to be wrestling… that was my passion, but it can be anything for anyone.”
In addition to speaking to students, Deaner also wanted to continue to find ways to give back in a positive way beyond just wrestling. He realized how many amazing people, especially young fans, he’s met during his wrestling journey at shows and the merchandise table and just talking to fans.
“I decided I wanted to give back to some causes in my local area that were connected to these amazing people that I’ve met,” Deaner said, noting a couple of examples. “The Lansdowne Children’s Centre is a centre that helps children with autism and I met a very amazing young girl named Regan who’s autistic and is one of my biggest fans. We did a charity fundraiser together for the children’s centre. Another young boy I met, his name is Christopher and he’s deaf and he actually gave me my sign language name, which was such an honour to me. Him and I have done multiple fundraisers now for the Rumball Camp for the Deaf, this is the third year in a row we’ve done it.”
Deaner decided to Giv’er for Charity and that’s exactly what he’s done. Just recently he completed another fundraiser for the Bob Rumball Camp of the Deaf. The goal was $1,000 and the final tally surpassed that at $1,486 through online donations as well as Mer’s Beach Pub in Port Bruce donating a portion of sales from each Deaner Dog sold. The Rumball Camp fundraiser would normally send children to camp, but unfortunately camp has been cancelled this year. The funds, though, will be used in other ways.
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Just got word from my buddy @pb_merlyn that the DEANER DOG (a footlong hotdog wrapped in bacon) I posted about a few days ago, is the number 1 top selling meat product at @mersbeachpub in my hometown of Port Bruce, Ontario. • A big thank you to everyone for supporting local… especially my middle of nowhere hamlet where I grew up… which is still my favourite place in the world. • My buddy Mer is also going to be donating portions of proceeds from Deaner Dogs to my “Giv’er for Charity” campaign. Which means $ will end up in the hands of great local charities like @campofthedeaf @bobrumball @lansdownechildrens and more! 🤘
“I got to visit the camp last year, it’s such an amazing place and the staff and the personnel there are just unreal,” Deaner said. “They still were in need of money because the Rumball Foundation for the Deaf has a lot of essential workers on the ground that go into nursing homes and to children’s centres and go to people’s homes and help the deaf community with things that they need during this time so we just called an audible and instead of sending kids to camp we’re able to get people the essential services that they need within the deaf community.
“I’m very happy and appreciative of all the people that donated,” he added of the fundraiser.
On Tuesday, June 9, Deaner announced a new fundraiser for The Lansdowne Children’s Centre, which is based in Brantford, on his Facebook page. He noted the centre’s program called Every Kid Counts, which provides children and youth with special needs an equal opportunity to participate in local recreational programs of their choice. They are matched with a support worker who provides hands-on and programming support to the child, family and recreation staff.
Deaner loves his fans like Regan and Christopher and wishes he could perform in front of them now, but in the meantime he’s back on Impact with no crowd. He’s loving this run as a featured performer and is appreciative to have continued working with Impact during this pandemic even as he couldn’t travel to the TV tapings.
“For myself and another tag team, The North — Josh Alexander and Ethan Page — because of some travel restrictions… we weren’t able to cross the border for the previous television tapings, but they wanted to work with us to find ways to still keep us on the television show so The North filmed some different segments that turned out great and I filmed some things with my sister-in-law who’s a television producer of me in ‘Kwaranteen’ stuck at Casa Del Deaner my little pop-up tent trailer in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
“They put that on their television show and then it led to a match between me and (The North). We filmed this cinematic fight at a farm at the Deaner Compound and had 15 minutes of a two-hour television block dedicated to what we were doing. Impact has been amazing working with their wrestlers and making sure everybody is still getting featured and just turning a potential negative into a really awesome positive.”
There is a lot of wrestling to watch on television these days, but what Deaner thinks makes Impact unique is the comparison to independent wrestling he often hears from fans.
Wrestling fans often tell him they enjoy the independent scene because they can tell the performers are hungry, not complacent and just playing a role. Independent wrestlers are motivated, he said, many don’t make a lot of money, but love what they do and are trying to work their way up.
“That same vibe of being hungry and having something to prove, that same mentality is alive in Impact Wrestling,” Deaner said. “We’re a company right now that is saying we’re hard to kill because a lot of people have thought that… every few years people are predicting that Impact Wrestling’s going to die and not going to be around anymore. Impact has just proved year-in and year-out that you can’t kill this company, it’s here to stay and a lot of that is because of the performers and the wrestlers and the talent… both in the ring and backstage in management and production. We just have such an amazing crew and hungry performers so that drive to just be at your best is so alive in Impact Wrestling.”
Deaner had a previous run in Impact when it was still TNA, but it was quite different.
“In 2009, my character was essentially kind of a bumbling idiot that was just a wrestling fan that happened to be thrown into a wrestling ring and I had to pretend that I didn’t know how to wrestle, which that in itself was not easy because I had been wrestling for about nine years at that point so to have almost a decade of experience, but then try to pretend that you don’t have that experience can be difficult,” he said. “It was fun, but I didn’t get to show a national audience what I was able to do between the ropes and that I could really giv’er and perform at a high level. I’m getting that opportunity now. This run with The Deaners and my tag team partner Cousin Jake, we’re getting lots of time to show what we do and show the world that we’re a good tag team and I get to show the world that I’m a top professional wrestler in the pro wrestling game right now.”
When the time comes for him to fill up the dates on his calendar again, Deaner will be ready to giv’er. Never did he expect he could make a living from wrestling with a schedule of his choosing. Turn down dates? Not a chance.
“That was never something I thought about or even imagined was possible when I started,” he said. “The goal was always, when I started out, get to the WWE. You’ve just got to get to WWE, get on TV… and then you can make a living and be a pro wrestler. Now we’re living in a time where you do not have to have that as your end goal. If you’re willing to hustle and put in the work, then you can make a decent living as an independent wrestler. I’ve got the best of both worlds because I still get to do independent wrestling, still get to wrestle on national television with Impact Wrestling and have that income and I’ve been able to springboard that into a career as a speaker as well. I never could have imagined that I’d be at the point where I’d be turning down dates.”
He looks forward to the day when everyone is out of ‘Kwaranteen.’
“We’re going to get back to it and the business is going to thrive and things are going to be okay again,” Deaner predicts. “If anything, this might even amp up the hunger for wrestling because people are just stuck at home and want to get out and be entertained and just live again.
“There’s no sport, there’s no other form of entertainment like professional wrestling that brings people together, unifies people to all have one simple goal of just having a good time together. That’s something that the world needs right now so I’m chomping at the bit to be able to get back in the ring and do that for people.”