By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Deadlock Pro Wrestling “Carolina Classic”
Available via DPWondemand.com
September 17, 2023 in Durham, N.C. at Durham Armory
This event features an eight-man tournament (four first-round matches and a four-way finale.) I am a big fan of DPW, and I think they are among the best indy promotions right now, not just quality of matches but overall production (lighting, promos, commentary, etc.) Rich Bocchini and Caprice Coleman provided live commentary. Attendance appears to be 500 or so, and this building is packed; Bochinni called it a “capacity crowd” and I wouldn’t argue with that statement.
* The show opened with a video package of the top wrestlers in the promotion. Lucky Ali and BK Westbrook walked to ringside, and Ali was holding his DPW title. BK told the crowd to “shut the f— up.” Ali said he’s not booked on the show and doesn’t have to be here; he noted he’s the longest-reigning DPW champion of all time.
* A highlight reel video aired for both Ichiban and Jay Malachi. There were a few quick clips of Ichiban in MLW among the footage. I am loving this, telling us a bit about Malachi and making us care.
1. Jay Malachi defeated Ichiban in a first-round tournament match at 7:29. Ichiban typically competes in the Northeast and this is his DPW debut. Malachi is a thin Black man who is still just 19 years old; he was reportedly getting an NXT tryout and he’s a tremendous high-flyer. Quick reversals at the bell and a standoff. Ichiban hit a dropkick at 1:00 and a series of punches in the corner with the crowd chanting “one!” with every blow. Malachi hit a running penalty kick on the ring apron. They fought on the floor with Ichiban leaping over the guardrail. Malachi flew over the guardrail onto Ichiban at 4:00. Caprice said the way Jay leaps is like a video game.
Ichiban got in the ring and dove onto Jay. Jay hit a top-rope Spanish Fly for a nearfall; they got great height on this one. Malachi put Ichiban on his shoulders and hit an awesome twisting Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. Ichiban hit a Canadian Destroyer and a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 6:00. Jay hit a Superman Punch. Ichiban hit a superkick; Jay hit a spin kick; Ichiban hit a stunner. Ichiban leapt off the ropes but Jay caught him with a stunner. Jay then nailed a top-rope Clout Cutter for the pin. The crowd rightfully chanted “both these guys!” That was a tremendous opener for the time given.
* More backstage videos with Jake Something and Myron Reed. (Reed replaced the injured Calvin Tankman.) These videos are so good, DPW should put these sitdown interviews on their website.
2. Jake Something defeated Myron Reed in a first-round tournament match at 9:23. Caprice talked about how Jake had “prepared for an opponent who is not here.” Myron ducked tying up at first. Jake hit some shoulder tackles and his running body block. Myron hit an enzuigiri, then a scissors kick in the ropes, then a superkick at 2:00. Myron hit a dive over the top rope onto Jake. Jake dropped him with one hard forearm shot for a nearfall. Myron hit a Stundog Millionaire stunner. Jake hit a short-arm clothesline at 4:30 for a nearfall and he grounded Myron. Myron nailed a Helluva Kick in the corner, then a Lungblower to the chest.
Myron put Jake’s feet on the top rope and hit a Flatliner for a nearfall at 6:30. Myron dove to the floor but Jake caught him and slammed his back on the ring apron. In the ring, Jake nailed a massive powerbomb for a nearfall, and this crowd was hot. Myron hit a stunner, then a springboard 450 Splash for a believable nearfall at 8:00. Myron hit his flying stunner over the top rope with them both crashing to the floor. In the ring, Jake caught Myron and hit a Black Hole Slam for the clean pin. That was really good, too.
* More of the backstage sit-down interviews with Tom Lawlor and Labron Kozone. (Caprice has name-dropped Kozone several times on ROH TV in recent weeks although he hasn’t ever appeared.) Caprice called Kozone “the face of DPW.”
3. Tom Lawlor defeated Labron Kozone in a first-round tournament match at 14:58. If you haven’t seen Kozone, think Kofi Kingston but a bit more muscle mass. Lawlor is all business as we begin; none of his silly antics, no tuxedo outfit, and they immediately trade mat reversals, making this feel like a legit fight. Lawlor focused on the left ankle, and he applied a Figure Four Leglock at 2:30; they wound up both rolling to the floor with the leglock still in place. Lawlor looped the floor before hitting his running kick to Kozone’s chest at 5:00. In the ring, Lawlor hit a Helluva Kick for a nearfall. Lawlor again went to the floor and looped the crowd but Kozone caught him with a Pounce at 8:00 and they got back in the ring.
Kozone hit a flying European Uppercut, then a jumping knee, then a package piledriver for a nearfall at 10:00, and they were both down. Lawlor hit an Exploder Suplex into the corner, then his diving spear into the corner. Kozone nailed a top-rope superplex and they were both down. They got up and traded forearm shots, and Lawlor hit an enzuigiri at 12:30. They traded punches. Lawlor hit a release German Suplex but Kozone popped up and hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Lawlor hit a jumping knee to the chin, then a Kota-style Kamigoye kneestrike, then a running knee for a believable nearfall. Lawlor then nailed the kneestrike to the back of the head, but Kozone kicked out at one! Lawlor applied a Stretch Muffler leglock and Kozone tapped out. That was tremendous.
* More sitdown interviews with Andrew Everett and Mike Bailey. These two have been in the ring before in multi-man matches but this is their first-ever singles match.
4. Mike Bailey defeated Andrew Everett in a first-round tournament match at 14:01. We got a “both these guys!” chant before they shook hands. Quick reversals and deep armdrags, simultaneous dropkick attempts and a standoff at 1:00. Everett set up for a chokeslam but Bailey avoided it. Everett hit his standing moonsault for a nearfall, and Bailey rolled to the floor to regroup. They fought on the floor, where Bailey hit his Speedball kicks to the ribs at 4:00. In the ring, Bailey draped Everett over the top rope and hit a kneedrop across the back. Bailey hit a Helluva Kick, then a Vader Bomb-style kneedrop to the ribs.
Bailey hit a variety of kicks and his running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall at 6:30. He set up for the Tornado Kick in the corner, but Everett blocked it. Everett nailed a springboard spin kick to the jaw and they were both down. They got up and traded forearm shots. Everett nailed a LiIonsault for a nearfall at 8:30. Everett again set up for a chokeslam but Bailey turned it into a huracanrana. Bailey nailed his moonsault kneedrop for a nearfall and we have a “this is awesome!” chant going. Everett dove through the ropes onto Bailey, so Bailey dove through the ropes onto Everett. Everett hit an Asai Moonsault.
Bailey slipped doing his Asai Moonsault and landed awkwardly. (I’ve seen him land this perfectly so many times, I jumped at watching this, as a bad landing could have been dangerous.) Both dove into the ring at the nine-count at 11:30. They traded more forearm shots and Everett hit an enzuigiri. Bailey hit a superkick. Everett hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. Everett went for the top-rope Shooting Star Press, but Bailey got his knees up to block it. Bailey hit a straight kick to the jaw! He hit the Tornado Kick in the corner, then the Ultima Weapon summersault kneedrop for the pin. Tremendous match and we again got a “both these guys!” chant.
* BK Westbrook and Lucky Ali appeared on the second deck, and BK made fun of Everett for losing. BK asked Andrew “how is your dad doing?” (reference a prior show where he was shoved down.) Everett left the ring, went up the stairs and chased away the heels.
* Chris Danger hit the ring. He has been training to face Adam Cole. Cole appeared on the big screen and he accepted Danger’s challenge for a match. (NOTE: with Cole’s ankle injury, this entire match has been canceled and hopefully will come together down the road. Thus, I didn’t bother transcribing what Cole said.)
* Another backstage promo, as Bailey said he beat a literal giant but has three more to beat. He vowed to win the Carolina Classic.
* Veda Scott joined commentary. (Very strange to me that she was in the building and didn’t call Bailey’s match!)
5. Bryan Keith defeated Shun Skywalker to retain the DPW National Title at 13:52. Shun wore his Bushi-style black mask. Keith wore his poncho and cowboy hat. They shook hands but Shun grabbed at Keith’s nose. Keith hit a Mafia Kick at 2:30. Shun slapped Keith with the cover that goes over a turnbuckle and he was in charge early on, grounding Keith. Keith hit an Exploder Suplex at 7:30, then a back suplex. Keith hit a vertical suplex, but he couldn’t hit the Tiger Driver. Shun slammed Keith to the mat and they were both down. They hit simultaneous Mafia Kicks, then they traded forearm shots.
Keith hit an enzuigiri. Shun hit a dropkick at 10:30. Keith hit a tornado DDT, then an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Keith hit a running spin kick in the corner, then a Diamond Dust stunner, then a clothesline for a nearfall. Shun got a jackknife cover for a believable nearfall, then a Mafia Kick for a one-count! Shun hit a swinging uranage and a moonsault kneedrop for a nearfall at 13:00, but he missed a top-rope moonsault, landing on his feet. Keith nailed a running kneestrike to the jaw, then the Tiger Driver/butterfly powerbomb for the clean pin. That really picked up nicely.
6. Emi Sakura defeated Nicole Matthews to retain the DPW Women’s Title at 12:03. Matthews, like Mike Bailey, was banned from the U.S. for five years but now is back competing here. She was in the first Mae Young Classic and she’s taller and thicker than the average female competitor. Sakura never seems to win in AEW but she’s a star here. They charged at each other with shoulder tackles at the bell and immediately traded forearm shots. Matthews tried to tie Emi up on the mat, but Emi bit her. Emi tied up Nicole and did her ‘spot of tea’ pose. Nicole tied her in the ropes and hit some spin kicks to the chest at 3:00.
Matthews hit a second-rope missile dropkick for a nearfall. Emi hit a swinging faceplant at 5:00. Emi hit a running crossbody block in the corner. Matthews hit a neckbreaker out of the corner and was booed; she applied a cross-armbreaker, and she switched to a Fujiwara Armbar. Emi hit her butterfly backbreaker over her knee at 8:00. They traded hard chops. They hit simultaneous clotheslines. Emi hit a Tiger Driver with a jackknife cover for a nearfall at 10:00. Nicole hit some Yes Kicks to the chest, then a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall at 11:30, and she was incredulous she didn’t win there. Matthews missed a top-rope moonsault, and Emi immediately rolled her up for the pin. A good match between two seasoned pros.
* Backstage, Nicole Matthews unloaded a string of profanities, disagreeing that it was a three-count. When we return to the ring, the four-foot-tall trophy was in the ring. The finale is an elimination match.
7. Jay Malachi defeated Jake Something, Mike Bailey and Tom Lawlor to win the Carolina Classic at 27:44. All four are in the ring; no tags. Jake dropped Bailey with a forearm. Jake tossed Jay at Lawlor, and Lawlor hit a German Suplex on Malachi; nice spot. Jake hit a shoulder tackle at 2:30 that sent Lawlor flying. Bailey and Jay squared off and traded quick offense, then they hit stereo dives to the floor. Jake hit a rolling cannonball on the floor on Bailey. Meanwhile, Lawlor and Jay were brawling near the entrance area. All four wound up brawling over to the entrance, and there aren’t any mats on this floor.
In the ring, Jay tried a crossbody block on Jake, but Jake caught him and powerbombed him onto Bailey at 7:00. Lawlor hit a series of kicks to Jake’s front and back. Jake hit a running body block on Lawlor at 9:00. Bailey hit a top-rope missile dropkick, then his Speedball kicks on Jake, then his running Shooting Star Press for a believable nearfall. Jay hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall on Bailey. Lawlor hit a uranage on each opponent and he was fired up. They did a Tower Spot ut of the corner, with Bailey on top and everyone crashing to the mat at 12:00, with the fans chanting “holy shit!” Jake tossed Jay over the top rope onto the other two competitors. Jake then dove over the top rope onto all three.
In the ring, Jake chokeslammed Jay onto Bailey at 13:30. Jake hit a Black Hole Slam for a believable nearfall on Lawlor. Jay and Mike hit spin kicks on Jake’s head. Lawlor applied an anklelock, and Jake tapped out at 14:47! (A 15-minute call is right on!) Jay and Bailey hit a series of chops on Lawlor. Lawlor hit his leaping spear into the corner, then a Death Valley Driver on Jay for a nearfall at 16:30. Tom applied a double anklelock! Both Bailey and Malachi reached the ropes together. Bailey and Lawlor sat on the mat and traded kicks; they got up and traded more kicks to the thighs.
Jay came off the ropes but Lawlor caught him and applied a crossarm breaker, then he switched to an anklelock at 19:00, but Jay fought free. However, Bailey hit an Ultima Weapon on Lawlor, and both Mike and Jay covered Lawlor for a pin at 19:33. We’re down to the final two! They hit simultaneous spin kicks and were both down. They shook hands but traded forearm shots. Bailey set up for the Flamingo Driver but Malachi escaped and got a rollup for a nearfall. Bailey hit a moonsault kneedrop, and he applied the Trailer Hitch leglock in the center of the ring at 23:00, but Jay reached the ropes.
Bailey hit another series of kicks, then the Tornado Kick in the corner. He nailed the Flamingo Driver, but Malachi kicked out! Bailey missed the Ultima Weapon, and Jay got a rollup for a nearfall. A backslide got another nearfall for Jay. Bailey hit the Triangle Moonsault to the floor, earning a “holy shit!” chant as we hit 25:00 minutes stated by the ring announcer, and the commentators remind us we do have a 30-minute time limit. Jay hit an Asai moonsault. They fought on the ring apron, where Jay hit a Mali-cutter. Bailey hit the moonsault kneedrop on the ring apron. Bailey went for a moonsault, but Jay caught him with a stunner coming down. Jay then nailed the Mali-cutter stunner off the ropes for the clean pin. That was a classic. WOW.
* Jay got on the mic and started to thank the fans, who chanted “you deserve it!” at him. However, Lucky Ali jumped in the ring and attacked him, and he slammed Malachi on the title belt. The crowd chanted, “new champ!” to taunt Ali. As Ali headed to the back, the crowd chanted “asshole!” at him. Jay got on the mic, crawling on the mat. He challenged Lucky to a match RIGHT NOW and he called him a “pu$$y.” Caprice and Bocchini agreed it was a terrible idea. Ali charged into the ring, a ref jumped in, and we have a bonus match!
8. Jay Malachi defeated Lucky Ali in a Carolina Warfare match to win the DPW Title at 29:22. “Carolina Warfare” rules means anything goes. They immediately brawled on the floor and over the guardrail. Veda pointed out how Jay had two matches already and Lucky Ali is fresh. They brawled onto a platform far from ringside. Jay hit a huracanrana. He leapt off the platform onto Ali on the floor at 3:30, with the crowd again chanting “new champ!” Jay slammed a chair across Ali’s back and he choked Ali with some cloth, and they brawled in front of the ring. Jay hit a huracanrana at 6:00 on the floor.
Jay hit a snap suplex on the floor, and he rolled Ali back into the ring. He hit a springboard clothesline for a nearfall. BK Westbrook appeared at ringside at 8:00! He grabbed Jay’s ankle, allowing Ali to hit a baseball slide dropkick. Ali put kneepads on; he whipped Jay into the guardrail at 10:00. He pulled Jay into the ring, and Jay was bleeding from his forehead. Ali hit a delayed vertical suplex and a dropkick to the face for a nearfall at 12:00. Westbrook got a ladder and slid it into the ring. They went back to the floor where Ali again whipped Jay into a guardrail. In the ring, Ali did a slingshot, sending Jay’s head into the ladder, and Ali got a nearfall at 15:00. The crowd taunted Ali with a “new champ!” chant.
BK got a screwdriver! He began loosening a turnbuckle. Meanwhile, Ali was choking out Jay on the mat. BK completely removed the top rope in one corner, and he handed the turnbuckle to Ali; Lucky hit Jay with the corner pad for a believable nearfall at 18:00, and Ali was livid that didn’t get him the pin. Jay hit an enzuigiri. Jay nailed a dropkick, sending Lucky Ali off the ring apron and through a table set up at ringside! In the ring, Jay unloaded a series of punches. Jay hit a running Shooting Star Press and a second-rope moonsault for a nearfall at 20:30. Jay encouraged fans to throw their chairs into the ring onto Ali, and he was buried by chairs.
Lucky Ali pleaded for leniency but Jay threw a chair at his head. Jay went for a top rope move, but Ali caught him with a low blow kick. Ali hit a clothesline to the back of the head for a believable nearfall at 24:00. BK went to hand the belt to Ali, but Colby Corino and Andrew Everett attacked BK at ringside! Ali joined the fight on the floor. Jay dove onto all four guys on the floor, earning a “holy shit!” chant. Jay Malachi got the ladder and he set it up in the ring. Jay leapt off the top of the ladder and hit a frogsplash for a believable nearfall! Jay shouted for Colby and Everett to get him a table, which they slid into the ring.
Colby poured lighter fluid onto the table and he lit it on fire. However, Ali avoided going through the burning table, and the fire went out. But, Jay hit the Mali-cutter, slamming Ali through the table to score the pin. Unbelievable match. Colby and Everett celebrated with him. Jay stood in the ring and celebrated with the title belt and the four-foot-tall Carolina Classic trophy.
* We have one final backstage segment, where Lucky Ali and BK Westbrook are angry. “This one, I got swindled into!” Ali shouted.
Final Thoughts: A nearly flawless show. Every match delivered. Jay Malachi tallied about 64 minutes of ring time between three matches, and he looked like a star. I’ll go with the four-way elimination match for best match, Bailey-Everett for second, and Lawlor-Kozone for third. The main event got a bit violent for my taste and was a bit one-sided, but by the end, the crowd was eating up Malachi’s comeback.
I am a huge fan of Deadlock Pro, and their shows are reminiscent of early ROH stuff. Check out some of their stuff for free on their youtube page, and visit their website at deadlockpro.com