By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Deadlock Pro Wrestling “World’s Strongest”
Available via DPWondemand.com
November 12, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina at the Durham Armory
This building is packed with maybe 400 fans. This show was released on the DPW website on Saturday, Lighting is great. Nov. 18. Rich Bocchini and Caprice Coleman provided commentary.
* The show opened with a hard rock video with highlights from prior shows.
1. Jake Something defeated Labron Kozone and Baliyan Akki in a three-way at 9:30. Akki was shirtles and showed off some tattoos; I don’t think I’ve seen those before. They opened with a three-way knucklelock. Jake ran over his smaller opponents. Akki hit a huracanrana on Jake. He hit a backbreaker over his knee on Kozone at 2:30. Kozone hit a wind-up bodyslam on Akki, then one on Jake! Akki hit a Doomsday Dropkick. Jake chokeslammed one opponent onto the other for a nearfall at 5:00. Jake applied a double Camel Clutch! Showing his power, Jake lifted Akki, put him on his shoulders, and hit a Burning Hammer for a nearfall at 6:30.
Labron hit a second-rope spinning kick and a belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall on Akki. Kozone hit a Frankensteiner on Akki and they traded rollups. Akki hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Kozone nailed a brainbuster at 9:00. Akki hit a huracanrana and he set up for a dive to the floor. However, Jake jumped back into the ring, grabbed Akki and nailed a Black Hole Slam for the pin. Heckuva opener. Akki refused to shake hands after the match and was booed.
* Jake got on the mic and said he came here for a reason. He called out national champion Bryan Keith! He said the hunter is now the hunted.
* Outside Lucky Ali and BK Westbrook talked about Ali’s match later. He said he was going to beat up Colby Corino later. Meanwhile, BK Westbrook called out Andrew Everett. We returned to the building, and Westbrook walked to ringside and was loudly booed. (I always compare him to a young heel Adam Cole.) He called out Andrew Everett, who came to the ring. BK’s three security held Everett back, but soo enough, they brawled. BK took off running. Everett chokeslammed a security guard, grabbed the mic, and told BK they should fight Dec. 10. Everett wants a “no holds barred” match and that popped the crowd.
* Kozone spoke backstage. He said one day, he’ll get what is rightfully his.
2. Shawn Spears defeated Chris Danger at 14:34. I don’t fully understand his popularity, but I understand Danger is a gamer and youtube star; his T-shirt reads “It’s Not A Game Anymore.” He was supposed to fight Adam Cole, but with Cole’s injury, Spears (who has trained Danger) was the mystery opponent replacement. Spears brought a chair to ringside. Seconds in, Danger nailed a dive through the ropes! He hit a top-rope crossbody block but Shawn caught him, put him on his shoulders, and hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall; Spears pulled him up before the three-count at 1:30. They brawled to the floor, where Shawn ripped off Danger’s shirt and hit hard chops. Danger’s chest is far too white, because it was quickly turning pink and red.
Spears hit a back suplex onto the ring apron. He put Danger on the guardrail and chopped him, with Danger falling into the crowd. Danger dove back into the ring at 5:30 to avoid a count-out. Spears hit a neckbreaker over his knee and some punches to the face. Spears set up a table in the corner. The ref got bumped! Danger hit an Adam Cole-style Panama Sunrise at 9:00. Danger then speared Shawn through the table in the corner and they were both down. The ref woke and counted to two. Danger has a nasty cut on his left forearm. That is a deep cut. Danger ignored it and hit some Yes Kicks. Danger hit the Eat D’Feat kick for a nearfall, but Spears grabbed the ropes at 11:00.
Danger went to a corner and ‘tuned up the band’ and hit an HBK superkick. However, Spears hit a running Death Valley Driver for a believable nearfall at 12:30; I thought that was it, especially with the cut on Danger’s arm. Danger was down on the mat and Spears paced back and forth. Danger got a rollup for a nearfall. Spears hit a Pedigree, then a second Pedigree for the pin. For a first-ever match, that was pretty good.
* A nice video package for Bojack, saying he is returning. (Great way to remind fans of the top roster members who aren’t on this show.)
3. Masato Tanaka, Bryan Keith, and Calvin Tankman defeated Tom Lawlor and “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs at 15:21. Tanaka came out last to a huge pop. Keith and Jorel opened. Keith hit a Mafia Kick. Isaacs entered at 2:00 and hit some forearm strikes on Keith. Tankman entered and traded shoulder tackles with Isaacs at 4:00. Calvin nailed a Pounce. Lawlor and Tanaka entered at 5:30 and immediately traded forearm strikes and the crowd popped for this exchange. Tanaka hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip and a bodyslam. Keith re-entered and worked over Lawlor.
Lawlor dropped Keith throat-first on the top rope. Isaacs held Keith upside down on the floor and walker around ringside at 7:30, showing off his impressive strength. In the ring, Lawlor’s team worked over Keith and they paused to pose and were booed. Keith finally hit an Exploder Suplex on Royce at 10:30. Tankman made the hot tag and he hit a series of clotheslines on the heels. He flipped Jorel onto his teammates. Tanaka got back in and he hit a stunner combo, then a DDT. He dropped Isaacs with a forearm for a nearfall at 12:00. Keith suplexed Lawlor into the corner. Calvin nailed his pop-up spinning back fist on Jorel and that popped the crowd.
Tankman went for a spinning back fist on Royce, but Royce blocked it and he hit a German Suplex on Tankman! Lawlor hit a team Falcon Arrow on Tanaka for a believable nearfall at 14:00. Lawlor accidentally hit Royce! Tanaka and Keith hit stereo Diamond Dust stunners. Tanaka nailed a rolling elbow on Jorel. Keith immediately hit an Emerald Tiger Driver. Tankman nailed a diving forearm to pin Jorel. Quite a finishing sequence with each babyface hitting a big move before they pinned Nelson.
* Spears spoke backstage. He put over Danger for having a good first match. We then flipped to Danger, who had his cut arm wrapped up and his chest is blotchy red. He said he doesn’t care that he lost, because he waited eight years for that. He vowed it wouldn’t be his last match.
4. Emi Sakura (w/Baliyan Akki) defeated Masha Slamovich to retain the DPW Women’s Title at 13:34. I read that Masha had suffered a cut in Europe but still flew back to the U.S. to make it to this show. She had her newly won wXw belt with her. Masha attacked her to start the match, and she hit a shotgun dropkick and some hard kicks. Emi scratched Masha’s back, then she raked the eyes, and she tied up Masha’s legs and tied her in a surfboard. They brawled briefly to the floor. Masha tied Emi in the bottom rope at 5:00, then she applied a Camel Clutch.
They went back to the floor and brawled in front of the fans. Emi whipped Masha into the guardrail at 8:00. In the ring, they traded forearm strikes. Masha hit a back elbow and they were both down at 10:00. Emi hit some hard chops. Masha hit a knee to the forehead and her spinning heel kick to the face for a nearfall. Emi held her upside down and hit a backbreaker over the knee at 12;00. Masha hit her Air Raid Crash into the corner for a nearfall. Masha nailed a Shining Wizard for a nearfall. Emi hit a Tiger Driver for a nearfall. She hit an Ospreay-style Stormbreaker (Caprice called it a Queen’s Gambit) off her shoulders for the pin. A really, realy good match.
* A nice video package aired showing the feud between the Workhorsemen and the Grizzled Young Veterans. The quality of the graphics and videos is what really sets Deadlock Pro apart from other indies.
5. “The Workhorsemen” JD Drake and Anthony Henry defeated “The Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake to retain the DPW Tag Team Titles at 18:49. This is a rematch from the previous show. Henry and James opened with standing reversals. James hit a plancha onto JD. The GYV began working over Henry, with James tying him up on the mat. Henry hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip on James at 3:30. JD hit a slingshot senton on James, then a bodyslam, as the WHM kept working over James Drake. James hit a DDT on JD at 8:00. Henry jumped in and applied a leglock and leaned back for pressure.
James tried to make it to his corner but his leg buckled. Henry applied an anklelock to keep James from tagging out. Zach finally made the hot tag at 11:00 and he stomped on Henry in a corner. Zack dove through the ropes. In the ring, Zack hit a pumphandle back suplex and he tied up Henry on the mat. Zack hit a second-rope Lungblower to the chest. James nailed a top-rope flying Doomsday Clothesline, then a lungblower for a believable nearfall at 13:30. Anthony hit a doublestomp to the chest. JD hit a running Stinger Splash and a uranage on Zack, then a Vader Bomb for a believable nearfall. The WHM hit a team Flatliner move for a believable nearfall. JD nailed a spinebuster on Zack. Henry hit a top-rope doublestomp on Zack’s chest for a nearfal, but James made the save at 15:30. (They just announced the clock; they are about 30 seconds behind.)
Henry hit a running double knees in the corner on Zack. James got a Magistral Cradle on Henry for a believable nearfall at 17:00. James and Henry traded forearm strikes. Henry hit some kicks to the thighs. James hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip on Henry. A belt got thrown in the ring but the ref saw it and confiscated it. However, Henry dropped James Drake knees-first onto a different belt! JD hit a swinging neckbreaker to pin James Drake. That was fantastic.
* A video package aired of Colby Corino seemingly leaving for NXT, only to have the deal fall through, and his return to this promotion, with many people making it clear he wasn’t welcome back. Again, a great video package. Colby apparently needs to win this match to officially rejoin the Deadlock Pro roster.
6. Colby Corino defeated Lucky Ali (w/BK Westbrook) in an I Quit Match at 25:43. Colby wrapped a chain around his fist and immediately hit a series of punches to Ali’s face. The ref asked Ali if he wanted to quit but Ali said no. They went to the floor where Ali dropped him stomach-first on the metal guardrail. Ali put a chair over Colby’s head and rammed him into the ring post at 2:30, and they continued to fight on the floor. They got back into the ring and Ali choked Corino with the chain at 5:00. Colby was bleeding from his forehead, and he was slammed into a chair wedged in the corner. Ali’s head got slammed into that same chair at 7:00.
Ali piled a few open chairs in the middle of the ring and he slammed Colby on it at 9:00 but Colby refused to quit. It appears Ali has a bloody lip or mouth now, too. Ali nailed a hard uppercut to the groin at 11:00, and the announcers acknowledged it was legal. “You’re going to have to f—en kill me!” Colby shouted. Ali hit him with a chairshot as Colby was trapped in the top of the ringpost. Ali hit a chairshot to the damaged left arm. He went for a splash but Colby moved at 15:00. Colby dove through the ropes and hit a DDT on the floor. They brawled up the entrance-way, and Colby placed the ring bell over Ali’s groin and hit the bell with the hammer at 17:30.
They got back in the ring. Corino hit a Death Valley Driver onto a clothes bin, then a Styles Clash onto the pin! He choked Ali with the plastic handle from the bin. Ali hit Colby with a tool box at 20:30! Ali pulled out a pair of handcuffs. However, Colby hit a low blow uppercut, and he tied Ali in the handcuffs behind Ali’s back at 22:30. Colby hit some chair shots to the back. Colby got a pair of scissors and he cut off Ali’s long dreadlocks!!! This is an unexpected haircut match! Ali was able to get the cuffs around his legs and in front of his body, but he was still connected to them. Corino put a chair over Ali’s head and got another chair to swing it. Ali said I quit! The match was over, but Corino still swung the chair and hit the chair around the neck.
* We had a Jay Malachi video set to a Thousand Foot Krutch song. Great highlight package, great song. He had a heated exchange with IWTV Champion Alec Price, who is headed from Boston to North Carolina for this match.
7. Jay Malachi defeated Alec Price to retain the DPW Title at 23:57. I don’t expect Price to win here, but with all signs pointing to Malachi signing an NXT contract, he can lose this belt at any time. Price wore his Boston hockey jersey and was loudly booed as he headed to the ring. “We’ve all heard the rumors,” Bocchini said, referring to Malachi signing with NXT, and he wondered if Jay’s head is in the match. Interesting. Jay peppered him with punches at the bell. Jay hit a corkscrew crossbody block and an impressive dropkick. Bocchini made a sports comparison where a “top five draft pick chooses not to play” in a final college game. Caprice agreed, saying Jay doesn’t want to lose his deal because he is injured when he gets there. (Again, neither man has said “WWE” or “NXT” but the implication is there.)
Price put Jay across his shoulders and tossed him into the guardrail. Price worked over Jay in the ring. Fans chanted “F— the Bruins!” Price hit a rebound lariat for a nearfall at 4:00 and he remained in control of the action. Price is awesome for the way he lets the fans taunts get under his skin. Price hit a John Cena ‘U Can’t See Me’ drop. Jay hit a stunner and a uranage, and they were both down at 7:30. Jay hit a springboard clothesline and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Jay hit a running Shooting Star Press and a moonsault. (Keep in mind, he’s only 19!) He went for a second-rope moonsault but Price got his knees up. Price hit a second-rope leg lariat for a nearfall at 10:00.
Price blocked a stunner and hit a Dragon Suplex. Jay nailed a top-rope Spanish Fly at 11:30. Jay dove over the ring post and onto Price on the floor; you’d have to see this to see the incredible height he got. Malachi hit a top-rope frogsplash in the ring for a nearfalll. They got up and traded hard open-hand slaps. They switched to forearm strikes and the crowd was totally into this. Jay nailed a spinning tornado kick to the cheek. Price hit a flipping slam for a nearfall at 16:30 and fans chanted “Fight forever!” Price shouted, “I’m going to hurt you before you even go down to Florida!” and was booed.
Price flipped him to the floor and they brawled briefly on the floor. Back in the ring, Price hit a doublestomp as Jay was tied in the Tree of Woe for a nearfall at 19:00. Price hit his running kneestrikes in the corner. Jay caught him with the Malicutter, then a second springboard Malicutter for a believable nearfall at 20:30; I thought that was it! Jay accidentally hit a Malicutter on the referee! Price hit his top-rope Blockbuster, then the Surprise Kick/mule kick; a second ref jumped in the ring and counted to two at 23:00. Price hit a superkick. “How is Jay Malachi standing and walking?” Caprice asked. Price came off the ropes, but Jay caught his head and hit a Malicutter. Jay hit a top-rope Malicutter for the pin. Wow that was amazing.
* Jay got on the mic and sat down in the middle of the ring. “I know some of you have some thoughts about Jay Malachi right now. If you’ve heard something, about a rumor about Jay, that shit is true,” and that earned a pop, with the crowd chanting, “You deserve it!” Jay said, “as a champion of one of the best independent wrestling companies in the f’n world, a champion has to do champion shit. I can’t take this shit (the belt) with me. Even though this has been a dream of mine since I came into this. However, I have to do the right thing. So, your boy has tonight, officially relinquished…” The crowd cut him off with a “one more match!” chant. Jay responded, “If I could, I would, but I have to do OG shit, and become a bigger champion in bigger places.”
“Even though I’m dropping the title, let’s see who has the balls to come out here and prove they deserve to be champion.” Out of the back came Calvin Tankman. Calvin congratulated Jay. However, he said he’s jealous. Tankman said he wants his shot next month. Colby Corino got in the ring and he said no one has bled more for Deadlock Pro than him. Jay placed the belt on the mat between them and backed away. Calvin and Colby picked it up and held onto the straps as the show faded to black.
Final Thoughts: When I watch DPW 2023, I see ROH circa 2004. Their pay-per-views are the best indy shows anyone puts on, from the ring action, the lighting, the commentary, the graphics. They’ve used the top Carolina talent and mixed in some stellar talent from around the U.S. and world. With both Lucky Ali and Jay Malachi reportedly signed to NXT contracts and headed to the training center in 2025, DPW has to pivot a bit to some new stars. There is so much to like here that I think they’ll be fine.
The main event was stellar and gripping and easily best match. I’ll take WHM vs. GYV for second-best, and I’ll go with Masha-Emi for third. Those who like hardcore fights will have Corino-Ali higher, but I’ll give it honorable mention behind the top three.
I have no doubt that WWE will have Jay Malachi on TV in a matter of months, presumably under a new name. While the rumors are Lucky Ali has signed, I haven’t seen him address it in the way Jay did here, and at a prior PWF show a few weeks ago. Likewise, Brogan Finlay has said goodbye to fans at other indy shows as he also is headed to NXT developmental.