Cody Deaner
Deaner posing at a wrestling show in February 2016
Birth nameChristopher Gray[1][2]
Born (1982-03-07) March 7, 1982 (age 41)
Port Bruce, Ontario, Canada[2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Cody Deaner[1][3]
Cody Steele[1][4]
Billed height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1][3]
Billed weight212 lb (96 kg)[1]
Billed fromMuscle Shoals, Alabama[1]
Trained byDerek Wilde[6]
DebutJanuary 24, 2000[4][6]

Christopher Gray[1][2] (born March 7, 1982),[7] better known by his ring name Cody Deaner, is a Canadian professional wrestler, and motivational speaker signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he competes under the ring name Deaner (a shortened version of his previous ring name) and is the leader of The Design. He is a former two-time Impact World Tag Team Champion with Eric Young and Joe Doering (as Violent By Design), holding the titles under the Freebird rule.

Professional wrestling career

Independent circuit (2000–present)

Gray was trained by "Dangerboy" Derek Wylde in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and subsequently made his professional wrestling debut for the now defunct Hardcore Wrestling Federation in 2000 under the ring name Cody Steele. Upon the HWF's closure, he then wrestled for numerous Canadian and American independent wrestling promotions, winning numerous titles across both countries.

He had a number of WWE tryouts under the Cody Steele moniker, including an appearance on SmackDown!.

As Cody Steele, Gray won numerous independent wrestling titles across the US and Canada. He held gold for a number of promotions including: Fighting Spirit Pro Wrestling, Neo Spirit Pro Wrestling, Canadian International Wrestling Alliance, Great Lakes Championship Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Xtreme, Great Canadian Wrestling, and others. Other independent wrestling promotions he has wrestled for include Border City Wrestling, Ballpark Brawl, Pier 6 Wrestling, Empire State Wrestling, International Wrestling Federation, NWA-Empire, NWA-Upstate, AWA-Ontario, Twins Wrestling Entertainment, Classic Championship Wrestling, WAR Wrestling, and Prime Time Wrestling.

In 2005, Gray began wrestling in the newly founded independent promotion, Great Canadian Wrestling (GCW). He made his GCW debut at a GCW event on June 26 as "Completely" Cody Steele, defeating Derek Wylde.[8] At Rage of the Cage, he began wrestling as Cody Deaner and lost to Shawn Spears in the main event.[9] At Stampede Showdown, Deaner was booked to defeat Hayden "The Destroyer" Avery for his newly won GCW Ontario Independent Championship.[10][11] As a result, Deaner began feuding with Avery for the title. Deaner held the title for three months before losing it back to Avery at Ugandan Invasion.[12] At Veni! Vidi! Vici, Avery defeated Deaner in a Motorcity Street Fight rematch to retain the title.[13]

At Beyond the Limit, Deaner and Avery ended their feud as they teamed up to defeat defending champions Derek Wylde & Andrew Davis and Ash & Otis Idol in a triple threat tag team match for the GCW Tag Team Championship.[14][15] Shortly after the title win, Deaner and Avery began feuding with The Flatliners (Asylum and Matt Burns) for the belts and defeated them in several matches throughout the rest of the year, before losing the tag championships to Flatliners at Genesis 11:25:07.[16] The feud between the teams continued, until Deaner and Avery regained the titles from Flatliners in a steel cage tag team match at Game Over.[15][17] They lost the titles to The Houses of Virtue (Andrew Davis and Sebastian Suave) at Random Acts of Violence.[18] After losing the belts, Deaner and Avery continued to team up and challenged for the titles but failed in winning them, so they broke up their tag team and focused on singles competition.

In the fall of 2008, Deaner was put into a feud with the GCW National Champion Otis Idol over the belt, which culminated in a series of matches but Deaner failed to win it. Their feud ended after Idol lost the title. During this time, Deaner began appearing in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), but he still continues to wrestle for GCW. On July 12, 2009, Deaner defeated "Tenacious" Scotty Turner to win the TWA Heavyweight Championship.[19] After his release from TNA, Deaner dropped his old redneck gimmick and dubbed himself "The Everyman".[20] On April 25, 2010, Deaner lost the TWA Heavyweight Championship to Robbie MacAllister at TWA Wrestlelusion II.[19]

After his release from Impact Wrestling in 2009, Cody returned to his roots and began wrestling on the independent wrestling circuit again. He quickly developed a loyal fan following that has come to be known as the Deaner Dynasty.[7]

Deaner returned to the Independent circuit on March 25, 2010, at a Twin Wrestling Entertainment Event, Deaner competed in a 3 Way Dance which was won by Kamala, also on March 25, 2010, Deaner & Crazzy Steve & Kamala defeated Jake O'Reilly & Primo Scordino & Robbie MacAllister in a six-man tag team match, on May 1, 2010, Deaner defeated Cezar in a match for Classic Championship Wrestling.

On November 21, 2013, Deaner defeated Ethan Page to win the Battle Arts Openweight Championship.[21]

In January 2016, Cody Deaner held 4 different heavyweight championships in 4 different Canadian independent wrestling promotions. Cody Deaner is the Border City Wrestling Champion, Rock Solid Wrestling Champion, Crossfire Wrestling Champion, and Magnificent Championship Wrestling Champion.[7]

World Wrestling Entertainment (2004)

His earliest WWE match to record was on November 22, 2004, under the ring name Cody Steele in a dark match, where he lost to Muhammad Hassan.[22] Three days later, on November 25, he made a televised appearance on WWE's program, SmackDown! as a planted hometown hero against Kurt Angle, in a match for Angle's Olympic gold medal. Angle defeated Steele to retain his medal.[23]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009)

Deaner was signed to a contract by TNA in 2009. On February 12 edition of Impact!, Impact Knockout ODB cut a promo about letting "one lucky guy spend the night" with her and at Destination X, she chose Deaner as her date.[24] From that time on, Deaner began serving as ODB's manager. On April 16 edition of Impact!, Deaner wrestled his first Impact match, a mixed tag team match with ODB against Abyss and Daffney. Abyss and Daffney won the match.[25] Two weeks later on Impact!, Abyss defeated Deaner in Deaner's first singles match in Impact Wrestling .[26]

At Hard Justice, ODB and Deaner faced The Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky) in a tag team match where Love's Impact Knockout Championship was on the line. Deaner pinned Sky to apparently make ODB the new champion, but afterwards began arguing with her over who the champion really was.[27] On August 27 edition of Impact!, it was announced that at No Surrender, he would face ODB to determine the true Knockout Champion. On the September 10 edition of Impact! Deaner defeated Tara in an MMA rules match, after Awesome Kong hit Tara with the Implant Buster while Deaner was inadvertently distracting the referee. At No Surrender, ODB defeated Deaner to win the Knockout Championship.[28] On November 5, he lost to Desmond Wolfe in just seconds.[29] On December 20 at Final Resolution Deaner competed in what would turn out to be his last Impact Wrestling match, a twelve-man "Feast or Fired" match, in which he was unsuccessful in capturing any of the four briefcases.[30] He was released from TNA Wrestling on December 29, 2009.[31]

Global Force Wrestling (2016–2017)

Cody Deaner released a self-produced video on his YouTube channel[32] and website[7] looking to get a shot with Global Force Wrestling. Within six days of a campaign widely supported by his fans, Jeff Jarrett and Global Force Wrestling responded by booking him for their first show in 2016 in Poughkeepsie, New York on January 22. It was announced that Global Force Wrestling merged with Impact Wrestling leaving Deaner's status unknown.[33]

Return to Impact Wrestling/ TNA

The Deaners (2018–2020)

In 2018, Cody Deaner returned to an Impact Wrestling ring when he faced former Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Eli Drake on the international One Night Only PPV event BCW /Impact March Breakdown in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.[34]

He returned again to an Impact Wrestling ring when he teamed with Cousin Jake and formed the tag team The Deaners as they made their debut on the Twitch exclusive broadcast "Last Chancery."[34]

In March of 2019, Cody Deaner officially re-signed a contract with Impact Wrestling and formed a tag team with his Cousin Jake known as The Deaners.[35] Vignettes began airing of The Deaners on their farm known as The Deaner Compound.[36] The Deaners were successful in their in-ring debut and spent the majority of 2019 feuding with the team of The Desi Hit Squad.[37] On May 26, 2020, The North defended with success the World Tag Team Championships in Canada against Cody Deaner and Wheels Deaner at the Deaner Compound.[38]

Violent By Design/The Design (2020–2024)

Main article: The Design

On December 12, 2020, at Final Resolution, during a match between Eric Young and Rhyno, Cody turned heel and attacked his tag team partner Cousin Jake, thus ending the Deaners tag team and aligning himself with Young and Joe Doering.[39] After numerous video packages hinting at a character change, Deaner debuted a newly shaved head, trimmed beard and all black attire on the January 5, 2021, edition of Impact!. In the same episode he and Joe Doering defeated Rhino and Cousin Jake. On Impact's website, it was revealed his ring name was shortened to simply Deaner. At Hard to Kill, Deaner, Doering, and Young began going under the name Violent By Design (VBD), as they defeated Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, and Cousin Jake.

On the June 3 2021 episode of Impact!, VBD leader Eric Young invoked the Freebird Rule and Deaner was given a share of the Impact World Tag Team Championship - which had been recently won by VBD teammates Doering and Rhino - marking his first title in Impact Wrestling.[40] VBD would lose the titles to The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) in a four-way tag team match at Slammiversary, that also involved Rich Swann and Willie Mack, and Fallah Bahh and No Way.[41]

In early 2022, VBD formed an alliance with the Good Brothers, teaming with them at Hard To Kill to take on Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Heath and Rhino in a 10-man Hardcore War match in a losing effort.[42][43] On March 5, at Sacrifice, Young and Doering defeated The Good Brothers to win the Impact World Tag Team Championship for the second time, again with Deaner being also recognized as champion under the Freebird Rule.[44]

After losing the tag titles at Under Siege, Deaner and Doering focused more on helping Young try to win the Impact World Championship during the summer of 2022, but were unsuccessful.

Following Kon and Alan Angels being added to VBD,[45] Deaner would defeat Young in a cinematic prison fight (where it was implied Deaner stabbed him with a shiv) on the December 1 episode of Impact, thus becoming the new leader of the group and renaming it The Design.[46][47]

At Final Resolution on December 9, 2023, Deaner unsuccessfully challenged Tommy Dreamer for the Impact Digital Media Championship.

On February 1, 2024, Deaner officially dissolved the Design, stating that it was his attempt to resurrect VBD, but no matter what he did, he couldn't bring it back to life. He lost a match to PCO and was attacked by Kon right after.[48]

Other media

In 2023, Gray started a podcast entitled Wrestling is Life is Wrestling with Cody Deaner where he interviews wrestlers and people involved in the wrestling business to learn various life lessons from their personal life stories and journey. He has interviewed guests such as professional wrestlers Josh Alexander, Crazzy Steve, Shawn Spears, multimedia producer David Sahadi, and more.[49]


In 2014, Gray started to do some small motivational speaking engagements. Three years later, he began doing motivational speaking engagements to a larger audience and has now spoken in front of thousands of young people for various community organizations, elementary schools, high schools, conferences and charities. He speaks about daring to dream big, overcoming adversity, and the power of positivity and influence.[50][non-primary source needed]

In 2018, Gray started a charity fundraising campaign called "Giv'er for Charity." Every month, he picks a new charity that is connected to his fans and donates 100% of the proceeds from his Giv'er for Charity merchandise to that charity. He has raised money for various charities including: Special Olympics, a wheelchair bicycle fund for a local nursing home, a program for kids with autism, a camp for child burn victims, a community living program for people with special needs, and a summer deaf camp for children.[51][non-primary source needed] The "Giv'er for Charity" campaign has also been endorsed by Mick Foley.[52][non-primary source needed]

Personal life

Gray is married and has four children. His family life and their support throughout his career has been chronicled by the Toronto Star.[53]

Championships and accomplishments

Deaner with the Classic Championship Wrestling Heavyweight championship belt


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