Damon is a Grand Slam Champion who held the British Title on 4 separate occasions, held the Heavyweight title for over a year, stood atop the tag team division with Joey Hayes as The Young Offenders.
He is a loyal 16 year veteran who has helped Grand Pro Wrestling be the promotion we are today. He has also shaped the ethos, helped train many of the roster and always given his all to the fans, and to the company. But there is so much more to it than that….!
As part of what has become our tradition on “A Night to Remember” shows, this past May 12th we inducted a new member into our Hall of Fame. “Dangerous” Damon Leigh joined Bubblegum and Johnnie “Heresy” Brannigan as the 3rd member of the prestigious HOF.
This blog will look at the career of one of GPW’s longest serving roster members, and newest Hall of Famer, DDL…..!
It all began for DDL in a small community centre in Ince, Wigan July 2001. it was here where he, along with long term friend Joey Hayes joined a wrestling school. Whilst part of the school DDL met long term rival, Johnnie “Heresy” Brannigan and the three, Hayes, DDL and Brannigan formed a friendship that has lasted until this day.
DDL graduated quickly from the school and onto live shows where he made his debut in the same year of starting training, competing on local shows for a company known as NPWA (North West Professional Alliance). It was here where he and Joey formed a two man alliance known as The Young Offenders. It was also the time that he and Brannigan first clashed in a series of violent, hard hitting matches that would spread over the next 10 years.
In February 2003, there was a change in the air and Garage Pro Wrestling was formed by former NPWA coach, Lee Butler. The best NPWA talent were poached to join this brand new start up company. DDL was at the forefront of the names that made the jump from one Wigan roster to another Wigan roster. Other names also included, Joey Hayes, Roxi, TJ Cain, Heresy and Danny Hope.
Whilst training with GPW, Damon broke out of the North West scene when he appeared for WZW in the North East in front of 1000+ fans which helped carry his reputation around the country.
Come July 2003, GPW promoted it’s first ever show “Defection” where Damon featured as one of the main attractions. The popularity among fans that Damon had enjoyed when with the NPWA had followed him over to GPW where he started life as a major player, and a huge fan favourite.
2004 was the year where things really started happening for Damon. Learning from more experienced wrestlers such as first GPW Heavyweight Champion Chris Hero (pictured below) helped his abilities in the ring, so much so it lead to him lifting his first of 4 British Title wins in April 2004 when he defeated Young Offenders stablemate, Joey Hayes.
July 2004 saw Damon being flown over to Germany to compete for Westside Xtreme Wrestling in a much talked about match v. Joey Hayes (picture below). He also competed with Joey against the likes of Swiss Money Holdings (Ares and Double C, who is now Cesaro in WWE) in tag team matches across the UK and Europe. Following on from his appearance in Germany came a long run as a singles and tag team competitor in Holland.
In October 2004, DDL expelled career rival Heresy in a bloody battle for the British title, which Damon held until “Last Orders at the Legion” in January 2005, It was at this controversial event where he was cheated out of the title by Alex Shane. The frantic scenes that night at the Legion in Leigh made the front page of local news the following day when the fans called the press to let them know there had been a “robbery” at the Legion.
2004 also saw Damon change from “roster member” to “promoter”. Following the departure of GPW founder Lee Butler, there was no one steering the ship and no shows in the pipeline. Damon, at his own expense stepped in so he could keep the name of the promotion running. If Damon hadn’t done this at this time, i’m not sure where Grand Pro Wrestling would be today.
Justice was eventually served in March 2005 at GPW “Wanted” when Damon won the title back in front of a sold out audience at the Rose Club. From there, DDL went on an impressive run with the title, overcoming the challenges of Jiggy Walker, Keith Myatt, Danny Hope and a huge challenge from Dutch powerhouse Mark Kodiak, that nearly resulted in Damon losing his eyesight!
Damon’s next challenge came in the form of the longest reigning Heavyweight Champ of all time, Juggernaut. Alan Alan Alan Tasker brought Juggernaut into the promotion as an unknown who defeated Damon in his debut match, Not only beating him, but taking the British title at the same time. Damon was able to regain the title in March 2007 and entered his 3rd term as GPW British Champion.
In July 2007 the title changed hands again, when the 2 people Damon had started his wrestling journey with, Heresy and Joey Hayes both competed for the title at the same time in a 3-Way match that saw Joey leave with the title.
After DDL had emphatically refused to join Heresy’s group SIN by wrapping a steel chair round Heresy’s head, in 2008, with Heresy as British Champ, it was only right he and old foe, Leigh should lock horns for the title. The match would see Damon leave as the 4 time British champion. It was also the last time DDL would hold the title his career is synonymous with, dropping the belt to newcomers The Eastern Bloc in April 2008
Although Damon would never hold the British Title again, he would look for gold in other places. Later in 2008 he re-formed his successful relationship with Joey Hayes, now 7 years on since they first teamed and entered the tag team division as The Young Offenders.
Their relationship didn’t bear fruit until January 2009 when they eventually dislodged the longest ever reigning Tag Champs (The Mil-Anfield Connection) in a series of matches that culminated in a classic 2 out 3 Falls match.
However, The Young Offenders reign as Tag Champs would not end happily. Their time as champs, and indeed as a team, came to an end in July 2009. Unable to fend off the challenge of new team Paradise Lost, which featured old rival Heresy and partner Kastor LeVay, the two teams faced in a stipulation where the losers would have to split up, forever. The Young Offenders have never teamed together since.
Following the defeat, it saw DDL return to singles action and take on a new path. A path that would take him on a journey for the Heavyweight Title.
Now a former British and Tag Team Champ, DDL set his sights on becoming a Grand Slam Champion by lifting the Heavyweight Title for the first time. But first, he had to defeat former foe – Juggernaut.
Juggernaut had been on a tear as champ, reigning undefeated for approaching 2 years. At “Out for Justice” Damon earned the chance to challenge for the title, but it wasn’t to be. Juggernaut retained. .
However, a career ending knee injury forced Juggernaut to retire and the title was vacated. DDL had another chance. He was entered into a mini tournament which featured Dave Mastiff, El Ligero and the man that had once temporarily blinded him – Mark Kodiak.
After overcoming Dave Mastiff in the first round, it was in November 2010 that DDL went one on one with Kodiak once more, this time for the Heavyweight Title. An emotional year was rounded off with a huge win for Damon making him a Grand Slam Champion. After nearly 10 years of being at the top of the card, perhaps none more were deserving to take the accolade.
DDL carried the title for 378 days, with successful defences against the likes of Cyanide, William Gáylord and Dirk Feelgood. It was at “Do or Die” in December 2012 where Damon finally came unstuck to the relentless challenge of Masterplan leader, Dirk Feelgood. This was Damon’s last title run in Grand Pro Wrestling.
The following years for Damon have seen him struggle to get back into the title scene. Long feuds with Bubblegum, Nate Travis and The Cause kept GPW’s most successful ever champion distracted.
A change in attitude from “Dangerous” to “Deadly” Damon Leigh in 2014 didn’t reverse his fortunes. His last singles match in a GPW ring saw him in a losing effort to Matthew Brooks in June 2016.
But, in 2017 when we were faced with the conundrum of who we could call and entrust with our main event title match at A Night to Remember, there was only one person to ask. And, it of course, it gave us the opportunity to throw open the doors to the Hall of Fame and welcome him in.
Welcome into the HOF, DDL!