Canadian professional wrestling veteran “Speedball” Mike Bailey has capitalized on his return to United States soil by becoming a staple within Impact Wrestling’s renowned X-Division in the last 16 months. The run includes a 110-day reign as X-Division Champion and numerous marquee matches on Impact Wrestling pay-per-views and weekly shows across North America that precede an eventful hiatus to Japan during the remainder of May.
Despite international success, Bailey lost to Jonathan Gresham on an episode of Impact Wrestling in Cicero, Illinois that decided their four-match series spanning most of 2023; Gresham won the first encounter at No Surrender, and Bailey prevailed at Sacrifice with the following match resulting in a no-contest.
“Even if I didn’t win the last one, I still consider myself a winner,” said Bailey in an interview with Slam Wrestling. “Every time I share the ring with Jonathan Gresham, I get better. And my main goal, my main mission in professional wrestling, is continual progress.”
Beginning his career in 2006 in Montreal, Quebec, the 32-year-old wrestler has since crafted his “hybrid style” with influence from Tiger Mask that blends technical skill, high-flying ability and martial-arts striking – taken from his early taekwondo background from the age of 10.
“I learned much more than the kicks – I learned discipline, and I learned self control,” he said. “Beyond pure technique, beyond the kicks that I use to win professional wrestling matches, I think that the attitude that has made me a successful professional wrestler is directly taken from taekwondo.”
He credits winning the X-Division Championship at Slammiversary 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee as his greatest accomplishment in Impact Wrestling, defeating Ace Austin, Alex Zayne, Andrew Everett, Kenny King, and Trey Miguel in an Ultimate X Match. Celebrating 20 years of the promotion, Bailey said, “It was the most historic moment I could possibly imagine.”
“There is an unparalleled, unmatched culture of athleticism and effort that shines through in the X-Division like nothing else in the world,” he continued. “It was based on people who work hard, and try to show that through straight action and just straight professional wrestling prowess.”
After 11 successful defenses, his reign ended at Bound For Glory 2022 in Albany, New York against Frankie Kazarian. The following November though, Bailey challenged Josh Alexander for the Impact World Championship in a near 60-minute match-of-the-year contender that turned heads for both the competitors and the promotion.
““I showed that there was no doubt that I could hang with the best in the world,” he expressed. “Josh Alexander has been on an absolute tear. He is, in my opinion, the best wrestler in the world, and the fact that I was able to stand toe-to-toe with him for nearly 60 minutes says a lot. (It) proves to anyone who could have doubted or thought otherwise that I have what it takes to stand with absolutely anyone.”
Supporting the notion, he main-evented a May 6th independent show against current Impact World Champion Steve Maclin, who won the vacated title following Alexander’s tricep tear and subsequent relinquishment. “Knowing Josh, he will only be stronger because of it, and I think all of Impact Wrestling will as well,” Bailey said. “We’ve got a shakeup, and there’s been a lot to deal with… Maclin’s been the most direct beneficiary from all of this, but Impact as a whole – Josh Alexander, has overcome that kind of challenge before, and it only makes things interesting.”
Maclin will defend against PCO at Under Siege on May 26 in London, Ontario, continuing Impact Wrestling’s rapport with Canada. “It’s fantastic. I think the Canadian wrestling fans don’t get nearly as much love as they deserve for professional wrestling,” Bailey said. “Toronto always has been a fantastic city for professional wrestling, and Windsor is historic and cannot be disassociated from the history of Impact Wrestling. I think there’s a lot more cities in Canada where I’d like to see Impact shows, but I’m really glad that we’ve spent so much time north of the border this year.”
Bailey, however, isn’t slated for the card and will instead fulfill a significant opportunity in Japan starting on May 12 at Korakuen Hall. “Well, I have a pretty big challenge up ahead of me. I won’t be at Under Siege because I’ll be in Japan in the Best of the Super Juniors 30 tournament for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and that’s a huge deal,” he said. “Winning that would absolutely bring me back to Impact Wrestling with unstoppable momentum, so that’s where my sights are set.”
NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors begins this Friday and ends on May 28th. Follow the tournament on Slam Wrestling, watch it on New Japan World : https://njpwworld.com/
TOP PHOTO: Mike Bailey at Impact Wrestling Sacrifice on Friday, March 24, 2023, at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario. Photo by Brad McFarlin.