Mike Bailey Explains His SPEEDBALL Nickname, Signing With IMPACT Wrestling, Josh Alexander
Speedball Mike Bailey (@speedballbailey) is a professional wrestler currently signed to IMPACT Wrestling. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about growing up in Canada, French being his first language and learning to speak English, how he got his "Speedball" nickname, his dream X Division opponents, his issues crossing the Canada/US border, how he turned the negative of not being able to enter the United States into a positive, wrestling fellow Canadian Josh Alexander, his wife Veda Scott and much more!
I mean, I'm gonna be with IMPACT Wrestling for a few more years. And I'm very excited about that. I want to grow along with IMPACT, and I think that's a big part of it. I feel like, like, I'm not taking any credit for it, but they have absolutely been making all the right moves. And Scott has taken the company in a very, very interesting direction. And they have been growing, the shows have been consistently getting better. They've come out of the pandemic, and just knocked it out of the park. The live events are absolutely fantastic. And I think that I don't think there's a limit right now, to what I can do an impact. And I think that the more we all like all of us at IMPACT grow, the more the company is going to grow. And I feel like that's limitless, kind of. But that being said, I want to outdo myself. And I know that people have said that my 2022 was a wild year, and my goal is just to make 2022 better, wherever and however that might be. So I like I am again, I am a much better wrestler right now than I was at the beginning of the year. I am focused on growth and continuous improvement. And I feel like I've achieved that. And I feel like my work itself is going to keep getting better in 2023. I mean, like with how wrestling is evolving and changing, there's new opportunities constantly. I mean, forbidden door things that are happening now like they never have before. I got to wrestle Kenta recently at Pro-Wrestling Revolver at a match with Jon Moxley, I wrestled Will Ospreay earlier in the beginning of the year. I mean, I wrestled Dax Harwood two weeks ago in a, you know, big forbidden door extraordinaire, match. And I feel like that just makes the possibilities endless. And if I can continue to wrestle all the best wrestlers in the world and keep getting better while I do it. I feel like that's enough of a goal.
“So the Speedball is a piece of boxing equipment that you just hit and it rebounds. And the reason that I was nicknamed Speedball Mike Bailey, is because there was a, his name was Michael Ryan, he wrote about Montreal wrestling, he since passed away. But in one of my early matches, he described my enduring style as bouncing around the ring like a speedball. And a big part of the reason I love that nickname is because I didn't give it to myself, which is very rare in these hard times.”
“So I think so. But I am not like, I'm not spiteful. And the thing that I never had in any, like combat sports that I did, was like, you know that anger, that rage, that desire to beat my opponent and knock him out? You know, I just wanted to win. I wanted to be technically superior and win, and that was much more interesting to me and I never had any animosity towards my opponents. Even if they which is again, very much reflected in my professional wrestling and my persona on screen, but I never had any animosity, like even if they tried to like cheat, I'd be like, Yeah, I understand what you're doing, I understand where you're doing it, and it doesn't really bother me. And I think that's why pro wrestling worked better for me than actual, like, competitive combat sports because I like, I prefer teamwork to outright competition. I prefer working together in order to achieve a goal than trying to, you know, beat up another person. Like, I know that pro-wrestling is not the only avenue for that. And there's like, you know, lots of stunts and stuff is something that I almost went into at one point, and was, you know, certainly interested in and there's a lot of other avenues for that too. But pro-wrestling really fits my personality well, and much better than competing in MMA would have.”
It's so over, it's mostly through Twitch that I've given myself a lot of nicknames. So the number one is Uncle Speedy. That then goes by a lot and I don't know why I've become an uncle, but I feel like that's the place I occupy within the #speed fam. Which is because family comes first which is a fast and furious reference, which is very important to canon. ‘I live my life a quarter mile at a time.’ That’s the Vin Diesel voice.”
So there's been many moments where like, it's come in such small increments. I've been wrestling for 17 years. I'm 32 years old, which is when I started when I was 15, and I started from literally the bottom, like it was in Quebec, which so there was a language barrier that kind of cut off the whole province from the rest of the world. And then there's a physical border between Quebec and the US. I started taking bookings in January 2006. And later that year, is when Kevin Steen wrestled Christopher Daniels, in Quebec City. And that match was the first time in a very, very long time, like in decades that anyone was ever brought from outside of Quebec, to wrestle in Quebec. And that's how just that's just how isolated and difficult that was, at the time. So all this to say that there's been a lot of moments where, you know, I was just doing wrestling, and then I thought, Oh, this is going pretty well. And then it wasn't. And then it was again, and then [it wasn’t].”
“Yeah, and it's been great. It's been great to, you know, finally get to do it on a bigger platform than what I had been doing. I think PWG was a great example of that, because up until you know, last year, people would still go Oh, Speedball Mike Bailey, I love his match with Roderick Strong, which happened in like 2015. And I had been, you know, wrestling in Japan for DDT for like four years at this point. And I'd had way better matches there not because you know, not because I had been wrestling better opponents because there are very few than, than Roderick Strong. But I've gotten so much better in so many aspects over those five years that I couldn't come into the US. So it still sucks to have people judge me on what I was five years ago. And it's even worse to have people go, Oh, you weren't great five years ago. And it's like, well, I am a lot better now. And it was great to be able to come back to PWG in the beginning of the year and change up that perspective.
“I think people don't realise, I know for a fact that people are not aware of the calibre of talent that there is in Canada. The wrestling landscape is wild, it's completely different now than when I started, it's completely evolving. For a lot of people, this is how their path went right? They start wrestling training in 2018, they get a match on AEW Dark after they've been wrestling for, you know, six to eight months. And then now they're trying to get signed, and they're getting try-outs and stuff. I wrestled for, you know, five years until I received the first envelope that had five Canadian dollars in it, and that was my pay. And before that I just, you know, not even a handshake and a hot dog, five years of wrestling for free. But it's not because anyone was taking advantage of me just because no one was making money. Because again, this is pre social media, where the only way to advertise your wrestling shows is by, you know, stapling the flyers to telephone poles and waiting outside of the WWE house shows that try to hand out flyers and get people there. And you're not bringing in anyone. There's no draw, there's no big names, no one's making money.
So it hadn't happened. I was fine, up until that point. But again, it's extremely tricky. And the thing about the border is that everything is up to the agent, right? They don't really need a reason to turn you around. And they don't need a reason to, like, look further into your things either. They can just decide, you know, I don't like your face, we're gonna go and do a deep dive into everything you say. And also, the part that is complicated is that for, you know, every Speedball Mike Bailey and Josh Alexander that, you know, had the issues of the border, and then saw it through to the end, there's 100 more Canadians that you've never heard of, because they weren't able to pick up enough steam. And by the time, you know, they got turned around before they were able to actually get their name out there. And it's been so much harder for them ever since. I was lucky that I've been able to do you know, PWG and CZW, and Evolve and a bunch of higher echelon places. And then when I was not no longer able to get to the US, I was able to go to England and Japan and you know, Germany and wherever else, because I had picked up enough notoriety in order to be able to have my name out there and be attractive to promotions overseas.
“Oh, man, there's so many. AJ Styles is, of course, number one. And I think the person that will forever be associated with TNA. But man, that early X-Division roster was something you look at it like Jerry Lynn matches from that time. Amazing Red, doing absolutely fantastic. [Chris] Sabin, who's been there from the beginning, still one of the best. It's interesting to see. And I thought I've what is unique about the X-Division is that it's been able to for so long, maintain its identity, which is very, very rare in professional wrestling. Like do you think of the like, Intercontinental Championship in WWE, and it's kind of the mid-card title. But it's not associated with any particular style.
“My wife, the audience of wrestling and the existence of professional wrestling.”