Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! This edition looks at one of Canada’s indie superstars, who has emerged as one of the international elite in Europe and Japan, “Speedball” Mike Bailey.
For a country that has produced legends from “Whipper” Billy Watson and Stu Hart, to Roddy Piper and Bret “Hitman” Hart, from Chris Jericho to Edge & Christian, Trish Stratus to Gail Kim, Canada’s indie scene doesn’t often get the attention that it probably deserves. Arguably it could all be Canada’s fault – after all, as a nation, we Canadians tend to be a little more reserved in our bravado, often seen as being too polite (and apologetic – sorry!). But with solid indie promotions like Smash Wrestling in Toronto, Alpha-1 in Hamilton, Ontario, International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) in Montreal and Vancouver’s Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW), among others, leading the charge, the Canadian indie scene is still producing top level talent. To the current crop of top superstars like WWE’s Kevin Owens, Natalya, and Sami Zayn, to IMPACT Wrestling‘s Taya Valkyrie and “All Ego” Ethan Page, to indie breakouts like El Phantasmo, Kobe Durst and Josh Alexander, the Canadian indie scene is still thriving. One such indie star that is on the verge of exploding internationally (thanks to a rather unfortunate situation) is Quebec’s“Speedball” Mike Bailey.
Montreal’s Mike Bailey began wrestling in 2005, starting out with the Montreal Wrestling Federation (MWF) at the age of only 15. With no formal training, he absorbed the work of those around him (including an older brother and sister who also wrestled) and by the age of 16 made his pro wrestling debut, working MWF shows as well as working with Federation de Lutte Quebecoise (FLQ).
In 2009, he began working with IWS and it was there he finally got the name he’s most recognized by. Nicknamed “Speedball” by IWS publicist Michael Ryan due to his ability to bounce around the ring, Mike Bailey began to soar to new heights as one of La Belle Province’s top wrestling prospects. Incorporating his highspeed athleticism with his background in Taekwondo (he’s a 4th degree black belt in real life), Bailey began to create a cult buzz in the Canadian indies, working alongside the likes of Kevin Owens (then Kevin Steen) and newly signed NXT recruits 3.0 (Scott Parker & “Big Magic” Shane Matthews).
In 2010, he branched over into nearby Ontario, working with Ottawa’s Capital City Championship Combat (C4) and in 2012 got his first national exposure when he appeared on a CHIKARA event filmed in Ottawa, It’s How You Play The Game. By 2013, he was working as far as Toronto, working with upstart Smash Wrestling.
He made his first break in the US indie scene in 2014 when he entered his first Best of the Best tournament with Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). Although he lost his first round match, a three-way between himself, Andrew Everett and round winner AR Fox, he made an impression on the CZW booking committee and became a regular performer the rest of the year.
His US presence grew exponentially when he debuted in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and after a solid year of matches was announced as an entrant in the 2015 PWG Battle of Los Angeles. He defeated Drew Galloway (WWE’s Drew McIntyre), Will Ospreay, and Tommy End (NXT’s Aleister Black) en route to the finals that year, but ultimately lost the triple threat final to a red hot Zack Sabre Jr. (the third competitor was Chris Hero, NXT’s Kassius Ohno). But he redeemed his first-round loss in the 2014 CZW Best of the Best the following year, winning the tournament in a final match against Jonathan Gresham. Bailey was on a roll. He also found work with EVOLVE Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling, and in Mexico with AAA.
But 2016 started off with what could have been potential career suicide. While crossing the border to head to work some EVOLVE dates that March, he was pulled over and discovered not to have a work visa for performing in the US. While he had been working on one with CZW, it never materialized in time and Bailey was subsequently banned from the United States for five years – he would be eligible to return in 2021. But instead of resting on his laurels and moping in just the Canadian indies, he instead turned his eyes to Europe and Japan.
In 2016, the UK indie scene was on the verge of exploding into the next great wrestling scene, and Speedball’s high energy style fit right in. Soon he was working for all the top promotions, such as PROGRESS, Revolution Pro (RevPro), Defiant Wrestling, Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling (PCW) and more, as well as venturing further into mainland Europe with Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw).
But his main home became the Japanese promotion, Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) Pro, which matched Bailey’s frenetic martial arts style with some of Japan’s most underrated talents and most unique stars. He’s a 2x KO-D Tag Team Champion with DDT Pro, including being a part of the current title holding tandem, the Moonlight Express, with MAO. The duo is also the reigning STRONGEST-K Tag Team Champions in Kaientai DOJO Wrestling as well.
“Speedball” Mike Bailey has refused to rest on his laurels or setbacks, becoming an international indie superstar with a solid resume in the UK, Europe, Canada and Japan, with a cult following in the US that’s hungering for the return of the man that they barely got a taste of before his ban. In two years, the US will finally get to see Speedball back in action again live, but in the meantime, he’s easy to find on various streaming platforms from around the world.
Catch Up on Previous Indie Watch Articles!
- Indie Watch: “Superstar” Jake Atlas (USA), February 9, 2019
- Indie Watch: Laredo Kid (Mexico), January 31, 2019
- Indie Watch: “Master Class” Michael Su (China), January 28, 2019
- Indie Watch: Channing Decker (Canada), January 25, 2019
- Indie Watch: Ricky Starks (USA), January 25, 2019
- Indie Watch: Alexander Hammerstone (USA), January 22, 2019
- Indie Watch: Zombie Dragon (USA/China), January 15, 2019
- Indie Watch: Chris Bey (USA), January 14, 2019
- Indie Watch: Maria Manic (USA), January 11, 2019
- Indie Watch: The Kings of Catch (Scotland), January 8, 2019
- Indie Watch Sefa Fatu (USA), January 6, 2019
- Indie Watch: Austin Theory (USA), December 27, 2018
- Indie Watch: Homero Simpson (Mexico), December 20, 2018
- Indie Watch: Damian Drake (USA), December 12, 2018
- Indie Watch: “Red Death” Daniel Garcia (USA), December 11, 2018
- Indie Watch: Royce Isaac$ (USA), November 29, 2018
- Indie Watch: A-Kid (Spain), November 16, 2018
- Indie Watch: Rush (Mexico), November 12, 2018
- Indie Watch: Addy Starr (Canada), October 24, 2018
- Indie Watch: Puma King (Mexico), October 14, 2018
- Indie Watch: Kevin Ku (USA), October 11, 2018
- Indie Watch: The Filip Brothers (Australia), October 10, 2018
- Indie Watch: Daga (Mexico), October 9, 2018
- Indie Watch: Salina de la Renta (Puerto Rico), October 5, 2018
- Indie Watch: Sheldon Jean (Canada), September 29, 2018
- Indie Watch: King Khash (USA/Persia), September 25, 2018
- Indie Watch: Martina ‘The Session Moth’ (Ireland), September 18, 2018
- Indie Watch: Zachary Wentz (USA), September 9, 2018
- Indie Watch: Scotty Davis (Ireland), September 4, 2018
- Indie Watch: SCHAFF (USA), August 21, 2018
- Indie Watch: Bandido (Mexico), August 15, 2018
- Indie Watch: Aiden Prince (Canada), August 7, 2018
- Indie Watch: “The Business” Slex (Australia), May 9, 2018
- Indie Watch: Robbie Eagles (Australia), May 1, 2018
- Indie Watch: Jordynne Grace (USA), April 27, 2018
- Indie Watch: D.L. Hurst (USA), April 13, 2018
- Indie Watch: The Maine State Posse (USA), January 24, 2018
- Indie Watch: The Women of PROGRESS (England), January 20, 2018