This week we're taking a look at a human highlight reel in the form of Speedball Mike Bailey. Bailey has been in wrestling for 15 years, and has faced just about everyone. From Kevin Owens to Kushida, Bailey has been in the ring with all the names around the world. Despite his popularity, he still doesn't get brought up enough, and that's partially due to him not wrestling in the United States recently, which we'll get to. We're going to look at Bailey's career, some of the places he's wrestled in, why I think he's one of the best tournament wrestlers in the world, and of course, some of his best matches.
Bailey debuted in 2006 and spent the first few years of his career wrestling in his home country of Canada. He wrestled as Mike Sydal for a while(not to be confused with the actual Mike Sydal) and had his first notable match against El Generico in 2008. By 2010 he was facing names like Kevin Steen, now Owens, on a regular basis. Most of these big matches took place at Capitol City Championship Combat, which we all just call C4. In the years since, Bailey has had a total of 61 matches for the company, and having just returned to win the title for the second time, I think it's safe to still call C4 his home. Outside of C4, Bailey spent time in places like Smash, before beginning to work the United States in companies such as CZW and PWG.
Through facing just about everyone such as Shane Strickland and Will Ospreay, Bailey became one of the hottest names on the scene. He made it all the way to finals of the Battle of Los Angeles, and won the Best of the Best. Bailey seemed set to be the biggest name in AMerica, but in 2016 that came to a halt. Bailey had been told by CZW he would be getting a new work Visa, but it was going incredibly slow. Bailey had to choose between working without it or missing an Evolve show, which would be a huge opportunity. Bailey chose to work the show, and was caught without the Visa. As such, he was banned from entering the United States for five years. Bailey simply decided that if he couldn't wrestle in the USA, he would just wrestle everywhere else he possibly could.
Over the next few years Bailey became a staple in WXW in Germany, DDT in Japan, WCPW/Defiant in the UK, and plenty more. It was during this time that I started watching him, specifically thanks to WCPW. I've never gotten to talk about them before, so I want to take this time to highlight What Culture Pro Wrestling, later known as Defiant Wrestling. The company is exactly what it sounds like: a wrestling company made by the Youtube channel What Culture. The company was a mix of highlighting British wrestling and bringing in the biggest names from all around the world. To prove my point, champions in the company included Drew McIntyre, Cody, Walter, Austin Aries, Zack Sabre Jr, and Kay Lee Ray. The biggest thing the company ever did though, was it's Pro Wrestling World Cup. This was a 64 man tournament that aired entirely free on Youtube. This is how I first saw Mike Bailey, and this is still possibly my favorite tournament ever.
We have two matches from this tournament on the list, and although I didn't include them, at TV tapings around the tournament Bailey also had matches with names like Penta and Kushida. Bailey did amazing in this tournament despite only making it to the quarterfinals, and that just proves my next point: Bailey is the best tournament wrestler around. As I mentioned, he made it to the 2015 BOLA finals against Chris Hero and ZSJ after beating Drew McIntyre, Tommy End, and Will Ospreay. He won CZW Best of the Best, and of course the finals of that tournament is on this list too. Add in other shows like the 2014 Snowbrawl tournament, the King of DDT, and various Ambition tournaments and Bailey has competed in a grand total of 33 tournaments! He's probably best known though for being the runner up of the 2020 16 Carat Gold tournament against Cara Noir. Now, I already covered that match in Cara's Indie Talent Showcase, and even made it number two. As such, I wanted to look at different matches here. So with that being said, let's take a look at some amazing matches from Speedball Mike Bailey.
#10: Mike Bailey vs Drew Galloway
I wanted to include this partially because I was shocked that it happened. The timing worked out though and Drew and Mike met in the opening round of the Battle of Los Angeles. What surprised me more than the match happening though, was that Bailey won. This is one of the physically biggest opponents that Bailey faces on this list, meaning the style is quite different than say Bandido or Ospreay. Bailey manages to work this style quite well though, and pulls out the brutality to match Galloway. Bailey spends the entire match just slowly working down Drew, just wearing away at his offense, but even near the end Drew is still hitting big moves.
Mike realizes just how hard putting away Drew is going to be, and he has to come up with increasingly big power moves. The moment where I truly thought the match would be over was when Drew hit him with a reverse Alabama slam. The correct description for that spot is splat! The fact that Bailey comes back from that is nothing short of a miracle, and that crowd knew it. Bailey winning was surely an upset, but one that left the fans anything but.
#9: Mike Bailey vs Stu Grayson
The first of two tournament wins on this list, Bailey actually beat Evil Uno in the opening round and here he faces Stu Grayson. This was C4's Snowbrawl tournament, and it might be my favorite prize in all of wrestling history: a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Build a Bear! Considering that both wrestling are great high flyers, I'm shocked by how much mat work dominates the early part of the match. Don't get me wrong, they do plenty of flying, but they also work holds and battle for momentum. Both men are exhausted from the tournament leading up to this match, but they put on a great fight. Bailey hits probably more kicks per minute than any other match on this list while Grayson contorts his body into varying types of pretzels. Bailey deserved the win here, and while it's certainly not the biggest tournament on the list, it's the first, and a sign of things to come.
#8: Mike Bailey vs Chuck Mambo
Mambo is delightful. He's a joy of a wrestler and always makes me smile, which at this show honestly didn't take much. This show was at Breed Pro Wrestling's Starrcave, which was a wrestling show in a cave. I feel like that's all I have to say, but I'll continue. This match has people genuinely concerned about going over a cliff. This leads to an amazing comedy spot where both men decide to pose for cool pictures since actually wrestling in a cave is dangerous. It all goes well until Mambo says Bailey needs to pose for a pin, and actually tries to pin him. From then on the pair doubles down on wrestling, cliff or no cliff. This isn't the only match on the list that had me yelling at Bailey to wear shoes, but this one had me yelling the loudest.
Of course, being in a cave, Mambo brings rocks into the ring plants Bailey feet first on the pebbles. The pair then attempt to throw each other into an actual bottomless pit, and I think this match had me more nervous than most deathmatches I've seen. I linked above to the entire show, and there are some great matches on the show I suggest staying for like A-Kid vs Carlos Romo, but I think this one has the most fun with the fact that it's wrestling in a freaking cave.
#7: Mike Bailey vs Biff Busick
Before he became Oney Lorcan, Biff Busick tore it up all over the independent scene. This was their third match, and as such, it was made two out of three falls. C4 doesn't always get talked about, but they really do deliver some epic matches, and in cases like this, finish feuds. These men seem set on killing each other, and if Biff suplexing Bailey across the rope doesn't convince you of that, then Bailey's kicks should. The fight is full of power moves that make you easily forget it's scheduled for multiple falls. The degree to which they batter each other in the first fall makes you wonder what they'll have left in the tank. Busick gets the first point with a submission and refuses to let go afterwards. The announcer says there will be a minute between falls, but Busick doesn't want to wait.
When they do resume Speedball is furious knowing that he's at a disadvantage now. He hangs on even through a massive release German superplex and gets a crucifix roll up tying the match. Busick is fuming and the pair kick it into a gear I didn't even know they had. They begin breawling all around the venue throwing chairs at each other, leaping off stages, and just slamming into the hard floor. Bailey absolutely deserved the hard fought win here, and it's everything I love in a good indie feud.
#6: Mike Bailey vs Cara Noir
I said that Cara vs Speedball from 16 Carat Gold wouldn't be on the list, but I still had to include a match between them! This was the first of now five singles matches between the pair, and for being their first encounter they already work well in the ring together. They make great rivals for a reason: they both have vicious kicks, hey both wrestle barefoot, and although they have a clashing aesthetic, they have a similar fighting style. The biggest difference in the ring is Bailey isn't going to bite your foot while Noir is happy to chow down. A little bit of cannibalism aside, this match is so good. There is certainly a good bit of grappling, but the lightning fast and thunderous kicks are the star. Not just from Bailey either, but also from Cara Noir.
When they move onto the apron the match just kicks into another gear, and it genuinely seems Cara might win. This is one of the matches that I think helped make Noir into the star that he is, and is a solid reminder that not only is Bailey one of the best sellers in wrestling, but one of the best storytellers. The way they build Bailey's knee as the weak point throughout the match is phenomenal, and makes every knee shot seem like a match ender. That's good storytelling, but the licking/makeout session stands out in the mind as showing that not only can Bailey wrestler at Cara's level, he's willing to play his mindgames. Bailey with his lips and mouth covered in Noir's makeup is an iconic image, but it shouldn't overshadow such a special match.
#5: Mike Bailey vs Kyle O'Reilly
this is the first of two WCPW World Cup matches on this list, and wow I love this tournament. It's a 64 man tournament that sees people from all over the globe competing. The rounds of 64 and 32 took place at qualifier shows, and the last 16 all met in England and over four nights we wittled it down to our winner Kushida. In a tournament of that size of course some matches will get more attention than others, and a lot of the qualifier matches get forgotten. This one however, is one of the best. Both men hurt their leg, and so much of the bout is spent focusing on strikes and submissions to the leg. Despite that, both men still are able to fly around the ring early on and we get some rapid, delightful sequences.
While this match does have some high flying spots, it's the nasty holds being wrenched and the kicks echoing through the venue that stick with you after the match. When they just trade kicks and knee strikes to the chest for a solid two minutes, the entire crowd goes nuts as they expect to see someone's ribs go through their spine. O'Reilly slaps on what I can only call a cross arm and leg breaker before transitioning to an ankle lock, yet somehow Bailey hangs on. He then hits a moonsault from inside the ring on the second rope, to O'Reilly on the outside. I think O'Reilly was the favorite going into this match, but Bailey proved himself and considering the other match from this tournament we'll look is after this, having Bailey go forward was the right call.
#4: Mike Bailey vs Bandido
I still had to include a match from 2020 16 Carat Gold, and this match was fantastic. This is the kind of match that really only happens in a tournament, and this is just the quarterfinal. I love the fact that I have just as many tournament quarterfinal matches as I do finals on this list. It says a lot about Bailey and that he gives his all in every match. This match also is in the running for fastest moving match with the other quarterfinal match we'll see later. These two are in almost perfect sync, and have some sequences that would break my brain to describe. The crowd seems pretty split, but ultimately I think they expected Bandido to win.
The flips and counters are definitely what you come to the match for, but you stay for Bailey's gorgeous kicks. He easily has the best axe kick in the business, and works that stiff style that the WXW crowd loves to see. For example, he hits a standing moonsault double knee drop that would literally make me vomit. This match went above and beyond what it needed to do, and I'm so glad it did. Every time you think it's finally over, they kick out just to do something even crazier. It's a great match in a great tournament.
#3: Mike Bailey vs Will Ospreay
this tournament was the first time I saw Mike Bailey, and this was the match that convinced me he was incredible. There were many moments when I thought Bailey would win this fight, but even in defeat he looked amazing. This match often gets overlooked due to the sheer scope of the WCPW World Cup. The day before this Ospreay beat Rey Mysterio, and in just a couple days he would beat Ricochet and face Kushida. In all of that it's easy for a match to get lost in the shuffle, but this one might be my favorite of the tournament. This match hits the ground running as they both dodge Hurricanrana attempts with cartwheels. Much of the match sees them proving they can counter anything their opponent can, and it leads to some phenomenal sequences.
There's a spot a few minutes into the match that sees Bailey hit what's called a basic jump front kick. This is something I learned in karate that without fail always looks awkward. You're basically hopping into a kick, and it makes you look like you had to start fighting during hopscotch, but Bailey makes it work. Not only does it look good when he does it, it looks devastating. Speedball is known for his kicks, and is a master of not just making the famously cool moves look good, but making even the blandest of moves look brutal. One of the best moments of the match begins with Bailey dodging a rainmaker with a roundhouse kick and ends with Bailey hitting a piledriver. Everything in the middle is just unbelievable, including both wrestlers bouncing off each other's feet for lack of a better phrase.
This wasn't the first time these two fought, and I could watch them for hours. The crowd agrees and cheers them on just happy to be seeing the match. It's rare for a match where our showcase loses to be this high on the list, but this match is a rare gem. Especially considering it's free on YouTube, stop what you're doing and watch this.
#2: Mike bailey vs Jonathan Gresham
when I think CZW I usually don't think of technical masterclasses, but Best of the Best is an exception. Winning that tournament is no easy feat, and some truly special wrestlers have won it. Both men give this match that respect that it deserves as they face off in the finals. This fight sees a lot of nuanced counters and escapes of submission holds at a surprisingly measured pace. For example, early in the match Bailey begins working his head out a hold in Gresham's legs, so Gresham begins to apply pressure with his forearms instead. I truly think Bailey is at his best in tournaments.
Some wrestlers are great in big singles special matches, some are best in long title reigns, others are best in tag situations. Bailey on the other hand seems to truly bring his A-game on tournament nights, seeing as six matches on this list were from tournaments, and if we hadn't have talked about the 16 Carat Gold 2020 finals before, it would be seven. This match is easily my favorite of his actual tournament wins, and it's most certainly the most deserved. What amazes me the most about this match is the brutality. This crowd is used to some disgusting action, but they buy into the stiff shots just as much as any tube or barbed wire bat attack. When Gresham double dropkicks Bailey's head against the guardrail, the crowd reacts with the shock that they should. This fight is built off well executed simple spots, and although it does have some long high flying exchanges, the foundation is mat based offense that is methodical.
They work a figure-four legwork for a solid minute, and after everything Bailey went through to escape it, when Gresham locks in a second one the crowd immediately freaks out. This match has weight to it in a way that most CZW matches, deathmatch or not, just don't have. The entire building is happy with the result, and I don't think anyone can argue that Bailey truly belongs as the best of the best.
#1: Mike Bailey vs Daniel Garcia
This is the most recent match on the list, and the reason I decided to write this article. Garcia has been absolutely dominant on the independent scene lately, but this was his first time defending the C4 title in quite some time. This match had been built to for a while, and was absolutely worth the wait. After a staredown they go across the entire side of the ring trading collar and elbow tie ups. Then they see who will keep clapping longer, and the competitive spirit is so tense you can cut it with a knife. Garcia and Bailey know each other well, leading to counter after counter as they try to get even the tiniest advantage. Garcia tries to keep Bailey grounded knowing what Bailey can do in the air, but the match moves at a breakneck pace regardless of what style is being displayed. There is almost no wasted time in this match as they both want the win so bad.
This match was more than just a huge title change and win for Bailey, it was a reminder that Bailey is still great. Bailey is now able to enter the United States, and this match is basically the only reason any company in the US needs to get him a work visa. I heard this match called one of the best indie matches of the year so far, and I can't help but agree. These two truly seem destined to fight forever, and know just the right way to counter each other. I don't think I winced any harder than when Garcia got his knees up as Bailey hit the double knee drop. Knees crashing into knees made my knee hurt! Soon after that you have Garcia just stomping and grinding his foot into Bailey's face. This isn't friendly competition, it's a war. When Garcia can't even end it with a spinning tombstone you begin to question just what it will take. When Bailey finally gets the win Garcia gets in his face and you think will fight him. Instead, Garcia plants a big kiss on him and congratulates him. It's a great ending to a truly amazing match.