IMPACT Wrestling celebrated 20 years of its unique brand of pro wrestling Sunday at it’s annual anniversary event, “Slammiversary.”
The night also marked a major first in the company’s history, as out pro wrestler “Speedball” Mike Bailey became the first out LGBTQ wrestler to win a singles IMPACT championship, and the first gender-diverse wrestler to win any IMPACT title.
Bailey outpaced Ace Austin, Trey Miguel, Alex Zayne, Kenny King and Andrew Everett to win the IMPACT X-Division championship, his first title since joining the company last year. The Taekwondo black belt saw his stock rise in the company quickly, being inserted into matches with now-former X-Division champion Austin and X-Division stalwarts like Alex Shelley.
If the win was sweet enough, the fashion in which Bailey won the title is certainly a sundae topper. Bailey and company opened “Slammiversary” in an Ultimate X match, the most dangerous and exciting match type in IMPACT’s history.
#ANDNEW @IMPACTWRESTLING X Division Champion!@SpeedballBailey #Slammiversary pic.twitter.com/wt2IUqKT0L— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 20, 2022
Similar to a ladder match, the belt is hung above the ring and the winner is the first to unhook and take possession of it. Unlike a ladder match, two cables are strung 10-15ft above the ring in an “X,” and the title is suspended where the cables meet. Wrestlers must navigate the cables to reach the center and claim the title.
The match usually guarantees plenty of high-flying and falls from great heights, and Sunday’s match was no exception. With both Bailey and Austin hanging from the cables, Bailey was able to send Austin tumbling toward the mat before claiming the title for themself.
Bailey now joins Kiera Hogan as the only two out LGBTQ champions in IMPACT history. Hogan previously held the Knockouts Tag Team championships with Tasha Steelz on two occasions before departing the company last year.
IMPACT has worked to better connect with the LGBTQ community in recent years. In 2019, the company organized a series of events around its “Bound For Glory” event featuring Hogan with LGBTQ organizations.
The company also announced a partnership with the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, organizers of the Gay Softball World Series, earlier this year, and produced its first Pride merchandise with a portion of the profits going to the NAGAAA.
Bailey celebrated the win while kneeling on the suspended cables, creating a striking image to open his first championship reign in the company.