Pro wrestler “Speedball” Mike Bailey is constantly in motion: winning championships across Canada, building himself into an international star and becoming one of the best foreigners to grace Japanese promotion DDT.
Signing with IMPACT Wrestling last year brought more of the same, but with added historical context to the greater pro wrestling world.
But the person synonymous with marathon WrestleMania weekend schedules, and wrestling four matches in one night to win the 2023 PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament, is preparing for a challenge that comes with its own historic marker: New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
“It’s the biggest junior heavyweight tournament in the world, by far,” Bailey said during a recent appearance on the LGBT In The Ring podcast. “Every single person in the tournament, and in my block, is an absolute world-class superstar. I know that is going to be a lot to deal with.”
Competing in the tournament means that Bailey will be wrestling almost nightly over a 16-day period against some of the best wrestlers the world has to offer, including IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion Hiromu Takahashi.
Thank you all so much for your support! I promise that I will make every one of my matches unforgettable. Let's win this together!— Speedball Mike Bailey (@SpeedballBailey) April 27, 2023
That may sound light considering Bailey wrestled 10 matches over a three-day span during this year’s WrestleMania weekend, but they aren’t taking it lightly.
“I’ve been trying to tell myself that I wrestled 10 matches in three days,” Bailey said. “Twelve matches in 14 days is nothing. It’s easy peasy. But it won’t be easy. It’s completely different stakes.”
Bailey’s quest to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title also breaks new ground. The first gender-diverse wrestler to hold the IMPACT X-Division championship will be the first out wrestler to ever compete in NJPW’s revered tournament, which dates back to 1988.
They may be understated in how they view themself as a source of representation, but Bailey is proud to represent IMPACT in the tournament. Specifically they’re excited to represent the company’s X-Division, because of the company’s commitment to the wider definition of pro wrestling and its support of the wrestlers creating the moments that define them, including multiple LGBTQ grapplers.
“IMPACT is not afraid to be different,” Bailey said. “IMPACT is not afraid to break new ground and put at the front the people that the audience wants to see, regardless of what the norm dictates.”
Bailey will set out to embody that when NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament kicks off on Friday, May 12, live on NJPW’s streaming service, NJPW World.