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LOOKING BACK AT THE LIFE AND CAREER OF J.C. BAILEY

By Adam Lash, IndyWrestlingNews.com on 2010-08-30 18:24:30

Joseph Carl Bailey, Jr., known professionally as J.C. Bailey, was found dead early this morning by his father.  A cause of death is unknown. He was 26 years old.
 
As the son of Bad 2 the Bone Wrestling (BBW) promoter Joe Bailey, J.C. spent most of his life around the wrestling business. Too young to legally wrestle or train in the state of Kentucky, he'd hold backyard wrestling matches with friends and would help out his father at shows before eventually being allowed to train in Evansville, Indiana under Tracy Smothers at the age of 16. Unlike Kentucky, Indiana didn't have an athletic commission requiring promoters, wrestlers, and even managers to get a license. As Bailey went through training he'd would begin refereeing for local organizations, including Ian Rotten's Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South, before eventually making his debut as a professional wrestler in 2001.
 
His first year of wrestling took place mostly in Eric Acker's Coliseum Championship Wrestling (CCW) in Evansville, Indiana. CCW ran weekly events at the Soldier & Sailor's Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday evenings, which appealed to area wrestlers because it was an extra show every week that they could do in addition to their regular weekend bookings. The weekly shows for Bailey, especially at such an early stage of his career, helped him improve at a rapid pace compared to his local contemporaries that didn't have the benefit of working as often. After turning 18 he'd begin working on his father's BBW shows in Kentucky. BBW at the time was one of the most active independent groups in the country, running sometimes as many as 6 shows a month, making it another group that appealed to wrestlers in the area that were looking for as many bookings as they could get.
 
Both CCW and BBW were particularly appealing to wrestlers that worked for Ian Rotten's IWA  group. The IWA was running weekly out of Clarksville, IN by this point, so working for IWA and CCW alone gave workers at least 8 steady dates a month, plus BBW dates and whatever other bookings they could get in or out of the area. While Bailey had worked for the IWA as a referee and had attended IWA events with his father, who'd help out and even promoted a couple of IWA shows in the late 90s, it was the connections he made through working other shows with IWA talent that helped get him in the door.
 
Bailey would make his IWA debut against Corporal Robinson on January 4, 2003, in Clarksville, IN. His IWA work would be a stark departure from his high flyer roots, as right off the bat he got thrown into the IWA's vibrant death match scene. He brought a uniqueness to the scene, as he was a small high flyer that did death matches, as opposed to the larger and less athletic wrestlers that fans were used to seeing in those roles. Almost overnight he became one of the IWA's top guys and Ian Rotten, seeing Bailey's potential, took him under his wing. Rotten would tell anyone that would listen that Bailey was the future of death match wrestling and would actively try and persuade promoters to use him. In addition, Smart Mark Video (SMV) owner Mike Burns had become one of Bailey's biggest supporters, something that would help him later in his career.
 
His innovative style and ability to take ridiculous amounts of punishment endeared Bailey to death match fans who followed him live or on video. With the help of the IWA's distribution deal with SMV, his reputation began to spread outside of his home area of Kentucky and Indiana. He appealed to Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) fans in particular and pretty soon his name would come up whenever fans talked about workers that CZW should begin using. They didn't have to wait long, as Bailey would begin appearing for CZW in the summer of 2003 as a part of an IWA invasion angle.
 
The IWA invasion angle came about when CZW sold a series of shows to a bar in Dover, DE. While CZW was prohibited from having death matches in their home state of Pennsylvania, Delaware was a different story. To help draw and sell videos, plans were made to have an IWA invasion that would play out over the course of these summer events. By this time CZW was at the forefront of the change in death match wrestling, emphasizing action as opposed to just gore. There was far more diversity in CZW's death match ranks than IWA's and Bailey fit in perfectly. He'd appear several times during the course of the angle, both in death matches and in junior heavyweight competition. Though his initial stint with the company was short, the impression he made on the fans was overwhelmingly positive and fans clamored for his return. 
 
Bailey would return to CZW the next summer as a participant in the 2004 edition of CZW's Tournament of Death, making it to the semi finals of the tournament. Around this time Mike Burns had become heavily involved in CZW's booking, which lead to Bailey getting a full time spot with the company. Bailey would be paired with Chris Cash, Sexxxy Eddy, and Nate Webb in a feud with BLKOUT, a CZW stable that included Ruckus, Sabian, Joker, and Eddie Kingston. The feud would culminate in the Cage of Death that December, where his team were victorious in winning the match and the CZW Tag Team Championship, which would be defended under the terms that any two members of the foursome could defend the belts. 
 
It was during his second run with CZW that Bailey's role in the IWA began to diminish. Rotten was finding it increasingly hard to find buildings that would allow death matches, as he'd ended up getting kicked out of most of the ones that would allow them. As a result he began using fewer death match guys, with Bailey being among those who found themselves with fewer IWA bookings. While Bailey was a capable junior heavyweight wrestler, he'd become associated with death match and hardcore wrestling to the point where a lot of his fans weren't interested in seeing him do anything else, or at least that was the opinion of many promoters. While he'd spent the majority of the previous couple of years finding a balance between doing death matches and being a junior heavyweight, from 2004 on he mostly did just death matches.
 
His role as a regular with CZW would also come to an end after Mike Burns quit the booking committee. With the exception of the yearly big death match tournaments, Bailey again went back to doing most of his wrestling locally in Kentucky and Indiana.
 
It was also around this time that Bailey's personal problems with drugs began to cause him both legal and professional trouble. Bailey was arrested in September of 2006 and charged with possession in the first degree for cocaine, attempted burglary in the second degree, possession of drug paraphernalia in the first degree, and criminal mischief in the third degree. He'd spend a year in prison before being paroled and released on August 31, 2007. He'd make his return to wrestling the next day, appearing on an Insanity Pro Wrestling event in Indianapolis, IN. He'd also return to both the IWA and CZW a few weeks later, however his freedom would soon come to an end.
 
Bailey and another man were arrested in late October after attempting to steal a 27-inch Samsung Slim Fit TV from a Wal-Mart in Bardstown, KY. The arrest received notable media attention locally after an activist group, who after hearing about injuries Bailey sustained during his arrest, held a vigil and lodged a formal complaint to the town of Bardstown on his behalf. Photographs, including his mug shot, were released to the public showing a bloody Bailey prior to his receiving medical treatment at a local hospital for his injuries. It was never reported whether or not anything ever came of the complaint filed. Though only charged with a misdemeanor, his arrest caused his parole to be revoked. He would spend the next two years in jail until he was released once again in December 2009 on parole.
 
After his release Bailey would return to CZW, which was once again being booked by Mike Burns. The coming year would prove to be one of his most successful, as he would go on to win the 2010 edition of the IWA King of the Death Matches, the Ohio Hatchet Wrestling Death in the Valley death match tournament, and was a finalist at this year's CZW Tournament of Death, where he had arguably one of his career's best performances.
 
Despite his problems, Bailey was one of the most well liked wrestlers on the independents. As someone who'd been involved in the wrestling business from such a young age, he was highly respected by his peers despite his young age. While saying someone loved the wrestling business has become a cliche, in the case of J.C. Bailey it was the truth. He was someone who loved it even when it didn't love him back, because it'd been all that he ever dreamed about. His unrequited love for the business made it a better place for a lot of people and helped inspire other people's passion for it. That alone should be enough for any fan to thank him and mourn his passing.
 
Indy Wrestling News sends our condolences to the friends, family, and fans of J.C. Bailey.

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