When he was 13 or 14 years old, a teenager from Alexandria, Virginia, Chris Bey, started to post on his own YouTube Channel his prowesses with his skateboard, his predictions on wrestling PPVs, and his passion for the sport as he was collecting title replicas or DVDs. With time, his posts became the diary of a wrestler in the making, from the first training sessions and routines to his first matches in the indies and WWE. And now, his way to the top.
Chris Bey has never wanted anything else but to be a wrestler, and in the matter of a few years, he skyrocketed his way through the indies to Impact Wrestling. At only 24, after winning loads of gold in the indies, Chris Bey became the X-Division Champion at Slammiversary, a title he has since lost, but he is decided to regain very soon. The Ultimate Finesser is beyond talented and focused, but he is also a very humble man, enjoying the ride like the young guy he is.
SteelChair Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Chris Bey last week. He told us about him being a long-time fan of TNA/Impact Wrestling and signing with the company he has always loved, his path, his Impact Wrestling debut, being the X-Division Champion, and what the future may hold for him.
The same day Impact Wrestling was announcing they were signing you, the Executive Vice-President of another major wrestling company was saying he was eyeing you and expecting you were listening to his call. What did you think of this strange coincidence?
“I thought it was pretty cool. I love wrestling. I love the endless possibilities of what we do in wrestling and that was the day for me that was just validation of my hard work and the sacrifices I’ve made up until that point, with my time away from my family, my time in the ring, my time in the gyms building myself, and my time on social media, building my platform, building my brand and expanding my fan base. I’ve always been big on the whole do-it-yourself culture, and I was doing a lot of that stuff myself to get myself out there so for companies to be interested in me and publicly take interest with me like that. Then for the news to drop the same day that I signed with Impact Wrestling, it felt like something that hadn’t happened before, and that’s what I’m all about, creating that energy for fans, where they just feel like something cool is happening, that’s original, and we can all be along for the ride. I feel like everybody on that night was able to get into the roller coaster and strap on the seat belt, and we started going up slowly, slowly, slowly until I made my debut. Then we started the roller coaster, and we’re still on the roller coaster right now. I just think it’s super cool that it was able to happen that way. My character and my persona fit perfectly with who I am, just that whole scenario. I was grateful that it all fell down into that rhythm.”
Let’s talk about your character, as you mentioned it. What kind of character have you tried to develop on Impact Wrestling? Is it the same person that you were on the indies or on GCW, or are you trying to develop something completely different? Also, where does The ‘Finesser’ come from?
“The whole Ultimate Finesser persona was built off of me needing a new tagline. Everybody kind of has their tagline, Ace Austin calls himself ‘The One True Ace’ or ‘The Inevitable’. Everybody has like their tagline, so for me, at the time I was doing, it was 2018, and I was calling the year ’20 Bey-Teen’. I was starting to adopt a new style in the ring that was a lot more evasive, and it complemented my size and my speed and all of my greatest attributes. There was a time, a Triple Threat match that I had one time, where something happened in the match that I ended up finessing my way out of and when I was captioning the post on my social media, I was like Ultimate Finesser, and I wrote it and captured it, Ultimate Finesser. Maybe a couple of months later, I won a championship on the indie circuit in Northern California, and when I randomly got put into the main-event championship match and I walked out as the heavyweight Champion, I said the phrase again, Ultimate Finesser, because I felt like it was the Ultimate Finesse for me to go in there, not supposed to be in that scenario and walk out and win the Championship.
“Then, I thought about my whole career and everything I had done up to that point, the situations that have happened, and the way I’ve been able to navigate through wrestling, and I was like, “Man, I am the Ultimate Finesser.” A couple of months later, I aired on IMPACT for the first time, I was facing the Rascalz, and they were making their debut, and it was another thing where I was like, well I just finessed onto Impact Wrestling, Ultimate Finesser. Then, it just became more and more something that I really started to put towards my whole persona, it then morphed into the art of finesse, and I just think it fits me better than anything else at the time that I could even think of. It had also never been used in wrestling, I had never seen in wrestling somebody used the phrase Finesser. It just felt like it made sense, now it’s super original, people like it, and it has a different type of meanings, and everybody can apply it to their own lives, in their own scenario, so I love it.
“About my character, now I’m more so looking to just show it off on a grander scale with the character because in my persona outside of the ring, as well with promos and segments, because like you said on the indies, GCW, other places like that, there’s not really promos, there’s not really backstage segments, there isn’t a lot of in-ring segments with the microphone, so it’s other than what I do in the ring being Finesser, it’s hard to convey it. So, for me, with Impact Wrestling now, it’s about showing it on the grander scale. When I first came in, I finessed my way into the Fatal Four Way at Rebellion (Chris Bey vs. Trey Miguel vs. Suicide vs. Rohit Raju), then finessed my way into a Championship match with Willie Mack and Ace Austin in the main event, then it was finessing Johnny Swinger into thinking that we were on the same page, but one thing led to another, and he ended up helping me get a Championship match at Slammiversary that I needed myself. I Finessed that scenario. I think even it works on both ways because, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, Rohit finessed me and took the Championship from me. I think that you can’t be the Ultimate Finesser until you’ve been finessed, so there are rules to learn on both sides of the Finesse. So now, about me doing it on IMPACT, it’s more about me being able to show the character from a real character standpoint instead of just an in-ring wrestler.”
Who opened the door for you on Impact Wrestling? You had some matches last year, every time the company was in Las Vegas or in California, you were a part of the tapings, so who opened the door for you to come and have these matches and show who you are in the ring?
“I could attribute it to a lot of different people because I met a lot of the people on the roster at some independent shows, they’ve taken a liking to me, or they’ve kept an eye on my work, so it was easy when they came to town for me to be recommended. Also having D’Lo Brown, who works for Impact Wrestling, he lives in Las Vegas, he’s also one of the trainers and mentors at the school I trained in Las Vegas, Future Stars of Wrestling.
“D’Lo has seen me grow and develop over the years, and he’s also seen me be very hungry for opportunity, be attentive, be able to listen and learn and apply certain advice and be coachable, which is something that everyone’s always looking for in this business. So whatever they came to Las Vegas or like you said, came to California that I’m very close, I’m ready to show up and get the job done. It’s easy for someone like D’Lo if they say they need a guy to bring in a local guy who he knows is hungry for an opportunity. I’m young, coachable, and I’m ready to go.
“Fortunately, when I got those opportunities, with my city behind me and the local fans behind me feeding me that energy, I was able to really show the office and show the locker room not only can I hang, but I’m one of a kind, not the rip-off RVD (laughs), but I’m one-of-a-kind, and I can add to our product just as much as the next person, if not more.”
You are a huge TNA fan and you became the X-Division Champion, a title that has defined, if not epitomized, what TNA/Impact Wrestling is about. How did you feel to win this belt so quickly after your debut?
“As far as how I feel winning it so fast after arriving, that part in itself is pretty insane, but it also makes perfect sense to me, and it’s not a discredit to any other people that we have in the locker room, because I love everybody on our roster, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Rohit right now, but I do love everybody on our roster. You have to know that you’re the guy, and for me, coming in, I knew that I was the guy, I knew that I was hot right now. I know that you could put the future of wrestling or the right-now of wrestling into a wrestler and say, “Hey, this is what represents wrestling right now,” I feel like that’s me. Coming in, I was very confident that the X-Division Championship belonged to me, and I made that no secret. When Willie Mack was champion, I would say how much I was happy that he was finally getting the Championship, but I knew that it came at the worst time because it’s my time. So for me, to get it so quick, it was surreal, but it was also exactly what I work for, just validation that I was doing the right thing and how it felt, it was a dream come true, what I was looking for.
“There was a picture I put up on my Twitter last year before I signed with Impact Wrestling. I put up a random picture of the X-Division Championship from Walmart or Toys’R’Us or whatever. I was at my buddy’s house, and he had the toy belt of it, and I remember putting up a picture and tagging Impact Wrestling, just being like, “Hey, one day.” Even ten years ago, being on YouTube unboxing an Impact toy belt, there was always something that I wanted. So when I won at Slammiversary, it was very surreal, and I did shed tears of joy. I just couldn’t believe that moment, I even called my Mum afterwards on Facetime and showed her the Championship, which I always do whenever I win a Championship, but that one right there, she knew how much that meant to me, she knew how much being at Impact Wrestling means and being able to perform on Tuesday nights on AXS TV, people all over the world to watch us on Twitch and the Impact Plus app. She knows how much it means to me to be a part of this company and to be a Champion in this company, to win that Championship that so many greats have held so many people that I grew up idolizing or wanting to be like or wanting to converse with or just meet like, it felt like a dream, and it’s my reality, so I wanted to make it as original and as different as possible, that’s why I called it the Finesse division.”
You won the title from Willie Mack, someone you have never stopped crossing paths with over the last four years of your career. Did it make this moment more meaningful because you know each other really well and you’ve squared off many times?
“I think there’s no person in the company, in the world, I would have rather won that championship from, win or lose, there’s no person I’d rather spent that moment with at Slammiversary, competing for the Championship. I have a high level of respect for Willie Mack, and as you said, we have never stopped crossing paths. He was one of the first major stars that I met when I moved to Las Vegas because I had recognized him from Lucha Underground. When I’d seen him, and I first introduced myself to him, I just remember thinking how cool of a person he was and especially for someone live, I knew him from television, and for him to know me, he didn’t even know me as I was just starting, but he was so nice to me and so cool. Then, we would work together on the indie circuit a handful of times, had some of my funniest matches with him and my best matches. I heard some of the loudest crowd reactions while in the ring with him.
“To share that ring with him at Slammiversary, and then during a time where a lot of weird stuff going on in our world, for me, and him to both be African-American males and be competing for that Championship at Slammiversary, such a big show for our company, one of the biggest for Impact Wrestling, and for one of the Championships, it just meant so much more than a match or a Championship match. I feel like it was for the culture like it was for future generations. It felt like it was from my dreams, it felt like it was a great match against one of the people I respect the most. It really means the world to me, and people loved the match and came to me about it.”
Like I said earlier, you’ve been a long-time TNA fan. How did you feel knowing that some TNA stars were coming back?
“I was stoked. I used to wear the Motor City Machine Guns dog tags to school, well middle school (laughs). For those guys to win the Impact Tag Team Championships like 10 years after they first won them, which was the same year I was walking around in middle school with their dog tags, and now ten years later, they’re winning the titles back, and I’m the X-Division Champion, it was crazy like it’s literally so surreal. Then to have people like Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin say I liked your match, I was like, bro, I love you guys (laughs). It’s crazy, it’s super cool. I’m just grateful to be where I am.”
What are your goals in Impact Wrestling and who are the wrestlers you’re looking forward to competing against?
“I have a couple of guys who I really want to work with, but as far as the future of me, it will depend on this as well, but the future of Chris Bey and Impact Wrestling is getting my Finesse Division Championship back, first of all, utilizing Option C or, as I call it, Option CB and becoming the World Champion. I want to be the World Champion, I want that on my resume, I want to represent the company as the guy. I want to do it, um, so I can have a side-by-side photo of a 14-year-old me with the Impact World Championship replica and modern-day me as the World Champion leading the company.
“The people that I really want to work with, because he’s a maniac, and he’s going crazy right now, is Eric Young. I would love to wrestle Eric Young, provided the opportunity comes. If it isn’t his last match after facing Eric Young, I would love to wrestle Rich Swann one-on-one, I think that would be another great match. Even Eddie Edwards as well, I want to wrestle him. I feel like he’s the heart of Impact Wrestling. I’m the Ultimate Finesser, so there are so many of the guys on the roster I’d love to work with, but those are just three off the top of my head that I could think of.”
Follow Chris Bey on Twitter @DashingChrisBey.
IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV and Twitch in the USA. The show is available to view in the UK from 2 am Wednesdays on the IMPACT Plus app and airs on 5STAR on Fridays in the late evening (please check local listings weekly).
All pics, videos and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV and Basil Mahmud