Josh Alexander stood out as the star of Impact Wrestling in 2021. And now he’s looking to top that in 2022.
Alexander is 34-year-old Joshua Lemay. He transitioned last year from tag team wrestler as part of The North, where he seemed destined to be a perfect companion piece alongside Ethan Page, to a legitimate better singles performer. Alexander set the pace for the best matches throughout the year for Impact, establishing himself as one of the best solo wrestlers in the company, while still being active on the indie circuit.
A new opportunity is presented on Saturday at Impact’s Hard to kill pay-per-view, where Alexander faces off against Jonah, who is former NXT star Bronson Reed. While this is not the main event, it is a match that certainly adds a lot of excitement to the card.
Talking with Illustrated SportsAlexander spoke about his rise, his brief run with the Impact world title, and the prospect of headlining a show against new Impact signer “Speedball” Mike Bailey.
Sports Illustrated – Surpassed many expectations over the past year, becoming a true star of Impact’s main event. Was there a specific moment when you got over any last hint of doubt and knew you could do this?
Josh Alexander: The iron Man [against TJP in March] was the starting point. That was the golden opportunity to prove my worth. I knew it was going to be under a microscope, so it was this last chance to prove myself. And then we go out and even exceed our own expectations.
But the moment I really knew was during the main event of Bound for glory. That was our biggest show of the year and I fought a legend at Christian Cage. Even during preparation, I understood that it was my chance to be with him on the mic and in the ring. That was the moment I knew.
SI: The opportunity to work with someone of Christian’s caliber doesn’t come up often. There had to be nerves going into the game and that program.
Y: I put a lot of pressure on myself to represent myself and the company, and I felt some relief when the game was over. That moment was a privilege. Christian is one of the greats and I will take a lot of what I learned in those 20 minutes. I’ll stay with that for the rest of my career.
SI: You didn’t stay champion for long. Moose claimed his title shot by winning the glove match that same night, quickly ending his title reign.
Y: It was bittersweet, and I would have loved to have more of that moment in the ring with my family. But at the end of the day, I understand that this is a business. It also gives me a chance to eventually make the payoff that much sweeter. Regardless of whether I thought it was my moment, it is what it is.
Having my family there made it so special to me. My wife was crying. They were real tears. She was with me when I broke my neck, and she’s been with me through the worst of times, and then she saw me at the main event. Bound for glory. That moment was real for my oldest son, who was in the ring. So when I take that world championship away from Moose, I’m going to have my family there with me.
SI: Starting with Jonah in Hard to killWhat are you most excited about about 2022?
Y: Completely new opportunities. That’s what I love about Impact Wrestling. Since I’ve been here, it’s one opportunity after another. If you make the most of them, you will continue to get them. This is how I have climbed my path here in three years, being a triple crown champion and doing all this crazy stuff. A match with Jonah is an opportunity to steal the show, which I love to do, and I hope these opportunities keep coming my way.
SI: Similar to a legend like Bret Hart, you work very well with opponents of varying size and diverse. That makes the potential for Jonah’s match even more exciting.
Y: I don’t know if it’s some kind of osmosis from my wrestling fandom of guys like Kurt Angle and Bret Hart. They could work with anyone, no matter who they were. I approach each match looking at what my opponent can do and how I can show it. My style can work with anyone, regardless of gender or size. Anything can make sense, it’s just about being smart enough to do it the right way.
SI: Impact is starting the year with more tours, which should allow you to work in front of an even wider range of fans. You’re still active in the indies too, where you wrestled AEW star Ruby Soho last week at an AAW show in Chicago. That was a match that you described on social media as perhaps your favorite match. What made it so significant?
Y: When I came back from my neck injury [in 2005]After nine months off, it was my first comeback game. Back then, I put so much trust in her in that match. She made me a suplex near my head, but I had instilled so much confidence in her and she gave it all back to me. That connection has not been lost.
A few months ago, she came up and said she was doing a match for AAW and that she had asked me, and I said absolutely. That game felt special. Lightning doesn’t always strike, but it did strike that night in Chicago on AAW’s “Unstoppable.” It all came together at the right time. In terms of storytelling in wrestling, there is no intergender. [pair] out there that can tell a story the way we did. I am very proud of that.
SI: Are indies an opportunity for you to innovate?
Y: It is a new challenge. I like working with promising young fighters. I had a lot of bad experiences when I worked with people who had been on television and thought they were better than the indies. For me, I love to go back and get to work with new talents. That enthusiasm puts me in a better mindset in all aspects of life, not just my wrestling career.
SI: What excites you the most about Hard to kill?
Y: I have a chip on my shoulder, and this is how I describe the Impact Wrestling locker room. We are a melting pot of people from different walks of life in the professional wrestling landscape who have chips on our shoulders. Many of us have been overlooked or underutilized, and I think Jonah is no stranger to that. He’s got a chip on his shoulder to show up at Hard to kill and show you belong. There aren’t too many heavyweights that can do the things that he can do, so I’m certainly excited for the showdown and the whole pay-per-view.
SI: Looking a few steps forward, a match where you face “Speedball” Mike Bailey is a match that would change the world of wrestling.
Y: I don’t think you are wrong. The match where he signed his Impact contract, he signed it on my back after we had a match at Destiny Wrestling in September. I have had some of the best matches of my career against him. If you had to put that match as the main event of a pay-per-view, no two people would be able to accomplish what we can do together.
More wrestling coverage:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.