How pro-wrestling saved and almost ruined the lifetime of IMPACT X Division Champion Josh Alexander

It’s been a long, challenging journey for Impact X Division Champion Josh Alexander, but it definitely feels like he’s on the brink of something big as the X Division title has often been the stepping stone to the IMPACT World Championship.

While Alexander prepares to defend his title against Petey Williams, Trey Miguel, Ace Austin, Chris Bey, and Rohit Raju in an Ultimate X match at Slammiversary (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on FITE), the 34-year-old Canadian had one Opportunity to look back on a career that has almost never existed. It may sound cliché, but professional wrestling absolutely saved his life.

“Wrestling, I always say it saved my life,” Alexander told Sporting News before his match at Slammiversary. “It gave me something that I was interested in as a kid, a way to escape what I went through in school and later on I understood how to get in shape and it made me the best friends in mine Given life. “

While we’ve heard of a career saving someone’s life before, Alexander means it literally, not figuratively, as he used pro wrestling to climb out of the darkest days of his teenage years.

“Life before wrestling was bleak for me,” said Alexander. “I was a fat kid, obese and in school, and was bullied and ridiculed day in and day out even outside of school. I had very few interests or someone I could really call a friend. I’ve spent a lot of time alone, so I’m still socially incompetent, but all of that made me a very depressed kid. ”

One of the few things Alexander found pleasure in was professional wrestling. Ironically, it was TNA Wrestling – the old name for IMPACT – that Alexander discovered his calling.

“I can’t tell you exactly what it was like when I saw TNA Wrestling, I suddenly became interested in life,” Alexander said of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, who competed in those high-octane matches that were faster and faster because of her risky style often incorporated into Lucha Libre and Cruiserweight divisions around the world. Seeing these talented wrestlers flying around in the ring inspired Alexander to take an interest in his health and weight.

“These guys looked like badasses and the guy I might look like one day,” he said. “I weighed nearly 300 pounds when I was 17 but started dieting and by the time I went to college I was down to about 240 pounds.”

After graduating from high school, Alexander had an idea what he wanted to do but couldn’t necessarily figure out how to get there. He admits he was the “least athletic guy in school” but found a wrestling school in Ontario called the Living Legends Wrestling Academy and decided to see if he could achieve his dream of becoming a professional wrestler could. A few bumps later, Alexander was told he was a natural and it wouldn’t be long before he hit the indie scene in 2005. By 2010 he would meet his lifelong friend and current AEW wrestler Ethan Page and the two would form the label Team Monster Mafia and work for various promotions such as Ring of Honor and AAW. But the thing that saved Alexander nearly ended the life as he knew it.

Alexander is said to have put a neck injury in 2013 on the shelf. Instead, he tried to get it to get signed by a major promotion. Instead, during one of the best matches of his career in the Ring of Honor against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Alexander heard a crunch later that year when he took a tornado DDT from O’Reilly and noticed he broke his neck. Once again, Alexander was determined to keep working despite being told he needed major surgery.

“A doctor said I should never wrestle again, the risk was far too great now,” said Alexander. But knowing that the likes of Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin had returned from neck injuries made Alexander think he could do the same. “I didn’t tell anyone I had major surgery. I was told it should take nine months of healing and rehab before I could even go back to exercise, but again we were so close to that contract and I was a wrestler, not just my job

“I was back in the ring five weeks after the spinal surgery.”

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Although it was a terrible idea that could have turned him into a quadriplegic, Alexander kept working and his profile in the indie scene grew. Eventually, he would win the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla tag team title in 2015 but suffered another neck injury that required surgery and his wrestling career ended. And with it life as he knew it.

“It was like going to a funeral for the life I worked so hard for,” he said. “As much as wrestling left me with these injuries – and it was my stupid fault that I didn’t let them heal so they got worse – wrestling has given me my health and sense of who I am for 10 years. I didn’t even know what the future would look like without wrestling. “

Alexander had his last match at Ethan Page’s side on July 12, 2015 and had to undergo another neck operation 11 days later. This time he woke up with news he hadn’t expected.

“The doctor told me when they opened me the damage wasn’t as bad as the MRI indicated,” he said. “Then it came: If I had rested for nine months and had done my rehab, I would be healthy again. As good as new. I could wrestle again, he said. I just looked at him. “

The news was too good to be true and Alexander sat on it for six months. Finally, he told Page, preparing for his surprise return to wrestling in 2016. He wrestled everywhere, got into the best shape of his life, and was widely recognized as one of the best unsigned talents in the business.

That was until February 2019, when Scott D’Amore, Executive Vice President of IMPACT Wrestling, showed up in the ring after Alexander’s match in Destiny World Wrestling. Without Alexander’s knowledge, he wouldn’t be the hottest unsigned independent wrestler anymore. Instead, he was surprised by what D’Amore had in hand: a contract to participate in the wrestling promotion that sparked his desire to become a professional wrestler.

Known as “The Walking Weapon,” the wrestler immediately made himself known as The North alongside best friend Ethan Page, and five months after his arrival the duo won the IMPACT World Tag Team Championship. They held the titles for more than a year before dropping them off to the Motor City Machine Guns. They won the titles back one more time before losing them, and the duo split when Page left for All Elite Wrestling.

As a single wrestler, Alexander climbed the X Division ladder extremely quickly, defeating Ace Austin and TJP to become the X Division Champion in April. And now he’s allowed to take part in the match that thrilled him as a teenager: Ultimate X.

“At every stage of this journey, I have worked myself to get this far,” he said. “A real wrestling coach told me that I had talent, I never expected that. I never expected to have a match or get paid $ 20 for it. I never thought I’d wrestle in front of 100 people, let alone thousands. Now I’m the X-Division Champion who steps into Slammiversary to defend in an Ultimate X Match.

“Everyone who accompanied me on this trip – I promise you that I will give you something very special on Saturday.”

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