Josh Alexander is only days away from the biggest fight of his career.
He has dedicated himself to the profession for the past decade and a half, still working a grueling indie travel schedule in addition to playing an integral role for Impact Wrestling. And it is in Impact where Alexander—34-year-old Josh Lemay—seeks to forever change his pro wrestling trajectory as he takes on Christian Cage in a match for the Impact world title in the main event of Saturday’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view.
“It’s been nearly 16 years to get me to this point to vie for a world title,” Alexander says. “I’ve grinded and worked my way up to reach this opportunity.”
Becoming world champion in the unique realm of pro wrestling is unlike anything in traditional pro sports. There is an honor and prestige to the position, as well as an opportunity to present oneself as the absolute elite of the industry. And that is what is at stake for Alexander: a chance to show he can deliver high-quality world title matches for Impact, a caliber that even WWE and AEW cannot match.
That journey begins Saturday against Cage, who is best known from his phenomenal WWE run working under the mononym Christian. It has been an exceptional year for him—he was a surprise entrant into January’s Royal Rumble, setting up an emotional reunion in the ring with childhood friend Adam “Edge” Copeland. That reunion suddenly turned into a farewell after negotiations with WWE unsurprisingly sputtered. (Remarkably, his value was never properly recognized by the company.) Christian then came to AEW in March, showcasing his worth and ability at the age of 47. He even dethroned Kenny Omega to capture the Impact title, especially fitting considering Impact was the first company to believe in him as world champ. Now he has the chance to do the honors for Alexander, who hungrily awaits his first run with the belt.
“I have a great amount of respect for Christian, and I see some parallels between our careers,” Alexander says. “When he came to Impact Wrestling in 2005, he bet on himself. He had a sure opportunity to make a living doing what he was doing, but he gave it up to come to Impact Wrestling to show that he could be a main-eventer and show that he could be a world champion. I want to bet on myself and show that I can be a world champion, and I want to start by doing that against a legend like Christian.”
Alexander captures the spirit of the industry through his in-ring performances. He possesses a dynamic and versatile approach in the ring, incredibly strong and fundamentally sound while still maintaining a presence in the air. And he is finally receiving the recognition he deserves for what he has built throughout his career. His work has been outstanding in Impact, which creates some tantalizing possibilities for matchups if he is to become world champ. He also has remained a presence throughout the indies, including recent matches with Beyond Wrestling at Thursday’s Uncharted Territory against rising star Alec Price and Saturday at Warrior Wrestling’s Sweet 16 show in Illinois in a battle against powerhouse Calvin Tankman.
“I’m a pro wrestler,” Alexander says. “I’m very proud of that. That’s who I am.”
Before his current singles run in Impact, Alexander partnered with Ethan Page as The North. The two natives of Canada added further credibility to Impact’s tag titles during their two title reigns. When Page left Impact for AEW, Alexander felt it would have been foolish to ever try to replace him.
“I never wanted to tag with anyone else after he left for another company,” Alexander says. “We had a unique kind of chemistry that helped bring us to that upper-tier level, and that’s what made The North very special. When I realized I was going to be on my own again, my goal was to make the best of it. That started in the X Division, and then my reign as X Division champion, and now I’m looking at the richest prize in Impact Wrestling.”
Alexander won the X Division title in April at Rebellion, and retained the belt in a string of great matches over the course of five months. He ultimately relinquished it last month to invoke the story line Option C clause, which affords him this championship opportunity.
Capitalizing on perfect timing is a rare opportunity in both life and pro wrestling. But Impact has a serendipitous moment in its future if Alexander wins the world title this Saturday, especially against an opponent as meaningful to the history of the company as Christian.
“Christian exemplifies pro wrestling,” Alexander says. “When he steps in the ring, he’s shown for the last 25 years that he is going to give the best match and performance for the fans. But this is my time. We’re going to see at Bound for Glory if Christian can outwork me.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.