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Q&A: Josh Alexander on Rising From Tag Team Contributor to Impact’s Main-Event Picture

After serving as a complementary piece in The North with Ethan Page, Alexander has proved he has what it takes to stand out on his own.

Josh Alexander stood out as Impact Wrestling’s star in 2021. And now he seeks to top that in '22.

Alexander is 34-year-old Joshua Lemay. He transitioned last year from a tag team wrestler as part of The North, in which he appeared destined to be a perfect complementary piece alongside Ethan Page, into a legitimate top singles performer. Alexander set the pace for top matches throughout the year for Impact, establishing himself as one of the company’s best singles wrestlers while also remaining active on the indie circuit.

A new opportunity presents itself Saturday at Impact’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view, in which Alexander squares 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 great deal of excitement to the card.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Alexander discussed his rise, his brief run with the Impact world title and the possibility of headlining a show against new Impact signee “Speedball” Mike Bailey.

Sports Illustrated: You surpassed so many expectations over the past year, becoming a bona fide main-event star for Impact. Was there a specific moment when you overcame any last shred of doubt and knew you could do this?

Josh Alexander: The Iron Man [against TJP in March] was the jumping-off point. That was the golden opportunity to prove myself. I knew it was going to be under a microscope, so it was this ultimate chance to prove myself. And then we went out and exceeded even 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 wrestled a legend in Christian Cage. Even during the buildup, I understood that was my chance to hang with him on the mike and in the ring. That was the moment when I knew.

SI: An opportunity to work with someone the caliber of Christian does not present itself often. There had to be nerves going into the match and that program.

JA: I put so much pressure on myself to represent myself and the company, and there was a certain amount of relief that washed over me when that match finished. That moment was a privilege. Christian is one of the greats, and I’ll take away so much of what I learned in those 20 minutes. I’ll hold on to that for the rest of my career.

SI: You didn’t remain champion for long. Moose cashed in his title shot from winning the gantlet match that same night, quickly ending your title reign.

JA: It was bittersweet, and I would have loved to have had more of that moment in the ring with my family. But at the end of the day, I understand this is a business. It also gives me the chance to eventually make the payoff that much sweeter. Regardless of whether I thought it was my time, it is what it is.

Having my family there made it so special for me. My wife was crying. Those were real tears. She was with me when I broke my neck, and she’s been with me in the lowest of lows, and then she saw me main-event Bound for Glory. That moment was real to my oldest son, who was in the ring. So when I’m taking that world championship back from Moose, I’m going to have my family there with me.

SI: Beginning with Jonah at Hard to Kill, what excites you most about 2022?

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JA: Whole new opportunities. That’s what I love about Impact Wrestling. Ever since I’ve been here, it’s opportunity after opportunity. If you make the best of them, you’ll keep getting them. That’s how I’ve climbed my way here in three years, being a triple-crown champion and doing all this crazy stuff. A match with Jonah is a chance to steal the show, which I love doing, and hopefully these opportunities will keep coming my way.

SI: Similar to a legend like Bret Hart, you work so well with opponents of varying and diverse size. That makes the potential for the Jonah match even more exciting.

JA: 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 anybody, no matter who they were. I approach every match looking at what my opponent can do and how I can showcase that. My style can work with anybody, regardless of gender or size. Anything can make sense; it’s just all about being smart enough to do it in the right way.

SI: Impact is starting the year off with more touring, which should allow you to work in front of even a wider array of fans. You are also still active on the indies, where you wrestled AEW star Ruby Soho last week at an AAW show in Chicago. That was a match you described on social media as perhaps your favorite match ever. What made it so meaningful?

JA: When I came back from my neck injury [in 2005], after nine months off, she was my first match back. Back then, I put so much trust in her in that match. She suplexed me near my head, but I had instilled so much trust in her, and she gave it all back to me. That connection hasn’t been lost.

A few months ago, she reached out and said she was doing a match for AAW and that she’d requested me, and I said absolutely. That match felt special. Lightning doesn’t always strike, but lightning struck that night in Chicago at AAW’s “Unstoppable.” Everything came together at the right moment. In terms of storytelling in wrestling, there isn’t an intergender [pair] out there that can tell a story the way we did. I’m very proud of it.

SI: Are the indies a chance for you to innovate?

JA: It’s a new challenge. I like working with up-and-coming young wrestlers. I had a lot of bad experiences coming up when I worked with people who’d been on television and thought they were better than the indies. For me, I love going back and getting to work with new talent. That enthusiasm puts me in a better mindset in all aspects of life, not just my wrestling career.

SI: What excites you most about Hard to Kill?

JA: I have a chip on my shoulder, and that’s 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 that all have chips on our shoulder. Many of us have been overlooked or underutilized, and I think Jonah is no stranger to that. He has a chip on his shoulder to show up at Hard to Kill and show he belongs. There are not too many super heavyweights that can do the things he can do, so I’m certainly excited for the matchup and the entire pay-per-view.

SI: Looking a few steps forward, a match pitting yourself against “Speedball” Mike Bailey is a match that would turn the wrestling world upside down.

JA: I don’t think you’re 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’ve had some of the best matches of my career against him. If you were to put that match as the main event of a pay-per-view, there are no two people that are capable of accomplishing what we can do together.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.