How pro wrestling saved and nearly ruined the life of IMPACT X Division champion Josh Alexander

It’s been an extended, difficult journey for Impact X Division champion Josh Alexander, however it definitely appears like he’s on the precipice for one thing huge because the X Division title has typically been the steppingstone to the IMPACT World Championship. 

As Alexander prepares to defend his title towards 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 has had a chance to look again on a profession that just about by no means was. It could sound cliché, however skilled wrestling completely saved his life. 

“Wrestling, I at all times say it saved my life,” Alexander advised Sporting News forward of his match at Slammiversary. “It gave me one thing to have an curiosity in after I was child, a strategy to escape what I used to be going via at college, after which later it gave me perceive of the right way to get in form and it gave me one of the best mates in my life.”

Although we’ve heard earlier than the suggestion {that a} profession has saved somebody’s life, Alexander means it actually as an alternative of figuratively as he used professional wrestling to climb out of the darkest occasions of his teenage years.

“Life earlier than wrestling was bleak for me,” Alexander mentioned. “I used to be a fats child, overweight, and faculty and even outdoors of college was day after day of being teased and ridiculed. I had only a few pursuits or anybody I might actually name a pal. I spent a whole lot of time alone, which is why I’m so socially inept to at the present time, however all of that made me a really depressed child.” 

One of the few issues Alexander discovered pleasure in was skilled wrestling. Ironically, it was TNA Wrestling — the previous identify for IMPACT — that Alexander found his calling. 

“I can’t inform you precisely what it was, after I noticed TNA Wrestling I abruptly had an curiosity in life,” Alexander mentioned about watching the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe compete in these high-octane matches that have been distinct due to their fast-paced and dangerous type that has typically been included in lucha libre and cruiserweight divisions throughout the globe. Seeing these gifted wrestlers fly across the ring impressed Alexander to take an curiosity in his well being and weight. 

“These guys appeared like badasses and the sort that perhaps I might appear like someday,” he mentioned. “I used to be virtually 300 kilos after I was 17 however started weight-reduction plan and, by the point I left for faculty, I used to be right down to about 240 kilos.”

After graduating from highschool, Alexander had an concept of what he wished to do however couldn’t essentially work out the right way to get there. He admits that he was the “least athletic man at school” however discovered a wrestling college in Ontario referred to as Living Legends Wrestling Academy and determined to see whether or not he might reside out his dream of turning into a professional wrestler. A couple of bumps later, Alexander was advised that he was a pure and it wouldn’t be lengthy earlier than he hit the indie scene in 2005. By 2010 he would meet his lifelong pal and present AEW wrestler Ethan Page and the 2 would kind the tag staff Monster Mafia and work for numerous promotions together with Ring of Honor and AAW. But the factor that saved Alexander practically ended life as he knew it.   

A neck damage in 2013 ought to have put Alexander on the shelf. Instead, he tried to push via it in an effort to get signed by a significant promotion. Instead, throughout the most effective matches of his profession in Ring of Honor towards Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly later within the yr, Alexander heard a crunch when taking a twister DDT from O’Reilly and realized he broke his neck. Once once more, Alexander was decided to proceed working regardless of being advised he wanted main surgical procedure. 

“One physician mentioned that I ought to by no means wrestle once more, that the chance was now far too nice,” Alexander mentioned. But understanding that the likes of Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin had returned from neck accidents made Alexander suppose he might do the identical. “I advised nobody that I’d had main surgical procedure. I used to be advised to take 9 months to heal and rehab earlier than even resuming common train however, once more, we have been so near that contract, and a wrestler is who I used to be, not simply my job 

“I used to be again within the ring 5 weeks after spinal surgical procedure.”

MORE: AEW’s Tony Khan talks respecting the past, growing the present and building wrestling’s future

Although it was a horrible concept that might have left him a quadriplegic, Alexander continued to work and his profile on the indie scene grew. Eventually, he would win the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla tag staff titles in 2015 however ended up with one other neck damage that wanted surgical procedure, and his wrestling profession must finish. And with it, life as he knew it.

“It was like going to a funeral of the life I wished and had labored so arduous for,” he mentioned. “As a lot as wrestling had left me with these accidents — and it was my silly fault for not permitting them to heal in order that they received worse — wrestling had given me my well being and sense of who I used to be for 10 years. I didn’t know what the long run even appeared like with out wrestling.”

Alexander had his ultimate match on July 12, 2015, alongside Ethan Page and went in for one more neck operation 11 days later. This time, he awakened with information he wasn’t anticipating. 

“The physician advised me as soon as they opened me up, the injury wasn’t as dangerous because the MRI indicated,” he mentioned. “Then it got here: If I rested for 9 months and did my rehab, I’d be wholesome once more. Good as new. I might wrestle once more, he mentioned. I simply checked out him.”

The information was too good to be true and Alexander sat on it for six months. He ultimately advised Page and ready for his shocking return to wrestling in 2016. He wrestled in every single place, received in one of the best form of his life and was well known as the most effective unsigned abilities within the business.

That was, till February 2019, when IMPACT wrestling govt vp Scott D’Amore appeared within the ring after Alexander’s match in Destiny World Wrestling. Unbeknownst to Alexander, he would now not be the most popular unsigned impartial wrestler. Instead, he was stunned with what D’Amore had in his hand: a contract to affix the wrestling promotion that ignited his need to turn out to be a professional wrestler. 

The wrestler often called “The Walking Weapon” instantly made his presence felt alongside greatest pal Ethan Page as The North and 5 months after arriving, the duo received the IMPACT World Tag Team Championship. They held on to the titles for greater than a yr earlier than dropping it to the Motor City Machine Guns. They regained the titles as soon as extra earlier than dropping them and the duo break up as Page was heading to All Elite Wrestling. 

As a singles wrestler, Alexander climbed the ladder of the X Division terribly quick and defeated Ace Austin and TJP to turn out to be the X Division champion in April. And now, he will get to take part within the match that wowed him as an adolescent: Ultimate X. 

“At each stage of this journey, I pinched myself I’d gotten that far,” he mentioned. “An actual wrestling coach telling me I had expertise, I by no means anticipated that. I by no means anticipated to have a match or to receives a commission $20 for it. I by no means thought I’d wrestle in entrance of 100 individuals, a lot much less hundreds. Now I’m the X-Division Champion going into Slammiversary to defend in an Ultimate X match.

“Everyone who’s been with me on this journey — I promise you I’ll offer you one thing very particular on Saturday.”

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