How professional wrestling saved and almost ruined the lifetime of IMPACT X Division champion Josh Alexander

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

As Alexander prepares to defend his title in opposition to Petey Williams, Trey Miguel, Ace Austin, Chris Bey and Rohit Raju in an Final X match at Slammiversary (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on FITE), the 34-year-old Canadian has had a possibility to look again on a profession that nearly 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 Information forward of his match at Slammiversary. “It gave me one thing to have an curiosity in once I was child, a strategy to escape what I used to be going by way of in school, after which later it gave me perceive of get in form and it gave me the most effective associates in my life.”

Though 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 instances of his teenage years.

“Life earlier than wrestling was bleak for me,” Alexander stated. “I used to be a fats child, overweight, and faculty and even exterior 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 variety of time alone, which is why I’m so socially inept to today, however all of that made me a really depressed child.” 

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

“I can’t inform you precisely what it was, once I noticed TNA Wrestling I immediately had an curiosity in life,” Alexander stated about watching the likes of AJ Kinds and Samoa Joe compete in these high-octane matches that had 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 seemed like badasses and the sort that possibly I might appear to be at some point,” he stated. “I used to be virtually 300 kilos once I was 17 however started weight-reduction plan and, by the point I left for faculty, I used to be all the way down to about 240 kilos.”

After graduating from highschool, Alexander had an thought of what he wished to do however couldn’t essentially work out get there. He admits that he was the “least athletic man at school” however discovered a wrestling college in Ontario known as Dwelling Legends Wrestling Academy and determined to see whether or not he might reside out his dream of changing 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 Web page and the 2 would kind the tag crew Monster Mafia and work for varied promotions together with Ring of Honor and AAW. However the factor that saved Alexander almost ended life as he knew it.   

A neck harm in 2013 ought to have put Alexander on the shelf. As a substitute, he tried to push by way of it in an effort to get signed by a serious promotion. As a substitute, throughout the most effective matches of his profession in Ring of Honor in opposition to Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly later within the 12 months, Alexander heard a crunch when taking a twister DDT from O’Reilly and realized he broke his neck. As soon as once more, Alexander was decided to proceed working regardless of being advised he wanted main surgical procedure. 

“One physician stated that I ought to by no means wrestle once more, that the chance was now far too nice,” Alexander stated. However realizing that the likes of Kurt Angle and Stone Chilly 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 had 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 previous, rising the current and constructing wrestling’s future

Though it was a horrible thought that would have left him a quadriplegic, Alexander continued to work and his profile on the indie scene grew. Ultimately, he would win the Professional Wrestling Guerrilla tag crew titles in 2015 however ended up with one other neck harm 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 onerous for,” he stated. “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 bought 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 seemed like with out wrestling.”

Alexander had his remaining match on July 12, 2015, alongside Ethan Web page and went in for an additional neck operation 11 days later. This time, he awoke with information he wasn’t anticipating. 

“The physician advised me as soon as they opened me up, the harm wasn’t as unhealthy because the MRI indicated,” he stated. “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 stated. I simply checked out him.”

The information was too good to be true and Alexander sat on it for six months. He ultimately advised Web page and ready for his shocking return to wrestling in 2016. He wrestled all over the place, bought in the most effective form of his life and was well known as the most effective unsigned abilities within the trade.

That was, till February 2019, when IMPACT wrestling govt vice chairman Scott D’Amore appeared within the ring after Alexander’s match in Future World Wrestling. Unbeknownst to Alexander, he would not be the most well liked unsigned impartial wrestler. As a substitute, he was shocked with what D’Amore had in his hand: a contract to affix the wrestling promotion that ignited his need to grow to be a professional wrestler. 

The wrestler generally known as “The Strolling Weapon” instantly made his presence felt alongside greatest pal Ethan Web page as The North and 5 months after arriving, the duo gained the IMPACT World Tag Staff Championship. They held on to the titles for greater than a 12 months earlier than dropping it to the Motor Metropolis Machine Weapons. They regained the titles as soon as extra earlier than shedding them and the duo cut up as Web 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 grow to be the X Division champion in April. And now, he will get to take part within the match that wowed him as a young person: Final X. 

“At each stage of this journey, I pinched myself I’d gotten that far,” he stated. “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 Final X match.

“Everybody 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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