Tonight Josh Alexander will defend his Impact World Championship against Bully Ray at Impact Wrestling’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view, and it promises to be a brutal battle thanks to the match’s Full Metal Mayhem. Alexander delivered match-of-the-year contenders throughout 2022, and the kickoff to 2023 for the Impact World Champ will likely be no different. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Alexander all about his match against Bully Ray, and in addition to Hard to Kill we talked about setting the record for longest reigning Impact World Champion, his favorite moments thus far, and what’s on the horizon for 2023.
First though we had to talk about passing the 257-day mark as World Champion and passing Bobby Roode on the all-time list. Alexander also won Impact Male Wrestler of the Year, Match of the Year, and Moment of the Year to boot. Alexander is all-in and completely focused on defending his Title at Hard to Kill, but he’s also being careful not to let the moment pass him by without enjoying the rewards of all that hard work.
“I mean, yes and no. On one end of the spectrum, I always try to put myself in the 12-year-old boy’s shoes that tuned into TNA that first Wednesday night, June 19th, 2002,” Alexander said. “And that’s incredibly humbling to be in the position I’m in right now, to be the longest reigning Champion, Wrestler of the Year, Match of the Year, Moment of the Year, all that stuff. But then on the other end of the spectrum, on the 35-year-old man that’s worked his ass off to be where I’m at right now. I’ve got to stop, smell the roses, and be proud of myself because there’s a ton of hard work that goes into just being able to do this at the level I’m at right now and to get where I’ve been has taken so much work. So for now I stop, I take a deep breath and I’m proud of myself. And then tomorrow morning the alarm goes off and the hard work starts all over again because we’re not done yet.”
There are many great moments ahead of him too, and it can be difficult sometimes to stay in the present for just a minute to take it all in. “Super difficult because on one end, the way I grew up, it wasn’t the best. So anytime something good happens, you’re always waiting for the other foot to drop because something bad would always happen. So I’ve kind of been trained into that my entire life and it’s been something that my wife has tried to work me out of at the same time,” Alexander said.
“And then there’s the other thing of people that are present, sometimes they’re present for the wrong reason because they’re not humble and they get egos and stuff like that. People dog on me once in a while for being overly humble with the way I answer some of these questions, but it’s so difficult for me to even try to pretend that this isn’t unbelievable,” Alexander said. “So regardless of all the hard work and everything I think I’ve done and can do in this business and stuff like that, I’m still incredibly humble to just be given the opportunities I’ve been given to succeed like I have.”
It’s been an impressive reign thus far, and he’s handled everything so well, though there have been some unexpected aspects to it. “Oh yeah. I never imagined the amount of responsibility that came with winning the World Championship, holding that World Championship, being called the face of the company, having to do these media obligations, having to be an ambassador for this company, and stuff like that,” Alexander said. “I was just like, oh yeah, I’ll be champion. I’ll have main event caliber matches. They’ll be fun. I’ll have all these challenges like Ishii and Eric Young and Joe Doering and Alex Shelley and all these. The pressure of those matches is immense, but I embrace the pressure of being in the ring and having that feeling and having to rise to the occasion and stuff like that.”
“But then the other stuff comes with the face of the company and being the ambassador. And I think a lot of people, they wouldn’t think here or there about it. But for me, I just see Impact as such a family. I love everybody here. I want this company to do well. I want to do well myself of course, but I want to make everybody else that’s a part of this company proud.,” Alexander said. “So when I do stuff like this, I’ve just got to make sure I do it very well so I don’t do it a disservice because I think we have one of the best locker rooms and one of the best teams in this business right now. And if in some way I can communicate that to you and that can get out to the world and maybe grow the company a little bit, that’s the stuff I underestimated and that’s what I try to do every time.”
As for his next challenge, that would be Bully Ray, and though Ray is attempting to end his Title reign, Alexander has still taken away important lessons from him. In fact, he’s taken lessons from every Championship match he’s had, and he hopes to add a thing or two from Ray to the resume as well.
“Yeah. Every defense I’ve had throughout my entire career of any match I’ve had, but especially this last year with these title matches being such marquee matchups against the Ishiis, the Eric Youngs, the Joe Doerings, the Alex Shelleys, the Eddie Edwards, the Frankie Kazarians, the Mike Baileys. I’m learning from every single one of them every time I step foot in the ring. Even though I’m the one beating them at the end of the day there’s something I can learn and take away from every single one of them,” Alexander said.
“And the same goes for Bully. Bully is a two-time Hall of Famer, a multiple time Champion around the world. He’s one of the most successful wrestlers there’s ever been that’s still competing. So to be able to get in the ring with him, I know I’m going to learn a lot, if not about just wrestling in this business, but about myself. Especially going into a Full Metal Mayhem match, something nobody’s ever seen me do. It’s something I’ve never done so I’m embracing the challenge of that. I know I’m going to learn a lot about myself because I’m going to have to push myself to do things I’ve never done before, and I’m really embracing the challenge of making that match memorable and special for all the fans.”
The title of the match implies everything you need to know, and the stipulation ensures some pain. Alexander is up for the challenge though, and is no stranger to taking some lumps when defending Title gold.
“I think it’s always, hey we’re going to push through this. Because if anybody’s followed, especially this title run, every single one of those marquee matchups I’ve mentioned, I’ve come to the back afterwards worse for where, bleeding from somewhere, whether it’s my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth, something. I’m always beat up at the end of them because I put everything I have into these matches to try to make them special and memorable,” Alexander said. “And it’s going to be no different at Hard to Kill. There’s just going to be a whole lot more involved in it that can do a lot more damage than I’m used to. But at the same token, that means I can inflict a lot more damage. So I just have to hope that Bully’s the one that can’t walk when it’s all said and done.
You can watch Josh Alexander in action on Impact Wrestling’s Hard to Kill, which is available to stream on FITE TV.