Impact Wrestling X Division champion Josh Alexander is still passing along an ultra-important lesson he learned from WWE superstar Sami Zayn.
Alexander is renowned for his work rate; however, an important part of ring psychology eluded him for a decade. It was a pro-wrestling match with Zayn (a.k.a. El Generico) that levelled up “The Walking Weapon”.
“I reiterate this a lot to a lot of younger wrestlers at Impact and throughout the independents. It took me about the 10 or 11-year mark [to learn],” Alexander tells Cageside Seat’s Shakiel Mahjouri. “I wrestled El Generico and I remember him telling me, ‘Just calm down and wait.’ We were in the ring and something happened. And he said, ‘Wait, wait!’ And I was just like, ‘What?’ I waited and all of a sudden you hear the crowd just come up to this insane level and I would have cut them off and they would have never been there because I would have just been going through the motions. I had been told that same thing that El Generico had told me 100 times previous to that. But in my 10 years and all the experience I [had] grinded on the indies, at that moment, that’s when everything kind of clicked and went together. Listening to the crowd, that’s when you get the ear for everything. I think it’s just reps. Some people can develop it after two or three years. But for a lot of people, it’s around that 10-year mark where you get that year for the crowd. That’s really what we’re all about, is giving the fans what they want.”
Alexander re-aggravated a serious neck injury during his 2015 run with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). He continued to work through it until he had neck surgery in July 2015 and temporarily retired from wrestling.
“If there is one thing I could take away, I would go back and just not do the one move that I know hurt my neck,” he says. “But obviously, it was a wear and tear situation. I’ve always said this and continue to, especially to this day, I wouldn’t change anything that happened along the way because of that neck injury and me learning from it and coming back... Making sure that I was going to be better than I ever was before the neck injury and this insane work ethic that I somehow developed with a neck injury, that all taught me the lessons that I need for right now to have success and be ready for it. So I can’t really take it away.”
Alexander has spent 16 years slowly building momentum based primarily on the quality of his in-ring work. Building a following on the shoulders of his technical prowess — much like Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero — is a long-term investment that is finally paying off for the X Division king.
“You just summed it up. Those are heroes of mine,” Alexander explains. “That feeling you had of, ‘I’m the match guy,’ that is by design. It’s exactly what I enjoy doing. So that’s what I’ve always put emphasis on. I knew it was a long road to get notoriety because, you know, lightning strikes every once in a while and people can blow up immediately. But for me, I think I’ve been one of the most consistent wrestlers over the past five years in North America.
“Now in Impact Wrestling, if you look at what I was doing — even the singles [matches] I had when I was in a tag team division — Vikingo and Eddie Edwards and TJP — I had all these singles matches in my first year here, and they were all like crazy singles matches that were revered among people, but nobody took notice,” he continues. “Now that this momentum is growing from all the hard work. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially, because clearly, the momentum is getting to a point where it’s unstoppable, which is awesome. There’s a certain amount of pride that goes into it, absolutely, But I’m just shocked that it’s even happening still because you get to a point where you’re doing this night in, night out, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen. And I’m just thankful that it is.”
You can read another exclusive interview with Josh Alexander by click here.