During the latest edition of Press Pass, Hooked On Wrestling & other media outlets from all over the world were SPOILT with the opportunity to ask questions & engage discussion to not one… not two… but THREE professional wrestling all-stars! Impact Wrestling X-Division Champion Joshua Alexander & former champion TJP were the official guests on this podcast, and as if that wasn’t enough; it was hosted by the ever-iconic Gail Kim.
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted prior to the 60-minute Iron Man Match between Alexander and TJP with the X-Division title on the line. At the end of this article you can watch the match in full, courtesy of Impact Wrestling and YouTube.
(To Alexander) Josh, following your championship victory, some were critical of how you might fit into the ‘X-Division’ style, however in the weeks following, people have spoken very positively of your reign. What do you both think about the reign & Josh’s adaptation to this style so far?
Alexander: Becoming X-DIvision champion was something I always wanted for myself, the entirety of the business. You know, with the heritage it carries, guys like Low-Ki, Samoa Joe; all these legends that have since gone on to huge success. I looked up to these guys.
Everybody wants to label the X-Division as ‘high-flying’ or like the cruiserweight division. It was never that for me, what the title represented to me, since even before signing and coming here, was that you were guaranteed match of the night. Whether it was Petey Williams & Chris Sabin, or AJ Styles & Sonjay Dutt… whoever was getting in the ring, you saw that ‘X’ go up, you just knew that match was going to be insane. Which is exactly what I wanted for myself, a badass wrestling match. So that has been my goal, the second I joined this division. I didn’t change my mindset, or worry about what I was going to do/ where I’d fit in, only about going in there & hopefully winning, but if not, leaving a lasting impression on fans like that which was left on me, when I was younger.
Kim (tongue in cheek): I would say that the X-Division match was always second to the Knockouts match though…
(To TJP) How does competing in an Iron Man match compare to other matches, such as the ‘Ultimate X’?
TJP: I was going to say that it’s a lot easier on my ankles, but I guess when I’m wrestling Josh… that’s maybe not true.
I think a lot of people don’t always know what to make of me as a wrestler, I don’t come in the technical wrestling package of trunks & plain boots. I dare say I’m probably definitive of that category as much as Zack Sabre Jr. or Drew Gulak or Daniel Bryan; whoever. I’d also say i don’t perform as a typical high-flyer, but as with the technical category, I get branded as that a lot too. Many seem to forget that I can slug it out good, until I do, then they know. Maybe it’s because of my pretty boy mug.
Ultimate X is so linear, like a ladder match. It has a beginning and an end. There’s not as much depth to those types of matches in comparison to an Iron Man match, which I think is probably more my forte.
(To Josh) What was it like when The North was coming to an end? What was your thought process, were you concerned about your next step & how challenging was it?
Alexander: It was nerve wracking. I knew the tag team was through, and as is the case in all of pro wrestling, you don’t know what happens next. It’s out of your control. So it could’ve been that I was sitting around waiting for an opportunity whilst being sat on the bench for months and months. Luckily though, I got an opportunity fast and exploited it for all I could. I had so much to prove; that I could hang with these guys, that I could last as a singles competitor. Not knowing was hard. But otherwise, I really was just foaming at the mouth. By this point, I had 14 years of experience & have wrestled the best wrestlers in the world, all over the world before landing in Impact Wrestling in a singles capacity. I just needed to show the higher-ups and the fans what I could offer.
(To TJP) What is the transition from working more in tag teams to working more in singles like?
TJP: I think it’s all about the elements… The answer to this question is subjective, but I can relate it to the Ultimate X vs. Iron Man match question; you take what the beefheads give you, so to speak. An Iron Man match, there are more moving parts, there’s more decision making, so cohesiveness is important, especially here. In a standard singles match, at least one of the guys involved is going to be a ‘quarterback’, whilst the other is more reactionary. That logic is multiplied in a tag match, you could easily enough have four quarterbacks in there. It’s all about teamwork & micromanagement here. This is something that has always impressed me about Josh, I’ve wrestled him in tag matches, and seen how he works off of another worker’s parameters, and yet still be so individually strong & special in his own right.
This is a newer part of the game for me. I hope I can do half as good as he did, with Falla. When us two are together, I feel like we’re more of a Three Stooges movie than a tag team.
(To TJP & Alexander) I have a two part question; one, is there an area in your opponents offence that you’d worry of the most in an Iron Man match? Two, going into such a physically demanding match, does anything change in your diet/ hydration routines?
Alexander: Not to take away from TJP at all from an in-ring perspective, but the biggest thing I’d be concerned about is the experience factor. He’s been wrestling longer than me, I actually bought tickets to a show when I was 18 years old to watch Puma (TJP) wrestle, in Toronto. I was coming up and learning the ropes, he was already known worldwide. That’s something to worry about coming into this match. It’s a game of chess, and experience is king. No matter how fast or strong you are, especially in an Iron Man match.
As for diet, I don’t change a whole lot. Up until the day of the match, I try to eat just a bit more, for energy’s sake. It’s a marathon of sorts, you gotta carb up & prepare to go the distance.
TJP: When it comes to changes in diet, I don’t change a lot either, I’m just rearing to go ‘get me in there’ kinda thing. I don’t put too much thought into preparation either, I wouldn’t describe myself as an ‘Instagram athlete’. I prepare with the same mentality I always do, I’ll put in the extra ‘Kobe’ hours, you could call them, but I don’t enjoy diving into that sort of thing. Josh has seen me working out at random hours, coming in from the arena and seeing me hitting the gym at like 3:30AM or something. A lot of that won’t change, I do this all the time.
In answer to his offence, I’m keen to not be crippled… so one wonders, for 60 minutes, if he breaks my ankle in the first 20, what am I gonna do then? But I guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross when it comes to it. He’s a lot more adaptable than I think he gives himself credit for. I’ve not met many guys in the ring who are as complete as Josh to be honest, and that is saying something. I’d put his ability to check off every box up there with Daniel Bryan & Samoa Joe. It’s act/ react. I try not to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Whether it’s my leg, my back; I’ll figure out where to shift my focus.
(To all three) A lot of the time in a fan favourite vs. fan favourite scenario, we often see one of the two ‘break’ in the lead-up to the match. So for example, out of Bret & Shawn, Shawn snapped. Out of Josh & TJP, who do the three of you think will win the battle of minds going into this?
TJP: I can’t speak for Josh, but from my own perspective… Josh said at the end of his promo recently, I’m ‘the one stuck in there with [him] for 60 minutes’. That’s true, but when I hear that type of thing, like you’re stuck in the cage with me, or whatever, the first thing that comes to my mind is, ‘dude, I’m stuck on Earth with life.’ All my years, whatever walk of life you come from, the court, the ring, the pitch; Eddie Guerrero, Kobe Bryant & even Shawn Michaels, they all had much bigger battles in their personal lives, away from what they do for a living. If we were to aks them what the most challenging thing they’ve had to overcome on the job, it would pale in comparison to what they’ve had to overcome outside of it. I’m no different, I’ve been homeless, there’s all sorts of stuff I could draw from. These real life things, they make going into work a vacation by comparison, no matter what it is. In that respect, mental toughness has always defined me. I don’t look like a stoic tough guy, but I will always say; life couldn’t beat me. I don’t think an opponent in the ring could either, not mentally.
Alexander: To follow up on TJ’s answer, when I say ‘you’re stuck in the ring with me, and I’m sorry it has to be you’, I’m not talking about how fats, how strong, how smart I am & how I’m going to pick you apart, I’m just saying; there is one attribute I have that I will always believe in, and that’s my heart, and my ability to persevere. I’ve been through all that stuff myself too, I’ve been homeless, injured, retired, and had this whole thing taken away from me, but then I come back & here I stand. I’m never gonna let anyone or anything take it away from me again.
Kim: Wow, I wasn’t aware of how much you guys have both been through. I think when you’re in the ring and dealing with such great athletes as such here, it’s more of an internal, mental fight & challenge. I think it becomes something you begin to challenge yourself about, rather than your opponent.
As always, a big thank you to Impact Wrestling, in addition to Gail, TJ & Josh for their time & effort. And after a fantastic and insightful preview, here is the match!
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