Josh Alexander names AJ Styles his dream opponent ahead of epic IMPACT 1000 milestone

Wrestlers in action during Total Impact Wrestling at the Campo Pequeno Bull Fighting Arena in Lisbon, Portugal on January 5, 2007. (Photo by CityFiles/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Wrestlers in action during Total Impact Wrestling at the Campo Pequeno Bull Fighting Arena in Lisbon, Portugal on January 5, 2007. (Photo by CityFiles/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** /

IMPACT stalwart Josh Alexander talks about returning to the ring, his rivalry with Steve Maclin, wanting to wrestle AJ Styles, and more.

IMPACT Wrestling finds itself in the midst of one of its biggest stretches ever, between the 1,000th episode celebration of its weekly flagship show this weekend and its marquee event, Bound for Glory, at the end of October.

First comes Victory Road, the latest Impact Plus-exclusive event emanating from White Plains, NY on Sept. 8. It will consist of the usual stacked card from the company, complete with the long-awaited encounter between Josh Alexander and Steve Maclin.

Alexander was set to defend his Impact World Championship against Maclin in the main event of Rebellion back in April before Alexander suffered an injury that caused the contest to be canceled and forced him to relinquish the title immediately.

It wasn’t until Slammiversary in mid-July that he finally resurfaced to confront newly-crowned Impact World champion, Alex Shelley. Being IMPACT’s biggest workhorse these past few years, it killed him to have his hot run on top come to an abrupt halt.

“You take away this thing that’s my identity and that I find solace in and gives me fulfillment, and because of injury, it eats away at you,” Alexander told Daily DDT. “It’s just about keeping mental focus, doing the rehab, and taking the time to make sure you can come back and perform at the same level if not better than before.”

The time away admittedly had its perks for the Canadian wrestling machine. It gave him not only time with his family but a “bird’s eye view” of the product, realizing what he needed to do to adjust his game and return as quickly as possible.

Although he popped up ahead of schedule at Slammiversary, his road to recovery wasn’t over until just recently. Victory Road will be when he steps back inside the squared circle for the first time on his own since March.

“The landscape has changed, but I never lost that world championship, so no matter who holds it, and at Slammiversary [when I returned] it was Alex Shelley, I’m sure that will come to pass,” he said. “But first, I’ve got Steve Maclin at Victory Road.”

Josh Alexander on why his Victory Road match with Steve Maclin has been a long time coming

He described his upcoming clash with Maclin as “two homegrown guys colliding,” promising that it would be “something special.”

The two are indeed among the best talents IMPACT has built up in recent years. Alexander was previously one-half of The North with Ethan Page, while Maclin was largely booked as undercard fodder in WWE as a member of The Forgotten Sons.

Forgotten no more are Maclin and Alexander, who have each risen to singles stardom in IMPACT and have been handled exceptionally well. They’ve done their part to carry the product this past year and prove themselves as top talent.

This time around, however, it’s a matter of settling a score between them and less about fighting with something at stake. In fact, tensions are higher now than they were prior to their Rebellion bout five months ago.

“The bad blood only gets worse with the time off and time away,” Alexander said. “The last time I was in an IMPACT ring before my return at Slammiversary, that was when I was handing over that Impact World Championship, one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my career. Steve was in the ring that time and he called me a coward to my four-year-old son. The bad blood only rises.”

In Alexander’s absence, Maclin went on to win the prestigious prize and reign as champ for two months before losing it in shocking fashion to Alex Shelley. A groin injury put him out of action for the summer and prevented him from getting another opportunity to regain the gold.

Come Victory Road, both men will have chips on their shoulders wanting to solidify their superiority over the other.

“The Walking Weapon” is no stranger to the chase. He first won the Impact World Championship at Bound for Glory 2021 and lost it within minutes to Moose, only to work his way back up the card and reclaim the title at Rebellion 2022.

Once the dust settles in his matchup with Maclin, he knows the belt will be waiting for him.

Josh Alexander on IMPACT’s past and present

In addition to Alexander and Maclin, IMPACT’s current roster is second to none.

Shelley, Moose, Brian Myers, Bully Ray, PCO, Frankie Kazarian, and Eddie Edwards are all involved in the main-event scene on and off. The X-Division is constantly killing it, the tag team ranks are cooking, and the Knockouts scene is star-studded.

“At any given time, anybody is ready to step up and has something to prove,” Alexander said. “That’s what people do here. They either come from another company to rebuild themselves and show a different part of what they’re capable of like Steve Maclin, and then guys like me and Trey Miguel and Mike Bailey who have never been to a bigger company and started out right here. You’re never done with that until you climb to the top of the mountain in IMPACT.”

He added how that’s essentially IMPACT’s identity: a platform where world-class competitors can come to reinvent themselves and/or test their mettle against the stars of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

“It’s amazing because people have written off this company several times in the past, but it’s always the little engine that could,” he said. “It’s always been propped up by the best talent in the world, and we’re going to get to see that at the thousandth episode.”

Alexander specifically cited Awesome Kong’s in-ring return as what he’s looking forward to most about IMPACT 1000, along with Gail Kim wrestling one more match and Team 3D reuniting for the first time in over seven years.

The epic event will honor the past while also laying the foundation for the future. If Alexander had his way, he’d want his ultimate IMPACT dream match to be against Hall of Famer Kurt Angle or soon-to-be Hall of Famer AJ Styles.

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“If I could manifest anything that is possible to happen, my number one would be Kurt Angle, but I think those days are long gone,” he said. “I’m going to go with, somewhere down the road in the next couple of years if it is possible, Josh Alexander headlining Bound for Glory or Slammiversary versus AJ Styles, a man synonymous with the first 10 to 15 years of IMPACT Wrestling in general. The two figureheads of the two different eras I think would be a hell of a matchup.”