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Elix Skipper Interview: Talks about his career in TNA, WWE offers, more
On Tuesday, July 5, 2005 at 2:58 PM EST Alan J. Wojcik of http://www.alanwojcik.com sent in the following...
"Primetime" Elix Skipper is one of the top stars of TNA Wrestling and is a former NWA World Tag Team champion with XXX partners Low Ki and "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels. Skipper and Daniels contractually forced to split via a loss to America's Most Wanted in December 2004. Since then Skipper has been part of the high flying, high energy X Division. This interview was conducted June 20, 2005 the day after the TNA Slammiversary PPV and it's not a straight out shoot. Instead of beginning from day one of a career we begin while Skipper was working for WCW, right before WWE bought them out. Special thanks to Lance Hoyt for not killing the IHOP hostess who took forever to bring the food.
Alan Wojcik: You were under contract when WCW was bought by the then WWF. What was your reaction and did you think you would be going to work for Vince McMahon?
Elix Skipper: My reaction was holy shit. I couldn't believe WWF bought it. I thought how the hell the one company is going to keep the two different ones operating. Would they even keep WCW open or would we all become WWF workers.
AW: You and several workers ended up in Heartland Wrestling, which was a WWF developmental promotion. How long were you there before you were released, yet never having worked in a WWF ring?
Elix Skipper: We were down there for almost nine months. It was just before my birthday in December 2001. They came down and told a bunch of us in official meetings. Six of them sat in while one wrestler would walk into the room. They told me I was released and I said how could you release me when I wasn't even given a chance to show you what I bring to the ring? They replied we have too many people under contract and afford you. Keep working out and if something comes up we'll give you a call.
AW: The release led you to work for All Japan Wrestling under the name Extreme Blade. What was the Japanese wrestling experience like for you?
Elix Skipper: I talked to Great Muta when WCW was bought and he told me to call him when I wanted to work. He told me he liked my work and thought I could get over in Japan. As soon as WWF released me I called. He said it would take two or three months for them to have a character fully developed for me. I went over a month after the release and I did a workout for the owners and one of the wives liked something I did. I remember the spot; I did it with Jimmy Yang (WWE's Akio). We went up the ropes, I flipped up, he went for a clothesline and I did a Matrix drop down, stood up, kicked him in the gut and hit the Play of the Day. They all stood and gave me a round of applause. I was told they would have me back soon and two months later I was working for All Japan. They said it usually takes four months but that one spot made them get me there faster.
AW: How long was it between the WWF release and TNA Wrestling calling you to work for them?
Elix Skipper: That was weird because it happened while I was working for All Japan. I came home to the states and I had a bunch of messages at home. I missed their first taping in Alabama and the first one they did in Nashville but I debuted on their third show (in a six person elimination match that included Tony Mamaluke, Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, Kid Romeo and Christopher Daniels.) I told them I was working in Japan but they invited me down to check it out and if I wanted to work, they would find me a match.
AW: What was your initial impression of the Jarrett's original concept, the weekly PPV as opposed to normal TV?
Elix Skipper: When I first heard it I thought it would't work. At first it was something for me to do when I wasn't working in Japan. But I began to talk to the guys and saw how much they were pushing it. Then I saw it wasn't a 40 dollar PPV, it was only 10 dollars. At that point the hardcore fans only had WWF to watch and I thought they would buy into the concept and through word of mouth it would grow. It worked look where we are today, sitting in Orlando, Florida.
AW: You were added to the growing concept of the X Division that Mike Tenay said "Isn't about weight limits, it's about no limits. What did you think of the alteration of a traditional cruiserweight division and trying to bring in the Mexican Lucha and Japanese influences?
Elix Skipper: That's what I thought, its cruiserweight division minus a weight limit. The NWA World title holder could fight the X Division champion and that sometimes gets lost on the fans and the writers. We need to push that idea. Anyone can get the title, even Lance.
AW: After running in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for a few weeks, TNA made some financial moves and shifted operations to the more intimate Tennessee State Fairgrounds, which Ron Killings dubbed the Asylum. Then the Jarrett's financial partner Healthsouth left and Panda Energy came to the rescue. At any point did you think oh great here I go again another promotion I work for is going to fold up?
Elix Skipper: It's weird you bring that place up Alan. I used to work in the Fairgrounds for (Nashville based promoter) Bert Prentice when I was under contract for WCW. We would work there on Saturday nights and thank god they fixed it up for TNA to use. I knew when I was on WCW TV I thought I would never work there again. You know the phrase, never say never. I knew going there the old Fairgrounds fan base would come to see TNA. I loved that town and if it wasn't for the Nashville fans we wouldn't have been on Fox or gotten the monthly PPV's we have now in Orlando. There were nights we had to turn people away due to venue capacity. But I never got worried about them shutting down.
AW: In late 2002 while you were in the X Division, Vince Russo came out from a behind the scenes role to found a little faction called Sports Entertainment Xtreme. What did you think when you were told you, Low Ki and Christopher Daniels would not only be joining SEX, you were going to be a team called XXX?
Elix Skipper: When this idea first came to me I was told since we all had 'egos' each of us was being sat down for a meeting. They needed to see if we could co-exist and all three of us had a good laugh. I had worked with Chris and Ki as opponents but we never worked in a team. The promotion thought we would clash but it was the best thing TNA could have done. XXX helped get things going. Vince told us to try anything we wanted and if it didn't work we would moved on. That was the Vince I liked in WCW. The fans loved or hated us but they loved us since each of us were solid workers.
AW: XXX started 2003 off in a match against the legendary Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes and Jeff Jarrett. What was it like to be in there with that foursome?
Elix Skipper: When the office told us about that matchup it was so funny because we immediately thought old school/new school and we would dominate the match. In the ring they all told us nothing you do in here tonight will work and we will own you (laughs). We had so much fun that night. It was a great match that the fans and the competitors liked at the same time.
AW: On January 22nd XXX became the NWA World Tag Team champions by defeating a team you have faced countless times America's Most Wanted ('Tennessee Cowboy' James Storm and 'Wildcat' Chris Harris.) What is it like working that team over and over?
Elix Skipper: What's so funny about them two is they love wrestling yet they argue with each other more then they probably do with their wives/girlfriends. AMW will self destruct on their own without their opponent's aid. We just let them lose their cool and we won the belts.
AW: You lost and regained the titles over the next several months until June 23, 2003 when you had to defend the titles against AMW in the first ever steel cage match in TNA's short history.
Elix Skipper: That was really weird because not only was it the first cage match for TNA it was my first time in a cage match. The bet part was I was dying to get in there and do new stuff. It was fun and I will never forget it. We dove off the top, threw each other into the walls and hit it so many times. You hit that steel and metal and all the energy you had melts out. That was something that will be remembered in wrestling history.
AW: I am sure this is a popular interview question, who did you prefer teaming with more Low Ki or Christopher Daniels?
Elix Skipper: It didn't matter to me.
AW: Great he's being the politician (laughter from Hoyt and other people at the table)
Elix Skipper: I am serious it didn't matter to me one way or another. We never told the office which of the two of us would be wrestling on a given night. All three of us would enter the ring and two of us would attack our opponents. It could have any combination of us since we meshed so well together and got along out of the ring too, unlike some teams.
AW: After the cage match it seemed like XXX disappeared from TNA. Was it due to injuries, oversea bookings or internal restructuring?
Elix Skipper: The main reason the three of us were put into XXX since one of us was always working in Japan at any given week. Right after the cage match I think all of us were booked or two of us were booked to work in Japan. TNA sat us down and made us promise that two of us would try to be available to keep the XXX storyline active. We were making more money in Japan it was hard but we were phased for a bit. We were making four and sometimes five times our TNA deals. We ended up working it out after a few months.
AW: On the July 23rd edition of the PPV you worked with the late Mike Lockwood who had left WWE (formerly Crash Holly) and worked for TNA as Mad Mikey.
Elix Skipper: Even after being cut I had been to WWE as a dark match worker and Mike was real polite. He felt the idea of a squash match was out of style and both people needed equal time to make it a balanced encounter. That's the way I was taught to be in the ring. We got along that night and had a good match.
AW: From July to December of 2003 you were not on any TNA events. Was it the Japanese dates or personal issues that kept you off PPV?
Elix Skipper: What really happened was a mixture of Japan offering me more money and I got into a monetary dispute with TNA. I thought I should have gotten a raise, they told me money was tight yet they were bringing in guys who made twice my fee. I don't care about them making money, more power to them but the people that were there week in and out weren't being taken care of. They wanted me to hold my request until things got better financially and matter of fact we were planning to do a good deal tonight. I told them that's great but when I go to the bank the teller doesn't know I did a good deal she knows I am getting a crappy paycheck wrestling and any night could be my last time in a ring. I decided to go to Japan and said they could call me when they had things figured out. Their form of punishment was not calling me but it didn't matter due to the Japan money. In December they called telling me they had more money to spend and I should come back to Nashville. I told them despite getting money I was still going to Japan but things worked out.
AW: You began 2004 with a match against "The Franchise" Shane Douglas.
Elix Skipper: I remember that match as it was part of the TNA push to place me with better caliber opponents. Shane has moved onto better places in the office. When you work a veteran like him they know how to get you and themselves over with little effort to hurt the match. You need to have respect for the veterans you face in the ring. Being there with a veteran will come back to help you tenfold.
AW: Early in 2004 TNA created the America's X Cup and placed you on Team NWA to face off against Team AAA/Mexico, Japan, England and the mainstay Team Canada. Were you a fan of this concept and being part of it?
Elix Skipper: No I loved TNA but I wasn't a 'TNA person' I just wanted to beat everyone up. I didn't want to rep them but I knew I could be on that team since I was hot and they wanted the best to face the best international talent. I got to work with Jerry Lynn and good partners but at the end of the series we almost had XXX back together.
AW: During the time of the X Cup you took on then X Division champion and the person dubbed "the Coolest Man in Wrestling" Frankie "the Future" Kazarian.
Elix Skipper: Frankie is a new school guy and there's an unspoken rule in the locker room, you take care of me and I'll take care of you. Frankie used that rule in setting up great matches. I wish we had more matches but it wasn't meant to be.
AW: Just before TNA passed its second anniversary it added a national TV show on Fox Sports Net called Impact. What was the locker room reaction and did you think it would lead to success or be a failure?
Elix Skipper: I thought we needed syndication or a TV deal but the time slots sucked being on Friday's from 3-4 pm. We knew it would be a step to a possible prime time slot. We were happy with more money, more exposure and the light at the end of the tunnel was getting brighter. Being on back to back shows wasn't an issue to me.
AW: At some point 'Prime Time' Elix Skipper became just'Prime Time. Who made that choice and were you happy with it?
Elix Skipper: That was an office decision. They told me 'we want you to change to a nice but still vicious character.' To me it's not about the name it's what you do in the ring.
AW: What led to the reformation of XXX with just you and Christopher Daniels since in a 2004 title tournament Daniels and Low Ki had reformed?
Elix Skipper: The people wanted it. I am telling you everything they said on the net and news sheets spoke it. The people wanted it and TNA worked for it. It didn't work with all three of us funny enough due to the egos they feared would clash.
AW: When you and Daniels reformed, AMW was losing the NWA World Tag Team titles to the Naturals (Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas). XXX and AMW were placed in a best of three series to set up the next opponents the Naturals would defend against. How hard is it to set up a series but keep each match from being a copy of the previous one?
Elix Skipper: When you do a best of three it about winning fast. We needed to win the first one and it wasn't about being cute and hitting flashy moves. We felt when we won the opening match it was over.
AW: On September 8th the weekly PPV's were ended. TNA's championship committee set up two tag title matches. The Naturals injured James Storm's back and then attacked your partner who had been nursing an injured shoulder. Did it surprise you when they teamed you with 'Wildcat' Chris Harris to defeat the Naturals for the belts?
Elix Skipper: Let me tell you when it was pitched to me I thought there is no way it was going to work. I was so pissed off at the Naturals. That night Harris was the perfect partner. Both of our partners were beaten down and I wanted to fight both of those guys. I got stopped by Larry Zybzsko and he said if you want to fight for the titles you are going with a partner and then Harris showed up. It was prefect for one night then hell for weeks.
AW: When the weekly PPV ended it angered the Nashville fans who had been loyal to the promotion. What were your feelings when TNA relocated TV work to Universal Studios in Orlando?
Elix Skipper: Right before we left the Nashville crowd kept telling we shouldn't leave and Nashville was our home. They were family to us but when you grow up you need to move away to fully reach your potential. It was hard to leave them because no matter how bad a week they had you knew who was going to be there cheering and booing you. We were so popular in Nashville people were coming across the country to see a show. I will never forget those fans in Nashville.
AW: On September 24th edition of Impact you and Chris Harris lost the titles, however you lost them to James Storm and Christopher Daniels. How hard was it to face your partner but at the same time want to hold onto the championship?
Elix Skipper: That was one of the weirdest matches of my career. Daniels and I vowed no matter what situations they put us in we wouldn't hit each other. Watch that match and we never made contact. Next thing you know we were in there but from nowhere I got a super kick from Storm to lose the titles. We needed to be back together to regain the titles but that was never meant to be.
AW: On November 7th TNA hosted the first three hour PPV called Victory Road. But people tell me you don't remember any of it including the Last Team Standing bout with AMW. What do you remember from that day?
Elix Skipper: 100% truth. I only remember talking to Sandra the promotion's seamstress at the building; we had been working on a new scheme. From that meeting on I don't remember anything including the match. People told me I came to in the hospital with the nurses removing my wrist tape and me saying you can't do that I haven't had my match yet. They told me Elix its 1am and the show is over. I said no way I wrestled I am dry; I was dry from being at the hospital for hours. I didn't believe them and I asked the doctor who cared for me what time it was and he didn't say Prime Time, he said 1:21am. The next day I watched a copy of the show at least four times and I watched our match. To this day I only remember what I saw since they told me some point in the match the concussion occurred and I suffered from short term memory loss.
AW: Let's move onto stuff I hope you remember. On the December 5th Turning Point PPV XXX was broken up when you lost to America Most Wanted in a Six Sides of Steel match. Before I ask the obvious question what were your feelings when you and Chris were told XXX was coming to an end?
Elix Skipper: I think it was time even though the fans didn't want it to end. We held the belts so many times and we had beaten everyone so it was time to go our own ways. We were happy and upset even though we knew each of us would succeed individually.
AW: Now to the match and moment voted the most memorable moment in TNA's history by the fans. During the match you did a death defying high wire walk across the cage before head scissoring one of AMW back down to the mat. Was that set up before you walked in the cage or something the four of you decided to use spur of the moment? Plus what was your family's reaction to the match?
Elix Skipper: First off me walking the cage nearly didn't happen. I mean everyone was scared that whatever happened in there would be dangerous. If they had known about the cage walk they would have shot it down. I brought it up during our cage match in 2003. They said 'no way someone could fall to the floor where the pad won't help you or worse you could fall into the fans injuring many people.' So this time around in the six sided cage when we gave them our ideas and the office asked for ideas, we told no one involved from production on up. AMW kept saying it was too risky for all of us but I knew if XXX was splitting I wanted it to be remembered for a long time. About an hour before we went to the ring the other three asked me could I do it, was I positive I had never done it but I was confident and told them yes I can do it. I walked away from Daniels and later on he said I had a huge look of confidence but I had no clue what would happen when I got there. I hit it and then afterwards I got yelled at by wife, she told me I wasn't thinking of my family. My mom called crying told me I better call as soon as I got the message. All of them told me not to do that again until I was rich.
AW: At Final Resolution your singles career in TNA began again by taking on Sonjay Dutt.
Elix Skipper: I like Sonjay he has lots of energy and character. He was part of Team NWA in the X Cup. We had good continuity and it was on when we hooked up. Usually I am working with someone bigger then me, this time I worked with someone about my size and speed. It was fun being with him. Back in the WCW Power Plant there were nine of us and I was the smallest of the group. I wasn't used to being looked at the biggest guy like I am here in TNA. If I am the biggest guy all of you are in trouble.
AW: At the Against All Odds PPV you took on 'the Canadian Destroyer' Petey Williams. He seems to like singing O Canada while standing on a person's crotch.
Elix Skipper: Petey is a good worker. I thought we would have matched up better then when we got in the ring. Something didn't feel right and it wasn't something either of us did. I don't know how the fans took it but I think we can do better if asked to work again.
AW: You mentioned being a supporter of Vince Russo. He ran a church based show on February 20th where you took on then NWA World Heavyweight champion Jeff Jarrett.
Elix Skipper: We got paid but it wasn't about money, it was about turning other people's lives around. Before the show it was about getting kids to church and Vince used wrestling as a vehicle to get people to church. From that show they got hundreds of families to come to church and spend time together. I have worked Jeff before. He believes in his in ring character and if you have a good opponent things will happen on their own.
AW: At Destination X you were part of the Ultimate X match for the X Division title then held by AJ Styles. Also in the match were Ron Killings and Christopher Daniels. Knowing the high wires were there and couldn't be used until two men remained, how did you prepare for the match?
Elix Skipper: Alan the weird part of that match is the X is designed for the highspots but that night was an elimination match to earn the right to get to the X portion. I wanted to do so much in there. You had four 'A' wrestlers in there so we couldn't have a bad match. I wanted to walk the X part but never had the time. I got double crossed by Chris and somehow I came out in one piece.
AW: At the all cage PPV known as Lockdown you returned to the Six Sides of Steel, this time with Christopher Daniels as an opponent. You talked trash before the match saying you knew everything he was going to do. Did the two of you feel the crowd's desire for you to repeat the cage walk?
Elix Skipper: They wanted it way too bad. I got up there and I wanted to do a moonsault back onto Chris. The crowd was on their feet and it was too soon after my last trip there. They'll get it soon enough.
AW: You were part of the UXW Chris Candido Memorial Event. Talk about being there to honor Chris.
Elix Skipper: It was hard because you can't believe he is gone. I remember talking to him during the PPV he got injured on. He was more concerned about getting back in the ring not how long he was going to be out. We were booked on the same show at Cyberspace the Saturday after the PPV. I got a call Thursday telling me he passed away. I said that's not supposed to have happened, he said he could work around the injury by managing. Then we found out it was a blood clot in his leg. I couldn't and still don't want to believe it happened.
AW: Who designed your website www.primetimeelixskipper.com and how hands-on are you with the content?
Elix Skipper: Carm is my webmistress and I have total input on the site even though she has some great ideas. She will run them by me and I came up with the sayings you see on the site. She has the computer knowledge I will never have. She is a real sweet woman.
AW: If you could have one person as your dream opponent, who would it be and why?
Elix Skipper: It would be Chris Benoit. I have always admired his style and his work. When I was learning to wrestle I watched his tapes. When I was in the Power Plant he was coming by to rehab an injury and I learned lots from him in that short time. He is a solid worker and proves you don't have to be a 300 pounder to be a heavyweight champion.
AW: Without ticking people off has WWE ever contacted you to work for them and if they have, would you accept an offer to leave TNA Wrestling?
Elix Skipper: As I said earlier when they released me I went to Japan and joined TNA, I did some dark matches. Yes if they offered a deal where I made more money then TNA is giving me now I would return to WWE. Wrestling today is about making money and having fun, you have to have both in your life. I love wrestling and when I am 50 I want to be set and not have to work in Wal-Mart or McDonalds unless I own it. It's about making the right choices for my family.
AW: You recently became a dad; does that change your approach to the business?
Elix Skipper: Nope. The only thing that has changed is I lie a little bit more. (Hoyt laughs) If my wife asks what kind of match it is I don't tell her all the details. I try not to lie but not to tell the whole truth. When she finds out I tell her they changed it at the last minute. It works out better then telling her the truth and she worries the whole day until I call her when the match is over.
AW: Last night TNA held its third anniversary show with the Slammiversary PPV. What do you hope the future hold for you?
Elix Skipper: As a performer I am ready to break out of this shell I have been in. I am ready to do more interviews and do more of what makes me good. I hope to see TNA being traveling to different towns and grow. I hope we do weekly TV. We have been around for three years and its time for everyone to make some money. We need to stop be considered a small company, we are growing. When the promotion makes money we should make money.
Thanks to Elix Skipper for his time. Thanks to Lance Hoyt for his patience and not destroying an IHOP (kidding Lance). Thanks to Elix Skipper's website for research information. Thanks to Miss Kendi for setting this interview up. Be sure to check out Elix's website, along with www.tnawrestling.com