The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Aug. 4, 2022

Chris Harris on TNA, America's Most Wanted & Elix Skipper's CRAZY Cagewalk

Chris Harris on TNA, America's Most Wanted & Elix Skipper's CRAZY Cagewalk

Chris Harris (@amwwildcatchrisharris) is a professional wrestler known for his time in TNA as part of the tag team America's Most Wanted with James Storm. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about working for WCW until it was purchased by Vince McMahon, being part of the early days of TNA Wrestling, how he was teamed up with James Storm, the success of AMW, becoming the 6-time tag team champions, taking the crazy cagewalk hurricanrana from Elix Skipper and Turning Point 2004, his time in WWE as Braden Walker, what he is up to now and much more!


On TNA changing their name to IMPACT:

“It does [feel different] but in a lot of the ways it feels the same. I am so happy that we got 20 years with this company and I am so happy that it is still going strong. But there are a lot of differences where it was on top as TNA, I am hopeful that IMPACT Wrestling can get back to that top again.”

On why not many people watch IMPACT:

“It could be something to do with the name change but a lot of people are not aware that it is still around. They knew about TNA, but as I remind them, a lot of people ask me ‘Well where can I see it?’ But you are right there is some phenomenal talent out there. I tell them that it is on AXS TV on Thursday night and people just don’t get AXS, it is just a matter of the availability. When I was around we were on Spike TV, it was one of the prime channels you could tune into and it was like the guys channel, they could tune into the UFC and things like that. I think that the availability is big with that, maybe if we could give IMPACT a bit more of a push, we could maybe get a better channel and some better visibility.”

On if Chris Harris stayed in WCW and it was not bought by WWE:

“In my time growing up it was the big two, it was WCW and WWE, and that was what you really wanted to strive for. That was the goal. I had my connections with WCW, of course I started out as a security kind of thing, they were bringing in groups for security. But they had their WCW Worldwide programme, they had their WCW Saturday night programme, and those were programming for talent like myself to wrestle the big stars. And I was doing that almost every week. I kind of figured that they were happy with my work, all the guys that I worked with, it was a pure honor. But to continue down that road for most of the year 2000, that was what I was doing. I was performing in a lot of these matches and getting to perform with guys like Booker T, Shane Douglas, Curt Hennig, just a list of guys that I got to step in the ring with. It was just a privilege. It’s amazing how they ran that into the ground with so much talent over there.”

On if there was a meeting when WCW was bought by WWE:

“I’ve heard that there was a meeting. I don’t remember when my last date was but there was a meeting and I wasn’t a part of it. They stopped bringing us in, it was extra money to bring in extra guys. I would say somethwe in early 2001 they stopped bringing me in. I think they made it to March or April. They had their pick of everybody, so the guys at my level, they didn’t have a chance.”

On Chris Harris being put in a tag team in TNA:

“There may have been something to that because all my career at that point had been in singles, [James] Storm was the same. At that point we were just happy to be signed, and I don’t think they knew what to do with us. They were interested in our talent and they wanted us to be a part of the company, but they just didn’t know what to do with us. I always tell people that there was a lot of moving parts, they were just starting to really focus on their top stars, but also really building up some of the newer stars. So they put us in a tag team, and Storm and I had the attitude of if this is what they are giving us, then we will take it and run with it. That was just how we were trained and how we were brought up in the business. Sometimes you are given something that you are not very happy with, but it could have been a lot worse. When I look at it and they say ‘You are going to team up with this cowboy.’ Which I have nothing in common with. He goes up to the ring and he shoots his guns off, I’m like you have gotta be kidding me. The truth is that there were a lot of similarities, but I think that the differences is what a lot of people were attracted to. It was two separate guys but we gelled as one. We had the attitude of if we are going to be a tag team, we are going to be the best damn tag team out there.”

On TNA being a weekly pay-per-view at first:

“During that short time between WCW and TNA, it was about a year, there were a few startup companies. I say a few, there is probably a lot more than I realize, but nothing was really catching on. When I first heard about TNA, it probably wasn’t long before the first ppv, early 2002, I heard about another company starting out. I was already wrestling in Nashville and I heard that was where it was going to be based, so I heard a lot of rumbling about it. There was a part of me that was like ok, here’s another one. But when you are hungry and eager at that stage of your career, you are ready to jump on anything. Everyone just wanted to be a part of it no matter where it went. I heard that Jeff Jarrett was involved and I knew Jeff from WCW. A lot of things were adding up to where this really is a chance to make it. When I thought about the weekly pay-per-views I was open to it. It had never been done before but that doesn’t mean that it can’t work. Of course as we later learned, it is always better to have a tv deal. But that’s the thing, a lot of people say that it was going to try and compete with WWE but it was never about that, it was just there to be an alternate. So it had to be different, we were not going to do a monthly pay-per-view, we were going to do one every week at an affordable amount. Yeah I was very open to it and hungry and eager to be a part of it.”

On comparing AEW to TNA:

“There’s a lot, especially when they [AEW] first started. I was looking for that because it did remind me of that. The big difference that I see from the outside is that they have the big money backers, whereas TNA being funded by [talent]. I know that there were some guys that threw their own money in, and then they had to go out and get the investors. We were really struggling to make it, and when that happens, you have to keep the budget down. With AEW, it is almost like they have an unlimited budget. If they get a hold of a WWE talent, they’ll sign them. That has been a lot of the talk in the past year is that they keep taking the WWE talent and they can afford it. Well TNA couldn’t, we had a select few that was helping us grow the company with the credibility, but we really had to focus on building the new talent. And that’s what we did, we mentioned it earlier, The X Division, AJ Styles, tag team America’s Most Wanted, we were building new stars. There are a lot of similarities, but I think the big difference is the funding.”

On Kurt Angle signing with TNA:

“That was huge man, that was huge, and they kept that quiet. I didn’t know until I saw that video. We were doing our tapings in Orlando then at Universal Studios. A side note, if Storm and I were finished with what we had to do on the show, there was a scaffolding by the hard cam where they would put a camera on top, but it was a scaffolding. We found our own little pedestal halfway up and we would just watch the show from there, and we really enjoyed that. Any time we didn’t have anything to do, we would watch. That particular night, it might have been a pay-per-view, we were sat there on our little perch. And at the end of the night they ended it with that video package, I looked at Storm and I was like holy sh*t. We got Kurt Angle man, that is huge! That was a big win for us.”

On taking the Elix Skipper cage hurricanrana:

“It is [insane] and it’s crazy that people still talk about it to this day. That was our second cage match, a lot of people don’t remember the first one. Our first cage match had got a lot of attention, but when we were talking about the second one, we wanted to top the first one, which is incredible if we could do that. Elix had this idea and I thought that it was completely absurd. What a lot of people don’t remember is that part of Elix’s arsenal was that he would walk the top rope and do a hurricanrana off of that, on the ropes. It wasn’t a complete out of the blue idea, he had done it in is matches previously. When he brought that idea up, I was like that takes it to a whole different level, that is dangerous. A lot of people don’t know this, but I told him no for most of the [day], it wasn’t talked about until that day. Most of the day I was telling him no, there is no way. I don’t know if I want to take something like that and it is dangerous for him. It couldn't have been more than a few hours before the event, he came and he tried it one more time. I looked at him and I said ‘Can you really do this?’ What convinced me was his confidence, he said to me ‘Yes. I can do this.’ When I saw that he had no wavering, I said ‘Ok, let’s do it.’ You have to take your chances man. A lot of people still think there is a lot of practice and going over everything, that is a one and done thing, you don’t practise that. I don’t know if they had a cage up that day. I don't think we walked through anything. But we were all professionals and confident in our abilities. So yeah, I said let’s do it and it just was a switch. I can remember, if you look back at that, he is stumbling at first to get his footing. I am over on the other side with Christopher Daniels and already he is taking a while. I am looking at Chris and I’m like what is plan B, because he is not going to make it. By the time I looked back he was on me, so you saw once he got his footing he was gone man. Next thing you know his legs are around my head and here we go. He gets props for that and I am glad he does, but a lot of people forget who took that bump. But it couldn’t have been any better, I am very fortunate, it’s a long way down.”

On the breakup of America’s Most Wanted:

“To be honest with you, it had been talked about within the first year. Crazy to think about that now. But when you are trying to build weekly episodic television, and you got a good thing going, sometimes you have the writers who are just looking to go ‘This will be exciting if we do this…’ There was talk after the first year of splitting us up and there was talk a few times after that. But we were new there, and once we knew that we had something special and really strong, we felt like we really had to speak up. We told them ‘Look, we think that we have something here and there is a lot of life left in America’s Most Wanted.’ They listened to us and I am very thankful that they did, we ended up together for 5 years or 6 years. But there was talk about it, we won the titles 6 times and we had a little heel run. But when there was talk me and Storm were ready to see what we could do as singles. We did our tag team and we did it well, let’s see what happens when we go on our own. Of course we knew, the first step was to go at each other.”

On James Storm joining Beer Money:

“A lot of people asked me at that time ‘What do you think of Beer Money?’ They thought that I would trash it, but I was the number one fan of Beer Money, I thought that they were great. I loved Bobby Roode, I travelled with him, good friend of mine. So when Strom and him hooked up, I think for similar reasons, they [TNA] didn’t have anything for them at the time, and they wanted to make it work. But yeah, they became very successful and it doesn’t surprise me that Storm was a part of that. He knew what to do and he knew what not to do in that department. The thing is, a lot of people have compared us to Beer Money, and I know nowadays a lot of people, Beer Money gets the nod. But it brings me back to as the company was building, they were getting more fans watching every week. As America’s Most Wanted was gone, they were still increasing viewers. So I think more eyes were on Beer Money, so that would be their favorite.”

On Chris Harris being the fake Sting:

“It’s crazy, some of the most exciting moments of my life are me being someone else. I was one of the many in WCW that was doing the security, but some of the higher ups knew who I was. I think I was picked back then just because of the look. I had the long hair, even though Sting’s hair wasn’t as long anymore, I fit more of the crow Sting. I got Sting’s outfit, he’s the one that painted my face up, it’s crazy. They could have had their makeup artist do it but Sting was the one that did it. Even Sting looked at me as he was painting and said ‘This is like looking in a mirror.’  I guess he saw that crow Sting with the hair, but it was very cool. I think I am most remembered for the Halloween Havoc where I came out of the ring, which was the most fun I had being Sting, because I had a part in that match. But they got clips of me in the rafters, and you couldn’t tell who it was. There were times where I was in a coffin, and they had me bust out of a coffin and beat somebody up. But a lot of times they would get out of that because they would have the strobe flashing, so you couldn’t tell who it was. But there was a lot of times where I was doing the fake Sting whether he was there or not.”

On Chris Harris going to WWE as Braden Walker:

“It was unfortunate that they would do that but I can’t say that I was surprised. Going in there, they just want to erase your past, which is unfortunate because you try so hard to build up a reputation for yourself and not that they would ever talk about TNA, but they don’t want them to talk about you like you are a rookie. Going in there, I tried to keep a positive attitude. The Wildcat is gone, I’m going to be a whole new character. They gave me the name, and a lot of people have trashed that for years, but it wasn’t a surprise. They gave me the name, if I was still able to be myself, I could take any name that they throw at me. I could make Braden Walker work if they had given me an opportunity. There was no preparation and no thought behind it. I think I was doomed from the start.”

On his time in WWE:

“I was there for close to a year, and I just from the get go, I just saw different things. When I first went, people were excited to see me and they didn’t want news getting out, it felt like a big deal. ‘We’ve got plans for you.’ Things like that. I felt like maybe I made the right decision. But within weeks, I was seeing that there was no background to this and no thought and I was just going to be one of the ones that are just thrown out there, and I was. I was just thrown out there, there was no story or background to Braden Walker anything like that. I had generic music, gear, name, there was no reason for people to get behind me. I still feel like I could have made that work if they let me wrestle, but they were even taking that away from me. Seconds and minutes before I went out, I had a producer change my match. ‘You can’t do this and you can’t do that, so why don’t you try…’ You’re messing with me man, I couldn’t go out and be myself in the ring. It was very unfortunate and I felt like I could make it work, but the opportunity was never presented to me.”

On what Chris Harris is grateful for:

“My career, my family and sobriety.”

Featured image: Wrestling Attitude

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