Primetime: The Career of Elix Skipper

On December 5, 2004 at the Total Nonstop Action (TNA) PPV Turning Point, former WCW Superstar Elix Skipper performed a supernatural walk across the top of the cage into a hurricanrana. Sixteen years later, that spot is still a viral moment from pro wrestling’s history. For fans of WCW and early TNA, Elix Skipper remains a name held in high regard – an ultra-athletic cruiserweight competitor that always seemed one match away from superstardom. But in 2009, soon after his final run in TNA, he retired from the sport and has not wrestled since. That superstardom never happened and to many younger fans, his name is barely recognizable. This is the story of one of WCW’s bright spots in its waning years and one of the men who helped popularize TNA’s X-Division during its formative years. The story of “Primetime” Elix Skipper.

Elix Skipper was born and raised on Long Island, New York, and by the end of the 1990s, he was successfully running four McDonald’s franchises as a supervisor. But deep down, he wanted to wrestle. He took martial arts and kickboxing training and did plenty of weightlifting to make sure he was in peak physical condition should an opportunity arise. When an opportunity failed to materialize, an impulse decision following a bad management decision from his superiors at McDonald’s created one. “I knew I wanted to wrestle, and at the time I was supposed to get a raise for store performance and I didn’t, so right there I put in my two weeks notice,” Skipper told the TNA website back in 2006. “A month later, I called WCW to schedule an appointment at the Power Plant. But no one would return my calls, so I just hopped in my car and drove 930 miles to WCW in Georgia – I’ll never forget it, no appointment or anything. When I got there, they told me I had to wait two weeks for a tryout. I drove all the way BACK home, and then BACK to Atlanta two weeks later! After I had my tryout, I was accepted to the Power Plant and that’s how I got into wrestling.” After his first few weeks of training, Elix Skipper was loaned out by the Power Plant and worked several matches for Greensboro, North Carolina’s New Dimension Wrestling (NDW) in the late summer of 1998. Elix Skipper continued to train hard at the Power Plant and finally, in the fall of 1999, he got the call from WCW – he was heading to television.

On October 26, 1999, Elix Skipper made his WCW debut, in a losing effort to John Hugger (who himself would find brief success as Johnny The Bull in The Mamalukes in WCW and then as Johnny Stamboli in the new FBI in WWE), on a taped episode of WCW Saturday Night (it aired the following month). Skipper was featured on several more episodes of WCW Saturday Night for the remainder of the year. In March of 2000, he jumped to WCW Worldwide and in July, he debuted on WCW Thunder, repackaged under the name Skip Over. But by August, he would return to his real name and finally enter into WCW’s storylines. After two big wins on WCW Thunder – against Billy Kidman and Crowbar (Devon Storm) – Skipper would help Lance Storm retain the WCW United States Championship – since renamed the WCW Canadian Heavyweight Championship while in Storm’s possession – in a match against Mike Awesome on WCW Monday Nitro. Skipper was inducted into Storm’s new Team Canada faction and as a thank you gift for helping him, Storm gave him the WCW Cruiserweight Championship (which Storm had rebranded as the WCW 100 kg and Under Championship). Skipper held the title for 49 days, successfully defending it against Kwee Wee, Lt. Loco (Chavo Guerrero Jr.) and Lash LeRoux, before losing it to Mike Sanders on Nitro in October. Skipper remained with Team Canada before leaving the group in 2001, as WCW began preparations to launch a tournament to crown the first-ever WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships.

In March, he was paired with another Power Plant trainee, Kid Romeo, and the new duo defeated the team of Air Raid (AJ Styles & Air Paris) in the opening round, then The Jung Dragons (Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Wang Yang) in the Semi-Finals. On March 18, at WCW Greed, they shockingly defeated heavy favorites Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio Jr. in the final to win the new tag team championships. The win would be short-lived, however – a week later, they would lose the titles to Kidman & Mysterio on Nitro. That episode turned out to be the final episode of Nitro ever, as it was revealed during the broadcast that WWE had finally won the Monday Night Wars and Vince McMahon had bought the company. While many of WCW’s top stars had contracts with WCW’s parent company, Time Warner, Skipper was one of the younger performers who had contracts still with WCW, and his WCW deal was rolled over into a WWE developmental deal. But despite his success in WCW in the past year, he was sent to one of WWE’s developmental territories at the time, Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA), after briefly appearing on WWE television as part of The Alliance/WCW Invasion angle. While in HWA, Skipper continued to tag with his WCW partner, Kid Romeo, but a fluke accident involving Romeo lead to a knee injury to Skipper and he was put on the shelf. While WWE seemed ready to finally utilize Skipper, perhaps the knee injury worried them about his abilities long term. Whatever the reason, in December of 2001, the WWF decided to release Skipper from his contract.

In 2002, indie wrestling saw an explosion of new companies rise up from the demise of both WCW and ECW the year prior. New companies were born, such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) on the West Coast, and on the East Coast, with Ring of Honor. Down South, Jeff Jarrett and his father, former Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) co-owner Jerry Jarrett, had opened TNA. In the summer of 2002, Skipper signed with TNA and made his debut on the fourth episode of TNA, competing in an elimination match to determine the rankings for the new NWA X-Divison Championship. After a few solid matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Monty Brown, and Amazing Red, by the end of the year, Skipper found himself in a new faction alongside Low-Ki and Christopher Daniels, as the three united as Triple X in December (the trio would join a larger stable, Vince Russo’s Sports Entertainment Extreme).

In early 2002, The Great Muta (Keiji Mutoh) shocked the wrestling world when he jumped ship from New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), the company he began with in 1984, to their arch-rivals, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW). Upon arriving in All Japan, Muta became All-Japan’s new President and he set forth in an effort to rebuild All Japan, which, much like WCW did in America, was losing the war to New Japan as the countries top promotion. Years prior, Muta had been a talent liaison for New Japan in their alliance with WCW (Muta himself was part of nWo Japan), and frequently scouted new performers, both in WCW and its Power Plant, for possible use in Japan. One of the men he saw was Skipper. Muta signed him to join All Japan, and in September of 2002, Skipper made his All-Japan debut, under a mask as Dark Guerrera, where he teamed with Gran Naniwa in the 2002 AJPW Real World Jr. Tag League. He returned for a second tour that November, this time known as Extreme Blade, which he would maintain through 2003. Skipper was now on top of the world – he was on television with two different promotions on opposite sides of the world.

In TNA, Triple X proved to be one of the companies most dangerous forces – the trio won the NWA World Tag Team Championships on three occasions between January and June of 2003. But by mid-2003, Low-Ki left TNA and, following their loss of the titles to America’s Most Wanted (“Wildcat” Chris Harris & “Cowboy” James Storm) that June, Triple X was disbanded. Shockingly, despite Triple X’s dominance the past year, Skipper found himself being used sporadically, and in September of 2003, he too left the company and returned to Japan over a pay dispute. A few months later, TNA would return with a new financial deal and enticed Skipper back into the company, returning that December. In early 2004, Elix Skipper was picked to be part of Team NWA to compete against Team AAA in the America’s X Cup, but Team NWA ended up losing the America’s Cup to their Mexican counterparts. A month later he would once again represent Team NWA in the World X Cup. That March, Triple X briefly reunited once again, but once again, Low-Ki left TNA. Together, Daniels and Skipper continued as a tag team for most of the remainder of the year, competing for the NWA World Tag Team titles on several occasions, until the infamous cage match in December that saw Triple X lose in a “Losing Team Must Disband” cage match. Triple X was done once again.

Elix Skipper returned to singles action within TNA’s explosive X-Division, competing against his former teammate (and X-Division Champion) Christopher Daniels, as well as high profile matches against the likes of Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, Chris Candido, and Samoa Joe, and in August of 2005 he was once again pulled into a stable. He formed a new tag team with David Young and attached themselves to Simon Diamond‘s new group, Diamonds in the Rough. While they initially did well, facing the likes of Team 3-D (formerly the Dudley Boyz), The James Gang (formerly The New Age Outlaws), The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas), and AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels, by the end of the year they had become an afterthought in TNA. In February of 2007, both Skipper and Young requested and received their release from TNA.

Elix Skipper also began to work with many more promotions outside of TNA, where he found more championship gold on a singles level. He won the NWA Wildside Junior Heavyweight title in 2005 and competed regularly for Great Championship Wrestling (GCW) in Georgia, where he won the GCW United States Junior Heavyweight and GCW United States Television championships. At the end of 2006, he also made his debut with AAA in Mexico, where he joined Konnan‘s La Legion Extranjera, a large stable comprised of mostly foreign invaders. He also made his UK indie debut in 2006, with One Pro Wrestling (1PW), where he faced Rockstar Spud (now Drake Maverick in NXT) on one night and on the second faced former Triple X mates Daniels and Low-Ki in a triple threat.

In July of 2007, Elix Skipper once again returned to TNA, returning at TNA Victory Road ’07, and Triple X reunited once more for the third and final time, when both Skipper and Low-Ki (now called Senshi) returned to help Christopher Daniels win his Ultimate X Match. But like all previous Triple X runs, this one was over by the end of the year, with Low-Ki leaving the company and Christopher Daniels being “fired” after drawing the fired case in a Feast or Fired match at TNA Turning Point in December (Daniels would continue to work for TNA under a mask as his alter ego, Curry Man). Skipper would remain in the tag team division, in sporadic teams with the likes of Johnny Devine, Petey Williams, and Frankie Kazarian, but it seemed like TNA had finally run out of ideas for Elix Skipper. In one of his final matches for TNA, he would wrestle one of New Japan’s brightest young stars, in his second reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, in Shinsuke Nakamura (Nakamura’s only appearance for TNA during their alliance with NJPW, he had only just won the IWGP title off of Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 2 three weeks earlier). Shockingly, the match was on TNA Xplosion! and not on the company’s flagship show, Impact Wrestling. In May of 2008, Skipper was released from TNA for the last time.

Elix Skipper wrestled less than a handful of matches after departing TNA in the Spring of 2008. He faced former WCW enhancement talent Chic Donovan for NWA Prime Time in Georgia, and in January of 2009, he wrestled his last match with NWA No Limits in Iowa, where he faced one of Ring of Honor’s hottest young stars, Tyler Black (who a year later would sign with WWE and become Seth Rollins). But in April of 2009, he would suffer a terrible tragedy, when his 21-year old son Lemarcus was shot dead in his home in Ohio. Grieving his family’s immense loss, he focused all his attention to his family. Back in 2007, during an interview with Alan Wojick, Skipper told him “I want to be in the ring making money and having fun. When it’s not fun it’s time to stop. I love my wife and she was with me before wrestling and she will be with me if I was to walk away from wrestling tomorrow. Not many wrestlers can say that despite our ups and downs. If I can’t take care of my family by using wrestling then wrestling has to go.” No longer on television with guaranteed money, and the topsy-turvy world of stops and starts, it appeared that Skipper was neither making money in the ring, nor having fun. And so he walked away from the game. He returned back into the world of restaurant management and continued to take care of his family, never to be seen from again in the world of professional wrestling. According to his Linkedin account, he returned to the McDonald’s family in 2008 until 2013, and since then has managed multiple other restaurants. He’s currently running a Cracker Barrell in Georgia.

Much like another untapped star for TNA during the first decade of the company’s existence, “The Alpha Male” Monty Brown, it appears that real life just proved to be more appealing than the daily grind of trying to impress bookers that just didn’t seem to have the vision to utilize them to their fullest potential. And in today’s current climate, more and more of the top indie stars are utilizing move sets and athleticism that was helped along in the early days of the 2000s by men like Elix Skipper. While the world of pro wrestling may not have been ready for someone so athletically gifted as Elix Skipper in the 2000s, one thing is for sure – Elix Skipper was always ready for Prime Time.

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