Background: Former WCW Cruiserweight Elix Skipper impressed NWA-TNA officials during his showings on previous TNA pay-per-views, thus giving him a title shot. AJ Styles was also the NWA Tag Team champion alongside Jerry Lynn (double gold!).
July 31, 2002
X Division title: AJ Styles (c) w/Jerry Lynn vs. Elix Skipper
Skipper jumped Styles at the bell, almost downing him in the early seconds. The champion turned things around, hitting a spin kick that set up a move that would later become Michael McGuillicutty’s finisher for a two count. The challenger did a great job stopping a German suplex, but not the dropkick-clothesline combination. After kicking out of Styles’ follow up pin by bridging off the mat (the matrix), Skipper went for his own German suplex. When that didn’t work, Skipper dropped Styles on his head with the dragon suplex. Rather than go for the pin, the challenger, started punching, chopping and mule kicking Styles. AJ paid Elix back, catching a leg before sweeping Skipper.
Skipper preparing himself for another incoming kick allowed him to slam Styles in position for the handstand leg drop in the corner. Skipper took too much time playing to the crowd, losing his chance at pinning the champion. Gut-wrench suplex by Skipper only got him a two count. Once again, it was Skipper catching Styles’ kick that gave Elix the chance to toss AJ across the ring. Styles landed neck first on the mat, giving Elix a point of interest. Rather than use wear down holds, Elix hit strikes like an axe kick across Styles’ neck as the champion dangled across the apron.
Though AJ reversed an Irish whip into the side of the ring, he was nearly submitted when the action returned inside; and pinned after Elix countered the hurricarana with a power bomb. Koji clutch from the challenger didn’t make AJ tap, but almost saw AJ be pinned. AJ seemed out of it following Elix’s clubbing forearms. Elix went for a northern lights suplex, only to be locked in a front guillotine choke. Skipper freed himself, but took the reverse DDT seconds later. The champion scaled the ropes, missing a huge guillotine leg drop!
Somehow, AJ still had enough to hook the incoming Skipper’s underarms with his legs to send both men to the floor. The two exchanged positions on the apron until Skipper reentered the ring to use a corkscrew plancha to garner a huge “TNA” chant.
Elix, once again, spent too much time soaking in the crowd’s adulation, giving AJ a chance to recover and stop the Play of the Day on neck strength alone. Elix countered the attempted Styles Clash with a sunset flip, but the result was the champion kicking out before the three count. Elix kept the momentum going for a short while, jumping to the top rope for something. AJ went to dropkick Elix off the ropes, but missed. As Styles hit the mat, Elix lost his footing, hitting the mat headfirst!
Instead of just going for the pin on the near motionless Skipper, Styles executed his Spiral Tap finish to defeat another would-be challenger.
Winner: AJ Styles (12:40)
After the match, Jerry Lynn congratulated Styles on the victory.
Is It a Classic: Pretty much the definition of an X Division style match back in the day full of fast paced action, blown spots, and selective selling from AJ. Elix tried to slow things down and work a smart match after Styles’ opening moments, only for AJ to ignore all of it to hit his finishing sequences. It’s not a bad match at all, but hasn’t aged too well when you’ve seen so many matches similar that’s better over the years.