The Rise & Fall Of Chris Harris
Twelve years ago, Total Non-Stop Action was running weekly shows in Nashville, Tennessee usually getting around 1,200 people to watch their Wednesday night show. The show was aired on pay per view for $9.99 and had plenty of former WWE stars to go along with younger guys that hadn’t been exposed to the national spotlight.
Some guys part of the latter group were James Storm and Chris Harris who formed a tag team known as America’s Most Wanted. In 2002 and 2003 the team was the top tag team in the company and had a memorable feud with Triple X, which consisted of Low Ki, Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels. By the end of 2003, many people started to think that Chris Harris was going to be a breakout star from the team and have highly successful singles run with the company.
Harris had a good look, more than capable in the ring and was over with the fans. Storm wasn’t a slouch by any means, but he didn’t have nearly the buzz that Chris Harris had entering 2004. Storm was always presented as second fiddle to Harris.
Early in 2004, Storm would be sidelined with a shoulder injury leaving Harris on his own to see how he would fare in a singles role. It wouldn’t take long for Harris to find himself in the main event scene as he competed in a non-title match against NWA-TNA World Champion Jeff Jarrett on February 18th, 2004. However, Harris would get screwed over by Kid Kash as he had Jarrett pinned on a couple of occasions but couldn’t overcome the distraction.
Harris would continue his singles run with victories over Kevin Northcutt and Shane Douglas before receiving a NWA-TNA World Championship match against Jeff Jarrett on March 17th, 2004. The match featured several referees being knocked down, James Storm hitting Jeff Jarrett with a super kick and Raven getting involved as well. However, it took one guitar shot from Jarrett to pin Harris and retain the title. The main event run wasn’t over for Harris, though.
During his rise up the card, Harris encountered one wrestler who believed he wasn’t ready for the spotlight. That man was none other than Raven. Raven had been part of the company since January 2003 and was one of the best acts going with his career having a resurgence since his WWE release. They would meet in a number one contenders match on April 14th, 2004. After seventeen minutes of action, Harris countered the DDT with an inside cradle to win the match and get a NWA-TNA World Championship match against Jeff Jarrett the following week inside a steel cage.
In what would probably be seen as the biggest night of his life, Harris wouldn’t get the opportunity to compete in the steel cage match because of an attack by Raven earlier in the show. Harris would be replaced by AJ Styles, who would take advantage of the chance and win the NWA-TNA World Championship.
Harris would get a level of revenge on May 5th by costing Raven a match with NWA-TNA World Champion AJ Styles by wearing a La Parka outfit and hitting Raven with a DDT. The following week, Harris got another shot at Styles, but was once against screwed over by Raven. Raven hit a drop toe hold onto a steel chair and it allowed Styles to pin Harris. On May 19th, Harris was involved in another title match involving Styles, Raven and Ron Killings, but was unable to win the title, which Killings was able to win.
June 2nd, 20004 saw the first King of the Mountain match, which Harris competed in against Killings, Raven, AJ Styles and the eventual winner, Jeff Jarrett. It would be last title shot Harris would get for several years.
Harris and Storm reformed America’s Most Wanted and quickly regained the NWA-TNA World Tag Team Championships. By the end of 2004, Harris and Storm competed in a spectacular steel cage match against Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels at Turning Point 2004. For the first half of 2005, Harris and Storm mainly feuded with Kid Kash & Dallas, The Naturals and Team Canada.
By the fall of 2005 Harris and Storm would turn heel and form an alliance with NWA-TNA World Champion Jeff Jarrett when Jarrett pinned Raven at a Border City Wrestling Show to win the title on September 15th. The trio would dominate TNA for over a year. Harris and Storm would have entertaining feuds with Team 3D (Dudley Boys), AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels, and LAX (Homicide & Hernandez).
On December 14th, Chris Harris and James Storm would split due to Storm hitting Harris with a beer bottle. They were challenging LAX for the NWA-TNA World Tag Team Championships in a title vs team match, but Storm was no longer interested in tagging with Harris.
It was seen as this being another attempt to get Harris over in a singles role, and it appeared to be working. They would have a match at Lockdown on April 15th, but it was mostly a disaster as it was a blindfold match and those never work very well. Harris would lose the match, but the following month at Sacrifice they would have a much more memorable bout.
At Sacrifice on May 13th, 2007, Chris Harris would overcome James Storm in an absolute brutal Texas Death Match that featured plenty of weapons and blood to be enjoyed by the paying audience and those who enjoy old school wrestling. The match not only elevated Harris out of the mid card ranks, but it also showed the world that James Storm wasn’t that far off from Harris, which would prove to be true later on.
Harris would take the momentum from the victory over Storm to the following month by competing in the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary on June 17th. The match was to crown the vacant TNA World Champion. It was the first time Harris competed in the match since 2004, but came up short as Kurt Angle walked out as the champion. However, it was still seen a positive for Harris as he was involved with the main event scene once again in TNA, a company that had grown quite a bit from 2004.
However this time around, Harris didn’t seem to have the same support that he had three years prior. He would lose to Christian Cage at Victory Road in July due to interference from Dustin Rhodes, who would develop a new character known as Black Reign. The once promising rise of Chris Harris quickly came tumbling down and Harris was found lower on the card than he anticipated. Harris would win the feud with Black Reign after two months, but afterward he was seemingly lost in the shuffle.
For the next three months, Harris would only win one match and that came at a house show on December 29th against Jimmy Rave. His last match in TNA came on January 10th, 2008 losing to Judas Mesaias.
It had been reported that Harris was not thrilled with his direction and was not a fan of working with Dustin Rhodes following feuds with James Storm and Christian Cage. For a guy who had been seen as the future of TNA, he sure wasn’t being invested in properly. I’d like to think that could be agreed upon by everyone. So, with his displeasure, Harris looked elsewhere for work and he soon signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on January 29th, 2008.
However, his WWE career is largely seen as a joke and a disaster. Harris, going by the name Braden Walker, made his televised debut on July 8th on the ECW brand where he confronted Armando Extrada backstage. Harris would win his first match on the same show by pinning Estrada following a top rope cross body. The only other in-ring appearance Harris would make was on August 5th when he pinned James Curtis using a fisherman suplex.
Two days later, Harris was released from his contract and wouldn’t appear on WWE television again. Harris would make a brief return to TNA in 2011 joining Immortal, but after a pay per view tag match teaming with Matt Hardy against Beer Money Inc. at Sacrifice, TNA decided against using Harris any further and he hasn’t been on national television since.
Meanwhile, James Storm became one of the most popular and hated TNA wrestlers and became TNA World Champion for a brief time in 2011.
Harris was doomed in the WWE when he made his debut out of shape and his segment with Estrada was rather corny. Harris is one of the several examples of a promising star who wasn’t able to take full advantage of the opportunities given to him. What if he hadn’t complained about his feud with Black Reign? Would he have achieved better success in TNA if given more time? I’d imagine anything would have been better than that embarrassing run in WWE.
For the most part, a lot of fans remember Harris for the disaster that was Braden Walker. Personally, I rather remember his run in TNA from 2003 – 2006 as he was very good in the ring and had many memorable moments both as a singles and tag team wrestler with James Storm. He made one bad career move by going to the WWE, and the rest if history.
If you aren’t aware of who Chris Harris he was a top act in TNA for four years and if you enjoy tag team wrestling then you’d enjoy the AMW vs. Triple X feud that ran from 2003 to the end of 2004. His work during that time should be remembered instead of the Braden Walker disaster.
What are your memories of Chris Harris? Do you remember him more for being Braden Walker?
Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.