Wednesday, February 7, 2007

WCW: Air Paris

Frank Paris (born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977) is an American professional wrestler, better known by his stage name, Air Paris. He competes primarily on the independent circuit in Georgia, and is most famous as having been the former tag team partner of A.J. Styles during their time in World Championship Wrestling.

Paris joined the Cornelia, Georgia-based NWA Wildside promotion, and on May 13, 1999 in Loganville, Georgia he defeated Bart Sawyer to win a tournament to crown the first NWA Wildside Junior Heavyweight Champion. He was stripped of the title on October 28 for failing to defend it within thirty days, but regained it on November 4 in Gainesville, Georgia, defeating Andy Anderson. His second reign ended on May 20, 2000 in Cornelia when he lost to Onyx.

Controversy arose in Nashville, Tennessee on December 9, 2000, when Paris and his tag team partner, Rob Williams, defeated reigning NWA World Tag Team Champions David Young and Rick Michaels. While the NWA claimed that the match had been a non-title affair, the local authorities recognised the title change. On December 22, 2000, Young and Michaels defeated Paris and Williams, thus regaining champion status within the Nashville area.

On January 6, 2001 in Cornelia, Paris defeated Jesse Taylor for the NWA Wildside Television Championship. His reign lasted only a few hours, as A.J. Styles would challenge him that same evening. Paris accepted the challenge, and lost after Jeff G. Bailey, Steve Martin and Onyx interfered on Styles' behalf.

Paris also wrestled for the Nashville, Tennessee-based Music City Wrestling promotion, where he formed a tag team with Cassidy O'Reilly known as the Hot Shots. On August 14, 1999 in Nashville, Paris and Reilly defeated Ashley Hudson and Corey Williams to win the vacant NWA North American Tag Team Championships. They lost the titles to The Colorado Kid and Mike Rapada on December 25 of that year in Nashville. The Hot Shots disbanded when Reilly began teaming regularly with Chase Stevens, and Paris then formed a new tag team with Big Bully Douglas, and on April 14, 2000, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky they defeated Hudson and Williams for the titles.

During his second tag reign, Paris began competing as a singles wrestler, and on May 11, 2000 in Fairview, Tennessee he defeated Mike Rapada for the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Chris Harris nine days later on May 20 in Nashville. He and Douglas separated in September 2000, vacating the tag titles in the process.

The feud between Paris and Styles was observed by talent scouts representing WCW, a global promotion based in Atlanta, Georgia which used NWA Wildside as a developmental territory, and both men were offered contracts in early-2001. Paris and Styles (renamed Air Styles) were placed in a tag team named "Air Raid", with the gimmick of the team being that both men would dress in G-suits.

Air Raid made appearances on WCW Thunder, and on the March 5, 2001, episode of WCW Monday Nitro they were entered in a tournament for the newly created WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships. They were eliminated from the tournament in the first round by the eventual winners, Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo. After WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation in March 2001, both men lost their jobs, and subsequently returned to the independent circuit.

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