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By Austin Grinnell @WolfmanAustin13
It’s easy to look at his antics in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and assume that Lance Archer hates the fans, as his entrance consists of him spitting water all over those who paid to be in attendance. The jokes of the English language commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis though, about Archer’s intentions being to hydrate the audience, may be closer to the truth.
The 6’8″ Texas native should be no stranger to fans of the squared circle, having had runs with both World Wrestling Entertainment and NWA: Total Nonstop Action in the United States. Archer stood out early on for me as a big man with lots of agility and personality, being given the chance to further his career in 2004 by Impact Wrestling, then known as NWA: TNA. Being paired early on with ECW alumni Kid Kash helped Archer (known as Dallas) transition his way from being a relative unknown to making waves in the mainstream by becoming a two time NWA World Tag Team Champion with Kash.
A successful team-up with Jimmy Rave as Christy Hemm’s Rock n’ Rave Infection really pushed Archer’s entertainment skills into the limelight, and great response from the TNA fans helped Archer get noticed by the WWE, who he had a year and a half run with, being part of the revamped ECW brand.
It’s not hard to argue though, that Lance Archer has found his greatest success in Japan, where along with Davey Boy Smith Jr, he has held the NWA World Tag Team Championships, the GHC Tag Team Championships of Pro Wrestling NOAH, and New Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships twice each, for a combined six reigns.
Recently, Archer suffered a herniated disc in his back and was forced to the sidelines for about half of 2017. Not letting this stop him though, Lance has continued to work with WrestleCircus in the States as a commentator and returned to New Japan in August, declaring the Killer Elite Squad’s intention of recapturing the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. Prior to New Japan’s Destruction shows, I had a chance to ask “The American Psycho” some questions, and it’s hard not to love this guy, who loves the sport so much, and stays so positive.
Your first major exposure came in 2004 with TNA Wrestling. What was it like going from the Southern US indy scene to nation-wide PPV?
A: It was great man. I was only four years in. Had worked a lot of great indies in Texas, but was eager to find that next BIG step. TNA at the time was a new and growing company with national exposure. Exciting times for sure!
If you could have faced any wrestler from before your time, who would you have chosen?
A: My go to answer is always Sting, as he was the reason I became a fan of the business and would have loved an opportunity to work with him one on one!
You’ve been around the world and to many different promotions. Who would you highlight as someone that you expect to break out in the near future?
A: Oh man. SO MANY amazing new talents and many you might know. One kid I see doing great and making some real waves right now is a fellow Texas boy, Sammy Guevara. Talent, youth attitude (in a good way) and works hard. I expect huge things for him!
Note: Guevara recently participated in Impact Wrestling’s Super X Cup, and you can catch him in action via Twitch with WrestleCircus.
What are the major differences between working in Japan and the United States?
A: The major difference is the fans. Japanese fans see and respect the wrestlers as fighters. American fans see the wrestlers as entertainers and react accordingly to that vantage point.
You and Davey Boy Smith Jr are one of the most accomplished tag teams in wrestling today, holding the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, NWA World Heavyweight Tag Team Titles and the GHC Tag Team Championships all twice. How exactly did it come to pass that Bulldog would turn out to be your tag partner for King of Pro Wrestling in 2012?
A: Smith and I teaming together was a NJPW decision. I’d been with the company since June 2011 and when he arrived they wanted us two BIG guys to team. We coined the name Killer Elite Squad (KES) and always work hard to get the team and ourselves over. I think the titles reflect our success.
KES is a major part of the Suzuki-gun faction in Japan, and its leader is one of the most feared men in the sport. What is it like working with the great Minoru Suzuki?
A: Suzuki is awesome! He has taken care of me and since I joined up with him in 2011. For a group to have lasted this long is an amazing thing, and at its core it’s mostly the same crew. Not over populated at all.
How has it been working so closely with a promotion like WrestleCircus, who strives not only to put on entertaining shows, but also to reach out to the local community in times of need?
A: WrestleCircus is one of those really cool and amazing bright spots in our industry. Run by two great people (Al & Lexi Lenhart) who strive to be the best, not only as a wrestling company, but as a family and community supporter.
Note: WrestleCircus donated all proceeds from their show earlier this month to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, to help those in the southern United States affected by the devastating natural disaster. It’s not the first time that the Circus has reached out to help either, and probably won’t be the last.
With Impact Wrestling re-branding to Global Force Wrestling, the rumors about what was happening when the Amped program was taped at the Orleans and your involvement in those initial tapings, I have to ask… were there big plans for you and Davey Boy Smith Jr to be part of Global Force?
A: Well, when GFW first existed there where many BIG plans for the company. And of course, KES was a part of those plans. Unfortunately that version never played out.
Note: Global Force Wrestling wound up taking the place of Archer’s former company, NWA: TNA. Earlier this month though, GFW and Anthem Entertainment parted ways, with the company rebranding itself as Impact Wrestling again, and Jeff Jarrett and Global Force Wrestling’s future up in the air.
Finally, let’s put on our roleplay suits here. You get to try and win over a new fan by showing them just one Lance Archer match. What match do you choose and why?
A: Oh man. I’ve had so many FUN matches in NJPW as Lance Archer. I guess off the top of my head, a match I had with AJ Styles at the G1 Climax in 2014 in Osaka, Japan!
Note: The match took place on August 3, 2014… and Archer finished that year’s G1 Climax tournament with a very respectable 8 points, finishing off the illustrious tournament with a big win over former IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto.
Final Thoughts: Lance Archer is a legitimately awesome human being, and it was an honor to be able to chat with him briefly. Killer Elite Squad has been foiled twice during New Japan’s Destruction tour in their attempt to regain their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, but they have one more chance (again in Triple Threat action) this Sunday at Destruction in Kobe, which you can catch live on www.NJPWWorld.com
You can follow Lance Archer on twitter @LanceHoyt … watch his New Japan Pro-Wrestling matches at www.NJPWWorld.com … catch him with WrestleCircus at www.Twitch.tv/WrestleCircus … and merchandise can be purchased at his Pro Wrestling Tee’s Store