Lance Archer's stock has shot through the roof over the last year, but he isn't sure what that means for he and New Japan.
Months ago, reports emerged that Lance Archer was working without a contract from New Japan Pro Wrestling as United States Champion. When speaking to Fightful, Archer didn't explicitly say that, he just said it's "the same it has been" and that it's tour-by-tour.
"As of right now, it’s the exact same as its always been for the last eight and a half years in New Japan. How that changes, possibly, in the next month or so—who knows? But, as of right now, going to Wrestle Kingdom, my situation is the same as it’s always been. It’s kind of a tradition that’s changing because of the environment of professional wrestling right now, with the big contracts that are being signed in WWE; AEW being a true player in the business, both on the show level and the financial level; the guys and girls around the world, the hot independent scene that exists everywhere. In the States, you have IMPACT! Wrestling, and IMPACT! Wrestling’s doing better than its been doing in a long time. You got MLW doing its thing, and so on and so forth. So, there’s a lot of avenues for guys and girls to go and make a living in this business. But, as of right now, I don’t have an annual style contract. I’ve just been a tour-by-tour style guy for eight and a half years," said Archer.
In 2019, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced an expansion that Archer figured to be a big part of. Adding more shows to their United States schedule, one would figure that means more work for an established name, based in Texas like Archer. Assuming Archer stays around, he sees the move as something that is simply adding dates and adjusting a style of promotion.
"We’ve already been doing shows in the United States of America. It’s just now its created its own branch of the company. It’s not like it’s a separate company," said Archer. "It’s not a company that runs independently of New Japan. It’s a subsidiary of New Japan and all that stuff. So, there’s more coming up. They just announced the stuff that’s coming up. They’re going into, they’re starting in like Tampa, then going to Raleigh, then to going to Nashville, then going to Miami, then finishing up in Atlanta; a crazy little whirlwind tour. The New Beginning USA Tour, which is actually the first time that they’re running side-by-side an actual tour in Japan. Everything before has been run a show here or a couple shows there or a tour after, and it’s in between what’s happening in Japan. This is the first time that there’s going to be the New Beginning Tour that runs every year in Japan and then we’re gonna have the New Beginning USA Tour that’s running at the exact same time. So, this is their first venture for New Japan of America and to be running those tours simultaneously."
New Japan America will present several talent with the opportunity to establish themselves on a bigger stage, and to NJPW's audience. Even though Lance Archer has already more than done that himself. Now, he's ready to see some specific names emerge and take advantage of a more broad audience for New Japan.
"There’s gonna be a lot of different people involved. Americans that are a part of the company," said Archer. "You’re gonna see new faces. Alex Zayne is a guy that just popped up, he’s become super hot in the business. He wrestled in L.A. the last time we were in L.A. So, you’re gonna probably start seeing him more often, especially on the American side of things. They’re gonna bring the Japanese wrestlers over as well, so it’s not gonna just be a bunch of Americans for New Japan of America. It’s going to be a mix of everybody depending on what storylines are going on, and who’s on tour where and so on and so forth. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and exciting, and it’s gonna be pure New Japan Pro-Wrestling for those fans that are coming to watch the stuff in the States.The expansion has just grown, and grown, and grown. New Japan does a really good job of being smart about what they do. That’s why they’ve never just gone in too much, too fast, too soon. That’s why a lot of the New Japan of America stuff or New Japan USA stuff has been a show here, two shows there, a small tour here, things of that nature because they were testing the waters and figuring things out and whatnot. Their global footprint as gar as not only in the US, but the UK and Australia and places they’ve already run bigger events and been successful at doing so. Everything is so fun to watch the company grow.
New Japan saw great growth stateside, in large part due to their partnership with AXS TV. The satellite network confirmed to Fightful last week that New Japan would no longer air there, but Archer isn't sweating that.
"There’s the unfortunate situation with AXS TV, but that’s not to say we won’t find another home at some point in the United States, who knows? Maybe they’re just gonna stick with the streaming platforms as popular as that is around the world right now. Because that’s what’s reaching to the United States, and Canada, and Mexico, and the UK, and Australia, and everywhere around the world that wants to watch New Japan Pro-Wrestling, they can subscribe up to New Japan World and watch it right on any device that they have. So, the outreach has grown so much. I’ve been lucky enough to be with the company for eight and a half years now," said Archer.
While AXS has broadcast Wrestle Kingdom the last couple of years, albeit delayed, there are still plenty of options to check out the show.
"The fact the fans around the world, because of New Japan World, and people are gonna be able to watch Wrestle Kingdom on New Japan World or they can watch on FITE TV. So, there’s two different platforms that if you’re wanting to watch Wrestle Kingdom, which I highly recommend to anybody that’s a wrestling fan ever, that they have two kinds of platforms to watch it on. If you just want to watch it purely as a single night pay-per-view, hit up FITE TV. If you want to subscribe to an amazing network, hit up New Japan World. It’s ¥999 for a monthly subscription and you get to watch all the live events that they produce in Japan and some in the US as they go on and do that. So, there’s a lot of different avenues," said Archer.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Regardless of what happens to Archer after he defends the United States Championship against Jon Moxley, and possibly Juice Robinson, he's seen the company grow from having just a few foreign talent, all the way to a whole set of touring legs in the States. As we closed, Archer reflected on his career in Japan.
"When I started in 2011, it was the very first time they were really starting to try to see if they could do it. They brought in guys like MVP, myself, they had guys like Giant Bernard, last known as Tensai; Karl Anderson made his name in the wrestling world there; Shinsuke Nakamura, guys like that who people know; AJ Styles, who already made a name in the US with TNA and what not, I think really became the entity that he is today and I think it’s what attributing to his success in WWE in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.So, a lot of those names that the wrestling fans know came from New Japan. But, it was at a time when it was really hard to watch unless you were in Japan. Our group, Suzuki-gun did a two year sabbatical with Pro-Wrestling NOAH, and even in that time that’s when New Japan World came about. When we came back, there was almost a whole new audience that didn’t even realize we’d already been there and champions with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. So, it’s amazing to see how much its grown, how fast its grown and to see where its actually gonna go," Archer stated.
Archer defends the IWGP United States Champion against Jon Moxley January 4 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14. If he wins, he moves on to January 5's second night and defends against Juice Robinson. Fightful will have full, live coverage of the shows.