AEW superstar Lance Archer spoke with Sports Illustrated to hype this Saturday's Double or Nothing pay per view, where The Murderhawk Monster battles Cody Rhodes for to the TNT championship. Highlights from the interview are belwo.
On deciding to sign with AEW:
There wasn’t one specific deciding factor. It was one of the hardest decisions that, luckily, I got to make. I had the option to stay with New Japan, where I’d built a relationship for eight-and-a-half years. This last year, from the New Japan Cup to the G1 to becoming the U.S. Champion, everything snowballed in the best way possible. AEW is a company I’ve supported since before it ever really existed, from the first All In. I saw this as a great thing for the business. As far as choosing AEW, I really looked at all of the factors going in, the challenges of jumping ship and going into something new. AEW is changing the scope of professional wrestling as a whole, and providing opportunity for the fans to make choices. It’s a really cool opportunity for me to be part of AEW and help it to grow, and become that first real monster AEW was looking for.
There were so many factors. I talked to my family extensively. I have a very strong faith in God, and I prayed about it. This was an opportunity to come home and be on U.S. TV for the first time in a decade. There were so many factors that played into this, and all these things kept pointing toward AEW.
On lessons he's learned during his pro-wrestling career:
Going to Japan did so much for me. I’ve been blessed, I’ve been lucky. I’ve been part of major companies for almost my entire 20-year career, with the exception of my first four years, which was spent on the independents in Texas, but I’ve been in TNA, WWE, New Japan and now AEW. The idea of ‘more monster’ was ingrained in me in Japan. That’s something I heard a lot. I didn’t hear a lot of ‘no’s’—as in, ‘No, you can’t do that, or ‘No, don’t do that ’cause that’s someone else’s.’ I heard ‘Yes,’ ‘Be bigger,’ ‘Be stronger,’ and ‘Be that monster.’ I was always adding elements, testing myself and seeing what I could become, and I found that monster I always needed to be. In the last year, people have really started to pay attention. But I was very confident in myself, even as part of the tag team K.E.S. and what we were doing.
We were a very strong and established tag team—three-time IWGP tag champs, two-time NOAH GHC champs with the longest reign they’d ever had in that company, two-time NWA World Tag Team champs. There was no lack of confidence from me, and people started to pay more attention to me. I liken all this back to the New Japan Cup from last year. It was a match that Will [Ospreay] and I had, and it caught a lot of people in the company off-guard, and that led to my chance to be in the G1. When I met Will in the G1, there were expectations. That was the match in Dallas, Texas, live on AXS TV, and we tore the house down. People knew Will, but they didn’t know what I was capable of, so I opened a lot of eyes. Then I captured the U.S. title and it snowballed to the match Mox and I had at the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom at the beginning of this year. All of a sudden, I was in people’s face, and they’re going, ‘Oh crap, where the hell did Lance Archer come from?’ Well I’ve been here, and now you’re starting to see it.
What impresses him about Cody Rhodes:
You have to respect anyone that perseveres through hard times. This business isn’t easy. There are a lot more valleys than there are peaks, so I respect how Cody has persevered through his valleys and his lows to become the face of AEW. It’s going to be my honor and privilege to kick his ass at the pay-per-view. It’s the match to become the first-ever TNT Champion. There are some high expectations, and I absolutely plan to kick ass and deliver beyond anyone else’s expectations.
On being paired with Jake "The Snake" Roberts:
This is my re-introduction to the U.S. television market on a full-time basis. I had spurts here and there with New Japan on AXS, but I’ve really been off U.S. TV since 2010. Now the AEW fan base is very smart to the business and that’s really cool to see. Every time somebody comes in, whether it’s myself or when Jeff Cobb appeared, people knew who we were and what we were doing.That being said, there was a large fan base that didn’t know who I was—didn’t know what I was about and didn’t understand ‘The Murderhawk Monster.’ People are still learning. My favorite quote was from Chris Jericho when he was doing commentary during matches on Dynamite, and he was like, ‘I had no idea what a Murderhawk Monster was, but now I’ve seen it standing right in front of me.’
The thinking behind my pairing with Jake, and you just said this yourself, Jake’s a legend in this business and everyone knows who he is. So when you see Jake The Snake, and he says he has a client, and then it’s me, then the hardcore fans get a cool pairing. And the people that didn’t know who I was? Now they’re paying attention. That’s what Jake provided for me: a spotlight. He’s the yin to my yang. He’s the snake in the grass and I’m going to kick your teeth down your throat. We’re both big guys, but our style and presentation are very different, and we mesh extremely well.
On Mike Tyson presenting the TNT championship at Double or Nothing:
He’s presenting the TNT title at Double or Nothing. Mike is ‘The Baddest Man of the Planet,’ but I’m the baddest monster on the planet. If he’s not careful, he’ll get The Blackout.
Who he hopes to feud with in the future:
That’s the cool part, it’s part of why I came to AEW. There are so many first-time possibility match-ups. Obviously, Cody and I have our match on May 23 at Double or Nothing, and that’s a first-time match-up. We were around each other in Japan and the independents, hell even WWE together for a little while, but we never faced off. I’ve only had one match with Mox, which was at Wrestle Kingdom. Kenny Omega is a guy I’ve never stepped in the ring with, though I’ve been around him for years in Japan. I’ve known PAC since 2009, and we’ve crossed paths so many times, but never stepped in the ring with him. A monster vs. monster match with Brodie Lee. I had one match with Fenix on an independent show, and I’d love to do it again. Luchasaurus, Wardlow, there are so many people I’m excited to get in the ring with.