NJPW Star Lance Archer spoke with Smark to Death about what it's like traveling as a wrestler, how he started wrestling, wrestling in former Texas based Independent Wrestling Promotion Professional Championship Wrestling, and how Killer Elite Squad was formed. These are just a few of the topics in an in-depth conversation about Lance's career so far in the wrestling business. Here are some of the highlights:
What traveling is like as a professional wrestler:
"Personally, I've always said that's what we're really getting paid for. Obviously we're getting paid for the time that we're in the ring and we're trying to entertain the fans and do what we do at the highest level possible. But ya know, that's a very short, short period of time. Everything outside of the ring is truly what we're really getting paid for, in my opinion. The travel, which is crazy. The other day, it was Monday already in Japan, traveled on a bullet train for three hours, hung out in an airport for about three or four hours, then caught a flight from Tokyo to Minneapolis. Then going through customs there for another couple hours, and catch another flight back to Dallas. There have been many times things have been delayed. The travel is what gets most of the guys."
How he began training in professional wrestling:
"I was playing football, in high school and college, that was my first sports love. Texas has so many competitive football players. I first started out at a college called Howard Payne University and then transferred to Texas Southern (now Texas State University). I was working in the clubs in Downtown Austin and the guy who owned the club I worked at called the Voodoo Room, he knew a guy who had recently opened up a wrestling school. Funny story, I almost went to Shawn Michaels' wrestling academy in San Antonio, but the day I was called to say I was accepted into the classes, I had just got into a car wreck and the claims adjuster had just told me how much I wouldn't get for my car.
"I said 'Well, I don't really have a car right now.' And she said 'If you can get a ride, you can be a part of the school.' I said 'How much is it?' and she responded '$3,300' and I said 'I can't afford that.' And she said 'Well, you don't have to pay it all at once you can pay $1100 a month" and I responded 'I can't afford that either.' Luckily, there was a school in Austin that had just opened and the guy that opened it gave me a chance and made it much more affordable for me. I started at a school in Austin, Texas at a school called Southwest Wrestling Federation."
Reflecting on his time in Professional Championship Wrestling:
"It was awesome. There's a lot of independent wrestling and in the 2000s independent wrestling was nothing close to what it is today. Most independent wrestling companies run a show once a month or once every couple months. In the state of Texas there was a company running a show every week. But PCW was a unique element, I haven't seen it anywhere else in any other time on the level it got to, because they ran a weekly live show that they taped for TV. We had storylines and once every two or three months, we'd do a bigger show, what you might call a PPV. And everything that we did storyline wise was geared around that and you didn't find that anywhere else in professional wrestling. You saw that on TV with WCW or WWF as it was at the time, or ECW to a degree. But you didn't see a weekly broadcast wrestling show, especially on the independent level anywhere else in the country. And I haven't seen that ever again since then."
How the tag team, Killer Elite Squad, was formed with Davey Boy Smith Jr.:
"We were in WWE at the same time, we knew each other from there, we weren't friends or buds, but we knew each other. I had been with New Japan for about a year or so and this had been [Davey Boy Smith Jr.] return to NJPW. But again, for me I had already been with the company a year and he showed up in September of 2012. And I remember specifically I went to the booker and I had some ideas because I knew that Wrestle Kingdom was coming up and the new year and what not. So, I pitched some ideas and the booker said 'Yea, yea, that's good, but we're bringing Harry Smith in and you're gonna be a tag team.'
"And I was like 'Huh, okay.' And I don't know if Harry knew prior, I'm sure somebody did buzz him and tell him they were gonna team him with me and put us in Suzuki-Gun and stuff. We just kinda took it upon ourselves, again. Two guys, Smith had a lot more success than I did in WWE and he has the family name from being the British Bulldog's son, but I think he was still trying to prove himself in the wrestling business. And in New Japan, especially in 2012, there weren't a thousand gaijin or foreigners like there are now. We both collaborated for the name, Killer Elite Squad.
"We have much different images now, but when we first started we wore the same the tights and things like that, it was definitely a tight collaboration on trying to create the idea of what the Killer Elite Squad was, KES. He joined in September of 2012, in October of 2012 we won our first IWGP Championships. And we've had a very storied history to this point as far as being a tag team in Japan is concerned. Three-time IWGP, two-time NOAH GHC tag team champions, two-time NWA World Tag Team Champions. So, we've done pretty decent as far as tag teams are concerned."