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A Recharged Lance Archer Primed for Breakout Run in NJPW G1 Climax

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After he smothered Will Ospreay in the first match of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling G1 Climax, Lance Archer tore into the backstage press room, glaring at the gathered journalists.

Now you want to talk to me?” he said. 

His indignance smoldered. He voice boomed. Archer talked about how little buzz he garnered leading up to the G1 in Dallas. He talked of how many fans and writers put together lists of most-anticipated matches and didn’t include him. 

“You better start including me,” he said. “I’m the biggest, baddest, son of a bitch in this tournament.”

This, like the majority of his words that night, sounded like a warning. And he’s right about folks overlooking him.

It’s easy to get lost in all the star power this G1 offers. The field includes IWGP heavyweight champ and future Hall of Famer Kazuchika Okada. It boasts the athletic marvel Kota Ibushi and the frontrunner for the Wrestler of the Year award in Ospreay. Newcomers to the tourney KENTA, Jon Moxley and Shingo Takagi understandably snagged fans’ interest. If you didn’t project Archer to be one of the tournament’s standouts, you weren’t alone.

The G1 Climax conversation is already shifting, though. In the first moments of his bout against Ospreay, he made sure people left the American Airlines Arena talking about him.

Donning a mohawk and blood-red hair, the new-look Archer chokeslammed Ospreay through a table at ringside. The 6’8” Texan proceeded to issue a beatdown to his smaller opponent, manhandling the IWGP junior heavyweight champ like a bear dragging his prey through the woods. He caught his smaller foe in midair and overwhelmed him with power moves. It was a compelling series of violent scenes. 

The bout ended with Archer atop Ospreay, holding him down to the mat with the claw, a salute to Texas’ wrestling history, but also a fitting image of predator crushing his prey.

The American Psycho has always been an intimidating super heavyweight, but something seemed different here. There was an extra oomph to it all. Archer was more amped up than normal, a ferocious beast somehow mutating into something more dangerous.  

And he seemed intent on making a statement on this grand stage. It was a statement that had the Dallas crowd shouting: “This is awesome!” On a card as loaded as this one, putting on one of the best matches of the night is quite the accomplishment. Archer did just that.

Maybe the years of being underappreciated and being seen as a tag team specialist have fueled a transformation. Maybe a five-year absence from the G1 has pushed him to prove he belongs there every single year. Whatever it is, there’s reason to believe Archer is on the path to more big-time performances. 

Archer is sure to thrive in a brawl with the hard-hitting EVIL. KENTA, a man with his own oversized chip on his shoulder, promises to be a terrific opponent for the big bruiser. And if you’re looking to have a breakout tournament, stepping into the ring with talent like Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and SANADA is a surefire method to do so.

Night one of the 29th G1started with Archer ablaze. Perhaps that’s just the beginning of a story few saw coming.

“My new chapter started tonight,” he barked at the post-match presser. 

photo credit: AXS.com

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