NJPW Notebook: Lance Archer, Okada-Tanahashi, small crowd

Who knew Lance Archer was that damn good?

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Credit: Destina

Lance Archer was the highlight of the opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas on Saturday, not only for his surprise win over Will Ospreay, but for how he looked in getting there.

Granted, Ospreay, maybe right now the best in the world, can make a broomhandle look formidable.

Archer, though, has never looked as good as he did Saturday night.

Mostly known as a tag wrestler, Archer showed an impressive move-set, with an homage to Undertaker with an Old School top-rope walk, a sort of reverse Razor’s Edge and a Dallas-appropriate finisher, the Iron Claw, a nice nod to the Von Erichs.

Is it too late for Archer to get a run as a top singles heel? Probably, unfortunately.


It was a dream match in the main event Saturday night: IWGP heavyweight champ Kazuchika Okada facing former ace Hiroshi Tanahashi.

And then you realized watching it: that Tanahashi is wrapping things up.

Years of battling injuries from his aggressive style have taken their toll on Tanahashi, who is barely a shell of his former self.

The hope had been that he would at least be rested heading into the opening match with Okada, the thinking being that having Tanahashi and Okada in the opener would at least guarantee one really good match for the legend, before the grind of the month-long G1 began to wear on him.

There’s just not much left, sadly.

Small crowd

Dave Meltzer, on his Wrestling Observer Radio podcast, noted that New Japan doesn’t care, like WWE cares, about trying to hide shots of empty seats from its TV broadcasts.

Which is odd, because it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the seas of empties in American Airlines Center, which reportedly had 4,800 fans for the show.

The arena can hold 20,000 for basketball and hockey, and maybe 12,000 to 13,000 for a wrestling show, with a side of the venue cut off to allow for ring entrances.

It was unnerving to see the empties behind the entrance ramp, with cameras shooting straight into the abyss for iconic moments like when Okada addressed the crowd following his main-event win over Tanahashi.

Meltzer tried to write off the bad vibes by comparing the presentation to an MLB or NBA broadcast with a less-than-capacity turnout, but actually, people tuning into other sports notice the empty seats there, too, and it’s not good for their business, either, when the mind wanders as to why there isn’t enough interest to fill the stadium for what is being sold as all-important.

At least WWE knows to try to fake it, in other words.

Column by Chris Graham


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