SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
Lance Archer on Fénix: “This clash of styles is something I really want, like when I worked with AJ Styles or Will Ospreay, and Fénix is on that level”
Lance Archer wrestles Rey Fénix this week on Dynamite, with the winner moving on to a ladder match at the upcoming Revolution pay-per-view on March 7.
That six-man Face of the Revolution Ladder Match has serious potential to be the match of the night and will set up a program with TNT champion Darby Allin. The Archer-Fénix qualifier should serve as a spectacular clash of styles, but there is one glaring issue with this match: It is a shame that both can’t claim a spot in the upcoming ladder match.
“You’re going to witness beautiful brutality,” says Archer. “Fénix is amazing, everything he does is beautiful, and my style is savage and brutal. This clash of styles is something I really want, like when I worked with AJ Styles or Will Ospreay, and Fénix is on that same level. He’s unique in ways that no one else can come close to touching.”
The stakes will only add to the tension of Wednesday evening’s encounter, as both Archer and Fénix look to build upon momentum and seize a top spot in AEW.
Archer is reclaiming his place as one of the most dynamic big men in all of wrestling, possessing a combination of power and agility unlike any other giant. His old-school, Undertaker-like walk on the top rope, which he caps off with a moonsault, is one of the most distinctive moves in the industry, especially for a big man. He has experienced a few near falls in pursuit of AEW stardom, yet now appears poised to become the promotion’s signature monster.
“It’s been a lot of fun trying to find my way, and I’m hitting my stride,” says Archer. “I’ve been around the business for a while, I consider myself seasoned, and I know you have to be adaptable. If I stayed who I was five years ago, I’d never be where I am right now.”
Archer entered AEW with a considerable amount of momentum, presented as a genuine threat in the TNT tournament. He lost in the finals to Cody Rhodes, then struggled to find a consistent place on the card. Archer’s shift to babyface has presented him in an entirely new light, bringing a renewed fire and energy in a presentation strikingly different from when he was a heel.
Archer’s most important moment thus far in AEW took place two weeks ago during a Dynamite tag match with Jon Moxley against Kenny Omega and New Japan star Kenta. Though he took the loss, he was presented as a house of four that required four men to extinguish.
“Teaming with Moxley against Kenta and Kenny was a staple moment for me in this business,” says Archer. “That’s a main event spot with three of the top guys, and that’s the opportunity I was looking for to prove I am a top guy, too.
“Kenny makes me step up my game. I believe I’m on his level. Now whether the audience sees me that way is a whole different story, and it’s my responsibility to show that and put it in people’s minds that I am on his level.”
As Archer builds toward a main-event program with Omega, who is the reigning AEW champion, he first needs to capitalize on this moment with Fénix.
“This is going to be a fun fight; we’re going to beat the hell out of each other,” says Archer. “And I am going to show why I belong in the main event when I put down Fénix.”
Finn Bálor enamored with ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’
Finn Bálor found joy this past year in watching Seinfeld for the first time, and he is now starting a new Jerry Seinfeld series.
The reigning NXT champion recently began watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which has led to Bálor coming up with his own spin on an idea.
“I want to start a show with wrestlers in cars getting coffee,” says Bálor. “Maybe that’s what I’ll pick up and start once I leave this career. I’m absolutely loving the show, and the concept would be perfect for wrestlers.”
Bálor detailed his affinity for Seinfeld in an interview in September with Sports Illustrated, even picking up on the show’s similarities to pro wrestling, and he was amazed at the response to that story.
“I’m still getting asked about Seinfeld,” says Bálor. “I didn’t realize people would respond to it the way they did.”
Bálor is in the midst of another career-defining run in NXT. His matches have been outstanding, particularly at the TakeOver events, where he has yet to lose since his return in late 2019.
Originally placed in a role as NXT’s gatekeeper to provide a measuring stick for emerging talent or soon-to-be main roster call-ups, he was thrust into his current position as champion after a combination of Keith Lee’s move to Raw and Karrion Kross’s shoulder injury. The result has been magnificent for the brand, with Bálor—who was already spectacular in his first NXT run as champion, beginning in 2015—providing an elite performer atop its weekly Wednesday-night lineup. He has flourished by receiving the freedom from Paul “Triple H” Levesque to work as creatively and compellingly as possible.
The Bálor-in-NXT model would also work well for other talent lacking a clear direction on the main roster, especially since there is direct competition against a hot brand in All Elite Wrestling. Ricochet, Aleister Black and Andrade are all former NXT stars that could play key roles for the show in 2021. Each would add even more depth to a world title picture currently dominated by Bálor, who has found a perfect way of decompressing when away from wrestling through watching comedy.
“I’m still new to Comedians in Cars, getting my feet wet and pinging around between the episodes,” says Bálor. “I’m not going in chronological order; I don’t think you need to with this show. Jerry Seinfeld is so good at what he does, and I love his sense of humor.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- The Big Show had a tremendous run in WWE, but Paul Wight is now the newest AEW star. He will receive an opportunity to be part of the broadcasting team, calling AEW’s new YouTube show AEW Dark: Elevation each Monday, an opportunity that was not going to happen in WWE.
- WWE just announced its newest Performance Center recruit class, which includes Taya Valkyrie, Rick Steiner's son Bronson Rechsteiner, Christian Casanova and Blake Christian.
- Bobby Lashley was booked to destroy Braun Strowman to close out Raw on Monday, setting up a title shot against The Miz next Monday. Unfortunately for both Miz and Lashley, this week’s Raw drew another weak TV rating.
- Especially if it is given time to develop further, I like the wrinkle that Drew McIntyre can’t beat Sheamus.
- Wednesday nights bring so much excitement to pro wrestling, and this week will be no different. Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley will build to a rare Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch …
… and Adam Cole will break his silence regarding his attack on Kyle O’Reilly.
- Moxley was the star of last Saturday’s Bloodsport 5, where he defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr.
- Sting took his first bump in AEW last Wednesday. Though I still question whether we have seen too much of Sting on a weekly basis, I am excited for his in-ring debut at Revolution.
- Matt Hardy and Hangman Page is a perfect fit for Revolution, one of the rare programs that highlights both performers.
- Last week’s SmackDown offered a nice nod to Chris Jericho.
- Hiromu Takahashi has suffered a torn pectoral muscle, which is a tough blow for New Japan. Takahashi is the reigning IWGP junior heavyweight champion, and one of the best in the world in the ring.
- AEW’s Anna Jay is another victim of a serious injury, though hopefully she will continue to find ways to contribute to the Dark Order.
- Best wishes to wrestling great Konnan, who is recovering from COVID-19.
- Among the many reasons to watch AEW Dark this week is the debut of the vastly talented JD Drake, who wrestled Eddie Kingston.
- AEW has done a tremendous job highlighting the importance of the Eliminator Tournament, as well as delivering fantastic content.
- The WWE-A&E partnership has plenty of potential. As someone who can’t consume enough content on Andre the Giant, I am especially hopeful that his special unearths some new details on the icon.
- Yes, that was Bad Bunny performing on Saturday Night Live, accompanied by the WWE 24/7 Championship.
AAA’s Psycho Clown one of the most compelling stars in wrestling
Kenny Omega is the reigning AAA mega champion. There is undoubtedly a certain cachet attached to holding the promotion’s top title, yet it still does not measure up to the prestige of wearing one of the most recognizable masks in Mexico. And, amidst a talented field, that distinct honor belongs to Psycho Clown.
Few wrestlers can compare to Psycho Clown, especially since he defeated and unmasked Dr. Wagner in Mexico City at Triplemanía XXV in August 2017. While the masks of L.A. Park, Atlantis, Blue Demon Jr., and El Hijo del Santo are the closest comparisons, none carries the mystique or aura, and none instills that chilling fear, quite like the luchador from Mexico City with the instantly recognizable mohawk and long plastic tongue.
“I became Psycho Clown because I want to be different from everyone,” Psycho Clown says through a translator. “And as a luchador, it is very important to be able to hide my identity. It is a tradition in Mexico, one that carries over from our ancestors, and my mask means a lot to me since I have defended it so many times.”
Part of the allure in lucha libre is the mystery of the mask, which directly intertwines with the beauty of the art form. Psycho Clown has successfully defended his mask in at least eight Luchas de Apuestas matches, though he noted that the number might even be higher. The win against Wagner helped elevate Psycho Clown to a new level of stardom in Mexico.
“The fight against Wagner was the most important of my career,” says Psycho Clown. “That is an iconic mask, and now it hangs on the wall in my house.”
Though identities are traditionally hidden in lucha, Psycho Clown is the product of a family that is steeped in wrestling tradition and glory. His father is lucha legend Brazo de Plata, who worked as Super Porky in WWE. His uncles, El Brazo and Brazo de Oro, have both passed away but were extremely well known throughout the 1970s and ’80s, especially for their Universal Wrestling Association feud with Los Villanos. Psycho Clown’s brother Máximo wrestles in AAA, and two of his sisters, Muñeca de Plata and Goya Kong, are also wrestlers. Plus, his father-in-law is Negro Casas, the famed CMLL luchador and a genuine wrestling great.
A third-generation star, Psycho Clown’s family history in wrestling connects to his present success, which continues to grow. And even in a terrain where the mask has more meaning than the world title, Psycho Clown revealed that adding the Mega Championship to an already distinguished list of accomplishments is a top priority for 2021.
“Winning the Mega Championship would be a very special achievement in my career,” says Psycho Clown. “I have been looking for that for many years, and I know that one day it will reach my waist.
“I want to dethrone Kenny Omega, and I know I can. I want an opportunity to take that championship and give even more prestige to the Mega Championship.”
Psycho Clown is the ace of AAA, blending elite in-ring work with one of the best personas in the industry. He takes considerable pride in maintaining a level of excellence, helping Mexico stand out as one of the top countries in the world for pro wrestling.
“I am very proud of my work,” says Psycho Clown. “My goal is to continue to prepare and give my absolute maximum in the ring. That is how I thank all my fans, who are always supporting me. I have the responsibility to continue on this fighting level. It is a struggle I love.
“I want to share with all the people who see my work and watch lucha that it is very important not to give up. Lucha is a very strong sport in every way, both in fighting and in the experiences around it, and it forces me to always be disciplined and seek to be better every day.”
As AEW continues its crossover with New Japan Pro Wrestling and Impact Wrestling, Psycho Clown shared that he is open to working more matches in America. He is represented by Masked Republic for licensing opportunities outside AAA.
“The United States is a territory I want to conquer,” says Psycho Clown. “Psychology is different there than it is in Mexico, but I love to fight and I love to wrestle. There is the same rhythm in the ring, the same desire to capture your attention, and I want to conquer the hearts of all the fans in the USA.”
The future is bright for Psycho Clown, and he vowed that no matter where he wrestles throughout his career, he will always be wearing his trademark mask.
“The mask identifies a Mexican fighter, and it defines me,” says Psycho Clown. “It is important for me to keep it, always, for my entire life. I love defending my mask, and I will never lose it.”
Tweet of the Week
There is no coverage quite like Kayfabe.