AEW has now reached the stage where they are allowing a small number of fans to attend their shows. Their Thursday episode of Dynamite had a crowd that filled up about 10 percent of Daily's Place, where the patrons were socially distanced, wore masks, and had temperature checks upon entering.
Lance Archer competed in that Dynamite show and defeated indie talent Sean Maluta. He joined Busted Open Radio to share his thoughts on the small number of fans now appearing at shows.
"It was awesome. It's ecstatic, it's exciting, and it's nervous because it's been so long without the fans. Obviously, you talk about the numbers and whatnot. They're there, they're watching at home, they're supporting AEW, but now, we're actually going to have people that are there," said Archer. "We have an amazing crew of guys and girls that have been there, from the extra talent that has come in, to different guys and girls that have been around the ring. Just a little bit of that noise, a little bit of that sound, a little bit of that enjoyment being in front of live people. But now, we actually get our fanbase back."
The 10 - 15 percent capacity is the recommendation of state and local laws, and AEW is eagerly looking forward to allowing even more fans in when it's safe to do so.
"Everything is state and law regulations. Everybody is going to be safe. It's going to be a cool experience for every single person that's out there, and it's just us in our attempt to move forward in life. I think this is going to be a really cool time," stated Archer.
After getting it's feet wet in 2019 with their TV debut, this was supposed to be the year where AEW really took off, and it appeared to be on course to do that until the pandemic hit. AEW is still rising in popularity nonetheless, and Archer talked about the promotion's devoted fan base.
"I think it's a business and we're always pushing forward. We're always trying to find new ways to make people pay attention," said Archer. "AEW, in a very short time, has made the world of professional wrestling pay attention, even in these crazy times that we exist in. Our fanbase – you talk about [Dynamite on] Saturday night – we're still staying strong where it was at, even though it was an odd night, an odd time. We pushed back past the [NBA] game and all that stuff, and it was still there. I have to believe what AEW is doing right now as the world is moving forward, and as things kind of in whatever sense tart to normalize, AEW is only going to get stronger and bigger and better.
"Bringing in somebody like Shaq, who's working strongly with TNT and what TNT is doing with us moving forward, the sky's the limit. It's one of those things where AEW is already a true player in this business in a huge way, and we're only going to get bigger, we're only going to get stronger, and only bigger and better things are coming, and the biggest, baddest son of a b---h, The Murder Hawk Monster, is going to be taking over."
AEW hasn't been shy about wanting to work with other promotions or independent talent that they showcase on their programming. Sean Maluta was an example of that, and Archer talked about AEW being open to using talent from other promotions.
"Yeah, I think it makes it fun, too. Going back to Bully Ray's question, 'Why fans should tune in to AEW,' and that's another reason. You got the NWA World Women's Champion [Thunder Rosa] coming into AEW and challenging for the AEW Women's Championship, and you're not seeing that anywhere else in the business right now," stated Archer. "So, to be able to see stuff like that, and guys like Ricky Starks, who came in and absolutely killed it – another Texas boy, Ricky Starks. Thunder Rosa, Texas girl. So, we got a lot of Texas representing in this company right now.
"I think that's what makes it fun. There's a huge, fun mix. You never know who's going to show up, you never know what's going to happen, you never know what company might try to interfere at AEW's product, and try to implement themselves, and become a part of it and move forward with the business altogether. That's the cool part about it is AEW is a very open company to moving forward and changing wrestling as a whole.
"It's not about just being at its own little pigeon hole all the time - it's about opening up, it's about expanding. It's about finding the best talent around the world no matter where they're at, and showing them to the world on AEW product. AEW Dynamite, Saturday night at All Out, you'll see a lot of cool things."
Archer has been in AEW for just a few months but he's make a big impact by aligning himself with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and making it to the finals of the TNT Championship Tournament. Outside of losing that match to Cody, Archer is undefeated during his AEW run.
He was asked what his future plans are as a part of AEW.
"For me, it's always just taking your time, biding your time, doing what you can when you can with what you got. The things that we have, the opportunities that we continue to do with the backstage vignettes, throwing guys into ceilings, trash cans, lockers, and everything I can find to put them in and through, that itself has been fun for me. It's just working our way back into the main spot, and when you ask what's my plan, my plan is always being the top of AEW," stated Archer.
"Whoever the champion is, whether that's Jon Moxley or MJF after this Saturday, whether it is Brodie Lee that's the TNT Champion, whatever and whoever is at the top, that's who we're gunning for. It's one of those things where we're taking our time. It's going to happen; everybody needs to be patient. I appreciate the support out there. I'm coming; we're going to kick some ass, and whoever's at the top, they're not going to be ready. I promise you."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.