Indie Watch: Canada’s Sway Archer Creating Waves, Gear & Moments

Sway Archer
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Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! In this edition, we talked to Canadian indie wrestler Sway Archer, who has emerged as a rising name in the gear-making business as well.

Like so many Canadian indie wrestlers, Toronto’s Sway Archer was sidelined during the COVID pandemic as Canadian health protocols shut down events for over a year. But during that time, away from the ring, he found his brand exploding on Twitter and added a new career to his resume – that of creating ring gear for his fellow wrestlers. With protocols eased in the Great White North now, wrestling is back in Canada, and Sway Archer himself made his return to the ring with his debut for Ottawa’s Capital City Championship Combat (C4) at C4 Never Say NeverLast Word on Pro Wrestling recently spoke to Sway Archer about his career and the past year of growth.

LWOPW: To begin with, what started your journey into pro wrestling? Were you a lifelong fan or was it something that grew on you in your later years?

Sway Archer: I was a fan at a very young age, I kinda lapsed for a bit, early and mid-2000s, but I think I’ve been watching consistently since 09 or so.

Where did you start your training?

I started training at Squared Circle at 16, which was a little early depending on who you ask, but they closed shortly after, so I went to Battle Arts Academy, and I’ve been there since.

You took a hiatus for a bit before coming back with Battle Arts. What prompted the hiatus and what spurred you to make a return?

I took the hiatus because I went to college for radio broadcasting, and I wanted to give my all there, so I stopped wrestling to focus properly. I came back once I was done and felt I was in a stable enough place to compete again.

What was it like working with Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella), Yuki Ishikawa, and the Battle Arts team?

When I first got to Battle Arts it was Hornet [Darryl Sharma], who now refs for WWE, Yuki Ishikawa, and Anthony. All of them were so valuable to my early years training. Yuki got me into the best shape I’ve ever been in, with conditioning drills, and he also gave me my foundation for submission / shoot-style wrestling. Anthony taught me how to play to my strengths, and really motivated me to start thinking about wrestling in a different way. Hornet, on those Sunday morning habits, he broke a lot of the bad habits I had from watching indie and even TV wrestling. They’ve all made me a better person and worker.

The pandemic really put a damper on Canadian indie wrestling, but it seems like you really found your voice during it. How did you manage to become such a vocal proponent, not only for Canadian indie wrestling but the Black wrestling community while being a lesser-known commodity in relation to many of your peers?

I chalk it all up to networking and my ADHD. I remember one of the first wrestlers I followed that I had never met was Darius Carter. That broadened out to me following people like [Darius] Lockhart, Suge [Sugar Dunkerton], Faye [Jackson], Sahara 7, Lovely Laveau, a lot of the people who then were gracious enough to accept me and chat with me, and to even include me in the Creep Squad and Wholesome Gang bits. Their hospitality, Twitter spaces, me starting to make gear, and my desire to reach out to as many people as possible, I think that got me a lot further than some “traditional” routes, as far as social media goes.

The pandemic also saw many previously marginalized communities in pro wrestling – mainly women, Black, POC, and LGBTQIA+ – reach what feels like new heights, with so many new stars finally getting their due. Why do you think that was?

I think pushes from a lot of people in the wake of the George Floyd protests might have led to something, whether it was pandering or not, I don’t know, but it turned out well.

You’ve also made a successful career as a gear maker for pro wrestlers. How did that arise?

I ordered a set of gear in April of 2020, hoping the pandemic would be over and shows would be back by August or so. It came in, and I hated it. There were sizing issues with the logos, things stitched poorly, and crappy materials used. I brought it to a seamstress that knew what she was doing with activewear, and she confirmed there was a lot wrong.

So about July / August, I realized the pandemic wasn’t ending anytime soon. I broke out the old sewing machine, bought some spandex, and started messing around, using an old set of gear as a template.

Come September, I bought a new machine, I made my first set of gear for myself which turned out surprisingly good. I got a Cricut, and a heat press, and joined Ophidian and Kate Nyx’s Patreon so that I could learn from them. November I took my first commission. April of 2021 I left my full-time job. I now am a year into taking commissions and I’m about it to have gear on TV for two different companies.

It’s a hell of a journey.

Gear makers don’t get the credit they deserve, something you’ve discussed online with other gear makers. Who are some of the gear makers that inspire you, names that people should know more about who are making artistic impressions for their clients?

A lot of the big names are great, and y’all know that, guys like Main Event Gear, Sandra, GlobalWrestleWear, all of them. I think the underrated people? Kel Rose, she’s wicked and SO helpful. Closet Champion, Gearados, Darryl Apparel, all fantastic work coming from them. DefilaSport is really really good, makes great MMA-style stuff. For me, Soy Takeda is my G.O.A.T. Their work is top-notch and I aspire to be on that level.

Who are some of the clients you’ve done gear work for over the past year since you’ve gone full time with it?

I find a lot of my clients are Nightmare Factory students, and I have got to thank Dillon McQueen for that. I made Dillon a set and he praised me to kingdom come, which got me doing a lot for them. Guys like Gabriel Kai, Keita, Dean Alexander, I’ve done a lot of stuff for them too.

I’m super grateful as well to O’Shay Edwards. He was the first person from a major promotion to believe in me and give me a good opportunity to get stuff on a big stage when I had only made like 5-7 people before him.

Canada has recently opened itself up (mostly) and you made your own return to the ring this past Friday in Ottawa with Capital City Championship Combat (C4) at C4 Never Say Never. How did that match come about?

I went to the “Fighting Back” charity show, in late September, with a few buddies, they wanted to see the Dark Order, and I wanted to take a trip. Someone from the team at C4 saw that I was there, and reached out to me, and we went from there.

I was originally supposed to do a different pre-show match, but “card subject to change” and all, I got to be on the main show, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Mark, Steven, and all the crew there at C4 for giving me the opportunity.

How did it feel to get back in the ring for the first time in so long?

I had done a practice match or two at Battle Arts since the pandemic, in front of other students, but it was nerve-racking going from essentially not wrestling in front of crowds for over a year, barely even practice matches, to wrestling at a big promotion in front of a big crowd. My nerves were going crazy, but it went well I think!

C4 is obviously one of Ontario’s biggest indie promotions. What are some other Canadian promotions you’re looking to debut for that you haven’t?

I’d like to wrestle for SuperKick’d, a lot of the guys I trained with at Squared Circle Training wrestle there, I’d like to also get out to the West Coast and the Maritimes, not to mention going down south and meeting the people who I’ve been interacting with throughout the pandemic.

Who are some Canadian indie wrestlers you think more people beyond the Great White North should take notice of now?

Fight or Flight, Alexia [Nicole], [Mark] Wheeler, Anton [Alexiev], I think those 5 are gonna do big things in the near future.

What are your plans to enter the U.S. indie circuit? What promotions are you looking to work for?

By any means necessary, that’s my strategy. I have a few places in mind but I just want to be there, I wanna work with the people I’ve made gear for as well!

You’ve mentioned how important the Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling World Championship, currently held by Trish Adora, is to you. It’s a sentiment that a lot of Black wrestlers hold. Why is this title so special to the scene?

I think having a championship that focuses on a long underrepresented group is important, but that’s just one part of it. There’s also the aspect of how beautiful the belt is, I mean, look at it. The main thing for me though is that in this business there are places where you still can’t really get booked often if you’re black. Places that draw big crowds and black people are rarely represented. So to have a promotion like F1ght, and to have a championship that prioritizes us when a lot of places won’t, that’s important.

Now that your first match of 2021 is in the books, do you have any bookings lined up for the rest of the year?

I’m up to my neck in gear commissions but I’m still trying to be on as many as possible. Some surprises.

What are your goals for 2022?

I want to get something for WrestleMania or SummerSlam weekend this year. I have physique goals and gear goals, but getting to those places, those are big for me.

Main Photo of Sway Archer by Shooting The Indies

Check out our full list of previous Indie Watches, showcasing emerging talent from around the world!

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.