This is part one of a two part installment on the story behind Hangman Page, The Elite, and his walk to redemption in All Elite Wrestling. Part 2 can be found here.
“I’ve watched these guys do it my entire career. I sat on the sidelines while they did it.”Hangman Page, Jim Ross Report 2019
Long before he was the anxious millennial cowboy, drinking whiskey and throwing out a yee-haw for some epic cowboy shit, Hangman Adam Page has been trying to pull himself away from the shadow of The Elite.
The Elite have long been known for their storytelling prowess, and with Hangman Page, there is no exception. The buildup to Hangman’s struggle in the shadows of his counterparts has been playing out for almost five years, and this article will serve as a timeline for his lonesome struggle as he steps into the light and walks his own path.
From the very beginning, Adam Page walked in the shadows behind greatness. His story began back in 2016, when Adam Cole had just joined the Bullet Club, admist a shocking, destructive turn of events in Ring Of Honor’s Global Wars. Jay Lethal and Colt Cabana had just competed for the ROH World Championship before the lights went out, and the Young Bucks appeared with Adam Cole, conducting the “world’s largest superkick party”, and introducing Adam Cole as the newest member of the Bullet Club. The following night, Adam Page joined the Bullet Club by turning on Colt Cabana, The Briscoes, and the Motor City Machine-Guns during a 10-man tag team match at ROH’s War of the World’s Show.
It wasn’t a surprise that the debut of Adam Page is overshadowed by Adam Cole. After all, Cole was a multiple time ROH champion, while Page had struggled to find his identity within the company. However, the disrespect from his teammates began immediately. On Being The Elite, The Bullet Club replayed Adam Cole’s induction in its entirety, complete with replays, while Adam Page’s debut received but a mere mention from Matt Jackson with an image overlay.
Indeed, even his name was sidelined in favor of someone bigger and better than he was at the time. Two Adams could not exist simultaneously within the Bullet Club story. Adam Cole took precedence, and Adam Page had two weeks to find a gimmick, find a name, and run with it.
In 2017, Adam Cole left ROH and headed off to NXT. The Bullet Club ousted Adam Cole in a dramatic showing at Ring of Honor, before “killing him off” on Being The Elite, where he would be relegated to “The Ghost of Adam Cole” thereafter.
The storyline that followed had a mysterious “WWE Stooge” show up at The Bullet Club’s hotel room, leaving ominous messages threatening to “bring the dead back to life”. In their fear, Matt and Nick Jackson attempt to calm themselves and the group down, dismissing the threat as unreal and irrelevant. “What are they gonna do, take Hangman Page?”, they laugh, dismissively.
Thunder crashes, the lights flicker, and Hangman Adam Page disappears.
Thus begins the next chapter of Hangman’s story, as told on Being The Elite, with the “Where’s Hangman?” storyline.
This story involved trending hashtags, top selling merch, and the involvement of wrestling figures like X-Pac, Dave Meltzer, Hurricane Helms, and more, but it was the reactions of the rest of The Elite that drove this story forward. While Nick Jackson, Marty, and Cody are emphatic in their grief and determination to find their friend, Matt Jackson and Kenny Omega are quick to write him off as “he’s probably dead.”
Certainly, throughout the three week storyline on Being The Elite, there are many long segments that involve The Bullet Club putting out fliers, asking around, and using every resource they have to find their friend. However, many of these segments are cut short in favor of Cody showing off his new Ring of Honor Championship ring, or Kenny Omega getting drunk on non-alcoholic beer and sowing the seeds of doubt with Cody, “I know who the stooge is! It was STARDUST! He’s always been the man behind the curtain!”.
Finally, we see Hangman Page’s triumphant BTE return during Episode 72, titled, “The Escape”, when he arrives unexpectedly at a Ring Of Honor Show. With his hands tied, and duct tape across his mouth, Hangman enters the ring to deliver two clotheslines and a moonsault from the top turnbuckle!
With the crowd going insane, Page gets into the ring, where the Young Bucks embrace their friend in a triumphant hug. However, the scene is cut short to highlight Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks standing with their newly won championships, in a three minute segment about how great the three of them are for Ring of Honor. Even Hangman Page’s triumphant return, in one of the hottest angles the group had done to date, is cast within the shadow of The Elite.
The Bullet Club Civil War
The Bullet Club Civil War played a pivotal role in the story of The Elite and Hangman Adam Page, and it all started with a metaphorical slap in the face from the group’s leader.
Jay White had just won the IWGP US Championship after a gritty, hard fought bout with Kenny Omega. As Kenny lay writhing in the ring, and White triumphantly held the championship belt over his head, Hangman made his move. Hangman Page enters the ring, taking the belt from Jay White, appearing to challenge him for the IWGP US Championship. Upon seeing this, Kenny Omega gets up, walks over to Page and rips the belt away from him before placing it back on the chest of Jay White with a gentle tap, before pushing Hangman Page away.
Hangman would eventually get that IWGP US Championship match with Jay White, but he would never forget that moment. With Cody Rhodes looking to overthrow Omega as the leader of the Bullet Club, “The American Nightmare” took advantage of US Championship debacle to sow seeds of uncertainty within Page, telling him “This was a time honored New Japan tradition, and Kenny Omega took that away from you. That was your moment. It should have been your time to shine.”
The rivalry between Kenny and Cody pushed the faction to its limits, splitting the group between The Bullet Club and The Elite, Hangman would side with Cody, trusting in his belief in him, resting on the resentment he had against Kenny Omega for stealing that moment away from him. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, The Elite stayed together, and Hangman being overlooked and disrespected was once again ignored by his “teammates”.
Following the BC Civil war, and throughout 2018, Hangman Page would continue to rise in the ranks of athletes in the professional wrestling world, becoming more popular and successful than ever before. Despite that, he could still never quite escape the darkness overshadowing him that was the talent and success of his friends. During this time, Kenny, Cody, and The Young Bucks would all go on to win championships throughout the year, including Kenny Omega’s much heralded match with Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
While he stood surrounded by his friends who were covered in gold, glory, and accolades, Hangman quietly sought to figure out his own destiny, and grab his own bull by the horns. Adam Page and the rest of The Elite, held together by uncertain friendship and the hopes of a new future, walked off into the sunset, ready to write their own chapter of history with the formation of All Elite Wrestling.