This is part 2 of a two part series on Hangman Page’s story in The Elite, following a near five year character arc beginning from Episode 2 of Being The Elite. Part One can be found here.
“This, for me, is what wrestling is about. This is why I love it, enjoy doing it long term. Long-term stories, people attach to that.” – Hangman Page, 2018
All Elite Wrestling
To much fanfare, All Elite Wrestling was officially announced in January 2019, as The Elite stood on a mountain of pyro and glory in Jacksonville Florida. Their mission: To Change The World.
At first glance, Hangman Adam Page seemed to be at the forefront of the new promotion, one in the same with his Elite brethren. That quickly turned out to be not the case. With the official announcement of AEW came a few huge additions to the roster, including big names like Chris Jericho and PAC, which immediately lent legitimately to this new start up promotion.
Almost immediately, Hangman Page was relegated to the sidelines yet again, as his friends on Being The Elite mocked him for not having a body that was “full gear ready”. The first AEW feud was also booked during this time, building up a story between Hangman Page and PAC, which was set to culminate at their first PPV, Double or Nothing. They sent him on a mission to “slim down and bulk up” for this match with PAC.
It was clear that even with the formation of a brand new company, where he was one of the first people to be signed for this new, world changing endeavor, that he still could not be taken seriously by his friends. In their eyes, he had no chance against PAC, and couldn’t even be compared to him in the conversation of greatness.
Double Or Nothing and All Out
In the buildup to Double Or Nothing, Hangman Page spoke to Jim Ross on the Jim Ross Report. Our resident cowboy had this to say about his history with The Elite as he looked forward to a new future in AEW:
“I’ll tell you like this. For the past, I guess, three years or so when I joined Bullet Club and as a member of The Elite, I was honestly kind of in the shadow of all of my friends.
Cody, he’s world traveled. Obviously, he had his WWE career. The Young Bucks being on of the best tag teams of all time, champions all over the world. And Kenny, right? The best in the game. So I always felt like I was kind of in their shadow a little bit.
And with AEW, they are still competing, they’re still wrestling, but I feel like for the first time in their careers, that’s not their main focus or their only focus. They are now… everyone is an Executive Vice President, apparently, except for me. I’m a talent.”
Unfortunately, PAC and Hangman’s match ended up being postponed due to creative differences between AEW and PAC’s home promotion, Dragon Gate. Hangman was left without an opponent for the biggest AEW show to date.
However, after working his ass off to become “Full Gear Ready”, Hangman would not be denied. Page entered the Casino Battle Royale at the Double Or Nothing show, winning the match and earning a title match with Chris Jericho at AEW’s All Out PPV.
The build for this match was intense, as Hangman gave some of the best promos of his career, while hanging with one of the greatest talkers of all time in Jericho. By the time we reached All Out, the sold out crowd at the Sears Center was on its feet with excitement and anticipation, wondering if the gold would go to the bright eyed young upstart Page, or to the grizzled Painmaker veteran.
In the end, Jericho won the match and the AEW World Championship. However, noticeably absent during this match, were the Young Bucks or Kenny Omega, neither of whom came out to second Hangman ahead of arguably the biggest match of his career, even though they had seconded each other several times before, and Hangman had asked for their support in this bout. Hangman Page is left to his own devices as he suffers in silence and grapples with self doubt.
As AEW debuted on TNT with AEW Dynamite, once again Hangman Page found the chance to prove himself on a national stage. On the second episode of AEW Dynamite, PAC returned to AEW and finally got the chance to face off with Page.
After a hard fought bout, Hangman Page suffered a bitter defeat, which seemed to cement the doubts he’s had in his mind, that maybe he isn’t as good as his friends, maybe he doesn’t deserve to stand tall amidst The Elite. Indeed, on Episode 189 of Being The Elite, titled, “This Was Supposed To Be Fun” we see Hangman Page address these feelings with Matt and Nick Jackson.
“I don’t want to be the least successful member of The Elite, and that’s how it’s always been. I don’t want to do it anymore. We’re cool, but I need to ride alone for a while.” It’s at this point, that Hangman Page has seemingly left The Elite officially, after all this time.
At this point, Hangman Page began to walk down the long, dark road of loneliness. Stepping out from the shadows of his friends, he found himself on his own for the first time in almost five years. In a stupor of inebriation, he turned to alcohol to dampen his feelings of doubt and self guilt, reinforcing his distance to the straight-edge, Elite.
He made friends with Private Party as they bonded over their party lifestyle and copious amounts of alcohol. Their friendship became strained as Hangman Page, in his inner turmoil, becomes confused about how to relate to others. He primarily just takes Private Party’s alcohol stash, prompting Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen to chase reimbursement by the amount of $12.
Seemingly lost, alone, hurt, and confused, Hangman Page stumbled through the end of the year. He had no idea where he stood in the eyes of his former friends and teammates, The Elite. He had no idea where he stood in the eyes of himself, as he found himself questioning whether he ever would be worthy enough to stand tall on his own. It’s through this alcohol fueled quest of insight, that Hangman Adam Page inadvertently stumbled upon something that would propel him to instant stardom – Cowboy Shit.
Everyone can relate to struggling with self worth, the inner doubt that comes with needing to prove yourself. Pair those feelings with the power of beer fueled confidence and a rebellion against the status quo, and you instantly have an underdog that everyone is clamoring to root for. In what would become a pivotal moment for Hangman Page, he cut a promo in the build to Full Gear and his match with PAC – “I’m gonna do some real cowboy shit!“
That single statement would propel Adam Page to seemingly instant stardom, and completely change the game for Hangman.
The crowd instantly lit up, jumping to their feet, while thunderous chants of “COWBOY SHIT! COWBOY SHIT!” echoed throughout the arena. The era of Cowboy Shit was born, and Hangman Page had become the anxious millennial cowboy representing the disaffected youth of the wrestling world. Fueled by whiskey and determination, Page heads into Full Gear dead set on redemption at the hands of PAC, and won it. Here, he found his first major victory in AEW, and more importantly, his first major victory for himself.
Following his game changing victory against PAC, Hangman Page still found himself isolated from The Elite, however now this is less because he no longer feels worthy of those friendships, as he wonders whether he really needed them after all.
What did the Young Bucks really have to offer Hangman Page throughout his career? He couldn’t really turn to Cody, he was busy being an EVP and tangling up with MJF, caught in his own sordid tale. Kenny Omega, however, was also struggling with his own feelings of self doubt and inner worth, which seemed to bring the pair together through an uncertain bond of loneliness. This pairing would add another element that would propel Hangman’s story in a new direction.
Chris Jericho’s Rock and Roll Rager Cruise became a turning point for Hangman Page. While he still turned to alcohol to numb the voice of doubt in his mind, he found his first thrill of championship glory alongside his tag team partner, Kenny Omega, as they defeated SCU to win AEW’s World Tag Team Championship. With the championship belts in their possession, things began to look up for the anxious millennial cowboy. However, the Young Bucks, who have had yet to win the glory of the tag team championship in their own promotion, scoffed at the success of Hangman once again.
Following their unexpected championship win, Hangman and Omega found themselves riding high on a series of successful title defenses against the likes of SCU and the Lucha Bros. Yet, they were soon set to face their greatest challenge to date, as they found themselves face to face with a new set of contenders: The Young Bucks.
The Road to Revolution was fraught with peril, as the Young Bucks were quick to remind the Tag Team Champions of their place in the pecking order of The Elite. Speaking to Jim Ross in an on stage interview to promote their upcoming title match, Matt and Nick Jackson had this to say,
“This is the last thing I would have expected. I never thought I would see these two, as the tag team champions.” Matt laughs dismissively, while haphazardly gesturing to the two men before him.
As the interview continued, the tension between the four men was palpable. Meanwhile, The Bucks and Omega had kept Hangman in close quarters, despite his attempts to walk away from The Elite after his bitter defeats in the previous year. Omega, in his attempt to smooth things over, states that he and Hangman had just happened to fall into the right place at the right time, developing a tag team chemistry. With a little bit of liquid courage, along with his newfound confidence as champion, Hangman finally began to release his pent up frustration. This wasn’t only about his friends ignoring his wishes to leave the group, but at being denied legitimacy once again, stating that these championships meant the world to him, that they were finally something that belonged to him, that he could claim worth and merit for.
At this point, Matt and Nick Jackson dismiss his anger yet again, demanding to know why he has this chip on his shoulder.
“We brought you into the Bullet Club. We put you on Being The Elite and made you a star. You were just a jobber in Ring of Honor until we brought you into the Bullet Club. Look at you now, you’re a star. You can’t walk away!”
The interview ended without resolution, as the former friends found themselves heading to face each other in what would become one of the greatest tag team matches in wrestling history, The Tag Team Championship match at Revolution.
If there was any doubt as to whether this story had found profound impact among AEW’s fans, it was quickly erased as soon as these men entered the arena. Chants for Kenny Omega drowned out his Battle Cry as he walked to the ring. Hangman Page was the most over he had ever been, as chants of Cowboy Shit reverberated through the arena, and into television sets around the world. Meanwhile, The Young Bucks received an emphatic chorus of boos.
The tension between friends turned rivals hung heavily in the air. Throughout the match, the emotional fallout would cut deep, as these men struggled with the physicalities of a wrestling match paired with the emotional toll of friendship gone awry. There would be callbacks to previous matches in NJPW and ROH, which cut to the emotional reminder of Kenny’s former tag team partner, Kota Ibushi. Hangman would use his knowledge of Matt Jackson’s weakness of a previous lower back injury against him. There were devastating V-triggers, nearly decapitating superkicks, and Hangman’s use of Kenny’s famed One Winged Angel, a crippling finisher that few have been able to escape. This match pitted five years of anguish and strife against each other, as these four men danced between friendship, betrayal, and distrust amidst fists of fire and fury.
Hangman and Omega emerged victorious yet again, but the cost was monumental, as the end of this match saw a brief moment that appeared almost as a glitch in the matrix. Kenny briefly stood with the Young Bucks, waiting to superkick Page as he walked back to the ring to make amends and shake hands. Meanwhile, Page paused at the ropes, seeming to decide whether he should lay out Kenny Omega with his devastating Buckshot Lariat. By the end of it all, Hangman and The Elite were still standing, though the ground was precariously weakened beneath them.
Fear The Revelation
Shortly after the Revolution PPV, the Coronavirus pandemic swept the world, wreaking havoc on all facets of entertainment, stalling shows and preventing live crowds from attending en masse. The Pandemic Era saw the debuts of stars like Matt Hardy and Brodie Lee, to silent arenas and cinematic styling, but also saw many of AEW’s top stars on the sidelines due to safety precautions. Hangman Page was arguably the top star who remained at home during the start of the pandemic but found himself pulled back into action as The Elite’s Rivalry with The Inner Circle was finally put to rest.
This rivalry culminated in yet another historic match for All Elite Wrestling, the Stadium Stampede at Double Or Nothing. Hangman returned to the field, metaphorically and literally, as he rode his horse across the TIAA Bank Field, home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where the Stadium Stampede took place.
The Cowboy’s ride across the field was an unforgettable moment, and was one of the most memorable scenes during a night where The Elite (and Matt Hardy) earned one of their biggest AEW victories to date. Of course, Hangman was only on the field for a few seconds, before wandering off to find a drink and subsequently getting involved in a whiskey fueled bar brawl with Jake Hager.
Soon, AEW’s Tag Team Division would see a new shakeup when FTR (formerly WWE’s The Revival) arrived on the scene. FTR quickly scoffed at The Young Bucks, dismissing the very idea that they would hold themselves as “The Best Tag Team in the World.” With their confident swagger, and a familiar rebellious energy, FTR (now dubbed Fear The Revelation) caught the inquiring eye of Hangman Page.
Bonding over whiskey, beer, and a good ol’ southern boy mentality, Hangman found friendship and a new confidence in the eyes of Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood. To their credit, FTR had repeatedly come to Hangman’s aid, even saving them from a beatdown at the hands of Dark Order. Meanwhile, Kenny Omega was more than happy to dismiss the talent and prowess of FTR, admonishing them for their beer drinking ways and old school wrestling mentality. Remembering Kenny’s dismissal of Hangman’s accomplishments in the build to Revolution, Hangman brushed off Kenny’s concerns and looked to his new friends for excitement, encouragement, and most importantly, validation out of the shadows of The Elite.
Hangman, The Elite, and FTR would find themselves in an uneasy alliance while FTR acclimated themselves to this new environment. FTR proved to be a fighting force of dominance within the division, aligning themselves with the likes of Tully Blanchard, their confidence growing stronger as their intentions with Hangman grew murkier. Still, Hangman stood resolutely by their side, protecting them during matches, and even leaving a match with The Elite to make sure an injured Dax Hardwood made it safely to the back.
Still, the questions remained. Were FTR legitimately looking to make friends with Hangman? Or was he simply a tool of dischord they could use as the looked forward to an eventual tag team title match?
As AEW looked to All Out, they held a gauntlet match to determine the number one contenders for the All Out Tag Team Championship match. The Young Bucks were determined to get their rematch against Hangman and Omega and finally cement themselves as the Tag Team Champions they felt they should have been. Just before their seemingly assured victory, Hangman appeared red faced and bleary eyed, and pulled Nick Jackson’s legs out from under him, costing them that precious #1 contendership. FTR would come out to face The Best Friends, and would subsequently win the gauntlet and the chance to face Hangman and Omega at All Out for the AEW World Tag Team Championship.
The fallout afterwards was swift and vicious. Fed up with Hangman’s isolation and aloof inebriation, Nick and Matt Jackson confronted Page, and kicked him out of The Elite, punctuated by throwing his drink right in his face. Hangman Page had finally gotten his wish to depart from The Elite, but was marred in shame by his actions against his former friends and teammates. Even after nearly five years of standing in their shadow, there was a part of Hangman that still looked to his friends as they stood tall. Now, Hangman was truly exposed, forced to bet on himself, and perhaps, go all in with his newfound friendship in FTR.
As we head into All Out, several questions remain in Hangman’s story. Will he align himself with his new friends Dax and Cash of FTR? Will he stay with what’s familiar, continuing life in the comfort of the shadow of The Elite? Or will be step out onto his own two feet and walk his own path, alone into the sunset? Regardless, it’s time for Hangman to choose his own destiny.
The world may have found a shocking moment when Hangman Page pulled the feet out from under the Young Bucks, costing them their chance at tag team glory in the leadup to All Out. But when you take into consideration the last *five years* of Hangman’s story, you can see that Hangman Adam Page may very well have truly reached a breaking point with The Elite. While the crowd rallies behind an anxious millennial cowboy yee-hawing his way through some serious cowboy shit, Hangman Page may finally be casting aside this bitter narrative, and replacing it with one of his own walk to redemption and glory.
No longer is his a story someone is writing for him, casting him in the light of the secondary character. Now, the sun rises in the dawn of a new day, and this lonesome cowboy is coming to grab the reins of his steed. We may yet see Hangman Page riding off into a new day of his own creation, his own making, guided by the light of his own star in the making.