Hangman Page might be fine, but his fans are not
At the post media scrum for All Elite Wrestling’s All Out 2021, AEW President Tony Khan was asked about people being disappointed in Hangman Page not being at the pay per view. Page was given time off as his wife will be having a child soon. Per WrestleTalk, Khan discussed how All Out changed due to the request.
“I had a feeling that I had a lot of backup plans, but I would have given him the time off either way. Even if I didn’t have the guys in, I would have found a way to make it work and accommodate him because it was for a very important reason. He’s a big part of AEW, he’s one of our really important stars. I didn’t have everything exactly into place until we got there.”
This was relieving to hear for Hangman Page fans, who have watched Hangman go from one of the biggest ratings draws and storylines in 2021 to being a ghost that haunts AEW shows.
And before someone says it, no I’m mad at Hangman Page for taking time off. Nobody is mad. Not a single fan of him is mad at Hangman Page. We’re extremely happy for him and want him to take all the time his new family needs. It’s the booking in the situation that disappoints us.
It all made sense for All Out 2021 to be the night Hangman Page finally defeats Kenny Omega for the AEW World Heavyweight championship. The fans were back. He had avenged his loss against Brian Cage. Both Kenny Omega and Hangman Page had never won at the All Out event. All Out 2020 was when Hangman Page and Kenny Omega broke up as a tag team after losing the AEW World Tag championship. All Out 2021 would have had Kenny tied with Jon Moxley for the longest AEW World championship and breaking it that day would leave Kenny feeling like he missed a mark at being the best.
Chicago was also where Kenny and Hangman faced The Young Bucks at Revolution 2020, in a match where the Chicago crowd made it clear that Hangman Adam Page was their man. They might have come to AEW for the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, but Hangman Page was the wrestler they were behind to overcome the odds.
But similar to the disappointment in the summer of 2020, the summer of 2021 turned into one where Hangman Page couldn’t hack it. Instead of being the obvious number one contender for the title at All Out, he puts his shot on the line in a 10 man elimination match to try to get the Dark Order a tag title shot against The Young Bucks. The rumours of Hangman Page taking time off was already in the air around this time.
The company had plenty of decisions they could have made. They could have told the truth and had Hangman Page come out and say he was giving up his spot to take time off for personal reasons. The fans would have accepted it and known Adam has a title shot in his future. They could have had Dark Order win the match but Hangman Page gets injured in the victory so he misses the shot. They could have done everything they did but Hangman pins Kenny Omega so we know he can beat Kenny, but still loses to the numbers game.
Instead, the Dark Order put Hangman Page in a three on one situation against Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks and all Hangman could do was pin Matt Jackson. He couldn’t even beat Nick Jackson. He didn’t lose clean (referee Rick Knox just stood there during double and triple teams because that’s what he does in every match: be the most useless referee in pro wrestling history) but he lost decisively.
At the time I didn’t think the time of rumours were true and this was a perfect time for Hangman Page to say okay, you want to be the villains, Elite? I got the Dark Order behind me. The guys who once beat you all down (and nearly killed the company in 2019) and humiliated you. We’re the villains.
I wanted to see The Elite all celebrating in the ring only for the lights to go out, and once they come back on, the Dark Order and Hangman Page surround the ring with their bandannas over their faces. They have the numbers game, not The Elite. And in that, they put a beating on The Elite so severe that the only thing Don Callis could do to calm the heat was allow the Dark Order to get their matches with the stipulation that this would be the end of it. It’s a visual I still hope to see down the road.
Instead we got Hangman Page putting himself in the ring to get beaten down by The Elite and told the Dark Order not to interfere, which has now caused the Dark Order to have a rift. Evil Uno and Alan Angels had a match on AEW Dark last night where the crowd was so disappointed in the situation that they barely cheered or booed. Hangman has now been beaten multiple times by The Elite, multiple times by Kenny Omega, and now The Dark Order, a group the fans were 100% behind only weeks ago, now have to fight each other on the YouTube shows.
To make matters worse, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer had been calling it promotional malpractice for Hangman Page to be winning the AEW World championship before Kenny Omega gets title matches against former WWE stars Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. And with Adam Cole debuting and Kevin Steen rumoured to be on his way as well, it feels like a story anyone who watched NWA:TNA in the 2000s has heard before. Everyone who watched Bryan Danielson be their favourite star return but have to lose to Roman Reigns because he’s the chosen guy knows this feeling. Hangman had his moment and lost it. And now he’s just a face in AEW having to wait his turn because the new wrestlers have to get their chance in the spotlight.
Of course, this is the anxiety of the anxious millennial cowboy’s fans talking. As Tony Khan pretty much alluded to, he had to give us the Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson debuts on the same night to make up for the loss of Hangman Page. Hangman is also on the photo for the shows in Norfolk, Virginia on November 17, the home state of Adam Page, which after the date of Full Gear 2021 was moved from November 6 to November 13 to avoid UFC 268, will make it the first AEW Dynamite after the pay per view. It’s a good time for him to either make his return.
Tony Khan has a job to do in the meantime. He has to think of a way to not only build up Hangman Page quick, but to make him by far the best candidate to beat Kenny Omega. This means no half measures. No midcard feuds. No standing outside the spotlight of WWE refugees. It’s time to kill the promotional malpractice narrative. Kenny Omega isn’t going to leave when he loses the title. He can get big time title matches with anyone at any time. It doesn’t just have to be this reign. It’s also time to stop the suffocating heat at the top.
The way to building up Hangman Page is already in place. On August 20, Jon Moxley cut a promo bringing up Hangman Page:
“Our white knight on a white horse Adam Page calls himself a cowboy. Can’t get over his high school drama BTE mo bull crap to get the job done. He ain’t no cowboy I would drink him under the table and beat his ass.”
I’m glad he said it, because it’s been burning in my mind for weeks now. If Hangman Page wants to prove he can beat Kenny Omega unlike everyone else, he has to beat the man Kenny Omega could never beat clean. Jon Moxley has only lost with gimmicks and cheating. Hangman Page beating him square in the ring clean would put the exclamation point on his argument for getting his shot back better than what anyone else can provide.
Defeating Jon Moxley and maybe work the Bucks in singles matches would be a good way to heat up Hangman Page right back for the AEW World championship. Some might want to wait until Revolution 2022, but the time I believe that’s right is Winter is Coming 2, which I expect to be on December 8 in UBS Arena on Long Island. If Page can’t stop Omega from being the longest reigning AEW World heavyweight champion, he can stop him at day 371.
Hangman Page is the anxious millennial cowboy. I should know. I purchased the shirt. Some wonder why we’re so invested in the dude. It’s because professional sports sells us top athletes who don’t have a care in the world with millions of dollars and just the expectation to win. With Hangman Page, we got a guy on his way up who has been constantly in the shadows of his friends and other peers, and instead of letting it break him down and delay his hopes and dreams, he’s slugging a beer back and slugging a dork with a Buckshot lariat. He’s turning his anxieties and fears into power.
Everything might work out the way Hangman Page fans always hoped but not on the timeline they expected. Or it might not work out at all because Tony Khan now has his favourite wrestlers ever in his promotion to focus on. Some say Hangman Page fans should just have faith it will all work out. Hangman Page fans don’t cheer for him because they have faith that everything will work out. They cheer for him because they know things don’t always work out. They support him because they know this world isn’t made for them. We’re not alright. But we’re still here.