Last night, Adam Page and Kenny Omega won the AEW World Tag Team Championship and became the first members of The Elite to win a championship in AEW. Or, in the case of Page, the first former member of The Elite to win a championship in AEW.
It was an important moment in the career of Adam Page. A former ROH World Six Man Tag Team Champion (with the Young Bucks), it is a title win that firmly puts him on the list of the top stars in All Elite Wrestling. It has been a long road to get here, but Adam Page finally stands beside the rest of The Elite as equals. Even if the rest of The Elite have figured it out yet.
To tell where Hangman Adam Page is, we first have to look where he’s been.
Welcome to the Bullet Club
Adam Page was a young wrestler who was also working as a teacher in 2016. He’d made it to Ring of Honor and was considered by everyone to be a prospect to watch, but he was still just that – a prospect. That started to change in May of 2016 after Adam Cole joined the Bullet Club.
At ROH’s War of the Worlds event in Dearborn, Michigan; the Bullet Club of Adam Cole, the Young Bucks, Tama Tonga and Tonga Roa was challenged to a five-on-five match. It would be the Bullet Club against a team of The Briscoe Brothers, Motor City Machine Guns, and Adam Page. Only when it was time for the main event, Page was nowhere to be seen. Semmingly another victim of the Bullet Club. Colt Cabana ended up taking his place, but during the match Adam Page appeared and attacked Jay Briscoe as he officially joined the Bullet Club.
It was reported that New Japan Pro Wrestling hand selected Page for the Bullet Club and that he would soon debut there as well. Joining the Bullet Club was the break that Adam Page had been looking for and he was able to quit his job as a teacher to work full-time as a wrestler. He was on his way, but he still needed to find out who he was in the world of wrestling.
Being apart of the Bullet Club had more than financial advantages for Hangman, he was also able to take that spot and become a featured player on Being The Elite. There was just one problem: Adam Cole. With two Adams on the show, Page was clearly the less famous one and needed a new moniker. He started going by Hangman which helped to differentiate him from the more famous Adam in the group.
The YouTube show not only allowed Hangman to show more of his personality, but also develop it. He became an integral part of the show, but it wasn’t until the “Where’s Hangman?” arc that he really broke out.
Adam Cole had just died/left for WWE and the show needed Page to step up. On the show, he was kidnapped and taken off the show for a couple of weeks. During this time, everyone from Dave Meltzer to Glacier to X-Pac wondered “Where’s Hangman?” #WheresHangman was a thing. This was all a design to take Page from a secondary character and make him a major one, and it worked.
When Page returned at ROH Death Before Dishonor 2017 with his mouth duct taped and hands taped together, the crowd erupted for the loudest cheers of the night. Then he did his top-rope moonsault to the outside while still handcuffed.
Being the Elite changed everything for Adam Page and he knows it:
“Being the Elite I would say has been the No. 1 thing in terms of getting me more recognition and getting people to like me. I like to think I’ve always been a good wrestler. It wasn’t until I had a platform and an opportunity like Being the Elite to show people that I’m a real human being. Show people I have a personality. I think that’s helped more than anything in my career.” – Adam Page to ESPN, 2018
Page’s time in NJPW featured a ton of growth for him as well. He started in multi-man matches, but by 2018 he had worked himself up to an important spot. He ended up taking Cody’s side in the civil war between Cody and Kenny Omega. With Cody, they are the only team to defeat the Golden Lovers during their short comeback.
Page remained a key part of Being the Elite and even… murdered Joey Ryan with his boots. Or that’s what he thought. His boots started talking to him so he quit wearing them. It was a whole thing.
After murdering Joey Ryan, Page set out to murder another Joey – Joey Janela. The two were set for a match at All-In and it is arguably the best match on the entire show. The crowd was into this storyline nearly as much as Cody’s NWA World Title chase and when Joey Ryan appeared at the end of the match to avenge his death (along with penis druids), the crowd lost it.
It was another great notch on Page’s belt as he continued to prove himself as the rising star of The Elite. However, it was after the match when Page’s place in the hierarchy was shown. Cody and the Young Bucks, deservedly, got all the credit for putting this together and making it a reality. Kenny Omega was treated as the biggest star and gave the goodnight speech. While Hangman Adam Page just hung out in the ring, happy to be there. As far as he’d come, he still had a lot farther to go.
Waiting for AEW
The period between All-In and the announcement of All Elite Wrestling is relatively short, but it felt like forever. Adam Page competed in New Japan’s World Tag League and finished up with ROH career with an awesome match with Jeff Cobb at Final Battle 2018. He didn’t get the big Tokyo Dome blowoff to his New Japan career like the rest of his Elite mates, he was on the pre-show. He was ready for more, but the situation with All Elite Wrestling would press pause on his career. For now.
Page is All Elite
Of course, he was. Speaking to Busted Open Radio, Page said “With All Elite I felt that I had the opportunity to do something huge for my career and just to have fun with my friends.” He would add, “It was something we decided to do together. It was an easy decision.”
The key line there is “having fun with my friends”, words that would come back to haunt Adam Page. While Adam Page was considered a major signing and one of the key parts of AEW’s future, he wasn’t on the same level as his friends in the Elite. The Young Bucks, Cody, and Kenny Omega were named Executive Vice Presidents while Page was simply a wrestler signed to a wrestling contract. That is not a problem on the surface, a person can be friends with someone they work for obviously, but it would fundamentally change their relationship in ways that Page couldn’t have expected.
That would all come later though. First, AEW had to have a pres conference announcing their existence. Adam Page told the crowd that he wanted to be the first ever AEW World Champion, but he was interrupted by PAC and, later in the night, upstaged by Chris Jericho.
Double or Nothing
During the build-up to Double or Nothing, Page was teased by his friends/new bosses for wearing “Full Gear” in public and there were many comments made about his body/size. He was told to lose weight and add size, this created Adam Page’s Full Gear Challenge that inspired many fans to get in shape along with Page. Cody eventually revealed that The Elite were only joking with him and that he had “the secret stuff all along”. While clearly meant without harmful intent, it’s the kind of thing that becomes complicated in a friend/boss situation.
It was around this time that “The Elite” became “The EVPs” to many. The build of Double or Nothing became less about this group of friends and much more about this group of executives. Which would be fine except Adam Page was not one of them.
Still, Hangman was definitely one of AEW’s top stars. Adam Page was meant to face PAC at Double or Nothing, AEW’s first ever show, but things happened. Page went to Britain to confront PAC and got beat up. PAC refused to appear at Double or Nothing and Page was left without a match.
The original idea for Hangman’s match with PAC seems to have been that the winner of the match would face the winner of Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega to crown the first AEW World Champion. Instead, the challenger for the winner of that match would be the winner of the Casino Battle Royale. So, what did Page do? He entered the Casino Battle Royale and won it.
However, that match took place on the Buy-In and didn’t receive great reviews. His opponents in that match were a real mixed bag and the win didn’t seem as impressive as it should have been. While Cody, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega all participated on the main show in four star plus matches to rave reviews. Again, Page’s place in the hierarchy was clear.
Road to All Out
With only two events before All Out, Page wrestled at both Fyter Fest and Fight for the Fallen. While he won both of his matches, they both fell flat to many and Page was getting the “not ready for primetime” label. People were questioning his place in the main event of AEW’s second event, but Page himself was laser focused on the match with Chris Jericho.
A week before All Out, Adam Page asked the Young Bucks to second him to the ring. They had seconded Kenny Omega to the ring in his legendary bouts with Kazuchika Okada and he wanted them to do the same for him. However, the Young Bucks had a ladder match at All Out and while they wanted to, declined. Page said this was fine, but it was just one more thing on a now growing list of changes in their relationship. The biggest moment of his career and his best friends/mentors weren’t going to be there for him.
AEW All Out took place at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The same building as All-In a year ago. While Page was one of the most beloved wrestlers on that night, he wasn’t on this night. The brighter spotlight of AEW and wrestling Chris Jericho had changed things. The audience was now something more than the BTE audience that Page made his name on and it showed in his reactions.
Page wrestled a great match against Chris Jericho, but in the end lost out to his experience. The crowd rarely believed in Page during this match despite the great performance he put on. The loss, without the Young Bucks on his side, changed Page. After the show, the Young Bucks would ask him if he wanted to go to dinner and he said no. The change in his friends had been building for awhile, but now the change in Page was beginning to show.
AEW Dynamite Debuts
For the first episode of Dynamite, Page finally got his match against PAC. Kenny Omega wrestled PAC at All Out and lost, so this was another chance for Page to wrestle someone that Omega lost to and do better. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case and Page took the loss.
Later that night, the Young Bucks were beaten down by what is now known as the Inner Circle. Cody and Dustin Rhodes ran out to make the save, but Adam Page was nowhere to be found. This all came to a head on the next episode of Being the Elite.
The Bucks confronted Page for not being out there while Page finally let his emotions show. When the Bucks asked him where he was, Page said that he was in the “regular talent locker room, not your special EVP locker room.” His frustrations were clear, but Dustin Rhodes makes clear to him that despite his hard feelings that he should’ve been there for his friends.
The feud between the Elite and the Inner Circle continued for the next few weeks and further divided The Elite from Adam Page. Hangman was attempting to focus on his own career and his upcoming rematch with PAC at AEW’s third pay-per-view, Full Gear.
Page was able to get the win over PAC at the show which seemed to get him back on track. After the match he attempted to make amends with the Young Bucks. He admitted that the match with Chris Jericho sent him spiraling and said that he didn’t know what he would’ve done if he lost to PAC. Page’s sense of self worth was becoming more and more tied to his in-ring success.
Unfortunately for Page, that sense of self worth would last exactly one show.
Quitting the Elite
After Full Gear, the record in AEW between Page and PAC stood at 1-1. A rubber match was decided for the very next AEW Dynamite where PAC firmly took the lead in the series. This was a rough night for all of The Elite members, but Page took it the hardest.
On the next BTE, he told the Young Bucks “I can’t keep being the least successful member of The Elite.” The Bucks tried to argue with him, but Hangman told them that is always how it’s been. Page reached his breaking point and he had to go it alone for awhile. He needed to escape the shadow of The Elite to become the wrestler that he was meant to be.
He would set himself on that road on the very next episode of AEW Dynamite when he was one of two winners of the AEW Dynamite Dozen battle royale. At the same time, he was attempting to find some new friends and connected with Private Party on BTE.
Private Party did their best to hype Page up, but in doing so they introduced Adam Page to alcohol. That would turn into something that would define Hangman, for better and worse. The following week, Page lost to MJF in the Dynamite Dozen finals. After that, Page would take a week off.
folks, i am not on dynamite tonight i will be at home drinking whiskey
— HANGMAN PAGE (@theAdamPage) December 4, 2019
While Page had problems with the Young Bucks, his relationship with Kenny Omega remained and the two found common ground in their struggles. Kenny decided to team with Adam Page with their first tag team match being on the December 11th episode of Dynamite. The two would team against Kip Sabian and Shawn Spears, and grab the win.
The two would team again the following week against the Lucha Brothers and lose when Adam Page hit Kenny Omega with a Buckshot Lariat meant for Pentagon.
The two argued after the match and it seemed like things were about to blow up between the two before they were interrupted by PAC. Later in the show, the Dark Order attacked SCU and the Young Bucks. Cody, Dustin Rhodes, and Kenny Omega all came out to help, but Adam Page was again nowhere to be found. He was, of course, drinking backstage.
New Year, New Page
The January 1st episode of Dynamite was very much designed as a return to glory for The Elite. Cody opened the show with a win over Darby Allin and Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks ended the night with a win over the Lucha Brothers and PAC. Adam Page? He didn’t have a match on the show.
Instead, Adam Page appeared during an interview with Private Party to steal their drinks. Private Party were mad, but expressed worry about Page and his drinking. His response? Push them away. He told them that he could whoop both of their asses, took his drink, and left.
Hangman returned as a guest commentator for the main event between The Elite and the Lucha Brothers and PAC where he continued to drink. Page made comments about the Bucks and Omega getting along great like they always have, with the point seemingly being what was not said – that he didn’t always get along great with them. When asked about his decision to distance himself from The Elite, Page said that he tried but he’s teaming with Kenny Omega again next week against Private Party.
As much as he wants to move on and become his own person sans The Elite, they seemingly won’t let him out.
Private Party versus Kenny Omega and Page was set for AEW’s debut in Southaven, MS. The show would also feature a tribute to Memphis wrestling legends. One such legend, Jimmy Valiant, just happened to be Adam Page’s trainer.
After Page and Omega’s win, Omega and Valiant shared a moment backstage. Page was drinking, of course, and Valiant realized something in his former student. He told Page that he was clearly running from something, but there was a lot more that he should be running towards.
This moment seemingly awakened something with Page who went looking for Kenny backstage after the show. Page was clearly drunk, but Omega was there for his friend and attempted to sober him. Kenny offered to help Page get home by offering him an Uber and the two left to do just that. However, on the way out of the building Omega was stopped by the Young Bucks who took him away to do some EVP business. This left Page drunk and walking alone. Hangman assumed his friend was behind him, but he turned to see that once again his friends had left him behind.
Still, Page and Omega’s win over won Private Party which earned them a spot in a four-way tag team match at AEW’s Bash at the Beach Dynamite for a shot at the World Tag Team Champions. This match was every perceived slight for Adam Page come to life.
it’s almost like they created a whole separate layer of the background to put me in https://t.co/UMOVdy0JuQ
— HANGMAN PAGE (@theAdamPage) January 10, 2020
Bash at the Beach
With AEW’s four-way tag team match rules, there are two people in the ring and their partenrs and two whole teams that are just outside of the ring. If your team isn’t in the ring to start the match, you need a member of one of the other teams to tag you in. That’s just how these matches work, but in this match it took on a much different meaning. When the Young Bucks needed to tag out, who did they tag? Kenny Omega. Not Adam Page.
To the Young Bucks, this could’ve meant nothing. For Page, it meant everything. Things got worse for Page’s psyche when Omega was the legal man and he began doing trios moves with the Young Bucks. Page was trying so hard to see things in black and white, to forget friends, that this was seen as a betrayal by his partner. At one point, he hopped off the apron in frustration and it seemed as if he would walk out on his partner.
Towards the end of the match, the Young Bucks were rolling with superkicks and Page entered the ring. Matt went for a superkick, but stopped short of his friend. Page went for the lariat, but Matt ducked and Page hit Chuck Taylor. Then Matt Jackson got tied up with Chuck Taylor and Page tagged himself in, tagging Matt out. Matt was upset about this, but Page and Omega hit the Buckshot Lariat/V-Trigger combo and won the match.
After the match, the Bucks were upset with Page and Omega tried to settle things down. Visually, it couldn’t be any clearer that the divide was still strong between Page and The Elite.
After the match, Page grabbed a beer from a fan and started drinking. He was clearly drinking later in the night when he confronted SCU during an interview and spilled his drink on Christopher Daniels. Kenny Omega apologized for his friend, but Page would have none of it.
World Tag Team Champion
On the next episode of Dynamite from the Chris Jericho Rock N Wrestling Rager at Sea, Kenny Omega and Adam Page defeated SCU to win the AEW World Tag Team Champions. Omega and Page were not perfect in their teamwork, but Page was extremely driven in this match and managed to finish off SCU on his own. It was the first title change in AEW history and a milestone moment in the career of Adam Page. Much like his win over PAC at Full Gear, his moment would not last long.
Page was elated with the win, but seconds after being handed his new title and before he could even celebrate with his tag team partner, the Young Bucks were in the ring. Page’s mood changed as the Bucks attempted to celebrate with the new champions. He wanted them to leave, but they wanted to celebrate. Fed up with them, Adam grabbed a beer and crowd surfed out of there.
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) January 23, 2020
Later in the night, things got worse for Page. A celebratory interview with Tony Schiavone turned into questions for Omega about a match with PAC. The World Tag Team Championship, Page’s greatest achievement in professional wrestling, is treated like a secondary thing for Omega and his singles career. Every time Page tried to speak about this milestone moment in his career, he was interrupted. Or worse, treated as not important by Tony Schiavone. Not only did this interview become more about Kenny than Page, Kenny stole Page’s story of redemption. This was meant to be Page’s redemption, but this interview is about Kenny’s redemption.
The Young Bucks came out to celebrate again and took more of the attention away from Adam Page and his moment. Finally, Page got aggressive and told the Bucks that he was surprised they hadn’t already won the tag titles.
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) January 23, 2020
While his word may have been passive aggressive in nature, the message was clear. Hangman doesn’t view himself as a failure anymore, he’s a success because he did something that Young Bucks have not been able to do and he did it without them. Him and Kenny beat SCU, the Bucks didn’t. Whether they are trying to steal his glory or be supportive doesn’t matter. They have let him down too many times for him to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Where Do We Go From Here?
There were times in the history between Adam Page and his friends in The Elite where one could say that Page was being sensitive, an anxious millennial cowboy. As things have gone on, that has become less and less true as many of Page’s perceived slights by The Elite have turned into real slights. Do they intend them to be so? Or are they just tied up in their own lives and high stress jobs as EVPs to see things how they really are? Do they not realize how their actions as EVPs affect their relationships?
Whatever the case, it might be too late to repair this relationship. Adam Page is a different person from the days of “Where’s Hangman?” and All In. He might not be an EVP, but he’s a World Tag Team Champion and it’s time that he starts to get the respect from his friends that comes with that.
That said, Adam Page clearly has his own demons that he needs to deal with. Drinking to excess is not the answer to his tattered relationship with his friends. While much of that could come from his feelings of being “less than”, his championship win could ease some of that, but ultimately Page needs to make peace with himself, his friends, and his place in AEW to fully become the person and wrestler that he is meant to be.