All you have to do is look at his body of work to see it. His singles matches against Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Minoru Suzuki, EVIL, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Joe Hendry, Jimmy Havoc, Jeff Cobb, Joey Janela, and most recently his match against PAC, Chris Jericho, and Kip Sabian, to name a few, speak for themselves. Hangman, match after match, clearly shows his ability to adapt to his opponent’s style while still delivering a hard-hitting rugged performance. Not to be outdone by the dedication he’s shown embracing the story he wants to tell is unmatched (this is the man that walked around bare foot for months, became a Joey Killer (later acquitted by Joey Ryan’s reappearance), and now is partying on his own resenting the men who claimed to have given him THE opportunity and made him a star). So it begins, Hangman’s path to show all what he is truly capable of accomplishing on his own.
On 29 February, at AEW Revolution, the interesting duo of Kenny Omega and Hangman Page bested who I’ve consider the Kiss of my Generation…who redefined poetry in motion with an unmatched synchronicity (The Young Bucks), in a fast paced, exciting, emotionally charged, physically taxing match to retain their tag team gold. The match gave us all – V-Trigger/Buckshot Lariat Combo, a variation to one of Kenny’s former tag team combination (instead of a Hadouken) a launch to a dead lift German, A GOLDEN TRIGGER, and after a failed attempt by Kenny, Page successfully hitting Matt Jackson with his partner’s One Winged Angel; a move so devastating that to date, only one Golden Star has been able to kick out of (if you watch closely, Okada’s rope break during the epic 60-min draw at Dominion was in part caused by Kenny’s own momentum as he pulled Okada to secure the leg). At the end of the match, it was Hangman who secured the win, Hangman who did not hesitate to do what needed to be done in order to get the win, Hangman who was in full control, to deliver when it counted most.
The match gave us a glimpse of what’s to come by revisiting key events of the last two years; ultimately, where it all began…
In 2018, the two Alpha males of #theELITE Era of the Bullet Club were battling for supremacy within the group. At a time where Kenny lacked focus, as Cody so eloquently stated in his infamous “State of the Bullet Club” Address, Page found himself torn…trying to keep his family together while it was being wrecked from the inside out. Thankfully, the betrayal and vicious attack from the Firing Squad at New Japan’s G1 USA that summer cemented the bond of #theELITE, putting their differences aside and joining forces to continue on their quest to change the world. During the G1 CLIMAX 28, you saw Kenny and Page’s relationship flourish, and King of Pro Wrestling (later confirmed during the live interview during the Jericho Cruise); they stood up together, not as Bullet Club, but as #theELITE. As projected, Page followed his family in their new venture, when instead of staying with Ring of Honor, or joining New Japan, he chose to become an integral part of All Elite Wresting (AEW). During that first rally in Jacksonville, FL on January 8th, Page said something that still holds true and resonates today – he works for us (the audience), we (the audience) are his boss, and no one will work as hard to prove that they belong; and Page has been doing just that.
When AEW was formed, Cody, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and later on Kenny Omega were not only identified as talent, but also co-Executive Vice Presidents of the company…while Page, a core member of #theELITE, was not. Not a biggie, but when you start comparing and contrasting, it seems there is an unbalance in the Force (yes, even though he was the one challenging for the inaugural AEW World Heavyweight Title match) and he has embodied that sense of feeling like the second fiddle to those closest to him. In 2018, Being The Elite’s Episode (perfectly) titled “Complicated” gave us a small glimpse of the effects the inner turmoil had on Hangman – we see him a distraught, succumbing to tears, but instead of embracing them, he immediately shuts them down, a mirrored reflection on how he has handled the recent loss of his bond with #theELITE. Fast forward to 2020, and it feels like the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Week after week, we’ve seen Hangman battling insecurities, trying to show them all that he is enough to stand on his own and get the job done…and instead of having the opportunity to do so, as a singles competitor, he has “volunteered” into a tag team with Kenny Omega (“since they really didn’t have much for him at the moment”), the man he blamed once for uprooting his family, the home wrecker responsible for the hurt and pain he was experiencing (that match at Wrestling Dontaku wasn’t enough to satisfy that rage he once felt…I do hope we get to see it again). Fully immersed and committed in not drinking water, taking on a defensive position when asked if he’s ok, and showing signs of potential erratic behavior, Hangman continues to set himself apart from what he’s referred to as his former friends but doing what he feels is right, not what he is told.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) March 1, 2020
So here we are today, two days removed from Revolution where Kenny and Hangman beat the best tag team in the world…yet, it did not look like it was cathartic for Page at all. At the end of the match, you could clearly see the divide, teased with a potential Buckshot Lariat in the manner in which Page held the top rope before opening them up for Kenny to exit the ring. Another seed has been planted, but will it lead to a heel turn? I for one like to look at things from a different lens; after all, Kenny has told us that every story has a Villain, and Page seems to be channelling one (CHICKEN WING!). I do not anticipate an immediate “heel” turn, however, I do see Page finally unleashing two years of pent up emotions that he continues to struggle to contain. Only time will tell what the outcome will be, nevertheless, I am here for it all.
All pics and videos courtesy of AEW