Hangman Adam Page and his glorified path to nowhere


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The year is 2019. On the pre-show of AEW's inaugural pay-per-view event, Hangman Adam Page wins a battle royal featuring mid-card and lower-tier talent to earn a world title match he'd go on to lose.

More than three years later, on AEW's B-show Rampage, Hangman Adam Page wins a battle royal featuring mid-card and lower-tier talent to earn a world title match that he's likely to lose.

Once considered the future of the business, Adam Page is now riding on a horse with no name on a glorified trip to nowhere.

Since AEW's start, Page has been portrayed as a drunk, a fun-loving guy doing cowboy shit, an anxious millennial, and has served as a friend, mentor, and partner to the Dark Order. Thanks to CM Punk, Page has recently been painted as an unprofessional colleague who may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, to put it kindly.

Along the way, Page became AEW World Champion, though his road to the title was less than spectacular following paternity leave, and his reign as champ came with faint praise. Following his title loss to Punk in May at Double or Nothing, Page has been an afterthought.

Page has wrestled ten times on AEW programming since, coming out on the losing end in four of those encounters, two of which were in world title situations on pay-per-view.

Before his most recent in-ring appearance on Dynamite, a defeat at the hands of Bryan Danielson during AEW's tournament to crown a new world champion, Page's last outing on AEW's flagship show was a victory over grizzled Ring of Honor veteran Silas Young back in June.

Sadly, if it weren't for Punk's unflattering words, All Elite's resident cowhand might not even be a blip on fans' radar.

It would seem that Page's fall off a cliff began just before losing the world title. During a promo battle with Punk, Page made what seemed like a dismissive but innocuous comment suggesting what Punk was really like backstage. No one could imagine the firestorm that would come following Page's line.

After sitting on the sidelines for months following a foot injury, Punk finally got his revenge on Page by going off-script and challenging Hangman to a match. Because the moment wasn't pre-planned, Page looked like a fool when he didn't respond to Punk's challenge despite efforts to cover for him later.

Weeks later, during a media scrum following the All Out pay-per-view, Punk continued his verbal assault on Page. Among his grievances, Punk took exception to comments Page made over the summer about taking advice from veterans of the sport.

"Oh boy, I don’t know, I’m stubborn, I don’t take advice. It’s a good question and that’s probably the honest answer. I listen to people say things, but very rarely do I listen hard. I was part of the movement that created the entire company and I’m a world champion. I don’t know that I need their advice. I’ll certainly listen, but there is something to be said about trial and error and doing it on your own. I take more pride in that."

(H/T: Inside The Ropes for the transcription)

While Page's words partly validate Punk's estimation of him, they also reveal a degree of arrogance.

All Elite Wrestling was built and funded by Tony Khan, and marketed to the masses off the indy buzz of its initial cornerstones: Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks - Matt and Nick Jackson. Page, one could argue, was simply along for the ride. Despite receiving glowing words at AEW's initial press conference, Page has yet to reach the status of his more famous friends.

Though he does have a world title under his hat, that alone doesn't cut it. Actor David Arquette is also a former world champion, but he is neither revered nor beloved like Stone Cold Steve Austin or Bruno Sammartino. Conversely, men like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Scott Hall never held pro wrestling's highest honor, yet they are two of its most iconic stars.

With the careers of his friends in flux and facing the likelihood of being on the losing end of another world title match, Page needs to re-evaluate his career and goals. His path in recent years has been a complicated circle rather than a straight shot to the top.

Unless Page wants to win another mid-card battle royal for the right to put over Tony Khan's next champion in three years, maybe he should consider taking some of that veteran advice.

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