Before he even won the AEW World title, Hangman Page knew who his first challenger would be. Bryan Danielson wasn’t expecting Page to beat Kenny Omega, and his condescending congratulations started a heel turn. Since then, Page has been told to sit by while Danielson ran through his friends in Dark Order.
On Dec. 15 at “Winter is Coming”, the Cowboy champion got a chance to shut the American Dragon up — and prove he was a deserving champ by beating one of the best to ever do it. He didn’t have to wait long to do it, either. Page vs. Danielson was the opener of Dynamite.
The Garland, Texas crowd was loud, and firmly in Hangman’s corner during the entrances. During the opening lock-up, the Curtis Culwell Center busted out dueling chants for both champion and challenger. Danielson’s cockiness and mind games made him hard to cheer for, but a significant portion of the fans stayed in his corner.
It didn’t seem to get into Page’s head. Bryan’s technical knowledge and experience advantage served him well, though. The champ didn’t get rattled and fired back with big shots (mostly boots, with a few lariats thrown in).
Hangman outsmarts and outquicks The American Dragon. Watch #AEW World Champion @theAdamPage vs @bryandanielson NOW on #AEWDynamite #WinterIsComing LIVE everywhere on @tntdrama! pic.twitter.com/ydmFb3Jwg8— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 16, 2021
But after getting caught on the receiving end of some ground & pound softened up his mid-section, then taking a kick to the gut when Danielson countered a move off the top — Hangman’s reign looked like it could be a short one.
After a commercial break at around the 20 minute mark of the match, Page was able to turn the tide. Big moves took their toll on both competitors...
... and took us into a back-and-forth stretch with numerous pinning predicaments. Right before a second break, the challenger again took control. First, Danielson sent Page crashing shoulder first onto the apron with a shove while he was setting up for a move from the top.
Then, he sent him shoulder — and face — first into the ring post, busted the Cowboy open.
The medical team spent the commercial checking on Page. He was cleared to continue, but he may have wished he hadn’t been as Danielson focused his attacks on the champ’s body, shoulder, and bloody forehead. Hangman wasn’t able to get much offense going as the match approached the 40 minute mark, but he refused to stay down, or bow out when referee Paul Turner asked if he could continue.
Another change in momentum came when the challenger was delivering his signature YES! kicks on the apron. Page slipped under one, and the Dragon’s leg cracked off the ring post. It was the same leg that Bryan has been saying was tweaked in his match with Dark Order’s John Silver last Wednesday.
Cowboy Shit meant focusing on that wounded knee in every way he could. As the clock kept ticking and Page vs. Danielson entered record books as the longest match in Dynamite history, the two men traded blows in the middle of the ring. Then they traded bigger moves.
The Dragon almost made the champ pass out in a triangle, but Hangman got to the ropes. Bryan kicked out of a tombstone piledriver. A backdrop suplex from Danielson put both men down. The champ hit Deadeye on the apron, then went for the killshot with an axe handle from the top to the floor. Unfortunately, all he got was the table... right on his damaged shoulder.
During another commercial, Bryan DDT-ed the champ onto the exposed concrete. When he went for a pin in the ring, Page fired back with a suplex. The story at the end was that Danielson couldn’t get all of his kicks because of his knee, and Page couldn’t get all of his lariat because of his shoulder.
Another superplex attempt took us to the 55 minute mark. The champ somehow landed on his feet, and nailed a buckshot lariat.
The exhausted combatants traded forearms, which led to a series of roll-ups, then more strikes! A frustrated Danielson kicked the champ’s head in, then gave him the finger. Page finally nailed Deadeye, but the Dragon kicked out! He was left woozy after Hangman kicked the challenger’s head in, but not so woozy he couldn’t counter another lariat into a LeBell Lock.
Page survived that, and managed to catapult the challenger into the ropes. He hit a lariat, but wanted his full finisher. He hit it, but it didn’t leave him enough time to get three. The match ended in a 60 minute time limit draw.
The crowd didn’t like it, and chanted for “five more minutes”. But they weren’t unhappy, and like me, they’ll be tuning in for the inevitable rematch.
Get complete results and coverage of everything that happened on the “Winter is Coming” edition of Dynamite here.