Quick Takes: AEW's Hangman Page Must Join Dark Order, Stagnant AJ Styles, More
On an otherwise lackluster edition of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, "Hangman" Adam Page was once again the highlight of the night when he and The Dark Order kicked off the show in an eight-man tag team action against The Hybrid2 and Chaos Project.
Despite Page turning down Dark Order's offer to join their ranks, it seems to be more a matter of when than whether he will come around to aligning himself with the faction. It would make for the perfect pairing and be the best thing for everyone involved.
Much like Page, WWE's AJ Styles finds himself equally directionless. He's won almost all of his matches since arriving on the Raw roster in October and even came close to capturing WWE Championship at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view yet doesn't have an obvious storyline awaiting him on the Road to WrestleMania.
A star of Styles' caliber shouldn't be without a meaningful match at 'Mania, but his dance partner for The Show of Shows is in question. In the meantime, he needs something significant he can sink his teeth into to avoid feeling stagnant.
This week's installment of Quick Takes will address what the immediate future could have in store for Styles along with why Page becoming a member of Dark Order is a must. Other topics include Damian Priest's pending call-up to the main roster, Private Party cementing their status as heels and a possible in-ring return for Adam Pearce on SmackDown.
Adam Page Must Eventually Join Dark Order
At this time a year ago, the idea of "Hangman" Adam Page joining The Dark Order would have been laughable because of how bland the group was back then. It was even hinted at that he could have been The Exalted One before it was revealed to be Brodie Lee on the March 18, 2020 episode of Dynamite.
Page has had an incredible character arc since then, filled with highs and lows that have included the AEW World Tag Team Championship and leaving The Elite. That was part of the reason why he didn't want to say yes to Dark Order's recent proposal—he didn't want to end up disappointed again.
That isn't to say he won't don Dark Order's colors eventually. In fact, it needs to happen sooner rather than later. The chemistry he has with John Silver and Alex Reynolds specifically, as seen on Wednesday's Dynamite and on Being The Elite, is too strong for him not to join.
If Page remains a solo act, there isn't much for him at the moment. Getting back into the AEW World Championship picture and rekindling his rivalry with Kenny Omega is the obvious endgame, but he needs direction for the foreseeable future, and linking up with Dark Order would accomplish that.
The faction has come a long way from when it debuted in AEW, largely thanks to its entertaining skits on Being The Elite and Brodie Lee's leadership prior to his death. Dark Order are basically babyfaces at this point, and with Page being as popular as he is, the pairing makes sense.
How WWE Can Properly Build to Adam Pearce's in-Ring Return
After spending six years behind the scenes with WWE, Adam Pearce has burst into the spotlight on SmackDown recently and finds himself the center of attention more often than not. There was no exception Friday, when he was challenged to a fight in the main event by Paul Heyman.
Unsurprisingly, the bout never came to fruition, though Pearce did take some abuse at Roman Reigns' hands. Earlier in the evening, Reigns acknowledged Pearce's past as a wrestler, noting that he hadn't competed in a formal match since 2014.
That was the first mention of Pearce's history inside the squared circle on WWE TV, which couldn't have been a coincidence. Having been all over SmackDown in the angle between Reigns and Kevin Owens, Pearce deserves to have at least one actual match on the show, and it needs to be built up properly.
If Pearce were positioned as someone without any credibility, then it would be difficult for fans to care about him putting the boots back on for one night. As a former NWA worlds heavyweight champion, he had a successful career before retiring from the ring and should be able to hold his own before losing.
Pearce vs. Reigns wasn't the right fit for the Royal Rumble, but it would be perfectly acceptable as a SmackDown main event. Whether that's where WWE is headed remains to be seen, but the longer Reigns and Co. bully Pearce, the more fans will want to see him give The Tribal Chief some comeuppance.
Damian Priest Needs Direction from the Get-Go on SmackDown
All signs sure seem to point to Damian Priest being SmackDown-bound sooner rather than later.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio reported that plans were in place for Priest to debut on the New Year's Day edition of SmackDown alongside Kevin Owens in his rivalry with Roman Reigns. However, Owens and Reigns nixed the idea as they felt it wouldn't have made any sense—and they were right.
Priest presumably wrapped up his NXT stint at New Year's Evil when he was decisively defeated by Karrion Kross. Rey Mysterio teased bringing in backup against King Corbin recently, which could be one way for Priest to arrive on the roster.
Regardless of how and when he debuts, WWE must have something in mind for him from the start. Far too often, call-ups from NXT fade into obscurity because they are directionless upon arriving. That shouldn't be the case with a talent as special as Priest.
At some point, the former NXT North American champion could make for a fun challenger to Reigns' Universal Championship, but there's no reason to rush into that. A feud with Corbin, Aleister Black, Cesaro or another upper-tier heel would be a logical use of him and at least ensure he doesn't get lost in the shuffle too quickly.
AEW Turning Private Party Heel Alongside Matt Hardy Was the Right Move
It was a big week for AEW's Private Party between their wins on Dark and Dynamite, as well as their surprise appearance on Tuesday's Impact Wrestling. It was there that they beat Chris Sabin and James Storm to earn themselves a shot at the Impact World Tag Team Championship.
More importantly, the duo has finally turned heel after cheating to beat Matt Sydal and Top Flight on Dynamite. Hardy has been a heel for a few months now, so turning Private Party was necessary.
Although Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy are natural babyfaces and were over with the audience pre-pandemic, they haven't had anything going for them in a while. They scored a huge victory over The Young Bucks in the first round of the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament back in October 2019, but there was zero follow-up, and they have been treading water ever since.
Even the alliance with Hardy didn't make much of a difference early on, at least until Hardy started to revert back to his "Big Money Matt" persona from his Ring of Honor and Impact days. With Hardy doing the best character work of his AEW run to date, it only made sense for Private Party to follow his lead and change up their characters.
In the ring, Private Party have always been second to none, but they have never been properly showcased until now. As heels, they are in the perfect position to succeed and rekindle their rivalry with The Young Bucks, this time over the tag titles.
In a loaded tag team division, the turn should allow Private Party to break away from the rest of the pack.
What Does WWE Have in Store for AJ Styles at WrestleMania 37?
AJ Styles is a rare case of someone who was the face of an opposing promotion for many years, signed with WWE and achieved similar levels of success. Since debuting at the Royal Rumble five years ago Sunday, he has had five marquee matches at WrestleMania, and all of them have been in singles competition.
His latest 'Mania match against The Undertaker was widely regarded as being among the best bouts of the year for WWE and was positioned as the main event for Night 1 of WrestleMania 36. Although it will be tough for him to top that this year, Styles should still be featured prominently on the card.
The question is, who would make for the perfect opponent for Styles on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
He's been spinning his wheels since failing to become WWE champion in December but has been protected enough to the point it's apparent WWE is building him up for something notable. A Royal Rumble win for The Phenomenal One isn't likely, but that should be where we get a better idea of what's next for him.
Styles vs. Edge would be a fresh feud, but The Rated-R Superstar is bound to be busy with Randy Orton at WrestleMania. He's already either feuded with or beaten the rest of the roster, so it's possible WWE has another name in mind that fans aren't thinking of.
Either way, Styles' winning ways should be leading somewhere. He's above meaningless matches with Elias, Drew Gulak and Ricochet, no matter how entertaining they are, and he shouldn't be in the midcard for much longer.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.