Exclusive: 'Hangman' Adam Page on Being AEW World Champ, Bryan Danielson, More

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2021

Exclusive: 'Hangman' Adam Page on Being AEW World Champ, Bryan Danielson, More

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    On November 13 at Full Gear, "Hangman" Adam Page defeated Kenny Omega to become the new AEW world heavyweight champion.

    For many fans, this moment felt like the conclusion to a story that had been building for the past two years between the two former tag team partners in All Elite Wrestling.

    After a successful run as AEW tag team champions, Omega and Page went their separate ways. The latter aligned himself with The Dark Order while the former remained close to the rest of The Elite. Their paths have crossed before, but Page was finally able to get the win at last month's pay-per-view.

    We talked to the champion about what it meant to win the title, what the future holds for him, what it's like working with The Dark Order, his upcoming match against Bryan Danielson for the belt at Winter Is Coming, and much more. 

Winning the AEW World Heavyweight Championship

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Page's journey in AEW has had its fair share of ups and downs.

    However, two years after missing out on the title to Chris Jericho, the 30-year-old has finally achieved his goal. 

    "It's an incredible feeling, a validating feeling," Page said. "I think when AEW started, I was not yet in the wrestling world, a main event guy, or hadn't been. And I've had opportunities here and there.

    "But I did want to go ahead and say from the beginning at the AEW press conference, that's who I wanted to become. And that's who I promised I would become. And it took a bit longer. It's certainly not the journey I imagined it would be. But I think the journey is what makes it special."

What Pro Wrestling Means to Hangman

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    For many wrestlers, the idea of professional wrestling means something different. Each competitor has their own idea of what the business should be and how their career should go.

    Part of what makes it such a popular form of entertainment is that it appeals to a wide variety of people for different reasons.

    "The things that I liked about wrestling might not necessarily be the things that other people like about wrestling, and that's great," Page said. "I think that's what makes it interesting. It makes our show, Dynamite, different. Because we're allowed to be ourselves and kind of put our vision for what wrestling could be, at least for us, out there kind of untethered."

    For many years, pro wrestling was relatively similar across promotions. Each company had its own unique feel, but they didn't do much to present the product in different ways.

    For Page, he is happy that AEW gives him a chance to play around with different styles and try new things with his character.

    "I think, honestly, a lot of times wrestling sucks, it's stupid," he said. "There's one guy and another guy and there's a fight. And it's clear that this is the guy you're supposed to go 'Yeah!' and this is the guy you're supposed to boo, and it's just lame sometimes. And I think a lot of the things that maybe the average person who is not a wrestling fan will make fun of wrestling for, a lot of this wrestling just plays into those things and doesn't try to escape that box.

    "I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to just kind of do my own thing and, at least in my own way, feel like I can break out of that mold a bit of what people think wrestling is. It's one of my more favorite things about wrestling. It exists. You know, it doesn't just exist in that two-hour TV slot.

    "These wrestlers, they exist out on Twitter and see what they have to say about X, Y, or Z during the day or they have blogs where they have what they feel as real living, breathing characters who exist not just on their show. And I think that's really cool, and in a lot of ways, unique to wrestling."

Facing Bryan Danielson at Winter Is Coming

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    Page will defend the AEW World Championship against Bryan Danielson on Wednesday's special Winter Is Coming episode of Dynamite.

    While you might think facing someone who is often called the best in the world would be intimidating, the titleholder is going into it feeling more excited than anything else.

    "Well, I faced someone who has often been called the best in the world at Full Gear and beat him quicker than when Bryan ultimately wasn't able to," Page said. "So there's pressure, but not insurmountable pressure.

    "I think I'm more excited for the match than I would have been a year or two ago. I feel good now about who I am as a wrestler, and I'm more excited for the match than anything. It's not something that I anticipated or had even crossed my mind as a possibility until the day after Full Gear. But now we're here and I'm honestly kind of tired of waiting."

Working with The Dark Order

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    After Page left The Elite, he found refuge with one of the least likely groups on the roster, The Dark Order.

    While he has never officially become a member with his own number, Hangman has found a kinship with the group.

    "Once mine and Kenny's tag team fell apart, the only natural next thing for me to do was something with [The Dark Order]," Page said. "And whichever twists and turns that took, those twists and turns came naturally. But it was the only reasonable thing that I think there was for me to do at that time, and I'm glad. All those guys are great. I love working with them. They get it.

    "There's a lot of times when I want to explain something that I want to do, something complicated or weird or it's not typical pro wrestling, and they're totally on board with it, which I'm grateful for. Because a lot of times the wrestlers get stuck in like, 'This is what wrestling is supposed to be.' And it's kind of hard to imagine something being a little different, but they totally get it and are cool with it. So they've been really great to work with."

Where Does Hangman Go from Here?

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    For any pro wrestler, winning a world title is going to be one of the crowning achievements of their entire career.

    Once they reach that milestone, though, they have to start thinking about what other goals they want to accomplish. 

    "Where do I go from here? It's a tough question," Page said. "Immediately, I want to defend this championship frequently, as often as I can. And I think I've been a little pissed off about not having that opportunity yet. I have a No. 1 contender who is dead set on fighting all my friends before he fights me for some reason. So I'm sitting here waiting for the first defense.

    "I don't know if that's an attempt at mind games, or trying to build the confidence within himself that maybe he doesn't realize. But I do want to defend the championship every chance I get. I know that I will not hold this for the rest of my life, but I’d like to try. In a larger sense, winning AEW World Championship is the mountain top. It's the pinnacle achievement in wrestling right now. And I've managed to achieve that at 30."

    While winning the world title is a great accomplishment for someone who is still so young, Page is already thinking about how he can benefit the business as a whole moving forward. 

    "I would like to make wrestling better for the fans, and ultimately, for the wrestlers involved," he said. "I was very excited about the prospect of starting AEW three years ago when I got those first few phone calls, not just for fans and not just for me, but I knew what it meant for wrestlers.

    "There would be a dozen, hundreds, maybe more, guys who would be able to make a stable living at this when for so long so many people did this as a side job or do this and lose money. Ultimately, it'd be a place where people could have a real job doing this and not at the cost of other jobs.

    "So, at the end of the day, whenever that is, I would like to know that whatever I do next would ultimately help wrestling and help the wrestlers."

Cowboy S--t

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    Pro wrestling crowds have always been among the wildest and most passionate fanbases in existence, so when they find something they like, they will chant for it until they go hoarse.

    When it comes to Page, the AEW crowd likes to chant "Cowboy s--t" every chance it gets.

    "It's pretty cool. I think everybody just likes an excuse to say s--t," Page said. "So when you have a perfect excuse to scream 'Cowboy s--t,' it's kind of fun. So yeah, it's pretty cool. It's validating.

    "Two or three years ago when we started AEW and we were untethered, unrestrained and unscripted, we were just allowed to be ourselves. I would have been cool if I had put myself out there and was, over the years, wholly rejected.

    "I get to be myself. If it was rejected, that's fine, but it hasn't been. And there's really no more validating feeling that you can get professionally and personally than 10,000 people screaming 'Cowboy s--t.'"

Drink of Choice and Movie Review

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    Much like The Sandman and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Page has been known to enjoy a beverage from time to time.

    Believe it or not, though, he doesn't have a brand of choice when it comes to beer or whiskey.

    "Usually, it's whichever one's free. I don't care," Hangman laughed. "I'm not picky. I don't notice the difference a lot of times. I really don't give a s--t."

    We always wrap up our AEW interviews with a movie review. While Page's viewing habits have changed since becoming a father, he did single out one film he saw recently starring Paul Bettany. 

    "Oh, there was one. Uncle Frank," he said. "Maybe it was set in the 1970s. [It's about] this southern family and a guy who was gay who then moved away to New York. It was about his relationship with his family and coming back home. It's a really good movie. I watched it one night and then I just downloaded it on my phone and watched it again and cried again on a plane. It was a really good movie.

    "I liked it a lot. There are just some points in that movie that I related to a lot, like when he would come back from New York and the family would ask him some kind of question that you almost can't even understand what they're trying to ask because your lives are so different. I related to that a lot."

                                

    Hangman Page can be seen defending the AEW World Heavyweight Championship against Bryan Danielson on this week's Winter Is Coming episode of Dynamite.

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