Paging the Hangman: The Long Road to the Top for Adam Page

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Photo: Scott Lesh / 724 Ringside Photography

For some, “Hangman” Adam Page is the indie star who was in the right place at the right time and has ridden the coat tails of the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes to superstardom in the world of professional wrestling. But the 27-year-old is a 10-year veteran of the indies who has worked long hours and longer roads, paying his dues in regional indies, working to get to the positions that have placed him in moments of opportunity. There was no favoritism here – he earned ever high spot he received and has made every moment count, from his time in the Mid Atlantic indies to his shot in Ring of Honor, to becoming one of the unsung heroes and bright spots of Bullet Club‘s explosion into a pop culture phenomenon. As one of the faces expected to lead the new All Elite Wrestling – he is part of the first match ever announced for AEW, a singles match against Dragon Gate champion PAC (formerly WWE’s Neville) – Page has paved a road for himself that started as dirt and has ended in gold.

Adam Page started out training under WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Valiant, debuting with the Carolina Wrestling Federation (CWF) Mid Atlantic in 2009 at 17 years old. As a young pupil of the sport, he found himself in tag teams early on, beginning with the Virginia (VA) Bombers, alongside another mentor, Jimmy Blade. For a few years, the VA Bombers would come close to winning the CWF Mid Atlantic Tag Team titles, but they always seemed just out of reach. But in 2011, they finally won the straps, holding them for 224 days. Page had become a star.

That same year, he began to work for another Mid Atlantic promotion in North Carolina’s Premiere Wrestling Xperience (PWX), where he worked more on his singles game. He also began to work dark matches for ROH and ventured into the Northeast with Connecticut’s Northeast Wrestling (NEW). By 2012, he began working with EVOLVE Wrestling as well and began to start making television with ROH, although in more of an enhancement role.

In 2013, he entered the ROH Top Prospects tournament but was eliminated before the semi-finals. He would also enter the CHIKARA Young Lions Cup XI in 2014, once again eliminated before the semis. But he remained determined and in his other indies, he was still flourishing. He had a 119-day reign as CWF Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Champion in 2012, and from 2014 through 2015, he won the PWX Tag Team titles alongside Corey Hollis in Country Jacked.

In 2014, he finally got his first proper storyline in ROH, when he became a target of BJ Whitmer‘s faction, The Decade, that also included Jimmy Jacobs and Roderick Strong. But by March, he conceded to the group, joining them as their “young boy”. Whitmer’s overprotection lead to dissension in the Decade, and after a falling out with Page, Roderick Strong was kicked out of the stable. Hoping to replicate his success with Page, Whitmer recruited Colby Corino, the son of ROH commentator (and now NXT Producer/Trainer) Steve Corino. Whitmer’s new entourage in the Decade didn’t sit well with Jacobs, who also left the group. Jacobs and Strong’s suspicions proved correct, as Page would finally turn on Whitmer, leading to his first major feud in ROH, and turning Page face in the process.

In the spring of 2016, at ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds in Dearborn, Michigan, ROH veterans The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe), Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) and Colt Cabana faced a Bullet Club squad of Adam Cole, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) and the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) in an epic 10-man tag match. With the Bullet Club on a beat down following the match, Page came out to seemingly help the ROH stable save face. But instead, Page allied with Bullet Club, producing his now infamous noose and hanging Sabin in the ring. “The Hangman” was born.

At first, it was a universally lauded move. While in previous recruits, Bullet Club had gone after more established stars like the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Adam Cole and AJ Styles, the still virtually unknown Adam Page seemed an odd choice. He was barely over from his Whitmer feud and was still a much-untapped prospect for fans who were unaware of his Mid Atlantic roots. It took time for Page to gain the trust of the Bullet Club fans, but when he did, his rocket to stardom was clear.

The new aggressive side of Adam Page became a firecracker in the unit and in ROH. His confidence blossomed and grew, and people became more aware of one of the most underrated and unheralded high flyers of the past five years. And it wasn’t just his athleticism that caught people’s attention. Joining the cast of the Young Bucks’ YouTube series Being The Elite, Hangman Page began to bustle with personality and rugged charm, gaining a whole new set of eyes and appreciation.

In 2018 he saw himself entered into his first NJPW G1 Climax Series, and months previously, he captured his first set of titles in Bullet Club, as one-third of the ROH 6-Man Tag Team Champions alongside the Jacksons in a unit affectionately referred to as the Hung Bucks. His year-long story with the “murder” of Joey Ryan was a hilarious highlight of 2018’s Being The Elite season, culminating in a fantastic appearance by Joey Ryan and his Penis Druids at All In, following a victory over Joey Janela in a street fight.

By the end of 2018, it was revealed that the cast of Being The Elite – The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega and Adam Page – would not be re-signing with ROH or NJPW for 2019 (fellow castmate Marty Scurll would sign an extension with ROH through April of this year). Immediately the reports of WWE’s interest in acquiring Page for NXT ran rampant. Page reportedly turned it down to remain loyal to The Elite and now it’s paid off. After the Bucks, Omega and Cody all spurned WWE offers themselves, it was announced on January 1, 2019, that the Bucks and Cody were starting All Elite Wrestling with billionaire Tony Khan and Page was joining AEW instead.

At the first rally for AEW, after Page’s introduction, he was interrupted by PAC in a situation that would lead to the announcement a few days ago that Page vs PAC at AEW Double or Northing would be going down, marking a historic moment as AEW’s first ever announced match. While running into The Elite in ROH certainly fast-tracked Adam Page’s ascension into the upper echelon of indie talent in the US, it was by no means an “overnight success” or “riding of the coattails”. It was a dedication to his craft, instilled in his bones by “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, nurtured in the Mid Atlantic nights with CWF Mid Atlantic and PWX halls, and exposed during his earliest days in ROH. Adam Page was always going to do this and make his mark. Now he’s just doing it as one of the Elite.

Photo: AEW

 

 

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