Does anyone else remember the match between Jericho and Hangman Page to determine the inaugural AEW Champion at All Out 2019? Since the very inception of the promotion, it has seemed destined that Adam Page will end up as the top guy. While Page didn’t have the fan support, to begin with, he certainly does now. So you’ve got to ask: why hasn’t it happened yet? Let’s break it down.
What’s Happened So Far?
So, as has just been mentioned, Hangman Page was in the match to decide the inaugural AEW Champion at the first All Out pay-per-view on August 31st, 2019. Fan-favourite Chris Jericho won on the night -obviously, otherwise, this article would be looking pretty silly right now- and went on to hold the big belt for 182 days.
It was a conflicting decision to put the belt on Jericho. On one hand, putting the new title on a former-WWE journeyman like Jericho did make it look like AEW was playing second fiddle from the get-go. On the other hand, it gave the fledgling belt some much-needed prestige. The other-other hand, Hangman Page didn’t seem ready at the time and needed to garner some more fan support first. On the other-other-other hand, having Page as the first AEW Champion would’ve set a precedent going forward that AEW is its own entity with its own identity. That was too many hands.
Since the early days, Hangman Page has gone from bland babyface to inevitable main event hero. The fans love him, he has “the look”, and his in-ring ability has come along considerably. So maybe it’s time to pull the trigger on that title reign.
How Should It Go Down?
There’s been a long-running story building for ‘The Hangman’. He’s been conflicted. Struggling with friendships, alcoholism, and his own place in AEW. The story has built wonderfully since the very beginning, but that final step is still to come.
The arc of the plot seems to be: starting at the top of the card with The Elite as entourage, splitting away and reaching his lowest point, and finally, the road to redemption culminating in a feel-good title win. It’s a wonderful story and we’re just waiting for that final phase.
We’re at a perfect point to begin the build now. On the April 7th, 2021, episode of AEW Dynamite, The Young Bucks turned on Jon Moxley to realign with Kenny Omega. This new stable of mega-bastard Omega, The Bucks, The Good Brothers, and Don Callis -yes, another stable- would prove a perfect foil for an underdog Hangman Page building up a winning streak. He’d be conflicted having been a former friend, but if he hints at rejoining before valiantly turning them down then we have all the makings of an incredible title build.
He’s on his way too, currently topping the rankings as of April 7th, 2021. He could team up with Moxley to beat The Bucks and Good Brothers, maybe hold off a few Impact invaders brought in by Callis. The finale against Omega for a title with a returning near-capacity crowd down the line would likely be a match of the year contender. It’d have everything: the caliber of in-ring talent, the build, and, most importantly, the story. It’s exciting just thinking about it.
Where Do We Go From There?
It’s all well and good having a sublime title win if it doesn’t go anywhere. Jericho did it in WWE with his iconic Undisputed Title win, only to follow it up with an underwhelming run. André the Giant dethroned the four-year reign of Hogan and then tried to limply sell the belt to Ted DiBiase. So let’s take this as act two of our two-part play.
One way you could go with Hangman’s title run is to continue the theme of self-doubt, but maybe this time have the crowd support build him up mid-match -a bit like Hulking up, but with a bit more subtlety. Keep this going for a good hundred days or so before an uber-heel -possibly MJF- takes the belt away just as Page looked to be feeling confident again.
Or it could always be the case of the title win giving Page bags of confidence over the course of a lengthy reign, only for an up-and-comer to knock him down a peg or two; followed up by another rise from the bottom to prove himself. Though now that I think about it, that may be the plot of Rocky III. How do both these scenarios somehow link back to Hulk Hogan? Anyway.
There is a myriad of ways you can go with a Hangman Page title run. Whatever they may end up doing, as long as they’re clever with it, we’ll be in for a great time following the story of ‘The Hangman’.