“They hand me my phone and my phone lights up and they say: ‘Is that your son? He’s cute! What’s his name?’
…and I didn’t know.”
Let me be honest with you. Back in October, when Hangman Page and Jon Moxley were set to square off over the AEW World Championship, I sat down to write and nothing came out. I admired the journey of Hangman Page: the anxious millennial cowboy (and I still do!) but something just felt off.
I wanted to preview the match and talk about how his momentum had really been halted following one of the greatest wrestling stories ever told leading him to the AEW World Championship. A story built on emotion, betrayal, and glory, Hangman Page had reached the mountain top yet his success was cast aside in favour of features such as the CM Punk/ MJF storyline and more exciting action in the tag team division.
His title reign wasn’t bad, it ticked boxes such as quality in-ring action and crowd support upon arrival but name me one epic feud or jaw-dropping promo from that time that is remembered for more than accidentally annoying CM Punk and coming up in a media scrum later on. It was always going to be hard for AEW to maintain the level of quality in and out of the ring that was being shown during the peak of his storyline (see Wardlow’s momentum post the MJF feud or Hook’s inconsistency following his debut), but it still felt underwhelming.
Like I said, I missed my imposed deadline to get the ‘Hangman’ Adam Page feature to WrestlePurists in time for upload and the half I’d written never came out. Yet, when the bell rang for the start of Hangman Page vs Jon Moxley on October 18, I was drawn in. I’m a wrestling fan, I love watching and writing about wrestling and I knew that, while Hangman was unlikely to win and take home the belt, I was about to see some high quality wrestling.
For about ten minutes, I was correct. I saw some exceptional professional wrestling that descended into an outright brawl at times. You know what’s coming, though. Moxley going into the corner and hitting a lariat (as standard a move as you’re likely to see in a match) and Hangman Page’s head hitting the mat, making him lay motionless.
It was a scary situation. Pro wrestling is dangerous, as fans we all know this and some of us will admit that the violence is part of the appeal. Though, we fall in love with the wrestlers as people and seeing a team of doctors immediately come out to help Hanger out of the ring and onto a stretcher is always a terrifying heartbreaker.
Many weeks went by before we learned anything about the condition of Page. We all assumed a bad head blow like that would be an indefinite absence that we wouldn’t see the end of for quite a while. But, to the surprise of many, as Jon Moxley was cutting a promo talking about how no one is on his level, Hangman Page came down to the ring. This wasn’t that long after the initial injury and the commentators were desperate to put over how even they were in the dark as to whether the cowboy was allowed to be out here or if he had gone against doctor’s orders and wasn’t cleared.
“Are you sure you want to do this man, after what happened last time?”
“Oh I’m sorry, do you not remember last time?”
Immediately, Page was subject to a joke from Jon Moxley.
It wasn’t until a backstage segment a few weeks later that Page revealed the true effects of his blow to the head. He had received an outpouring of love and support from the entire wrestling community and, when a doctor brought this to his attention, Adam had to unlock his phone. The doctor had been asking the injured star questions to test the limit of his memory and to that point, he had got them all correct. He knew the date, who he was wrestling and the city they were in but, as the doctor noticed the picture on his phone wallpaper, Adam could not recall his own son’s name.
That’s why vengeance mattered to Hangman. Yeah, of course, injuries and accidents are a part of wrestling. As the phrase goes, ‘it ain’t ballet, folks’. But, Hangman had suffered genuine trauma which caused him to lose the core memory of his child even just for a few minutes. To march up to the man who brought this upon him, and joked about it without a hint of remorse, fueled his fire. Mox was right, injuries happen and he’s paid to fight, but Page was crushed by the undermining and unserious remarks he was met with following such emotional hurt.
That led us to the LA Dynamite. Following weeks of brawls on AEW TV, last night’s Dynamite finally staged a scheduled match between the two. The thing is, you can understand why both men feel as if they’re in the right and so they have more drive to not be outdone by the other.
The brawling started within an instant of the opening bell which set the tone for the rest of the affair. This was incredibly hard hitting and the competitors were circling around what happened to Page in October through repeated hard strikes to the head. They even had Hangman kick out of a piledriver at one as a major middle finger to Moxley and all his head-related offence throughout the night. Like three months ago, I knew I was sitting down to watch some exceptional professional wrestling, but this one was so much different. Championships are obviously the most important thing in combat sports but there isn’t anything quite like two men with a genuine grudge and point to prove pushing each other to their respective limits.
In the end, it was Hangman Page who had his hand raised. Yet, he didn’t get to walk away completely happy. Mirroring the previous encounter, a doctor came to the ring to check on Jon Moxley. Hangman seemingly had a moment of reflection where he remembered what he had just come back from and wondered if he was going to put Moxley through the same pain.
There’s a golden opportunity here for AEW. Finally, Mox can go on his much-deserved vacation and he can sell the extent to which the match last night hurt him while Page continues to fight each week. Though, scared to death of putting another human being through the emotional turmoil he experienced, Hangman can have a spell of ‘pulling his punches’ so to speak, unsure of where the line is between being a performing professional wrestler and a killer.
Let’s revisit this at Revolution with two polar opposite characters joined together by accidental pain. This was exceptional and none of it was supposed to happen. Genuinely incredible.