One of AEW’s biggest strengths is long-term storytelling. Their longest story started way back in the beginning; Hangman Adam Page’s quest to become AEW World Champion. Page said that he would be the inaugural AEW World Champion, but that was not to be.
Let’s take look back at how the story has played out thus far,
AEW’s Anxious Millennial Cowboy
Page took the loss hard and eventually told The Elite that he wanted to distance himself from them as he didn’t feel worthy. He begrudgingly started to team with Kenny Omega and somehow they became tag team champions. Despite the underlying tension between them, they were an excellent team and had a great run. One of their best matches came against Elite brethren, the Young Bucks.
After losing the tag team titles, Hangman became increasingly isolated and began drinking more. He cost the Young Bucks a win in their title match and was kicked out of The Elite. During this period, Page became known as the “Anxious Millennial Cowboy”.
At Full Gear last year, Hangman faced Omega in the AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament to become the number one contender for the AEW World Championship. Omega defeated his former partner.
Hangman was recruited by the Dark Order but turned them down. He eventually let his guard down and became friends with them. They made him feel worthy and encouraged him to pursue the AEW World Championship again. By this time, Omega had the coveted prize.
This past July at Fight for the Fallen, Page, and members of the Dark Order faced off against Omega, the Young Bucks, and the Good Brothers. The stipulation was that if Page and Dark Order won, they would receive future title shots for the AEW World Championship and AEW Tag Team Championships, respectively. If they lost, they couldn’t challenge for any titles. Omega hit the One-Winged Angel on Page to keep his former tag team partner from getting a title shot against him.
Hangman Page believes in himself
After losing his title shot, Page took time off for the birth of his son. He made his triumphant return as the Joker in the Casino Ladder Match on October 6th. In the time that he was gone, AEW signed CM Punk, Adam Cole, and Bryan Danielson. If anyone was concerned that the fans would have forgotten about Hangman, the pop he got proved them wrong. The fans are very much behind Page and his story.
On Saturday Night Dynamite, Page gave an impassioned promo about his journey. He explained the essence of cowboy s–t , which is the essence of himself:
"“Cowboy s–t was taking my shot on Day One and telling you’d I’d be champion. Cowboy s–t was winning the tag team titles with Kenny Omega and defending them every chance that we got. Cowboy s–t was learning to let the past live in the past and accept new friends into my life. And cowboy s–t was taking my chance and putting it on the line and sticking my neck out for those who stuck their necks out for me so many times. And cowboy s–t was having the balls in the middle of the hottest run of my career to turn around and go back home to be there for the birth of a beautiful baby boy. That is cowboy s–t.”"
One year ago, Page lost the Number One contendership against Omega at Full Gear. In a full-circle moment, he has the chance to finally dethrone the man he once called his friend and his partner. Not only that but Full Gear was literally named for Page. Cody Rhodes made a joke on Being the Elite about Page always being in “full ring gear” due to not being in the best shape (according to Rhodes anyway). This led to the Full Gear Challenge, in which fans were invited to participate alongside Page to get in shape.
Hangman promised that “at Full Gear, I will give you everything. I will give you my heart, I will give you my soul. I will give you every fiber of my being, I will give you my blood, I will give you my sweat. And one way or another, I feel like I may give you my tears. The one thing though that I am 100 percent sure of about is that at Full Gear, I will give you cowboy s–t!”
AEW has done an excellent job with this story and it’s the perfect time for this chapter to culminate in Page finally winning the one thing that has escaped him in this company. The fans are itching for it to happen. For all of the above reasons, everything has aligned for Hangman to become the next AEW World Champion. If not now, when?