In professional wrestling, the most compelling storylines are those that contain an element of truth.
In their first confrontation, Swerve Strickland said he was ashamed of “executioner” Adam Page. With every word that followed, he delved deeper into what the former AEW World Champion has become. Swerve questioned how Hangman went from a company cornerstone to wrestling during the pre-show, and said he lost his fire.
That last part, to some extent, was true.
His program with CM Punk ended with Page relinquishing the AEW title, and rumors swirled about the rocky dynamic behind the scenes between Punk and the Elite (Page, Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks).
Page has spent much of the last year in and out of short-lived rivalries. He found himself in tag and trio fights with the Dark Order, reunited with the Elite to take on Blackpool Combat Club, and eventually landed in the Over Budget Charity Battle Royal pre-show, making not part of the main card of AEW All Out.
One of the faces of the promotion and a beloved wrestler among AEW fans, Page says he was frustrated and considered all of his options, even the most unrealistic ones, like briefly stepping away from the roster to crop his way forward.
“At the lowest point of all of this over the last couple of years, what I don’t want to say kept me motivated, but kept me going, was that I knew I had to keep doing “It was to support my family. It wasn’t something I could walk away from,” Page tells Uproxx Sports introspectively.
“And I kind of found that deep down, knowing that I was going to continue to do this, knowing that deep down there was still a part of me that appreciated and loved it,” he continues. “I needed to dedicate myself to it more. Because if I’m going to be here, I better have fun and enjoy it. That’s what all of this is, for better or worse – (and it) has been a lot of horrible shit that has happened – but for better or worse, it has helped me in many ways to really feel something again.
Now the hanged man is flying again. This is evident in the way he spoke and carried himself from the moment he clashed in the ring with Strickland, with the payoff coming Saturday night in a Texas Death Match at AEW Full Gear at Los Angeles.
“I needed to be challenged mentally,” he says. “I needed something to really sink my teeth into and rediscover some passion and desire that had maybe kind of gone away over the last year and a half. (Strickland) said some things that were hard to hear, but I needed to hear them and I’m very glad I did because it motivated me to fix those things. All the things that have happened since then have been an even greater motivation to be my best self.
Page’s motivation for Saturday couldn’t be higher, as he takes Swerve’s words and actions — which include breaking into his house — to this ultimate resolution.
“In the first (Texas Death Match), I was challenged, a little terrified by the prospect. But I found my marks very quickly. I didn’t sink, I swam, I thrived. I eventually discovered that it was a tool for me to escape the way I normally try to conduct myself,” Page continues.
“I think wrestling is a very honorable thing. I think it’s something very sacred,” he continues. “And it was hard for me at first to walk away from that for a while. You know, there are no rules, violence flows freely. But once I discovered that I liked it and that it was just a moment that came and went and I could put it aside for the rest of my life, I discovered that I loved it and that it was a tool when someone took things too far or someone had to be taken care of, it was a way for me to manage them.
Page’s take on wrestling formed a natural connection with The Elite early in his career. Although their lives are very different, the group shares the same beliefs inside and outside the squared circle.
“(In wrestling), there should be something for everyone and a little bit of everything, and I think we all collectively believe that there really is no right or wrong way to do it,” said Page said. “It’s not science, it’s an art and whatever your art is, you have to pursue it and do it the way you want. Ultimately, I think it’s kind of something that brought us closer together as wrestlers. The way we see things, do things, our view of wrestling as an art is different and that has led us in slightly different directions at the moment.
“We all have the same beliefs, morally about people, that no matter what, people should be treated with dignity, respect, and you should appreciate what they bring to the table, whatever that is.” , he continues. “That’s something I’ve always appreciated about Matt, Nick and Kenny as well. They always treated people well, treated them with kindness.
Their views on wrestling and life are what collectively led them to make the decision to stay in AEW. Page says they felt like four voices were louder than one when negotiating their deals. He pointed out that they traveled side by side on a journey that included a number of stops – at New Japan, Ring of Honor and the early days of AEW.
“It felt like a big adventure, and it wasn’t an adventure we wanted to do together,” he says. “So whatever we did next, we knew we wanted to do it together.”
That adventure continues on Saturday, where Hangman says he plans to take care of business against Swerve.
“I fully intend to finish it for good on Saturday,” he said. “Once I can put an end to this, for me, I feel like now I’m in a very different place than I was over the last year and a half, and I feel extremely motivated and I know that once my current goal is achieved, (winning the world title again) will be my next.
Hangman says winning the championship was a very special moment for him. He was the fourth champion in the promotion’s history after Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley and Omega, and the gravity of being at the top of the AEW food chain is not something that is lost on him.
But the head that wears the crown is heavy, and even Page admits that the physical and mental strain became overwhelming, going so far as to admit that he was “so immersed in it…almost too much.”
As time passed, however, he had the opportunity to reflect on his fate as champion. And in doing so, he is able to look back on what he has accomplished and hold his head high, while feeling a sense of excitement about what his future holds.
“It was all taxing on my body, on my mind, on every aspect of life you can imagine,” he says. “Looking back on it, I can always say… I wish I had done something differently or this or that or that it had ended this way or that way. But I’m not going to do that. I’m proud of it. That’s more than most wrestlers have accomplished in their lifetime. I should be proud of it and I am proud of it. And I can’t wait to do it again. »
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