“Every living thing follows along a set path. And if you could see your path or channel, then you could see into the future.” -Richard Kelly
I begin this deep dive by expressing what I believe to be a universal truth…we are all destined. While greatness is not in the window for everybody it cannot be argued that eventually we all find our chosen road. Think of it as a door. On the other side is the person you were always meant to become. Sometimes the door never presents itself until you realize you’ve already gone through. And sometimes, if you are lucky, you might be able see the door from a distance, and begin turning the knob to take a peak at what is coming.
Adam Page was always destined for greatness.
The Hangman’s rise from Bullet Club lackey to AEW world champion will forever be one of the great pro-wresting payoffs of all-time. A story that will be dissected and revisited as often as possible, each rewatch revealing new details and hidden messages that remind those who love this sport of why they fell in love in the first place. The number of seeds planted along this two-plus year journey are hard to count, but there is one, in my opinion, that stands above the rest. One that was planted right before our very eyes. One that gave us a glimpse at an event that is unexplainable, a type of experience that transcends the simple art of wrestling.
Let us turn the pages of the opus back to the Wintrust Arena, to a chapter that on its own will forever live in the sky. Revolution 2020. The first Revolution.
“There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” -William Halsey
We all remember the match. The tag team contest for the ages, one that many have called the greatest of all-time, and a marquee milestone for the still adolescent AEW. The story of Page’s separation from the Elite, specifically the Bucks, was well underway by this point, and his popularity with the fans had grown to the star levels that were previously foretold by every top executive and talent the company had. From the beginning Page was viewed as the one member of the Elite who could really excel in the new promotion, as the rest were already well established. It was safe to say, even back in 2020 when his full potential hadn’t been unlocked, that the experiment was paying off.
To save time…we don’t have to reflect on the match itself. Why would we? What else is there to sing that hasn’t already been sung? Besides…the immediate aftermath has left a far deeper impression on my memory than the action that preceded it.
Omega shakes hands with the Bucks, refusing to allow his competitive nature push him away from two men he has grown with in more ways than can be described. He optimistically invites Page in to reconcile the Elite’s broken relationship, either out of an act of manipulation, or desperation. During one of the high points of the bout the Bucks reminded Omega, via knees to the face, about another important bond in his life that has become separated, Kota Ibushi. Regardless of his intentions…Omega seems adamant about reuniting the group to where they all were in the beginning. But Page is having none of it…he refuses the handshake, and begins to exit the ring while Omega and The Bucks, who had conveniently stood in a line for a teased triple-superkick, being their departure and opt to figure things out on another day.
However…it is this next sequence…that lingers in my mind.
There was Page…standing at the apron after a war with his former “best” friends. He should be celebrating, especially after being the key reason that he and Omega still carry tag team gold, but he appears to be somewhere else mentally, barely focused on the triumph he just achieved. It is well known that the Hangman has become obsessed with his failures over the years, he himself admitting that there’s still that little voice in his head that always screams “you are not worthy…you cannot succeed.” This is not only Page’s most relatable trait as a human being, but is a demon that attempts to haunt him even when he stands at the top of the mountain.
Then something peculiar happens. Page turns towards the ring where Omega still stands facing the opposite direction. He appears to be in some sort of trance, giving a Medusa-esque stare to his partner, refusing to look away as if to assure that he turns to stone. He slowly sinks to drop his title on the apron…an action that everyone but Omega seems to notice. What is about to happen? Will Page destroy the last piece of his relationship with the Elite, pushing away a partner at the height of their greatest defense? His rise back to full height is done at the same speed, and never does he break his gaze, almost like he knows something about Omega that others don’t.
Page has seen the door to his destiny, and this is when he decided to peak behind it.
The art of this moment is Page’s subtlety. He never attracts Omega’s attention with anything he does, nor is this moment for the crowd or the fans watching at home. This is purely for himself. Both his hands gently grab the top rope, the set-up to what has become his devastating lights-out finisher, the Buckshot Lariat. This move used to be a just a transitional one for Page during his NJPW/ROH days, but his rebirth in AEW has turned it into his staple match closer, the very one he used to defeat the Bucks only minutes prior. His energy radiates, an indication that he is prepared to strike as a small shift in his weight readies the execution. A light gasp from the crowd as Omega finally turns to Page and just for a second… time in the Wintrust stands-still.
Imagine an entire life flashing before your eyes. It happens in dreams all the time. We wish we could live it when we see it, or change it when we don’t, but a flash like this breaks through our basic laws, becoming something so obscure it can only be titled with one word…destiny. Page would wave Omega to come through the ropes and the two would leave Wintrust together as tag champions, the prophecy still a far-away thought, and the previous happening now just a droplet of sand from the hour glass.
Following Revolution 2020 the world would completely change. The COVID outbreak peeled away the lifeblood of professional wrestling, particularly AEW, which is its dedicated fanbase. But as we’ve learned in the past couple years, time has a funny and definitive way of changing our circumstances. The story of the Hangman would continue with losses. He lost the tag belts to FTR. He lost to Omega in the tournament finals, a loss that kickstarted Omega’s immaculate run as a collector of belts. He would lose to Brian Cage, to the Elite, and most importantly…he would lose parts of himself.
But as the world adapted to its new timeline, so did Page. He got new, supportive friends from the Dark Order. He became a father and spent time with his family. He put together wins that rebuilt his confidence, and he gave everything to the returning crowds, who continued to LOVE him nonstop even when they were forced to only cheer from home. These were all details that he most likely saw in his vision from the apron. In that moment Page stood preparing, not to turn on his partner, but for a moment that hadn’t happened yet. A moment that would take place at a different time, in a different place, with a different meaning. The only thing that was certain to him was who would be there …himself…the fans…and the great Kenny Omega.
From that apron Page had peaked through his door of destiny and saw the flash of a dream coming to life. He saw the dream that nearly escaped him at ALL OUT 2019, a dream of fulfilling a once foretold prophecy, with the Bucks, miraculously, by his side. The Hangman had a vision of the man he was going to become. Champion of the world.
thank you all. you’ve made me feel like a champion. pic.twitter.com/7CTrhvCgP3
— HANGMAN PAGE (@theAdamPage) November 14, 2021
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