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This ‘Anxious Millennial Cowboy’ Is the Intention forward for Pro Wrestling

’Hangman’ Adam Page with the AEW World Championship belt on November 3, 2021.All Elite Wrestling ON FEBRUARY 29, 2020, “Hangman” Adam Page, All Elite Wrestling’s blond-maned, hazel-eyed, self-styled “anxious millennial cowboy,” strutted into the ring in front of a packed dwelling at Chicago’s Windtrust Arena with his chin held high and his coronary heart jumping…

This ‘Anxious Millennial Cowboy’ Is the Intention forward for Pro Wrestling
hangman page

’Hangman’ Adam Page with the AEW World Championship belt on November 3, 2021.

All Elite Wrestling

ON FEBRUARY 29, 2020, “Hangman” Adam Page, All Elite Wrestling’s blond-maned, hazel-eyed, self-styled “anxious millennial cowboy,” strutted into the ring in front of a packed dwelling at Chicago’s Windtrust Arena with his chin held high and his coronary heart jumping out of his chest. Shaded vest resting on his astronomical shoulders, the 6-foot, 228-pound Hangman yanked his bandana correct down to his neck, revealing the originate of enraged game face most frequently worn by men making an strive to movement insecurity off as machismo. A fan within the team threw up a ticket: “HANGMAN, Drink MY beer.”

For the uninitiated, AEW is an upstart educated wrestling company, and Hangman is surely one of its ideally suited stars. He became anchoring Revolution, surely one of AEW’s quarterly pay-per-explore colossal reveals, and space to share the spotlight with the three performers who’d hand-picked him for this second: Kenny Omega, his co-AEW World Stamp Crew Champion, and their opponents, the Young Bucks (aka Matt and Prick Jackson). What no longer surely one of many ring mates realized at the time became that their perception in Page had outpaced his have faith expectations—no longer correct on TV however furthermore in right existence.

For fans who had followed Hangman’s list arc in newest AEW declares and connected webisodes, Page’s as soon as upbeat-character had taken an emotional turn in newest weeks, swigging beers and lashing out at the guests with whom he now shared the ring. Fancy every of the scripted sport’s richest tales, it became a recital rooted really (excluding for the drinking).

the young bucks

The Young Bucks, brothers and AEW govt vice presidents Matt and Prick Jackson.

All Elite Wrestling

“How would possibly maybe it no longer be?” Page steered Males’s Health in some unspecified time in the future of a novel phone call. “I subject you or anybody discovering out to deem that you had been standing within the ring, and your associate is surely one of many ideally suited of all time in Kenny Omega. … and (your opponents are), I’d whisper, without inquire of, the ideally suited tag team of all time within the Young Bucks.

“After which you had been standing there.”

That match, almost thirty minutes of stunning, acrobatic bodily expression, is held up by fans on Twitter and the well-liked r/SquaredCircle subreddit as surely one of many surest examples of wrestling’s singular storytelling functionality. Page and Omega received the bout, however finest after the four men ragged the match as a tool to figure out their simmering beefs: Page vs. the Bucks; Page vs. Omega; Page vs. himself. It became a tour de pressure for Page, who managed to channel his self-flagellation into offense that blurred the strains between myth and actuality.

Hangman Adam Page – Anxious Millennial Cowboy

As regards to two years later, the bout is thought of as by many to be the most attention-grabbing within the corporate’s brief historical previous, helping to burnish Page’s credentials as a superstar who now has more than 265,000 followers on Twitter and 176,000 on Instagram, and whose “Anxious Millennial Cowboy” T-shirt is typically seen on fans within the team. Some inform he’s previous due for an AEW World Championship reign. However as anybody grappling with fright or an inferiority complicated is conscious of all too well, sustaining your psychological health takes work. So in preference to settling for the desirable ending to the list quickly after the Revolution occasion, Page has worked alongside AEW brass to add more chapters to create a more human list, sending his Hangman character on a creep that resulted in months of public combat.

Hangman’s have faith occupation will reach one other crescendo this weekend when he challenges Omega for the AEW World Championship at the Beefy Gear pay-per-explore occasion in Minneapolis. For Page, it feels cherish a second to share that grand of the inspiration for the anxious share of his millennial cowboy came from deeper within him than anybody anticipated.

His hardest opponent has always been himself.

red rope

AEW, THE BRAINCHILD of billionaire Tony Khan, launched in early 2019 with the mission of providing an alternative to the worn-guard WWE, combining unusual age, high-flying wrestling with rich storytelling. In Omega, the Bucks and fellow grappler Cody Rhodes (collectively is called the Elite), who on wrestling’s just scene had generated a rare buzz for non-WWE performers, Khan saw four probably cornerstones. The foursome of rising stars had earned a cult following, and no longer correct because of their in-ring theatrics for promotions cherish Fresh Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring of Honor (ROH).

In their well-liked YouTube sequence, Being the Elite, which now has 507,000 subscribers, the wrestlers documented existence on the road in goofy, semi-scripted skits and over-the-prime storylines that most frequently trickled into the promotions for which they worked. Page became introduced as fairly character within the delivery, with his rising prominence within the sequence coinciding with his growing in-ring fame.

Khan had co-invested alongside his father Shahid, an immigrant from Pakistan turned an automobile manufacturing magnate (they furthermore co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC), and fast christened Omega, the Bucks and Rhodes govt vice presidents. Nowadays, the aloof fledgling, non-publicly traded community has built a promotion that seems to characteristic as an implicit rebuke of WWE, the billion buck global juggernaut dawdle by billionaire CEO Vince McMahon. Rather then offering staid, family-friendly and cartoonish caricatures of masculinity, AEW strives to be spontaneous, edgy and, most importantly, legitimate.

“A wide share of AEW,” Khan talked about, “is to produce the characters, the wrestlers (really feel cherish) right of us.”

tony khan

AEW founder and CEO Tony Khan.

All Elite Wrestling

Whereas AEW has added more superstar energy with ex-WWE Champions CM Punk and Bryan Danielson joining its roster in newest months, AEW executives furthermore obtain that the league’s more emotionally resonant and psychological health focused tales will encourage the following technology of fans.

“For years wrestlers had been finest seen as bigger than existence, gleaming superhero forms. No one ever really explored the root of a wrestler being cherish a traditional individual, struggling with on each day basis feelings,” talked about Matt Jackson, surely one of many corporate’s four govt vice presidents. “It’s crucial to possess sensitive, vulnerable characters who affirm that human facet because more of us watching can inform to an individual cherish that.”

That’s the attach Page suits in. Within the 20 months since the Revolution tag match, his character has taken on more depth with every passing week of Dynamite, the two-hour AEW affirm that airs Wednesdays on TNT. The tale arc is overall however without issues relatable: Feeling that he didn’t measure as a lot as Omega and the Bucks, the anxious cowboy turned more and more reclusive and brooding, with the friendship exploding when Hangman cost the Bucks an replacement for a tag championship rematch, dishonest on behalf of their opponents.

wrestlers

Hangman with a beer in some unspecified time in the future of a Halloween 2021 AEW occasion.

All Elite Wrestling

In retaliation, Omega and the Bucks theatrically dropped him from their on-digicam guests community, rendering Hangman—as scripted at least—a lone wolf in an worldwide the attach the honest allies can produce your whole incompatibility in a wrestler’s success. At first, he wallowed in self-hatred, discovering solace in beer and whiskey whereas becoming more publicly unhinged. Then, with the help of some unusual guests, he regained his confidence and his in-ring mojo, leading to Saturday’s showdown with Omega.

red rope

PAGE (REAL NAME Stephen Woltz), 30, speaks with the itsy-bitsy inflection of his native Virgilina, Va., a metropolis of 154, primarily based on the 2010 U.S. census, positioned on the Virginia-North Carolina border. He grew up on a 20-acre farm helping his “pa” elevate crimson meat cattle within the winter and develop tobacco within the summertime. When his classmates went to camp, he’d upward push at 6 a.m. and delivery utilizing a tractor. In July (or “joo-lie” as Page announces it), he’d hunker down within the field and prime tobacco himself, retiring for the day with his hands lined in waxy pulp.

“I reach from a truly easy space. Laborious work, however easy, farm existence,” Page talked about. “There’s one thing fabulous about the reality in that. That you get up. You work from 6 to 6. You exhaust your supper. You dawdle to mattress. You enact it yet another time. And that’s how you produce it.”

Then he repeats himself: “There’s one thing very principal within the reality of that.”

In a 30-minute dialog with Males’s Health in early November, five days earlier than his showdown with Omega, Page ragged the be conscious “reality” 12 times. He spoke, grand cherish he does on tv, with an earnest lilt, his explain rising and falling for emphasis. He is a individual dedicated to residing authentically, including in his artwork.

“I wouldn’t even whisper [the story] has borrowed from my right existence, as grand because it is [real life],” Page talked about. “Each and each step of the formulation, I’d inquire of myself, ‘How enact I really feel about this honest now?’ And I’d correct come up with the reality.”

Page didn’t really slot in in highschool, he talked about, and as a change learned his of us at local wrestling reveals, a “consuming world of 40 and 50 Three hundred and sixty five days-worn beefy worn men beating every other up in front of 20 of us in an armory.” He began yard wrestling with guests on his trampoline, spherical which his fogeys built a wooden frame. Terry Lambert, a local just wrestler who performed below the establish Justin Flash, and who became dating Page’s cousin, taught him some fundamentals and took him on the road.

hangman page

Hangman in some unspecified time in the future of a novel episode of Dynamite on TNT.

Lane Walbert

Soon Page became making reveals on the North Carolina just scene, persevering with to hone his abilities on weekends as he attended Virginia Tech — he graduated in 2011 after two years—after which whereas working as a journalism and graphic create instructor at his local Halifax County High Faculty. In Might maybe maybe 2016, after Page joined the Bullet Club, the villainous NJPW mega-stable of which Omega and the Bucks had been people, he ultimately stop instructing.

It became then, as Page’s occupation began to exhaust off, that he began to really feel the insecurities that would possibly maybe per chance per chance per chance play out on tv. He became grateful Omega and the Bucks had taken him below their flee, however one thing felt off.

“I became the individual who became the closing to enroll within the Bullet Club—on the dwelling affirm that wasn’t even on TV,” Page talked about. “I became the individual who became getting beat in all these multi-man suits in Fresh Japan. I became the individual who didn’t even possess a winning file in (Fresh Japan’s G1 Climax match).

“It feels cherish a novel thing in wrestling to be that correct about how you really feel in that subject. However what other reality would possibly maybe there be than to really feel spoiled on this community?”

When made conscious of Page’s feedback about feeling cherish he didn’t measure up, the Jacksons, his opponents at Revolution, had been shocked.

“Here’s really the first I’ve heard of that,” Matt Jackson talked about. “When we met Hangman all those years ago, he became really correct a peculiar, unknown shrinking kid hiding below a baseball cap at ROH. Prick, Kenny and myself had been already stunning grand known, well-traveled, established wrestlers. I’m able to survey those normal feelings he would possibly maybe’ve had when he within the delivery met us, be one thing principal to shake off. It is miles typically fairly of imposter’s syndrome, which I’d cherish to inform him goes away, however by experience, I don’t inform it ever does. I am hoping he in some unspecified time in the future can perceive motivate from the starting of our friendship and problem we had been never competing, or sizing him up. We had been welcoming him in to be surely one of us.”

“He’s never in my concept steered Matt and I that,” Prick Jackson talked about. “I really feel cherish he’s crazy to inform that formulation because he’s surely one of many most attention-grabbing within the arena. I really feel cherish the fans inform the an identical formulation about him. He’s turn out to be a movie superstar.”

red rope

PAGE WAS POSITIONED as a probably leading man from the corporate’s onset, however it wasn’t till his character tasted defeat—six months earlier than Revolution —that his saga first developed the more or less nuance that’s helped to inform aside AEW from WWE. On August 31, 2019, within the major occasion of the All Out PPV, Page became pinned by Chris Jericho within the first-ever AEW Championship match, failing to produce ethical on some traditional wrestling smack talk: He’d guaranteed that he would possibly maybe per chance per chance per chance be the promotion’s inaugural champion. That loss space off a crisis of confidence in Hangman that Page says mirrored how he’s most frequently felt in right existence.

wrestlers

Adam Page finds himself in some unspecified time in the future of the most contemporary Halloween occasion.

All Elite Wrestling

Hangman’s space first took a darker set off the Jan. 1, 2020 episode of Dynamite, about eight weeks earlier than the Revolution tag match, when Omega and the Bucks wrestled PAC, Ray Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo. When Page joined the commentary team for the match, as is overall narrate for wrestlers when guests or foes are engaged in combat, it became obvious that the Hangman’s focal point had shifted. He sipped on whiskey your whole match, and after the Elite received, the cowboy refused to celebrate with them within the ring.

“In right existence, you wouldn’t acknowledge up front to your guests, head to movement, that you really feel that you don’t hang their sneakers,” Page talked about. “Probabilities are you’ll per chance dawdle from the friendship. Probabilities are you’ll per chance dawdle from the accountability. However acknowledging your have faith shortcomings is laborious, and most of us wouldn’t enact it.”

With every passing week, as Hangman’s self-confidence slipped, he lashed out more and more. He became no longer often seen on TV with out a drink. On show disguise, that alcohol consumption turned a image of his fright and quite actually introduced him nearer to fans, who handed him beers to chug following victories (earlier than the coronavirus, at least). The more serious he behaved, the louder fans chanted his steal phrase — “Cowboy shit! Cowboy shit!”—Page’s less G-rated version of Cena’s “Probabilities are you’ll per chance’t survey me.”

If Page, with his bandana and his western-themed entrance tune, became already a plausible “cowboy,” the stress drinking became the conclusion of the “anxious millennial” a part of his character. The anxious share’s right for him in my concept, too.

“Somebody on this age vary understands, no longer correct the outside-stage fright, day-to-day, however bigger anxieties about the formulation that our world works spherical us, the formulation that our world is maybe starting up to fail us, and that we are no longer rising to the matter,” talked about Page, whose myth among the many faithful became bolstered by a Twitter investigation that learned he’d made a dozen runt donations to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Presidential marketing campaign (including one for $4.20) below his right establish, per FEC data. “I obtain that our technology is terribly conscious of both those kinds of fright, really myself included.”

wrestler

Adam Page will subject for the AEW World Championship on November 13, 2021.

All Elite Wrestling

The second that Hangman became within the waste kicked out of his normal brotherhood, the Elite, took place in August 2020 after months of teases, both on Dynamite and on Being the Elite. No longer long afterwards he and Omega misplaced the tag titles, after which Omega beat Page to affect an AEW World Championship replacement. Omega dethroned then-champion Jon Moxley, and he and the Bucks, previously the corporate’s prime ethical guys, turned heel.

As his worn guests dominated the corporate—the Jacksons later received the tag titles—the cowboy persisted to procure refuge within the bottle. Then, in his darkest hour, he learned inspiration in an no longer seemingly supply: the Darkish Relate, an spoiled-cult-turned-sentimental-well-liked after the tragic passing of Jon Huber, who performed its fictional lead Mr. Brodie Lee on show disguise. (Huber died from a non-COVID-19 lung subject on December 26, 2020 at the age 41.)

In a pointedly emotional section, the Darkish Relate guys steered Hangman they aloof believed in him, and that he must yet another time pursue the AEW Championship. Followers instructed the cowboy on too—including one young supporter named Nolie whose video of encouragement blew up on Wrestling Twitter—and ultimately he learned his confidence, winning a seven-man ladder match Oct. 6 to affect the championship replacement after getting again from paternity leave. The most contemporary comeback has intended even more for the individual late the character, who had never publicly disclosed the list arc became primarily based really.

“I’ve reach to terms with how I’ve felt, and I obtain finest then enact you originate to really feel in a different map about the dynamic,” Page talked about of his right-existence feelings toward Omega and the Bucks. “There’s no sum of money you would possibly maybe pay for treatment cherish this, to listen to hundreds of of us clamoring for you.”

In newest weeks, AEW has persisted to incorporate sensitive matters into declares. Eddie Kingston, a harmful-mouthed brawler from correct exterior Fresh York City, famend he takes Zoloft for dreadful. And in early November, the day after it became announced Moxley had entered an inpatient alcohol treatment program, the famously straight-edge Punk called on the Independence, Mo., crowd to chant Moxley’s establish, commending the worn champion for seeking help.

Page thinks the values of the corporate possess created an openness that helps performers too. “Ten, 20 years ago, you would possibly maybe never stroll a ways from a major space, for any motive,” he says about Moxley going into rehab. “Probabilities are you’ll per chance per chance let your existence cave in spherical you earlier than you walked a ways from that prime space. Lustrous AEW is a specific more or less space, a specific atmosphere, I obtain has helped of us be more correct with what they need of their lives.”

red rope

ON A RECENT EPISODE of Dynamite, in an obtrusive prelude to this weekend’s mega match, Page swaggered to the ring for an interview with announcer Tony Schiavone, grinning because the team sang “Cowboy shit! Cowboy shit!” He wore brown cowboy boots, tight blue jeans and a white desolate tract-themed button down peppered with cacti. He didn’t raise a drink.

At Schiavone’s prompting, Page touched on the events of the previous two years: shedding to Jericho; shedding his guests; shedding himself. Thru all of it, Page talked about, he realized one thing crucial. As soon as you cave in, or no longer it is miles crucial to dust your self off and regain motivate on the horse. That, he insisted, is the that formulation of “cowboy shit.” He pivoted to the championship bout.

“I really feel equivalent to you all aloof obtain in me,” Page talked about, his eyes scanning the team. “And for the first time in my existence, I enact, too.”

His lips curled into a soft smile. This time, Page stopped wanting guaranteeing victory, however he promised he would give fans his blood, sweat and tears. And one thing else: “I could come up with COWBOY SHIT!”

He dropped the mic, pointed to the sky and made one closing lap across the ring. “Cowboy shit! Cowboy shit!” the team chanted, and Stephen Woltz closed his eyes, took a deep breath and lived his reality.

Joshua Needelman is a freelance author primarily based in Fresh York who spends formulation too grand time focused on educated wrestling and is at probability of be learned on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.

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