This isn’t the primary time I’ve written about Adam Web page.
Just a few years in the past for WrestleMania weekend, I wrote a bit referred to as “Hangman Rising” about Web page’s match with Kota Ibushi at ROH Supercard of Honor XII. In addition to speaking concerning the match, I spoke about how Hangman overcame my preliminary ambivalence in direction of him to turn out to be certainly one of my favourite wrestlers.
That article was printed on April 7, 2021 and lots has occurred with Web page since then. He grew to become AEW’s first homegrown world champion when he received the AEW World Title at Full Gear 2021. He had two extremely acclaimed title matches with Bryan Danielson on Dynamite that completed within the prime ten of the 2021 and 2022 Voices of Wrestling Match of the 12 months polls. And after a feud towards Jon Moxley that grew in depth and culminated in an incredible (and tremendously violent) Texas Demise Match at Revolution this yr, Hangman reunited with Kenny Omega and the Younger Bucks to the thrill of AEW followers in every single place.
However simply as there have been highlights, there have been lowlights as effectively. Web page’s now notorious “employee’s rights” promo to CM Punk previous to their match at Double or Nothing 2022 set off a series response that led to Punk’s much more notorious “gripebomb” at All Out and the following backstage brawl involving the Bucks afterwards. After he dropped the world title to Punk at DON, Hangman was taken out of the principle occasion scene (he was put within the nascent trios title division with Alex Reynolds and John Silver, then misplaced to Danielson within the first spherical of a match to find out a brand new world champion post-All Out). And when he lastly did get one other AEW World Title match towards Moxley in October 2022, it ended abruptly when Web page was legitimately knocked out. In a constructive flip of occasions, it grew to become the crux for his or her unbelievable feud on the finish of 2022 and into 2023, however on a private stage, it’s not enjoyable when a wrestler you want will get harm.
Essentially the most evident difficulty for Hangman Web page over the previous few years although is that regardless of his championship successes and memorable matches and feuds, it nonetheless doesn’t really feel like AEW is presenting him as a lot as they might and will.
This man’s highway to the title story arc started at AEW’s Jacksonville fan rally in January 2019 and concluded almost three years later. After a chilly begin, he bought organically over with the followers in early 2020 together with his beer-drinking gimmick (sound acquainted?) and stayed over by way of a worldwide pandemic that took full crowds away for over a yr.
The followers went loopy when he made his return within the On line casino Ladder Match within the lead-up to Full Gear, when he received the belt, when he got here again from the concussion, and when he reunited with Kenny and the Bucks. The three pay-per-views he headlined as AEW Champion did their report highest buys. When “Ghost City Triumph” hits, there may be at all times a loud response. “Cowboy shit” has turn out to be a rallying cry throughout his matches. Folks love Hangman Adam Web page. Lots of laborious work went into that. He needs to be a constant deal with AEW programming, proper?
Let’s check out the numbers.
As of this writing (August 13), Web page has wrestled 13 matches this yr (12 televised, one home present). That’s to not say he’s solely been on 13 exhibits whole; when he’s not wrestling, he’s normally reducing a promo backstage or working in for a post-match brawl with somebody. There was additionally a weeks-long stretch the place Hangman was off TV completely to promote an assault by the Blackpool Fight Membership, which contributed to the shortage of matches.
Regardless, let’s evaluate these numbers to another ones, particularly these of different AEW World Champions.
Jon Moxley has wrestled 28 matches for AEW up to now in 2023. Chris Jericho has wrestled 16. Kenny Omega has wrestled 15. MJF, the present AEW Champion, has wrestled 12 matches this yr, one fewer than Web page, however a giant a part of his gimmick is that he wrestles as little as he can. CM Punk returned from damage on the primary episode of Collision—rather less than two months in the past—and he’s already wrestled 9 occasions, greater than half the quantity of matches Hangman has wrestled in eight months.
All of these different champions that I named are at the moment concerned in a commonly featured storyline. Moxley and the BCC have moved on to a feud with Orange Cassidy and Finest Associates with a number of matches up to now. Jericho is flirting with becoming a member of forces with Don Callis. Omega can be feuding with Callis and his cost Konosuke Takeshita. MJF has the most popular storyline within the firm together with his friendship with Adam Cole. Punk is wrapped up with seemingly ten completely different folks on Collision. As for Hangman, it’s been almost a month since Blood & Guts and his solely look on TV has been giving Jeff Jarrett a Buckshot Lariat. Only a few weeks out from All In at Wembley Stadium and we do not know what Hangman goes to do on the present.
Once more, that is the corporate’s first homegrown world champion. He was there on the very begin of AEW and simply signed a contract that can preserve him in AEW for extra years to return. The Elite-BCC feud was a bunch conflict, so it is sensible that Hangman wouldn’t get a singular focus throughout it, however now that it’s over, it’s the right time to raise Web page again right into a distinguished singles function. Proper now although, we’re all simply ready for one thing, something, to occur.
Like I stated, this is a matter that has plagued Web page not simply this yr, however the previous few years. From the time he received the AEW World Title at Full Gear 2021 to when he dropped the belt to Punk at Double or Nothing 2022—a shade over six months—Hangman wrestled 11 occasions on AEW programming (Dynamite, Rampage, Darkish, and PPV). When he wasn’t wrestling, he tended to be in just one section on the present (a promo, a stand-off, a brawl, a video package deal, and so on.).
Now, isn’t it true that nearly each wrestler in AEW tends to be in just one section on a present, whether or not they’re a champion or not? Sure. Nevertheless it nonetheless didn’t cease me from seeing the chatter on social media. Hangman isn’t being featured sufficient. Hangman doesn’t really feel essential sufficient. Certain, he’s the champion and he headlined three consecutive pay-per-views that did their report highest buys, however CM Punk is the actual hottest star within the firm, not Hangman Web page. It didn’t matter how nice a match Hangman had throughout his title reign (and he had a bunch of them), it wasn’t sufficient to shake off the sensation that the entire momentum gained through the chase for the title was not being capitalized on laborious sufficient through the precise reign. It occurred then and it’s occurring now.
The frustration is two-fold. On the one hand, it’s irritating as a result of it doesn’t really feel like you may level to at least one particular factor and say, “That is guilty.” You possibly can put among the blame on Tony Khan as a result of he’s the massive boss steering the ship, so finally, what occurs on AEW programming lands at his toes. You possibly can additionally put among the blame on Hangman for possibly being too complacent with the place he’s and never throwing extra weight round; politicking is how wrestling stars usually keep stars, in any case. The nonetheless unresolved animosity between Web page and CM Punk is a complete different kettle of fish that might warrant its personal article. Just lately, Dave Meltzer reported in his Every day Update that Hangman was despatched to Greensboro, North Carolina, the place the latest AEW Collision was held to do a pre-tape however was not allowed within the constructing. If Punk has that type of energy, then that’s one other hurdle, but when the plan is to maintain The Elite and Punk sequestered from one another on their respective exhibits, then why not simply use Hangman extra on Dynamite and never hassle with Collision?
The opposite irritating factor about all of this, and I actually can’t stress this sufficient, is simply how gifted Web page is. Of his 13 matches this yr, Cagematch customers have rated seven of them at an 8.0 or increased, with the Texas Demise Match towards Moxley at the moment sitting because the tenth highest-rated match of 2023 (it’s #3 alone MOTY listing). He may be terrific within the ring, however he can maintain his personal on the microphone as effectively. Go watch his “I’m a person” promo within the lead-up to the primary Mox match final yr, or the promo he minimize a number of months afterwards about how he couldn’t keep in mind his son’s title after he bought knocked out. You may really feel the fervour and the uncooked emotion coming by way of the display screen. His “Ghost Riders within the Sky” entrance at Revolution amplified the gravitas of his regular entrance tenfold and felt large.
Even a blind man can see that Hangman Adam Web page has the entire instruments to be a Star with a capital S in AEW—the expertise, the voice, the look, the presence. It labored in 2021, it labored once more with the Moxley feud, and I hate hate HATE that I’ve to even surprise why AEW will not be consistently presenting him this fashion.
However questioning is all I can do. I can’t barge into Tony Khan’s workplace or knock on Web page’s entrance door to demand solutions (until I wish to get slapped with a restraining order). Scripting this column must suffice. I simply hope that AEW realizes what they’ve with Adam Web page. They need to capitalize on him sooner relatively than later. The corporate will solely be higher off in the event that they do.
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