Hangman Adam Page
Hangman Adam Page is a formidable wrestler for both Ring Of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is part of the currently tumultuous Bullet Club and a member of the cast of the weekly YouTube show, Being The Elite, that furthers storylines and shows a peek into the world of Bullet Club. After performing at the most attended Ring of Honor show in the company's history, Supercard of Honor in New Orleans, CP chatted with Page by phone to pick his brain before ROH's upcoming show at Stage AE on April 14.
I’m holding up pretty well, I’m kind of surprised with myself. [Laughs]
Your match with Kota Ibushi on Saturday at Supercard was amazing, and I’m curious what you did to prepare for such a closely watched, high stakes match?
I guess all, or most, of the matches I’ve had over the last few months have been big. Apparently, [Supercard] was the most attended ROH event ever, so that’s big for me. But you know, I’m just doing the things I’ve always done, maybe just doing them more consistently than I have before as far as diet and working out. This is what we do week in and week out, and when a big match comes up, all of them are kind of big at this point.
People who aren’t wrestling fans maybe don’t understand that there are long, slow-burn, nuanced storylines in wrestling, and [Bullet Club] has done a really good job of crafting a storyline that people are emotionally invested in. What’s it like to be a part of that kind of storyline?
This, for me, is what wrestling is about. This is why I love it, why I enjoy doing it long term. Long-term stories, people attach to that. With Being The Elite, people watch that every week, and people message us to say that it’s something they consistently look forward to, something that gets them through the week, and some of the people have really latched onto it. It’s the work of our lives, and it’s what we love doing.
When you shoot Being The Elite, how much is pre-planned and how much is spontaneous?
[Laughs] Most of it is Nick [Jackson of the Young Bucks] handing someone else his phone and tells them to press record. I think we know week to week some small things that need to happen, but aside from that, it’s pretty genuine. It’s not a big production, there’s not production meetings or anything like that. When we finally get together on the weekend we talk about a few things we want to accomplish and we go get it done. It’s very genuine, and a lot of it is on the fly.
You’ve had a few big years, but from here what would you like to accomplish? What do you have your eyes set on?
I feel like in the earlier years of my career I was good, but I just floated around a little bit. But now I’ve had some direction, I’ve had some exciting things going on with being part of the Bullet Club and Being The Elite. I’ve not had, until recently, a chance to stand out as a singles wrestler. A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing has been tags with the Bucks and Cody [Rhodes] and Marty [Scurll] and whoever else, but just now I’m starting to get these bigger singles matches, against Jay White, against Kota [Ibushi] this past weekend and against Kenny [Omega] in a couple weeks. I kind of want to focus on my singles career, especially not knowing what’s going on with Bullet Club, honestly not knowing what’s going on with BTE. I kind of have to start over a little bit in a sense and need to go back to focusing on my solo careers. I’d love opportunities for singles championships, I’d love to wrestle in the G1 in Japan as well. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I just haven’t really said it out loud. Those are a few things.
In terms of Bullet Club and Being The Elite, I feel like all of you have done a really good job of using Twitter as a tool to engage with fans and each other and further storylines. I’m curious how you view your social media presence in terms of your career?
Yeah, I don’t know at what point it happened, but Twitter sort of became the de facto medium for wrestlers and wrestling fans alike. It’s important because we only show up on your TV screens or if you go to the shows, shows only one or two or three a week. The best way to keep ourselves out there and in your mind every day is through Twitter.
I think we all enjoy it. We get a high off of posting BTE, off of watching people’s reactions, announcing new matches—we get a real high off getting to tell the world about it. We love that.
Twitter user @kelofthesea broke down the psychological aspect of your story arc within Bullet Club, and I thought that was just awesome.
I met her this weekend! She was at Supercard and came to the meet-and-greet, so that was really cool. We do one show at a time, one day at a time, one episode at a time, so it’s kind of hard to step back and see the big picture until somebody like that lays it out for you. I know a lot of the things that I’ve done, intentionally, and I know how I am as a person and how I react to things, but to see someone lay it out like that for you is still eye-opening and surprising, not realizing it had gone down like that.
I think sometimes people might be able to extract more out of it, things you put it into it that you didn’t even realize you put into it, and somehow people see it when you can’t. That’s cool for me.
I’m curious about the origin story and the changes with the rope that you carry with you as Hangman Page. When did you start using that? How has it changed?
I found out that I was joining Bullet Club and going to work for New Japan just a few weeks before it happened, and it was something that kind of took me by surprise. I hadn’t anticipated going that direction, but it was a great surprise. It caught me off guard, and one of the things that was suggested to me, since Adam Cole was joining Bullet Club, was that I have some sort of different name. Someone from New Japan suggested the name Hangman Page, and I’d take the gallows from Luke Gallows and fill that role a little bit.
Looking back it’s something I wish I wouldn’t have done, or I would have done differently. But I think in the time, I was rushed to get gear ordered, to figure out who I was going to be, what I was going to be. And at this point I’ve figured it out, but with just two weeks notice?
I had the noose for awhile, and I tried to be as sensitive as I could about in every way I possibly could, but I still had people writing me who were kind about it, but who had family members that had committed suicide and it made them uncomfortable, or maybe the racial connotations of me carrying a noose were uncomfortable, and I get that. I tried to be really sensitive about it, but it was something I wanted to get away from.
I still carry a big untied rope with me to the ring, and honestly I kind of carry it out more now out of habit than anything, and I’ve kept the name because it’s kind of a cool sounding name, and at this point people connect it with me. It’s just become my name.
Not all wrestlers are very good about listening to audience feedback, so it’s cool that you took those messages into consideration.
I want people to be able to watch wrestling as a release from their lives, to be invested in something else instead of the difficult things in their lives, and if I’m one of those real things that’s difficult in life, I need to make a change.
What was your favorite match that you got to see this weekend in New Orleans?
I mean, my match. [Laughs] That was the one I was a part of, and it was cool. I’ve wanted to wrestle Ibushi for a long time, and it was something I kind of nudged and pushed and kind of made happen. That was my favorite. I haven’t watched all of the ROH show back, but I did watch Cody [Rhodes] and Kenny [Omega] live in person just to see what would happen, and the atmosphere for that was amazing. That’s kind of what wrestling’s about for me, that atmosphere in the room before anything even happens. It was so electric for four hours of the show.
Factions can be a really cool storytelling tool, but I’m glad to see you wrestling singles matches because they can be a hinderance to showing off individual talent.
With group factions, sometimes guys get pigeonholed into roles. People are used to factional groups having roles: having the tag team, the leader, the whatever. But with Bullet Club I’ve never really felt like that was the case. I’ve never really felt like there was a leader. Matt and Nick [The Young Bucks], for me, have been as much as leaders as anyone else. But with the uncertainty of Bullet Club and BTE, taking some time to step away from that will be beneficial for me.
How are you feeling about Steel City Excellence?
I’m really excited about it. It’s a TV taping, so those can be a little long, but a lot can happen in those TV tapings, and I enjoy them for that reason. It’s three or four weeks of TV at a time, so a lot happens in addition to great wrestling. How the crowd reacts to things can really shape how the story goes a few weeks down the line.
Are there any wrestlers that you’re really enjoying watching or working with?
It’s hard to say, because I think we all as wrestlers are in a bit of a bubble. I don’t really watch wrestling outside of what I do. I spend three or four days on the road doing it, and I’m so invested in what I’m doing that aside from watching the show that I’m on, I don’t see anything else. It’s hard to know, it’s impossible not to be in a bubble. There are a lot of guys in ROH who I think are good who deserve more of the spotlight. As much as it pains me to say it, I like Flip Gordon in the ring. I think he’s good, he’s exciting in the ring. I think he’s a genuine idiot in real life, but he’s a good wrestler, I’ll give him that after this amount of time.
And Jonathan Gresham, he’s another guy who hasn’t had his break in ROH, but in one of his last matches with Jay Lethal I think he got hurt, so he’s been off since then, but that match was great too. So I’m excited to see when he gets back.
Deonna Purrazzo [of Ring of Honor] also echoed the sentiment of not watching much wrestling outside of work, keeping that personal life and wrestling life separate.
It is a very strange thing. I had a lot of people tweet me about Wrestlemania, asking what I thought. But I didn’t watch Wrestlemania! I went to a movie with my wife because I was home on a Sunday for once. [Laughs] It’s a weird thing to admit, but there’s other wrestling and I’m almost clueless about it, but that’s one of the realities of doing it for a living.
ROH: STEEL CITY EXCELLENCE
7 p.m. Sat., April 14. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Dr., North Side. $30-300. www.rohwrestling.com