AEW World Champion Hangman Page joined Insight with Chris Van Vliet to talk about his career, from his teaching days, to working Ring of Honor, to now being one of the top stars of AEW. Hangman Page was asked when he first felt he could make a living as a wrestler, and he revealed it was when he joined Bullet Club, which he felt could take him from a per appearance deal to a contracted deal, thus allowing him to wrestle full time and stop teaching.
“Kind of working with Ring of Honor,” Page said. “When I first started out with Ring of Honor, I was not making a living at it. And that took a while. Even then, I was teaching during the week, wrestling on the weekends. But that money started to add up, like, ‘oh wow. I can put a little bit of savings here.’ And I think once I knew that I was going to join Bullet Club and I was going to start touring with New Japan, I kind of knew then. I think even before that decision was made, I was on a per appearance deal, I think. I wasn’t making enough for a living.
“But I knew at that point, ‘well, I know my deal will be up at the end of the year. I know if I’m going to be in Bullet Club, I’m going to be going over to Japan. I will probably get a guarantee of some sort, a salary. It’ll be a living.’ So then I kind of figured, and this was April/May of that year, I figured, ‘okay, I’ll wrap up the school year and I’ll tell them I’m done. And we’ll see. We’ll see when January comes around if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get a salary I can live on.’ And thank God I did, because I would’ve been screwed.”
Hangman Page also talked about Being the Elite, the YouTube show largely focused on The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega that Page has appeared on regularly since joining Bullet Club in 2016. Page credited BTE and several skits he’s been a part of in helping his career take off, calling it the biggest thing to happen in his career.
“I think for me, that was maybe one of the biggest, if not the biggest thing, to happen to me positively in my career,” Page said. “Not even wrestling, it was getting to do Being the Elite. I talked earlier about wanting to go to school, not because I wanted to make movies, but because I wanted to dick around with my friends and make stupid videos. And that’s what that was! We did the story on BTE where I was kidnapped by WWE, and we started doing the ‘Where’s Hangman?’ bit. We filmed a bunch of bits of just random people at a PWG show or whatever going ‘where’s Hangman?’ or whatever.
“I remember Hunter (Delirious) at Ring of Honor asking the Bucks ‘hey, what’s all this ‘where’s Hangman?’ stuff?’ He didn’t really know exactly what was going on. And they filled him in and they’re like ‘we’ve got to use this on the show, the PPV we’re going to do. Because he’s supposed to be missing.’ And I couldn’t just be at the PPV if I’m supposed to be missing. So we did the whole bit where I came out with my hands duct-taped together and stuff, by WWE. It got a huge reaction.
“I had gone to Office Max or whatever the hell and had a bunch of missing posters printed up that had the little tabs at the bottom, where you pull for how to report me if you saw me or whatever, and posted them all over the arena. People were grabbing them and trying to get them signed and all that stuff. That was one of the first things I did where I was having so much fun. And I felt like ‘man, this is it. This is what I want to do.’
“BTE was getting bigger and bigger where it wasn’t just like, even before I was on it, it wasn’t just a YouTube show. It felt like a movement, it felt like we would do these indie shows, Ring of Honor shows, or whatever, and they were more interested in what we were doing on BTE than anything, above and beyond. That’s when I kind of felt like ‘we’re onto something.’ And I don’t mean to take credit for that. It was Matt and Nick’s show. It’s their baby. I was a part of it, and it felt like, ‘Man, we’re really onto something. And there’s no way this is not going to continue to get bigger. I wouldn’t have imagined this (much) bigger, but something special’s happening. And I’m going to do a little bit more than making a living at this, I think.”
Hangman Page also commented on the fan connection to BTE during those days. To him, it became so big that at times it felt like Ring of Honor revolved around Being the Elite, whether that was the intention of The Elite, ROH, or otherwise.
“It felt like you were on the inside of something,” Page said. “You watched a ten or fifteen-minute YouTube show like it was something, you knew we took time out of our wrestling schedule, what we were supposed to be doing, to make this stuff. We had a connection, and people were having fun trying to give that back to us. It was weird, because for a while there it felt like, for better or worse, whether they wanted it to be or not or whether we wanted it to be or not, I felt like Ring of Honor was really about BTE. And that was a real turning point for me at least, mentally and figuring out how long this would last for me.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet and provide an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
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