On Saturday, November 13th, Hangman Page took in a standing ovation from the crowd as he pinned Kenny Omega to win his first-ever world title, the AEW World Championship. The once anxious, still millennial cowboy had finally fulfilled a destiny that truly was years in the making. Ever since Page took on Chris Jericho to crown the first-ever AEW World Champion, it was clear that while the cowboy didn’t win that night, that his future was to stand atop the upper echelon of the company. It just so happened though that he would need to wait a while for another chance to claim the gold as it would be over two years between his first and to that point, only, title match at All Out in 2019. Given a second opportunity, however, Page made the most of his opportunity, proving that everything was worth the wait. And he did so at a PPV that holds so much of a personal, storyline significance.
Of course, it was going to happen at Full Gear. It was always going to happen at Full Gear.
Well before AEW’s August 2019 announcement that their November PPV was going to be titled Full Gear, Page was involved in a bit on Being the Elite, focused around that very name. It all started in January, earlier that year. Page was preparing for a Double or Nothing match against PAC, the man who had confronted and stared him down at AEW’s introductory rally in 2018. On an episode of Being the Elite, Page decided to be in full gear while the rest of the Elite were in street clothes, remarking how his friends thought it was cool when PAC did it. Cody noted that it was cool when PAC did it because of how shredded the man is. And thus began Page’s own journey to get what he called ‘full gear ready’ in time for his May match against PAC. Like so many popular AEW angles at the time, what had started as a BTE bit, took on a life of its own and became so much more. In February, again, still months before the PPV of the same name would be announced, Page invited fans to join him in a Full Gear Challenge, sharing on Instagram, “For the next 89 days I’ll be documenting my journey to get in shape here on my Instagram. Whether your goal for DON is to lose some weight, add some mass, or to somehow do both at the same time, I hope you’ll join me. Share your progress with the hashtag #fullgearchallenge.”
Page inspired a movement and before long, wrestling fans were commenting and sharing updates from their own workouts. They were encouraging other fans to do the same. Full gear had gone from a two-word phrase to a true community of fans, all working together to support each other and better themselves. Perhaps it was that groundswell of support, combined with Page’s own efforts, that led AEW to the name of their November PPV. It was also fitting because Page didn’t face PAC at Double or Nothing. Due to some creative issues with PAC’s main promotion, Dragon Gate, he was unable to appear at DON. Instead, Page took part in, and won, the Casino Battle Royale to determine who would challenge for the AEW World Championship at All Out. Page wrestled Jericho, who had defeated Omega to earn his spot in the title match. In a 26-minute long affair, Page fought valiantly but ultimately came up short. Post-match, he was confronted by PAC, who challenged Page to a match on the first-ever AEW Dynamite, which PAC won, remaining undefeated. Page wanted a rematch and it came a month later, at Full Gear. There was no better place for these two to settle their differences as after all, Page aspired to get full gear ready to face PAC, and now he would get that opportunity at a PPV of the same name.
But the symmetry of Page and Full Gear doesn’t end there. For it was also at Full Gear, one year later, where Page found himself involved in another major angle, this time against his former friend and tag team partner. At Full Gear in 2020, Kenny Omega defeated Hangman Page to win the AEW Championship Eliminator Tournament. Omega then went on to face Jon Moxley for the title at December’s special Winter is Coming episode of Dynamite. Omega, who now holds the record as the longest AEW world champ at 346 days, defeated Moxley and began his reign of belt-collecting terror. One by one, challengers stepped up to try to stop him, but they all failed. Omega took down Rey Fenix, Moxley, Rich Swann, Orange Cassidy, PAC, Jungle Boy, and finally Christian Cage. But there was one challenger he hadn’t faced, one who had spent the last year building up to his opportunity.
Page and Omega hadn’t faced each other in eight months before a 10-man tag team match of the Elite vs Page and the Dark Order took place at Fight for the Fallen this past July. The caveat of the match was simple. If Page’s team won, not only would he get a shot at Omega’s title but so too would the Dark Order’s Stu Grayson and Evil Uno, get a shot at the Young Bucks‘ AEW tag team titles. After some back-and-forth early on, the match came down to Page as the lone survivor on his side, against Omega and the Bucks. Facing down his former friends, Page overcame the disadvantage in numbers to take down both Bucks before falling victim to the One-Winged Angel of Omega. Page’s title shot was not to be. At least, not yet.
Hangman Page has always been a champion in the making.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) November 14, 2021
After that loss, Hangman Page took some personal time off from AEW to become a father. He returned to the ring in October, where he won a ladder match to determine who Omega’s next challenger would be. There were no more strings Omega could pull, nothing else he could do to avoid facing the man perceived to be the greatest threat to his title. A year-long rivalry came to a head on Saturday night.
The match approached its conclusion when The Young Bucks circled the ring, watching as Hangman Page looked to put away Kenny Omega. Instead of attacking Page, however, Matt and Nick Jackson simply allowed the match to unfold as it did. Despite Omega doing everything he could to keep his title, it was Page, who proved the moment was not too big. Perhaps when AEW first crowned Jericho as world champ, Page wouldn’t have been ready. But now, two years later, with a legion of fans all throughout the arena chanting his name, it was clear, this was his time. AEW waited to pull the trigger on what could end up being the build of one of their biggest stars in Hangman Page. And they found the perfect moment, against the perfect opponent, at the perfect PPV, to do something special.