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Kenny Omega Has High Expectations for Culmination of ‘Hangman’ Adam Page Story

Their saga is an example of the long-term storytelling that AEW does so well. It’ll come to its highly anticipated conclusion at ‘Full Gear’ on Saturday.

The story arc between Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page will reach its climax Saturday in the main event of All Elite Wrestling’s Full Gear pay-per-view.

Omega defends the AEW title against Page, culminating a program that dates back to their 228-day run as tag champs in 2020. Omega defeated Page at last year’s Full Gear, a victory that propelled Omega into a story line that saw him partner with Don Callis and start a world title run. But the shared history between Omega and Page dates back much further, with key moments taking place between Omega and The Young Bucks in locker rooms and on bus rides during tours throughout Japan.

In a conversation with the Bucks’ Matt and Nick Jackson, former Ring of Honor owner Cary Silkin noted that Page was someone with plenty of potential. The Bucks liked what they saw from Page’s in-ring performances, and they were instantly enamored with his willingness to learn. The Bucks thought Page had an untapped athleticism and undeniable charisma, albeit one that needed shaping. So they mentioned Page to Omega, and the wheels to Page’s ascent were quickly in motion. Around the same time, New Japan booker Gedo had contacted ROH booker Hunter Johnston about needing a young talent who could eat pins to protect the bigger stars in Bullet Club, and the timing was serendipitous. Johnston followed Matt Jackson’s advice and chose Page. Courtesy of an unrelenting work ethic and help from his friends, Page—a former schoolteacher—has thrived.

“We don’t just bring just anyone into our group,” Omega says. “If there is one area where the Bucks and I have really honed in, it’s realizing the types of people that have potential for greatness in professional wrestling. This industry has no set of rules or a template for what creates a star. All you need is that raw talent, and it was clear Hangman had that.

“Hangman had a never-say-die attitude, incredible athleticism and a very clean slate in terms of major injuries. He had this southern cowboy-ish nature, and a personality behind the scenes—one that people now see on camera—of a very lovable human being. We knew this guy was going to be an elite performer. And once AEW came along, we knew this company was meant for him.”

Character development has been a strong suit of this program for Omega and Page. Both have reached new levels of connecting with audiences and evoking genuine emotion from those watching. So there is a high level of anticipation for this match, with the greatest expectations coming directly from Omega.

“Both of us have put a lot of heart and soul into this,” Omega says. “We haven’t been handed scripts or sat in production meetings to build this story. A lot of this comes from reality. Maybe we’ve sensationalized some of the details, but there is a lot of truth to the story we’re telling. There is real-life emotion attached to this clash.”

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Defeating Omega would elevate Page to another level of stardom, particularly if he kicks out of the heavily protected One-Winged Angel finishing move en route to victory. And while there has certainly been a slate of outrageously compelling matches in AEW over the past two years, this holds the potential to be the company’s signature bout.

“I’ll have a big breakfast on Saturday, and I’ll be ready,” Omega says. “I’m doing what I’m born to do.”

Omega-Page is an old-fashioned encounter of good versus evil, mixed in with some shades of gray, as there is just enough truth from Omega that makes viewers question the big picture. There is a well-defined protagonist, Page, seeking to finally overcome a seemingly unstoppable villain in Omega. No stranger to main-event bouts, Omega has been in similar situations where he needed to deliver the match of the night in order for the pay-per-view to be a bona fide success. He has done it with performers that include Kazuchika Okada, Jon Moxley and Hiroshi Tanahashi. On Saturday at Full Gear, he is looking to create something unique and distinct with Page.

“After this pay-per-view ends, will I be able to take this story—the one that ‘Hangman’ and I have told—and place it amongst some of my favorites?” Omega says. “Can I hang the ‘Hangman’ story on the mantle alongside the Okada story, the [Kota] Ibushi story, the Moxley story, The Elite story and the Bullet Club Civil War? Will the ‘Hangman’ story belong there? My hope is that it will.”

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.