In a tremendous 5 on 5 eliminator at Fight for the Fallen 2021, Adam Page and the Dark Order lost to the Super Elite in a match that resulted in Adam Page no longer being able to challenge Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship. This was a major shock to pretty much every single person (don’t pretend you weren’t surprised) as this was seemingly locked in for the main event of All Out in Chicago.
The biggest questions we all have right now is why would they do this and who is going to replace Page? While I could speculate on a few different names (and I have to imagine it’ll be a Jungle Boy, Christian or Kingston type), the bigger question is why would AEW seemingly pull the rug out from under Hangman? The answer to this, while unpopular, is likely very straightforward. It boils down to two simple factors.
The biggest and most obvious reason why Tony Khan and AEW likely made the change is down to just how insane All Out is planned to be at present. Right now, if everything goes to plan, CM Punk will be returning to Professional Wrestling for the first time in seven years. He’ll be set to do this in his hometown in front of a crowd that literally have not stopped chanting his name since the moment he left our screens. On top of that, we’re also seemingly on the cusp of Bryan Danielson making his AEW debut. These are two of the biggest stars of the modern era coming together and joining AEW. These aren’t the kind of debuts that just pop wrestling fans, these are the kind of debuts that have WWE Television partners confused and have potential to cross into wider media than simply wrestling oriented sites and channels. If Hangman were to beat Omega, while it would be incredible, it would immediately be overshadowed by either of these men showing up. Even if they arrived earlier, the world will focus on the new arrivals and not Hangman finally finding his redemption. By holding off, the story can still be told shortly down the line and to be fair, it’s a story with plenty of gas still in the tank. Besides that, Omega does have a good bit more name recognition than Hangman right now and the potential of a staredown between him and Punk with the belt is nothing short of an iconic image people didn’t know they needed 4 years ago.
The other reason is that this really shakes up the perception of what’s happening next with the AEW Title. Even now I know some people won’t think my first point has any validity to it and that Page has been buried, but if we’re being honest AEW has been pretty predictable with the majority of their title changes so far. Moxley was always beating Jericho, Omega had to beat Moxley, Page had to beat Omega. Baker taking the belt from Shida was telegraphed, Archer taking the IWGP US title in a Texas death match in Texas where Archer is a Texan was just too on the nose – there’s been a real feel in the air lately for when a title is about to change hands. I should be clear, I back each of these changes. Changing a title at the right time is everything, especially when you can leave fans wanting a little more…but to take Adam Page’s opportunity away from him right now, right when he’s so close to it is the perfect way of putting that little bit of unpredictability back into the landscape. I’m sure that whoever Omega faces is going to be positioned to be a credible contender and if it is Christian, some people will cynically tell the world that “AEW is desperate to hotshot the title to a WWE reject” only to pretend they were trolling after Christian puts him over. That’s ok too, Jungle Boy recently had pretty much the entire audience who knew he wasn’t going to win think for just a split second he was going to do it. There’s nothing wrong with these kind of defenses and in saving this Hangman/Omega match for something like…Full Gear (you know, the event named after Hangman?) you can ensure there is a continued interest and lead into the major title change. If AEW does land those 2 stars too, you’re potentially looking at it happening in front of more eyes.
With that said, I still firmly believe we’ll have Hangman take the belt unless there is some underlying health issue/injury we’re all unaware of. If AEW has shown the wrestling world anything in it’s short lifespan, it’s that they actually plan ahead. Long term booking is always at play here and they’ve earned that trust from an audience. Expect Omega to get away with some highway robbery in his defence at All Out just so we can get back to the conclusion of our Cowboy Shit in November.
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