The Butterfly Effect of Hangman Page

When ‘Hangman’ Adam Page tweeted about the Monarch butterfly, naturally there was little additional thought. What read like any other Adam Page tweet turned into something much more when he showed up on Dynamite in Monarch butterfly pants. In retrospect, The Elite, a group previously consisting of Hangman, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes, are incredible storytellers that take proper care of the nuanced details for fans to dissect and pick apart. So, of course the significance would be far greater.

This isn’t the first time that Page has used fashion to make a statement. While in Orlando for AEW Revolution, Page wore rainbow colors to support the LGBTQIA+ community in the wake of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill enacted in the state of Florida this past March. This time it’s different. Page’s career has often been defined by The Elite, but when that’s taken away, Hangman suffers a substantial loss.

When All Elite Wrestling formed, Hangman was positioned as a top star. He and his friends had left the independent wrestling scene behind to create what some referred to at the time as a “super-indie” promotion. This was quickly proven to not be the case, as legendary professional wrestler Chris Jericho would defeat Page to become the first AEW World Champion, a moment that haunted Page for years to come.

Hangman’s Butterfly Effect

In 2020, the Young Bucks competed in a tag team gauntlet match to earn an opportunity at then-AEW Tag Team Champions Kenny Omega and Adam Page, two of their brothers in the Elite. As they were getting ready to set up the Meltzer driver, Hangman came stumbling to the ring. Red-eyed and conflicted, he grabbed Nick Jackson’s leg to stop him, allowing Matt to be pinned in a roll-up. FTR would then beat Best Friends to win the number one contender’s spot.

This frustrated the Bucks to no end. In their eyes, Page had no reason to do what he had done. In Hangman’s defense, he desperately wanted an out to prove himself as a competitor. So, Matt and Nick gave him his out: he was no longer officially part of The Elite.

Being The Elite

While Hangman was winning career-defining singles matches like the one against PAC at Full Gear 2019 or winning the tag titles with Kenny Omega, the Bucks continually demeaned Page for his weight and his status on the marquee. Hangman then cut a promo with two words that would change him forever: Cowboy Shit. Nearly two years later, he would do the same in a career-defining moment.

“When you fall off, you get back up. You get on the horse, you keep riding, blazing on ahead because, to me, that is Cowboy Shit.”

Hangman Adam Page, AEW Dynamite; October 16, 2021

Everybody can relate to such a sentiment of not feeling good enough. Despite trying, almost is never enough.

The Transformation

The transformation from egg to caterpillar begins once the Dark Order comes along and saves Page from himself. They guide him away from the toxic parts of himself and eventually he gains his confidence back. At Full Gear 2021, Hangman would face former friend-turned-foe Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship. In an emotional main event contested, the two fought to be elite for over 25 minutes. Page and Omega threw everything that they had at each other and countered it just as many times. In the end, the Bucks would come to the ring, doing so on Hangman’s side.

He had warned them on the Rampage leading up to the pay-per-view not to interfere in the match. But, as Omega is spent and Hangman seems to be the clear victor, he stares at Matt Jackson silently asking if it was okay. Wordlessly, Matt nods, prompting Page to hit his patented buckshot lariat and win the AEW World Championship. In this moment they knew it was his time. Not only had Omega become someone they didn’t recognize, he had always been worthy despite being overshadowed by the other members of The Elite.

As champion, the realization hit Page that a shiny piece of metal with a leather strap does not dictate his entire life. He is worth more than a championship. Thus, once he loses the prize, while it is a significant loss, Page doesn’t let it phase him as he had before. This time, he has all the tools in his arsenal that prove he’s discovered the champion within. 

The Rebirth

Since losing the AEW World Championship, Page has spent a lot of time “floating,” but this has given him the time to reflect on the events of the last three years. As he states in his tweet, approximately 80% of Monarch butterflies have depleted in the last two decades. In much less time than that, The Elite has lost the same percentage of its members.

On the August 3 episode of AEW Dynamite, The Undisputed Elite, a group consisting of ReDRagon, Adam Cole and The Young Bucks, returned to television. Adam Cole gave a motivating speech that ended in he and reDRagon attacking the Young Bucks. Before Cole could deliver a steel chair assisted Panama Sunrise on Matt Jackson, Page’s music hits and he beelines for the ring with a pipe in hand, dawning his Monarch butterfly jeans.

Once Cole, O’Reilly and Fish exit the ring, Page extends a hand to Matt Jackson, which he accepts with much relief. While Page is in his rebirth period, the Bucks are in the same spot he once was, and now he can use what he learned from the Dark Order to guide the Bucks to salvation.

In many ways, Page’s career is a metaphor for change. How the consequences of one small action can affect the entire trajectory of one’s path. However, during a Monarch’s migration, they undergo phases of life and death. This is an important undertaking, as they can solve their greatest problems by doing so. This reminds us that death shouldn’t be feared but recognized as part of the journey and a return to self.

This is Hangman Page’s butterfly effect.

For more on how you can help rebuild the Monarch butterfly population, visit Save Our Monarchs, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the embattled Monarch butterflies.

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