“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals,– Revelation 6:1-17
And I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying,
Come and see. And I saw, and beheld a white horse…
And his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”
March 5, 2023 saw some special occurrences in the medium of professional wrestling. At the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, the people inside this arena were subject to spectacles beyond compare – the unholy match between The Elite and The House of Black and the devilishly superb 60-minute Iron Man Match between Bryan Danielson and Maxwell Jacob Friedman.
The Texas Deathmatch between “Hangman” Adam Page and Jon Moxley, however, is special to me for reasons that may be silly, but still I sit, enjoying that I am not alone in this.
The story is easy to follow if one is truly paying attention, as the pages are scribed with betrayals, learning from failures, and the existential mortality of man. It involves a freak accident that concussed The Anxious Millennial Cowboy to the point he couldn’t remember his own child’s name for an uncomfortable amount of time. It also sees both men saying the most badass things I’ve ever heard – some of which would fit nicely into a marvelous work of literature. This wrestling storyline is a testament that not every rivalry needs a championship to be special – all you need is a damn good reason to fight.
But this had to be settled in blood; it had to bring forth and tempt Charon who ferries across the River Styx. On that fateful San Francisco night, the terror of human capability would be tested.
Prior to this Sunday’s proceedings, an article I wrote, One-Shot Entrance, was published at Wrestle Inn. In it, I stated that Adam Page should enter a match to The Outlaws’ cover of “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”, and in each time I’ve watched this match since, the hairs on my arm stand on end, goosebumps greet my skin, and a shiver runs through my spine, knowing I was right, and knowing this tune accompanying Page made for a special one-off moment.
From the ominous, softly played guitar, to the build-up of the intro, I turned from awe, with mouth agape, to a smile so large that my dimples hurt my cheeks with cackling glee. I had to maintain composure, for this is just wrestling, this is just a match – hell no. This is the shit that makes wrestling special. This is what we watch for, to be enamored by.
As his blonde hair flowed, it was baptized in crimson shadow as the Hangman strutted to the ring. The arena itself was bathed in darkness and in red – a harbinger of what was to come; a hell that was to be brought about, and all the layers that come with it. As a barb-wire table sat neatly against the ring, Page awaited he whom the bell tolled for.
Moxley emerged through the crowd to his usual tune of X’s “Wild Thing”; this was nothing special. To him, this is but another Wednesday, and shows he still, still does not take Page that seriously beyond the fact this build was literally born of blood – that he will just run through his doe-eyed opponent.
Before the bell can even ring, Moxley is assaulted immediately by his foe, as he is wailed on. The crowd is eating this up like a well cooked dinner served by a five-star chef. Fitting, for the fork spot later on.
Eventually in the ring, the most important weapons start off the in-ring competition – elbow strikes and chest slaps. The human body colliding on human body in primal rage that satisfies our goopy wrestling fan brains like the crowds in the Roman Colosseum in the days of the gladiator. But this ain’t no Russell Crowe flick.
Lacing his fist and later his cowboy boot with barb-wire, Hangman is unrelenting, unforgiving towards Moxley, who soon fires back, going so far as to bite the Virginian Outlaw.
Moxley was born in this fight, soaked in his own plasma, but Hangman is blessed by the gods of Texas Deathmatches. Only he without sin and without blood is without honor here.
The aforementioned fork pierced through Page’s cranium, leaking claret – the blood of both men has been spilt.
Much like a duel outside a shady saloon, the two attempt to shoot each other into a chair – which is also wrapped in barb-wire – but Moxley’s gun left the smoke from his pistol as Page collided with it. Moxley does not cease in this; the inanimate chair is thirsty for blood.
The Blackpool Combat Club leader got too greedy, mauling Page on a turnbuckle, but his own thorn pierces him once he’s dropped onto a pair of chairs he previously adorned with a barb-wire crown. Showing the tenacity of the Cowboy, Hangman wrapped that same wire around himself and flung his own body toward the Ohio native.
The once-bloodthirsty San Francisco crowd who clamored for and loved every bit of carnage shown previously covers their mouths in shock, yet they can’t look away, and they can’t not make noise. Who these guys embody and who these guys are, it feels so real and raw, yet it must happen. It has to happen.
“You sick fuck!” are elicited from the crowd as Moxley, wrapped in a chain, stomps on a brick sandwich – Page’s hand as the meat. My own hand curled at this, almost like phantom pains telling me my own bones were being crushed.
Moxley hogties Page with the chain, feeding him more agony – and Hangman is the type to bite the hand that feeds.
Every time these men clash in this match, it’s like gasoline and water, refusing to mix, yet clashing in the substance they are. Each time a fatal blow is dealt, they get right back up. These are creatures whose hearts endlessly pump blood, coursing through them with the power of warriors.
Moxley’s hand he dealt himself stabs him in the back once more, as he’s impaled on a chair covered with barb-wire (goodness, I’ve said barb-wire a lot), shocking him, and showing a weakness not often shown in him. This match is getting to him, but his pride won’t let him go down that easily.
Jon goes far enough as to claw at Adam’s back, but he meets it in kind, actually drawing blood. Not happy with this, The Deathrider rakes barb-wire across Page’s back. Like the Romans of old did with Jesus of Nazareth, like he did with Adam Cole in another Texas Deathmatch the year prior on an episode of Rampage, Hangman adorns Moxley with a crown of barb-wire. Reeling, yet pissed off enough, Moxley tosses Page onto another barb-wire table, almost leading to a count-out as a tumbleweed bounced about, many miles away.
Lariat upon lariat, blood for blood, this textbook is written in violence. Moxley unleashed a Death Rider onto Page and curb stomps him in tribute to Shield comrade Seth Rollins, and chokes Hangman out. Moxley once again lies in wait, telling Page to stay down as he wraps the chain along his wrist. Page, prepared, grabbed hold of it and pulled Moxley in like an expert fisherman, clotheslining him.
The noose is almost ready, and it’s about time to hang. Almost mockingly, Moxley wrapped it around his neck before he’s met with a brick face. Excalibur fittingly described this as Stan Hansen vs Bruiser Brody.
High noon arrives and Hangman lariats Moxley over the top rope, grabbed the end of the chain, and hung Moxley over it.
The horns, the trumpets blast from a cosmic abyss, a self-apocalypse, and panic sets in Moxley. Sensing in a few moments his body would writhe and his legs would shake as life would leave him, Moxley acts on instinct as a father, husband, and hungry wrestler. He tapped frantically, conceding, lest he become a wraith, a reminder of his own folly. These fathers have bled tonight.
The Hangman got his man, and a blood debt was paid in full, and rode away on his pale horse.
Matches like this in wrestling come not too often on mainstream platforms, but on March 5, this match told a wonderful, brutal, beautiful story of the indomitable human spirit.
I understand that bouts such as this Texas Deathmatch aren’t for everyone, but I know we’re all smart enough to move on to what is for us. As for me? I loved it.
This story 100% called for blood and brutality, between two men who had different approaches to this match, but clashed wonderfully. It didn’t need a title; it needed an intense rivalry befitting of two men and the town that seemingly wasn’t built for the two of them.
Perhaps the next time someone approaches Hangman with thoughts of blood, they’ll stop on that ridge on whatever dark and windy day, and change their ways to avoid the wrath of that Ghost Rider in the Sky.