Hangman: Scorched Earth

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A glass of bourbon now grows lonesome. Its drinker has abandoned it altogether for another flavor. As it grows warm and untouched, sweating from its glass and staining the wood below it, the Hangman drinks of gasoline and breathes flame, for he only sees a world on fire. 

When “Hangman” Adam Page returned on July 3, 2024, from suspension due to his rageful fury at December 2023’s World’s End, there was no trace of the anxious millennial cowboy, no sermons, no cowboy shit, no Chili’s baby back ribs, and no jokes. 

Only pure, unadulterated hatred for the world that once revered him so. 

The Wild Card during the early stages of AEW’s 2024 Owen Hart Cup, Page emerged to new music, sopping wet hair, and a scowl burned on his face as though Satan himself branded it upon him.

Against the hopeful Jeff Jarrett who sought to win this tournament in the name of his dear late friend Owen, nothing could stand in the way. Yet, fueled by passion and love, Jarrett gave everything he had, every teardrop in each strike, every year of processing grief released in pain and spirit. He fought as though this was the last match he would ever have. The first of the Hangman’s labors on his journey of revenge.

The noose of disappointment hung him, as Hangman’s fury was relentless, undying. Under the despising Chicago clamor, he was subject to the cheers of a man whose soul had wrought him with trauma. 

Whose house? Swerve’s house.

Communicated without his voice, the story was already told. He was here for vengeance. 

The people, they too betrayed him. Chanting for the man who did him harm and upended his life. Why would he fight for their love and affection again? He did everything right, he acted as he should have, and yet the public praises the morally bankrupt and turns them into good men, fabricated in the Hangman’s eyes. 

Oh, but it did not stop there. He is alone, deprived of safety, privacy, friends, fans, and his old home; all gone save for his family.

Ever the sycophants, Matt and Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks congratulated him, but their words fell empty into nothingness. 

Why would he care of what they say and offer? They took him in, only to abandon him again and again. When he asked them to accompany him to his All Out 2019 match against Chris Jericho, they refused. When he and Kenny Omega were set against them for Revolution 2019, they taunted him. When he cost them a chance to challenge him and Omega, they kicked him out of The Elite. When he was tormented by Swerve Strickland as he broke into his house, they did not follow to help. 

This is not for them. They’ve only made Hangman more callous. 

The Aaron’s Creek, Virginia native can’t even call on his merry band of Dark Order stablemates, for they have splintered off and justifiably separated themselves from him as karma.

Truly, he is on an island alone.

Swerve Strickland, he’s enjoyed the fruits of his labors, born of wickedness and meanness that exists in all creatures. Though he errs on the side of good, he’s still that vile man who was baptized in evil when Sting indeed placed him in a casket at All In 2023. He was something far worse than a man. 

The corruption of a lost Hangman was a way to make up for all of it. One of the most beloved talents, easy prey. Though he was friends with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, he had no gold thanks to CM Punk and lost his friendship with The Dark Order. Something was missing.

From WrestleDream to Full Gear and beyond, they warred, with Strickland dead set on making it personal. Vowing to defeat him more than physically, he spoke of the Hangman’s family, broke into his home, and got uncomfortably close to his son, claiming his son. It was at Full Gear when the Mogul hung the Hangman by chain, closing out their Texas Deathmatch. 

The tide was ever-changing. Swerve’s popularity grew, and the chants followed him. An angel’s choir of imposter cherubim singing to a false idol, and he, a Messiah turned into a bitter antichrist destined to make gunpowder through sulfur within the crust of a warm and deadly volcano.

Fast-forward to the next stop on the Owen Hart Cup, and The Hangman fought an old arch nemesis in Jay White. Cunning as he was, even amid no allies, he had to use all of his mental prowess to survive just a little, but it was not enough as the Hangman cut off his breath and The Switchblade breathed no longer. 

The Owen Hart Cup is littered with stories and filled with incredible wrestling talent that raises the stakes for everyone. Each turning wheel moves the vehicle for sport until the finals when the ultimate bell rings forthwith.

Adam Page’s presence is an anomaly, one such creature so chaotic that order fights with it. With Jeff Jarrett inserted to enforce the match ending properly as the Hangman dances with the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson once more with a tempo in double time, it is justified. As Danielson vies for one last chance before full-time retirement, Hangman demands salvation. 

The match was hard-fought, with Danielson’s blood wrung from him like a damp washcloth. There was no mercy within the heart and soul of the former heart and soul that was The Hangman. It was not to be for Page, as the still-beating heart of Danielson survived with the sheriff figure of Jarrett seeing to it that the match ended fairly and humanely – nearly even ending the match for Danielson’s health’s sake.

The Hangman is all alone. A Child of God in a desolate heart, no longer the golden hero of the public consciousness. Even has he offered to join The Elite in an effort to cause great harm to Swerve Strickland, there’s no community within his veins.

He’s had to change houses, protect his family further, and spend everything. He was humiliated outright and left behind with naught to count on but his wife and child. Safety and privacy be damned eternal, so a message must be sent. A sacrifice must be burnt as a sweet savor unto the nights to come. 

Swerve Strickland knows a reckoning is coming. Whether he dances through fire is yet to be seen, but it is coming; before the flames lick him, he will feel the oncoming warm winds of it grasping at him. 

For these are the embers of a scorched earth, burning evermore. 

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