For months now the story between Hangman Adam Page and Kenny Omega has centred around how much of a team they are. This title match with Chuck Taylor and Trent, both as characters and as a team known as Best Friends, came at a time when a lot of those questions appeared to be redundant. The gloriously insane Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing had seen Kenny and Hangman reunite over a glass of milk and whiskey respectively, seemingly putting an end to the tension in their midst. Some people do escape rooms or Mongolian cooking classes to help with teambuilding. For the Mega Cowboys, beating up the Inner Circle seemed to do the trick instead.
Yet, at the peak of their cooperation as a team, it appears the only way for Page and Omega is now down. In the pre-match interview Hangman talked of ‘my titles’ and seemed annoyed when Kenny uttered his singles competitor catchphrase. The two still have separate entrances, and the tags between the two appear at times to be filled with a bit more venom than is strictly necessary between partners.
Best Friends on the other hand, arrived together in Trent’s mum’s car (and I will be speaking to Craig about introducing a ‘number of mums’ statistic), held hands on the way to the ring and with their first tag being a handshake, were clearly here to highlight the very epitome of what it is to be a tightly-knit tag team.
As is the way with AEW generally though, this was just part of a very long story, and therefore we didn’t see the implosion of the tag champs here. In fact the stats show that as a team they are working very well together which allowed them to dominate this match. 63% match offence speaks for itself, and notably Page and Omega also had more tags and more double team moves than their supposedly more coherent opponents.
Indeed the opening salvos showed why they are such a perfectly matched wrestling pair. Starting off against Chuck Taylor, Omega showed his technical wrestling prowess, whilst when Page entered the fray against Trent, he showed off some trade mark strikes and power moves. Whilst the champs certainly didn’t have it all their own way, the match flow shows that they were largely in control, and this control was maintained with a superb array of double team moves and transitions. Tensions? What tensions?
Only once in the opening half of the match did Best Friends really have the upper hand, when a hot-tag to the Kentucky Gentleman eventually resulted in him flipping Omega over him on the outside, where he ignominiously landed on both his neck and Hangman’s prone body. This briefly left Kenny out of the action whilst Hangman fought off his foes on his own, but it wasn’t long before the Cleaner was back to execute a perfect missile dropkick followed by a sumptuous fisherman buster to again take charge.
It was only towards the end of the match that the overriding narrative took hold again. Having survived a particularly nasty looking spike piledriver from Chuck, Kenny executed a trio of snap-dragon suplexes (surely one of the most beautiful moves in wrestling today) and the champions set up for their Last Call finisher. But Trent ducked, and Chuck yanked Kenny out of the ring. Seizing their opportunity, Best Friends hit Strong Zero on Hangman, and only a lunging dive from Kenny saved the match for his team. As Excalibur was quick to point out on commentary, Hangman would not have kicked out. Without his partner, their title reign…his title reign…would have been over.
This seemed to spark Hangman to life though. He didn’t like ‘The people getting what they want’, interrupting the Best Friends hug and, despite nearly getting pinned again, soon hit the Deadeye on Trent. The kickout at 2, only delayed the inevitable however, as Page executed the Buckshot Lariat for the 3 count and the victory.
In truth, as a match it was a tad disappointing. Whilst the near falls from Best Friends were incredibly close (strangely they actually had more pin attempts overall in the match) and had me on the edge of my seat, it felt like Chuck and Trent never really got into top gear and you feel like there are plenty of better matches to come from Page and Omega when they move on to other opponents.
And speaking of other opponents, during the match FTR had come to ringside with a cooler of beers to watch proceedings. Whilst Tony Schiavone very professionally turned down the offer of a cool-one whilst on the job, when the offer was made to Hangman at the end of the bout, he of course greedily accepted. Kenny Omega however has no truck with the evils of alcohol, and reacted by pouring his beer out on the floor. A scuffle ensued with the former Revival before the Young Bucks intervened to try and keep the peace.
But the image that we were left with as Fyter Fest went off the air? Page and Omega, on opposite sides of the melee, jawing and gesticulating at each other. Whilst the two teams who are supposed to be diametrically opposed stood together in the middle of the ring, the tag team champions were now divided.
Teamwork makes the dream work...for now. How long will that last? Roll on the next chapter in one of the best bits of long-term storytelling I’ve seen in American wrestling for years.