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The Cowboy’s Mandate: Adam Page as a Champion Fighting For His Culture

Updated: May 27, 2022

Note: Greyson Peltier’s columns feature social analysis and discuss the fight to Change The World, through the lens of kayfabe. Strong language may be used and concepts presented may not represent conventional practices.

In my previous analyses of Hangman Adam Page, I have explained how he is an ideal athlete-activist for helping to counter intolerant ideologies in young men, a values-based leader, and a game-changer in terms of engaging a quietly growing segment of rural America towards progressive ideals and inclusion against an insurgency of hate. As champion, I believe he remains perhaps one of the most prominent figures in sports with this important agenda and a strong, relatable narrative. However, this analysis will depart briefly from the normative objectives Page pushes towards and lean a bit more toward the positive, brutal reality of society as it stands now and how a leader like Page responds to it. As I stated shortly after his promo last week attacking his upcoming opponent CM Punk, where some labeled Page as a heel, I believe his actions are consistent with his values and his use of substantial aggression is to an extent imperative to his mission, though they may partially be a new expression of his long-known personal issues. Even through his aggression, Page has shown self-awareness, including stating he had a “cold heart” while on commentary on Dynamite, which is one of many indications he has the tools to overcome.

“Don’t forget the struggle, don’t forget your roots, and don’t sell out.” - H2O

Fighting For His Movement

In addition to his positions on larger social issues, it is important to view Hangman in terms of what he represents within pro wrestling and his role in the development of the AEW movement. Hangman’s storyline is an integral part of the original alternative culture created around the Being The Elite series that formed AEW. This culture, in my opinion, is not as tethered to the historical state of pro wrestling as it is to the DIY ethos of cultures like skateboarding, as evidenced in its critics’ view of AEW’s business model as a “T-Shirt Company,” and subsets of punk rock like folk-punk specifically in Page’s case. (See “Misanthropic Drunken Loner” by Days N Daze.) BTE feels to me like extra segments of playing around that could be in place in an old skate video. This contributes to why there is strong overlap between CM Punk and Page’s fan bases. Punk’s approach, specifically the legendary Pipebomb Promo, was an early harbinger of the sentiment that created the “Elite Era,” but his accomplishments were obviously outside this frame.

On the other hand, Hangman’s story is solidly and solely part of the “Elite Era” of the sport, not a designed as a callback to the Attitude Era or the PG Era (though Page has been likened to Steve Austin among others), or any other era, unlike what can be said of many of those big-name athletes who joined AEW after being stars in WWE. After the introduction of these new big names, I have seen some sentiment on social media that fans feel like the distinctives of the original AEW are either gone or diluted. In spite of Page's feud with members of The Elite, he can be seen as carrying the torch for what they started after they became self-absorbed, greedy sneaker heads (which, by the way, is also a common way leaders in skateboarding turn heel). He stated on the Insight with Chris Van Vliet podcast that he counts Matt and Nick as the closest thing to mentors he had in the wrestling industry. Page may view this focus on newcomers as being opposed to the original AEW movement’s character, hence antipathy to Punk, as his arrival in August was the first indicator of this shift. On a personal level, Page may feel overshadowed by these big names and it is triggering his long-known insecurities.

“Tough enough for rodeo but he can be so sweet, that’s the kind of cowboy he will be.” - Ariel Hutchins

Being The Cowboy

Even a brief perusal of Hollywood portrayals of the Cowboys of old shows a highly aggressive form of fighting as an essential part of the identity. His opponents have long attacked Page’s use of the Cowboy identity as illegitimate but each and every time Page has risen to the occasion, including incorporating the Texas Death Match into his repertoire. All the while Hangman has shown a level of diplomacy towards his opponents that fits with his narrative.

However, make no doubt about it, Cowboy Shit is a tough, raw, primal mindset that replicates the aggressive heel combat style without replicating its toxicity. And it must be that way. If his approach was weaker in any way, he would be vulnerable to attack and less effective. I once told skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen that when skateboarding loses its edge, it loses its efficacy. Mullen then asked me what I meant by “edge.” Here, “edge” must be based in strong combat with the Cowboy mindset in mind but perfectly balanced with the identity of BTE’s quirky, highly open, and vulnerable narrative storytelling approach.

The ability of alternative cultures to create and maintain social change comes from this “edge.” Specifically, in this case the ability of Page’s narrative to shield young men from nationalists and others with intolerant ideas who come in selling fascism wrapped in strength, combat, and primal instinct along with unfettered rhetoric framed as such may come from his capabilities in the same areas. Having a culture that embraces radical strength but has positive values is the way to counter those who hijack this mindset for nefarious reasons. It can be analogized to inoculation, which similar to vaccines, may make you feel a bit sick for a day or two so it can allow your body to gain its ability to handle the threat of disease. Being exuberantly nice 100% of the time would not create the same effect. Some may believe in catharsis, that wrestling with your problems can be a more viable path than suppressing them, and this is the path Adam Page is taking. His story, and many of the narratives in AEW and this era of the sport overall, are leading me to believe that embracing your strength, creating character development rather than just suppressing bad emotions, can be a great way to build flow from your negative circumstances towards success.

In contemporary politics, commentator Rick Smith has long asserted that “the working class wants somebody they believe is going to fight for them, even if they are fighting the wrong battle.” This principle is the apparent reason why working class rural Americans turned to former President Trump and the GOP, even against their own economic interest, instead of the weaker but more polished approach of mainstream Democrats. Hence, an assertive approach and walking the walk and talking the talk as a fighting champion makes Page stronger as an example for the demographic wherein he can have the most social impact. This is true even if his stance towards CM Punk is the wrong object for his consternation and ire.

“I don’t know much but I do know this, with a golden heart comes a rebel fist.” - Streetlight Manifesto

Page is Punk

One commentator believes there is a convergence between Page and Punk in terms of their insecurity, which is an angle I had not thought of before. This also makes sense with my view that Page’s anxious tendencies did not disappear but rather are now being channeled into more intense fighting. Their mutual insecurity certainly seems to be contributing to a ratcheting effect in the tensions leading up to the title match. However, as shown in the examples above, Page’s story and values align with CM Punk in numerous ways. So then how can these two individuals who are largely in agreement fight in a non-“masturbatory” fashion?

Well, punk culture shows numerous examples of aggressive action taken to control their culture. This often occurred in the form of fights in the mosh pit between factions and repudiation of those in their own culture who hold intolerant views, ergo “Nazi punks fuck off.” As for less consequential issues, for example, punks will call out “posers,” skaters shun those who grab the skateboard from its “trucks” or “mall-grab,” and surfers will have territorial “locals only” rules over surf spots that are very harshly defended even against other core surfers. These types of actions are often seen as negative by many members of these cultures, and I agree that they are not good behaviors, but again, we here are looking at the reality of cultural behavior, not the ideal of where we want it to be. Punk can be viewed as breaching protected territory in using Page’s buckshot lariat against Dark Order member John Silver on Wednesday’s Dynamite, and as such, Page confronted him and gave him the middle finger.

There has been disagreement between CM Punk’s faction of straight edge and the overall punk community, which has receded as extreme forms of straight edge have lost relevance over the years. However, historically certainly a folk punk Misanthropic Drunken Loner could have expected serious retribution from early extremist iterations of straight edge, even though these groups likely agreed on core values and many issues.

Balancing the strength necessary to retain your title with the values you represent and seek to use your title to advance is always the challenge, a challenge Page will again rise to and prove himself in doing.

Greyson Peltier is the host of The Fixerpunk Podcast, a communications consultant specializing in social impact and political advocacy, and founder of Laguna Beach, CA-based consulting firm Off Speed Solutions. He has been on both sides of the political aisle and has worked for multiple organizations. Peltier holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Southern California and has been featured by media outlets like Vice, ESPN Radio KLAA, USA Radio Network, and Street Fight Radio.

This content is for entertainment and general informational purposes only. The viewer should not rely solely upon such and consult a competent professional before deciding to follow any course of action.

An edit was made for clarity to a sentence which originally read “Page may view this focus on newcomers, as opposed to the original AEW movement’s character, hence antipathy to Punk as his introduction.” It now reads “Page may view this focus on newcomers as being opposed to the original AEW movement’s character, hence antipathy to Punk, as his arrival in August was the first indicator of this shift.“


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