Updated: Feb 22
On Monday, February 21, 2022, the reign of "Hangman" Adam Page will reach its 100th day and to honour this achievement, I wanted to rank his reaching the century mark in comparison to the path taken by the three World Champions that preceded him. The intention herein is to limit the scope of my analysis to this specific time period for each wrestler and, as such, not reference any matches or angles that followed the initial 100 days following their title victories. Put another way, I'm attempting to avoid letting hindsight cloud my judgment.
4) Jon Moxley (February 29, 2020 to June 8, 2020)
Beginning with Mox may surprise some but I maintain his defeat over Chris Jericho in front of ~7,000 fans in Chicago unfortunately marked the highpoint of his title reign. Of course, nearly all of Mox's first 100 days as champion were marred by the onset of the global pandemic and all the unknowns that came with that. Undoubtedly, this contributed greatly to the booking of his first Defense as an Empty Arena Match against Jake Hager in what was the longest Dynamite match to date. Performing in venues without a paying audience quickly became the norm, and despite a brawling and hard-hitting effort against the recently-debuting Mr. Brodie Lee at Double or Northing, the environmental factors were still so fresh and distracting to fully overcome. Further, I remember feeling that having Lee lose via Knockout using the Bulldog Choke was a necessary evil after being launched so quickly into the World Championship scene; however, I maintain the lack of a more decisive victory was not ideal. We should also recall that this match was not the last on the card in deference to the first Stadium Stampede which claimed the Main Event spotlight that evening.
The early days of this reign stand apart as well due to Moxley's competing in four Non-Title bouts , each serving its own purpose. The victory over Faboo Andre was an enjoyable novelty as it marked the first time top title holder competed on Dark; defeating Kazarian reminded us that Mox was capable of more technical prowess; making short work of Brodie Lee's "handpicked" protégé Preston Vance served to further the nascent emergence of the Exalted One; lastly, and in something of a hidden gem, Jon defeated Robert Anthony (on Dark) and notably took 13 minutes to do it.
The only other AEW match on Moxley's record from this time period is one in which he didn't set foot in the ring; for that reason it's not even listed on his CageMatch profile; I'm talking about the post-Revolution fallout episode of Dynamite. The match in question was aTag Team bout with Mox pairing up with Darby Allin against the opponents each had defeated 4 days prior, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara respectively. A pre-match attack took Moxley out of action for the entirety of the bout. He then re-appeared following the 3-count at which point he was promptly put through a table off the stage for his efforts. Despite the circumstances, AEW counted this as a Tag Team loss for Moxley and I have always done the same.
∴ Grade: C
3) Adam Page (November 13, 2021 to February 21, 2022) Focussing on the here and now is problematic when the past looms so readily over the present. As well documented, Page's title victory was the culmination of two-plus years of AEW stories with an even richer background beyond spanning into multiple other companies. As Tony Khan gleefully revealed in the post-Full Gear press conference, he had his first four World Champions planned out well in advance with the crowning of the "Anxious Millennial Cowboy" serving as the beginning of the final chapter.
Page's reign was immediately overshadowed by, or at the very least compelled to share the spotlight with, the newly-turned Bryan Danielson presenting as the first challenger following the American Dragon's victory in the Eliminator Tournament. In the 32 days that followed, Danielson won four Singles matches on consecutive episodes of Dynamite; during the same timeframe, Page provided the AEW faithful with many well-intentioned and impassioned words but had exactly zero matches. For me, it was simply too much talk and not enough action from Hangman, which ultimately has made him less sympathetic, relatable and likeable as a result. When the two finally locked up at Winter is Coming, the joy of seeing these two athletes go an hour was soured a little even in the immediate aftermath with the knowledge that Page's first title Defense was not a victory. The sequel added violent elements and, more importantly, a decisive ending. The subsequent vanquishing of Lance Archer in a Texas Death Match has provided further insight into what Page is and can still be.
In addition, during these 100 days, Page also wrestled on Dark for, remarkably, the first time in his entire AEW run. He teamed with Dark Order allies Alan Angels and Preston Vance against the HFO and, despite having an array of its own members, Serpentico of all people. Even this irked me as it felt like such a throwaway moment and opportunity. Clearly, Khan wanted to have all champions compete in front of the Battle of the Belts audience but even a 5-7 minute 1-on-1 encounter against Daniel Garcia or Lee Moriarty would have certainly served us more. ∴ Grade: C+
2) Chris Jericho (August 31, 2020 to December 9, 2020) It's been said that you always remember your first and thus Le Champion has the unique lasting honour of forever being known as the inaugural World Champion . The fact we then had to wait nearly five weeks for the launch of Dynamite diminishes the accomplishment only slightly as, in this case, his absence truly made the heart grow fonder. Even so, I stand by the fact that the company didn't fully capitalize on all the storyline implications when Jericho actually had the belt stolen from him while eating Longhorn Steakhouse in the days following his title victory.
Jericho made a trifecta of Defenses within his first 100 days beginning with Darby Allin in a Philadelphia Street Fight; the tap out finish was decried by some at the time but the image of Allin in handcuffs is my lasting memory. Next, Jericho defeated Cody at Full Gear after MJF threw in the towel in what may truly end up being the recently-departed Rhodes' one and only World Championship match in the company so it seems his self-imposed stipulation of never challenging again will remain in tact. Finally, Jericho submitted Scorpio Sky after the latter pinned him two weeks prior in a Tag Match.
Even with the above defeat (his only that year), Jericho managed to be front and centre of most episodes of Dynamite during the fall of 2019. Most famously, the Inner Circle was formed after he, partnering with the debuting Santana and Ortiz defeated The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) to end the night. A pair of Main Event Tag Team wins with Guevara also followed to set up the above-noted World Tag Team Championship match with SCU. ∴ Grade: B+
1) Kenny Omega (December 2, 2020 to March 12, 2021) The first (and to date only) World Champion to begin his reign on television is Kenny Omega. A memorable show closing angle saw the Best Bout Machine align with Don Callis and promptly scurry off to IMPACT Wrestling. This sent reverberations around the wrestling world as the Forbidden Door burst open.
For those who value logic, Omega's next Singles matches made complete sense in that he had earned his own title match by winning the Eliminator Tournament. Effectively, he circled back and defeated old rival Joey Janela, who had been removed from a First Round matchup with Kenny due to COVID protocols; (Omega beat Janela's Tag Team parter, Sonny Kiss, instead in under 30 seconds). His subsequent first Defense against Rey Fénix, who also had to withdraw due to injury, proved an exciting way to kick off 2021. From here, Omega did something nobody else had done and faced off against the man he defeated, Jon Moxley, for the company's top prize, this time in an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match.
During his 100 days, Omega engaged in multiple extracurricular activities as well. First, he defended his AAA Mega Championship against Laredo Kid at TripleMania XXVIII He then pinned IMPACT Wrestling's World Champion Rich Swann in a Trios Match Main Event at Hard to Kill in January. He continued to appear in the promotion and on March 9 was placed in a "Winner Takes All - Title vs Title" Match scheduled for the following month. Back at home, Kenny further strengthened his alliances, twice winning with the Good Brothers. He also found victory with the visiting/invading NJPW-star KENTA against Moxley and Lance Archer in a Tag Team Falls Count Anywhere Match. Simply put, Kenny was unbeatable. In any country and in every promotion. ∴ Final Grade: A-
--- Back to the main purpose of this article, Page's story is obviously still being written but looking at his first 100 days leaves me divided. From bell to bell, he has been everything I want and, to be fair, even more than I could have rightly expected. The reality is that AEW as a promotion has become much less champion-centric and so, when not in the ring, we still hear from Page most weeks (on commentary, in promos/interviews) but something is still clearly lacking.
I'm of the mind that Page will defeat Adam Cole in early March at Revolution. Beyond, that, I think Hangman needs to take on a former champion or two to truly legitimize himself. A Jericho matchup at Battle of the Belts II in April provides some intrigue but I don't think anyone expects the Demo God to win so I think I prefer Moxley in that spot. Reportedly, he was the originally planned winner of the Eliminator Tournament so in a way this sets us back on course. Which leaves Omega in a rematch, the rubber match in fact, at Double or Nothing.
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