by Lee Hazell
At just 25 years old, Hangman Page is working for two of the most prestigious and respected wrestling companies in the world, and is a representative of our generation’s most influential stable, The Bullet Club. Here he talks to SteelChair about his influences, his time as part of The Bullet Club and his upcoming bout with Frankie Kazarian at Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds.
Hangman is an interesting first name. How did you come by it?
Well, it’s not the name my mom and daddy gave me, that’s for sure. I found out I was joining the Bullet Club and so was Adam Cole, around the same time, just a day apart. I knew we would be going to New Japan a lot to represent Bullet Club there. Me and Cole, I think, look kinda similar to a lot of people, and if you’re a Japanese fan who hasn’t seen a lot of us, we probably look really similar, and we have the same first name and a four letter last name. I wanted to switch something up, and as I’m pretty sure Adam Cole had the name Adam first, I adopted Luke Gallows’ gallows thing, put my own twist on it and said, “I’ll be the Hangman.”
What did the Bullet Club see in you to make you one of their members?
I’m a little bit different to the rest of Bullet Club. I’m a little more serious, maybe. A little more vicious, a little more nasty. A group of guys who are all too similar is not a good thing, so I think I brought something different to the group. Also, I’m pretty young. At 25, I’ve got a lot of stuff ahead of me. I think that’s a lot of it.
What’s it like working for such prestigious wrestling companies at just 25 years old?
It’s always been that way for me. I started wrestling when I was 15, so I was, for the most part, always the youngest guy around. When I started working for Ring of Honor, three or so years ago, I’m pretty sure I was the youngest guy there. That’s pretty much always been the case and that’s good. When everybody has done more than you there that’s a good thing. You always want to surround yourself with people who have had more success than you because that’s how you learn and that’s how you grow.
What’s the pressure like to live up to the people who made the Bullet Club name?
It’s cool. It’s a killer opportunity. We’re the hottest thing going in wrestling. I don’t just mean in Ring of Honor or New Japan, I literally mean everywhere. I haven’t been to a wrestling show in the past three years where someone wasn’t wearing a Bullet Club t-shirt. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime that was somehow afforded to me. I’ve been trying to make the absolute most of it and it’s cool to know that something this big will be remembered as one of the hallmarks of wrestling and I get to be a part of that. It’s pretty surreal.
How did you get your start in wrestling?
I don’t know. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t tell you how or when I got my start. When I was a little kid, I was the kind of kid where if I liked something, it wasn’t long before I was trying to do it. When I was a really young kid I got into magic shows and did stuff like that around the house. Wrestling came along when I was nine or ten or so, and within a couple of months of watching I was like, “Ok, now I know how to do this I’m going to do it.” I got the trampoline in the back yard and all that kind of stuff, and, you know, at nine or ten when you do all of that stuff you consider yourself a wrestler. There was never a point where that stopped. A little while of that eventually turned into a friend of mine getting me into a real ring and having proper training. Then we started having little shows in little armouries and high-school gyms and stuff like that and now here I am. Since I was nine years old there’s never really been a time when I wouldn’t say that I’m pursuing wrestling. There wasn’t so much of a start as it just feels like something I’ve been doing my whole life.
What inspired you to get in the business?
No one person in particular, but if I look back to my childhood when I first started watching wrestling I’d probably say the Hardyz were my biggest influence. The first favourite wrestlers of mine. A lot of that was because of the way they wrestled and a lot of it was how cool they were. Also, another part of that was that they were from North Carolina, which is pretty close to home for me. Their dad was a tobacco farmer like my dad, so we had similar backgrounds and I could relate to that. When they wrote one of those biographies that WWE put out back in the day, I read it and there were so many parallels in the way we were raised and how we got into wrestling, even more so than in anyone else’s book I ever read. They were my first favourite wrestlers and, I would say, the first real inspiration I had.
While you were training to be a wrestler you were a high school teacher. How did you being a wrestler affect your teaching?
Yeah, wrestling didn’t affect my teaching career too much, because they took place at separate times. During the week, I would just be Mr. Woltz, or I was what I needed to be on the weekdays and at the weekends I did my thing. I ended up taking a lot of sick days on Fridays and Mondays. I really loved teaching. I did. It’s something I even think one day I’ll go back to, but I was never 100% invested in it. I think that was the way wrestling affected my teaching most. If I wasn’t wrestling, I would have had a much more successful teaching career because I would have been able to give more to it, but I never thought to myself that I wanted to give everything I had to teaching because there was something else that I wanted to do.
Have you had any memorable mentors in the business? What were they like and what did you learn from them.
Yeah, a few here or there. When I was a kid, my cousin was dating a guy from the next town over. He was a pro wrestler, working indies and stuff, and he was a huge inspiration to me as a kid because he was doing what I wanted to do at a bigger level. His name was Justin Flash. Him and his friend Jason Blade were my two trainers when I was 15. They were, more than anybody really, my mentors and trainers. They’re not people who made it to the big national scene, but they were the people that I started the first couple of years in my career with on the road, learning how to wrestle. I would say they were my two biggest mentors and two of my best friends in this world. After my career took off a little bit more and I started doing bigger shows, maybe they weren’t even part of it anymore. I can’t say my mentor was one person over the other because a lot of my training came from working, consistently every week, with people who were better than me. Maybe one would be Jimmy Valiant. I never really wrestled him but he had a training school where I was, near Virginia Tech, so I went up there and did some training. He was a really big mentor who I think taught me a lot.
What was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
That’s a good question. The best piece of advice has almost nothing to do with wrestling. Someone namelessly told me, when I was doing WWE try-outs when I was 18 or 19 or so, he told me to use this business, to use wrestling, and to never let it use you. That’s something that’s stuck with me because we all know those stories about those guys who give their whole life to wrestling and at the end of the day that’s all they’ve got. I think that’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. To live wrestling, but to take from it, don’t let it take you.
Thank you very much Adam. Anything you want to say to your fans?
Yeah, totally. This Friday, 12th of May, 9 PM Eastern Time we have Ring of Honor live on PPV, War of the Worlds, from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. I take on Frankie Kazarian, someone who I very briefly thought was going to be a member of Bullet Club, but after what happened I’m looking forward to beating the hell out of him and teaching him a lesson. The following Sunday, in Philadelphia, we have another TV Taping, War of the Worlds on tour, which will be just as awesome.