Hangman Page has proven to be one of the true emerging stars of Ring of Honor. And in the past year the 25-year-old Virginian has reached new heights as a member of the mega popular Bullet Club. Ahead of the War of the Worlds Pay-Per-View, Page reflects on his journey from high school teacher to teacher to full-time pro wrestler living a dream.
CG: When you started with Ring of Honor, you were just about out of your teens. From where you are now, what has been like growing with the company as the company grows itself?
Hangman Page: I probably had my first dark match there when I was 19 or so. It has been great. I think I came in right around the time of Ring of Honor’s growth spirt really. When I came in, there was no Pay-Per-View for the most part. There was TV, but I would multiply the households we are in now by 10 since I’ve been there. We started doing Pay-Per-View around the time I came in and do several a year. It has been great to see such growth since I’ve been there.
As it relates to the evolution of your persona on the shows, talk about what that has been like? There is the platform to develop a character now that the programs are more episodic. There is more Pay-Per-View, visibility with the TV product and even increase of live event coverage via social media.
There is definitely more focus being put into the television product. You see a bit more continuity in doing what we have been doing. When I first showed up, it was there. Maybe not with as much focus as it is now. So that has been great.
How did life change for you as far as being in Bullet Club? It’s a huge opportunity you were given with how hot the group is in the United States, Japan and other parts of the world. Take me back to when you were told last year and how you were recruited?
With one phone call I was told I would be in Bullet Club and I was going to Japan for three weeks, then continually after that. It was pretty cool and life-changing. At the time I was a high school teacher. I taught graphic design, multimedia and journalism. I would take sick days and wrestle on the weekends. At that point I knew if I was doing three week tours of Japan I couldn’t keep teaching because I couldn’t be “sick” that long. I could also afford not to teach anymore because I would be more in-demand so to speak. I quit teaching and became a full-time wrestler. That more than anything in my whole career changed my life.
Wow! So you were still teaching up until this opportunity came about?
Yeah, I taught until June of last year.
What did your students make of you being a pro wrestler? Do you tell them on the first day of school? Did they ever go to shows to see you perform?
They know because it’s a relatively small town. You just can’t not know stuff like that. I did talk about it during the first day of class to get it over with, so they wouldn’t through the year have to figure this whole thing out. I kind of downplayed it a lot. A lot of times when like I was in The Decade group and had Colby Corino, who was barely 18, I would be beating up in a storyline on television. Then I have this noose I would walk around with as part of the Hangman gimmick. So a lot of stuff I did on TV I didn’t bring up in school because I thought it could be an issue.
It’s great to have that background and something to fall back on with wrestling being so unpredictable with injuries that may occur. Do you have one question students ask when they find out you’re a pro wrestler?
Not specifically. I did have one student who I had all year. She was a foreign exchange student. Everybody knew but her up until the last week of school. That blew her mind. I was kind of funny.
Looking at the Hangman aspect of your character where did that come from? I know it started in Japan, but how did it come about? What was the inspiration?
I knew Adam Cole was joining Bullet Club followed by myself. We both would have the same first name and four letter last names, as well as starting to show up frequently in Japan in Bullet Club. So to avoid confusion, I knew I wanted to change up my name. I also knew my character in Bullet Club would have to be a little bit different because in my time in Ring of Honor I hadn’t been a very playful or fun character by any means. Since I was more of a serious character I kind of adopted the noose from Luke Gallows and put my own spin on it.
You mention Adam Cole. What do you make of his free agency? Where do you think he will end up?
I have no idea. Time will tell. I will be happy for him with whatever he does.
One of the things I’ve seen through social media is you were raising money for an organization that focuses on suicide prevention and awareness. Why that is this cause so important to you?
I saw someone tweeting about me who was watching Ring of Honor. I was on TV, and it was the one-year anniversary of his own dad’s suicide. Then here I was walking around with a noose trying to hang people. That spoke to me. I know in 2017 having someone calling themselves Hangman and walking around with a noose can be seen as a questionable character. So I wanted to do something to give back to the world.
What has the reaction been managing the television persona with what you are trying to do outside of the ring?
The feedback was good. In a short amount of time a raised around $500, which every bit helps. I donated it to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I think that can help people feel a little bit more comfortable with it because it’s a television character. You know in television when you have a good and a bad guy, the bad guy has to be to a certain extent distasteful. At the same time, there is a way to give back, which I am trying to do.
With this being such a hot top today with the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, what are your thoughts on the recent headlines coming from the teacher background?
I haven’t really seen it, so I can’t comment on it so much. I heard a piece about it on the radio the other day. I’m interested in watching it, but I’m sure they are handling those same issues well. I’m sure it was well thought out in their approach. At the same time I can’t say from experience anything about the show, but I would like to see it.
Fair enough. Ring of Honor has a big Pay-Per-View coming up with New Japan, and you have a match with Kazarian. What has it been like to be part of a big angle with him and have a featured spot on the show?
It’s good because a lot of the matches with the New Japan guys coming over are exhibition. This one has some depth to it behind and a story. I think that is good because it helps the card by providing a little bit of everything. There are the exhibition matches and others that have some history behind it. It’s a good mix and the show overall. We are going to beat the hell out of each other. I can tell you that.
You have been in the business for some time even though you’re still in your mid-20s. Do you have any goals you have set for yourself? One of the things that caught me on Twitter was Johnny Gargano’s tweet from three years ago about having these goals and to remind him of the tweet. Then three years later it seems he has accomplished all that. Do you have a similar way of looking at things?
I’ll be kind of honest. I really don’t. When I was a kid, I can’t specifically remember thinking I wanted to main event WrestleMania or do a specific thing. I just knew I wanted to be a wrestler. So for me, my goals are extremely short-term. I’m like, “I want this next thing I’m doing to be good.” I would say overall my real goals is to be better today than I was yesterday. I want to be better this week than I was last week and so on. And in the same way I want to enjoy it more than I have in the past. As long as I’m doing those things, I’m happy.
Ring of Honor War of the Worlds takes place Friday, May 12 at 9 p.m. via Pay-Per-View www.rohwrestling.com and the FITE TV digital Pay-Per-View platform.
Ring of Honor TV can be seen in syndication through Sinclair Broadcast Group affiliates, online and Wednesdays, 12am/11c, Comet TV.