The North has risen, and has big shoes to fill in IMPACT Wrestling's tag team division.
With the LAX combo of Santana and Ortiz leaving the company this summer, The North's Ethan Page and Josh Alexander are now the torch bearers, the IMPACT Wrestling Tag Team Champions. The former Chandler Park returned to IMPACT and made....an Impact in quick order. The irony of the situation, the country that his team name alludes to was a big reason there was a gap in his match history with IMPACT
"I actually never departed," Page specified to Fightful, in a Starrcast board room. "So we did the Chandler Park character and then there was some work visa complications. And all it was, was the process got denied so many times they had to keep resubmitting and adding more paperwork in. I know it’s all legal mumbo jumbo."
That 'legal mumbo jumbo' has become an increasingly more high-profile subject in pro wrestling, which Page is all-too aware of. He's lived it.
"Well, especially now, yeah, with the PAC stuff that just happened and the Dragon Gate USA guys during Mania weekend. For the wrestlers to work in America, it’s literally the hardest country to get the paperwork for. Yeah, so, it happened to (Speedball Mike Bailey). It happened to him after it happened to Seleziya Sparx who was doing Ring of Honor at the time, and was a big part of my act in America. So, she got banned for five years, and then the same thing happened to Mike Bailey. Then Josh Alexander and I actually got flagged, so for about two years of my career working in America I would get pulled into the border every time I crossed (the border) without fail because it was marked on my passport, “You need to pull this guy in.” It got to a point where I was crossing every week to do bookings, and I’d have to tell them what I’m doing. But, some of the border guards, ‘cause they see the record of your entries into America, they literally were like “Look, dude, I’m so sorry, I have to send you in.” And that was the point I was like “Okay, I think I’m fine at least crossing the border. They’re acknowledging the fact I’m allowed to do this.” Then when the visa paperwork actually came in, that changed the game for me," Page clarified.
There's another incredible sense of irony to Ethan Page's schedule -- he's not working in Canada as much as you'd expect. After discussing his distaste for SMASH Wrestling, he laid out why his dates have reduced in the Great White North in recent months.
"One thing is, it’s a money thing," said Page. "Sorry to get too inside baseball here with my real life, but the American dollar is so strong right now. So for me, let’s just say today I got paid $500 to wrestle in America. That’s almost $700 for me (Canadian). Yeah, so for that, I’ll work in America, I’ll sell a t-shirt for $20. I got it printed in Canada, I go back home with $20 American, its $22.50 or $23 [actually $25 Canadian], or whatever it is. That is such a big difference. Also, convincing promoters of the price to book me with the exchange is not something people are willing to spend. And I fall victim to that too, running shows in my hometown when I book these American talents, let’s say I book a big name and they’re $1,000 American. They’re not $1,000 American, they’re $1,200 [Canadian], plus their travel and hotels and stuff."
For a full-time competitor like Page, that means traveling a lot more. Speaking to Fightful in Schaumburg, Illinois, it's there that Page often gets booked. A blossoming and thriving midwest Independent scene has been a huge benefit to his career.
"I’m in this area at least once a month, minimum," said Page. "Sometimes twice a month, and when I come out here I’ll usually stop in St. Louis for like a Glory Pro [Wrestling] or Black Label Pro is in Indiana, it’s like an hour from here. Then Freelance Wrestling, Warrior Wrestling, there’s four companies right there regularly that I’m doing work with. And that’s all in this area. And everywhere else is when it comes up or what comes my way."
Though the wrestling world had all eyes locked on Toronto in August, Page was featured very minimally. He worked a Demand Lucha event before hopping on a plane to the UK, then straight to Mexico for IMPACT tapings, before finally heading back to Ontario. With his profile increasing in the States, and the super-weak Canadian dollar causing him trouble, could a relocation be in the cards soon?
"My wife and I have talked about it," Page admitted. "I think if I ever moved it would be to somewhere I could cater my career to changing, so like an L.A, or something like that. Where I could start focusing on other things while to using wrestling to continue to pay my bills. Not a fan (of wrestling in Toronto). I live in Hamilton, it’s 40 minutes from there. I’m okay with being in the smaller big city. It’s too busy. I’ve done placements there when I was in college for production companies. Just too many people, too much going on. I don’t mind disconnecting from it, I don’t know if that’s cause of the way my lifestyle is and I’m always on the go that when I come home I don’t want to be pestered with stuff."
The irony of our discussion was that our interview was originally tentatively set for Toronto during Summerslam week in the Fightful Studios, but schedules didn't line up. This led to a comical off-camera conversation with Jordynne Grace as we tried to determine where Page actually was -- Canada or the UK. As it turns out, he was in the air on a plane, between the two.
"No, I was actually in the U.K. for Southside Wrestling. She sent me a message about it, too. She was like, “Hey, are you supposed to do this interview?” I said “I think we set something up, but I’m in England. I’m not in Toronto right now. I wanted to do it during the week, I think, because I had two shows in Toronto for SummerSlam weekend, Wednesday and Thursday. So, I was there, but on the Friday morning I flew out to England," he clarified.
A traveling man.
When Page does hit the ring, whether it be in Canada or the States, he carries a modern day in-ring style with a frame that it doesn't usually emanate from in the wrestling world. He once told me on a media call that he would be more than happy to just hit Stone Cold Stunners and Rock Bottoms all day, but unfortunately that's not the modern day direction of pro wrestling. Instead, we see an innovative offense that molds the heavyweight wrestlers of past with the X-Division wrestlers of today.
One of the utilized moves starts off as basic as can be -- a body slam. When Page perches on the top rope and delivers a body slam, it's a piece of his offensive arsenal that's both familiar and different.
"I actually stole it," Page joked. "I mean, maybe my memory is different and it might’ve been a different move or different wrestlers, but I’m 99% sure this was at a IWA Mid-South show before they even started blowing up with Colt Cabana versus CM Punk, and I’m pretty sure they did a body slam off the top. I wasn’t even a wrestler yet, I was just watching music videos with my friend in elementary school at the time. And it stuck with me because it’s the most basic move of all time, but they brought it to the ultimate level. So now I’m trying to change my moveset to be the most basic moves in wrestling. I do a backbreaker, that’s one my moves, but I try and spin over 360 degrees. Just so it looks like, “Oh, he’s the best at doing that basic ass wrestling move.” And same with the body slam off the top or the powerbomb, I’ll try and launch the guy as high as possible."
A move like a top rope body slam, though basic in it's original form, can take some refining. It wasn't that difficult to find a willing participant to test drive the technique, as he was tasked with a now-emerging AEW name the first time out.
"I wanna say the first time I ever did it on a show that people would see was, I think, at EVOLVE with Darby Allin. Know what? Maybe I tried it on a couple indies first, before that. But yeah, that would be the first one where I remember seeing a photo taken of it and I was holding him up, you see the whole ring and it’s like “oh, damn.” That was many years ago, and I’ve been trying to do it as much as possible ever since," Page said.
Allin, known for not exactly picking his spots as it pertains to safety in and out of the ring, didn't have any qualms taking the move.
You probably shouldn't be looking for Page to lock it up with Allin any time soon, though. As AEW has launched their weekly show, IMPACT Wrestling has become more diligent in locking down their talent. This is a stark contrast from the IMPACT of old that released IPs, allowed for talent releases, and the like. Page explained the quick turnaround, but said it was fine with him because of the evolving wrestling world and the need to hold on to talent. He also spoke on the record with a disgruntled IMPACT star in Killer Kross about the situation.
"I was saying in an interview I did with Killer Kross, and I kinda figured it would get weird reactions online ‘cause I’m currently on the roster with IMPACT! and Kross is in limbo. And we were joking around about how originally, like right now he asked for his release—its public, he’s talked about it. So I’m not breaking news or anything or stirring the pot—but we were joking around about how originally there was an unwritten rule backstage. We had meetings about it. “If you don’t want to be here, just let us know and we’ll let you go.” That’s not a rule anymore because the landscape of wrestling has changed drastically. And it’s like, if you don’t want to be here, kinda too bad because we need as many stars as we can. And that’s not what they’re saying, I’m not putting words in their mouth at all. But it’s also a business and we’re in competition now with so many more companies. We can’t lose big names stars like that. We can’t just be letting guys out of their contract," says Page.
IMPACT's parent company Anthem has made big moves in recent months, acquiring AXS TV. The deal greatly increases IMPACT's footprint in the United States, as well as helps with exposure for the talent. Page, however, isn't waiting for his exposure -- he creates it himself.
With a growing vlog channel, Page shoots, edits, directs and posts his content which can give you a look at his personal life, his professional life, and more. From going backstage at IMPACT to even filming at the start of our interview, Page hopes to take his opportunities into his own hands.
"My thing is, let’s say the company might have a big following and they think they’re doing it all themselves. Why not have your wrestlers, ‘cause I’m assuming it’s not WWE, why not have your wrestlers gain experience doing interviews like this and then getting the exposure from you guys and building themselves up?," Page asked.
Page will be in action at IMPACT Wrestling's Bound For Glory 2019, which takes place October 20 from the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Fightful will have full, live coverage of the show, as well as a post show podcast.
You can take a look inside Ethan Page's life by checking out his channel at this link. You can also see our full interview above.