A finishing move in the world of wrestling is crucial. Something that can make or break a pro wrestler, often the coolest looking moves don't click, while something as goofy as "The People's Elbow" becomes iconic. Each wrestler has a different method to their madness when landing on their signature, match ending match up. In this new series, "Making A Finisher," Fightful.com will go in depth with wrestlers as they explain their moves, discuss how they were developed, who took it the best, the worst, why they stopped doing some of them, and the psychology behind them.
Adam "Hangman" Page's popularity has exploded since joining the Bullet Club, and launched into a new stratosphere with his presence on the "Being The Elite" web series. As part of his "Hangman" gimmick, Page established his match-closer, the Rite of Passage.
A belly-to-back piledriver that sees Page drop to his knees, Page told Fightful.com that it checked all the boxes for what he was looking for in a signifying, definitive match-ender.
"You know, I guess it's something in watching tons of wrestling, I'd seen somebody do, and it's something I didn't feel like anybody was really using, and I needed something of my own. It's certainly effective, it's certainly something I can do to nearly anyone. It's something I grabbed a long time ago and decided to stick with. It's been quite a while. Honestly, I was probably ... you know, I don't even think I had joined the Decade yet in Ring of Honor. So it's been quite a while," Page said.
Being able to do the move to anyone is a recurring theme you'll see in the series. Few wrestlers want stuck in a situation where they can't use the piece of their arsenal most identifiable to them because of another person's limitations or size.
Page competes in a business that was formerly giant oriented -- at least hyperbolically speaking, which is oft the norm in sports entertainment. At a billed six feet tall and 215 pounds, Page would qualify as a UFC heavyweight when he walks into the pro wrestling ring. In the squared circle, he's not considered one of the bigger guys. Yet, performing the move against the super heavyweights of the world doesn't seem an issue to the Texan. That's not to say there wasn't trial and error with other moves, though.
"I needed something that I could do to nearly anyone. I did a backpack stunner for a while, and this has been a long time ago, but that's something a little harder to do on the bigger guys or whatever. Even smaller guys sometimes. But I needed something I could do to anyone. I hit it on Shane Taylor recently and he's nearly as big as they come. It's something very versatile." said Page. "There's only so much you can do, man. I'm just picking the dude upside down and dropping them on the head. It's kind of all on me, really."
Page's affiliation with Bullet Club has led to his cohorts The Young Bucks getting in on the action. During the trio's six man tag team matches as "The Hung Bucks," Nick and Matt Jackson combine their signature techniques with Page's familiar finish.
In some instances, we've seen Hangman go the extra mile to make this work -- to the tune of holding up nearly 400 pounds on his shoulders. Against Flip Gordon, Titan & Dragon Lee at Ring of Honor's Final Battle 2017, Page pulled off an impressive feat of strength. In addition to having Titan strapped to his back to apply the Last Rites, Adam also had Flip Gordon hooked to his own chest. While he dropped to his knees for his own finishing technique on Titan, Gordon fell victim to a Tombstone piledriver. For added punishment, Matt and Nick Jackson fly off of opposite turnbuckles and spike each of Page's victim's heads into the mat, which is a play off of their popular "Indytaker" finishing move.
Page tells us that he knew that he wanted to make a move like this happen before his career-changing move to Bullet Club.
"Oh man, you know, probably before I joined the Bullet Club, or maybe as I was joining the Bullet Club, I kind of knew they did the Meltzer and the Indytaker, that I wanted to use that with mine," Page said. "We've done it a couple times where, depending ... we've got some smaller guys. I would give one guy Rite of Passage, give the other guy a Tombstone, two guys at once, and let them both come off the top. I love doing that. That was something that was my idea, but it didn't really honestly take too much thinking to figure that one out. Just kind of made sense."
At 27-years old, thus far the collaborative move has helped lead the three to the Ring of Honor World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. Their reign lasted over 200 days -- a record length, as was the eight defenses they had along the way.
The wrestling world (or at least a few hundred people on twitter) were in a fuss due to Wikipedia removing pro wrestling finishing moves from respective wrestler's pages. When I approached Adam about a few of the moves that were also credited as being his finishers, he was quick to shoot them down.
On the docket was a reverse STO, allegedly called 'Turn the Page.' Not so, says "Hangman."
"As far as I know, I've never done a move called Turn the Page. Certainly I had thought about using the name before, but I don't think I've ever done anything called that. I've never done a Flatliner as a finish. It's weird. Wikipedia can be highly inaccurate," the former teacher proclaimed.
Page will compete at this weekend's All-In pay-per-view, September 1st from the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Fightful.com will have full, live coverage and discussion of the show, and will also provide a live, post-show podcast of the event immediately after it concludes.
Photo courtesy of NJPW