Rickey Shane Page is one of the most dastardly heels in the business, but don't work yourself into a shoot, brother.
Page is known for garnering heat from audiences all across America. So far, most of the wrestlers know he's just doing a good job, and hasn't caused any issues..yet.
"I mean, wrestlers not so much unless they haven’t said anything. ‘Cause sometimes I get a little wild on these promos and Atticus as well. We’ll just say stuff. But, I think, they all know, ‘Hey, man. I’m working here,’ you know? But, fans it’s hit or miss. Since we’ve started doing this 44OH! thing, fans have tried to fight us. Which is pretty crazy to say in 2021, you know what I mean? To get people to believe that much," said Page to Fightful.
Page hasn't had to deal with too many fans of late because of the unfortunate times we're living in. If it gets to that and he has to be physical because a fan is infuriated by his work, Page is more than happy to take care of that, even if it's not his preference.
"I mean, I don’t care. ‘Cause I’ll fight somebody, I don’t really care. Go ahead, I’m 6’4, 300 pounds. Try. Nine times out of ten you’re going to lose that. Not to say that I’m some badass or something. But, the problem with it is some fans will get online and be like, ‘Hey, man. I’m just messing with you,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah. I know.’ You don’t have to tell me. It’s a very weird kayfabe / not kayfabe… It’s hard to explain. It’s very cool ‘cause I think wrestling has gotten away from us a bit and I think it’s cool to bring it back to those old school roots and to show you don’t have to do fifteen Canadian Destroyers and all this stuff. You can just punch, kick and be a bad guy. It’s a badge of honor in that way. I don’t want to fight anybody. If I have to, I will," Page clarified.
Page has been in some heated situations. Immediately defeating AJ Gray for the GCW Title after the aforementioned Gray ended Nick Gage's historic run was one, but it was the follow up was probably the worst, according to Page.
"The craziest was at Run Rickey Run when the riot happened, when everybody was throwing trash in the ring. We literally—you can’t see it on TV, on tape or anything—but, on the way out, people were trying to hit us. It got a little physical with some of the fans. Just the energy in the room was a bit too much, and when you mix in alcohol as well, it doesn’t help. It felt like I was in Puerto Rico in ’87 or something, you know what I mean? So, not so much had to fight our way out, but things got a little physical with some people. So, yeah, people fucking love Nick Gage. That’s just a testament to him, really. That’s what it is," Page said.
Now 44.OH have their own block at GCW's Fight Forever, which starts January 29 at 8 PM EST.
I think the people who watch our stuff know that we’re not giant pieces of shit. The people who think that we’re just giant pieces of shit just refuse to watch it. So, I think the people who know know, and they’re like wink wink, nudge nudge, ‘Thank you.’ Then there’s other people who are like, ‘Yo, fuck Ohio. You’re a piece of shit. Get out of here.’ So, it just depends on person, I guess.
The old line of thinking in wrestling was that being a heel within the context of the show led to lower merchandise sales, which led to many wrestlers shying away from it. However, that's not the case for RSP and 44.OH.
"It’s the opposite," Page clarified. "Our merch is crazy every since this has happened. Since we took our merch into our own hands, we print and ship everything, I don’t know if you see these shelves behind me—that’s all 44OH! merch. So, we’ve taken it and started our own and printed, sold, packed our own merch. It’s gone crazy. So, if anything, this has doubled, if not tripled, our merch sales. For all of us, I think. Individually and collectively."
Page is widely considered one of the best heel characters in all of wrestling, and he's got a very distinct vision and mentality for implementing and executing that performance.
"I think, I really do think, wrestling has just gotten away from us. It’s become such this hyper athletic contest of crazy who can do the most moves that people want this story. People want to be ‘tricked’ into thinking I’m an asshole. I don’t really do interviews. I don’t really go and sell merch. I try not to talk to fans at shows. I’m very committed to this. So, I think it helps. Because they want to be taken back to that time when they believed and they didn’t know who was supposed to win the belt and who was getting fired for this and who’s banging who. They didn’t know any of that shit. They just wanted to watch Stone Cold Steve Austin beat up Vince McMahon. Nick Gage is Stone Cold Steve Austin and I’m Vince McMahon. Everybody wants to see Nick Gage beat me up and we’re not giving it to them, and they’re getting mad. That’s another thing, we’re not giving them what they want a lot. Because fans are so used to getting what they want that we’re not giving it to them that they’re getting pissed. Then they realize I’m doing it on purpose and they go, ‘You fucker,’ and then they buy a t-shirt. So, I think that fans really, really want storylines on the independent level. I really think they want well thought out matches that don’t go crazy, and build to things. We have, technologically, the most advanced our wrestling has ever been and I don’t think people use that to their advantages whatsoever. You can really tell a story and take wrestling back and make it what it was, but also what it could be. Not to try to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes and be, ‘Hey, this was real.’ But, you can kinda make them believe for a little bit, and that’s what I’m trying to do," Page said.
Being a good heel and people being in on the work always is a difficult water to navigate. Does RSP prefer people to boo him and go along with the intent, or cheer him?
"It don’t matter to me, honestly," Page told us. "‘Cause there’s always those guys that like the heels. There’s always those fans that liked the NWO back in the day. It was one of those deals. So, it’s nice if they play along and if they boo and things like that, I appreciate that because that just helps the show. Like I said earlier, It goes back to ‘taking it back from’ and making people work for stuff. I don’t want to get on a big tangent about how I feel ‘rasslin’ is today. It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re reacting. Whether or not they get what I’m doing or not."
For a top-level heel like a Rickey Shane Page, he draws inspiration from other top level heels, namely one in WWE.
"I’ve been doing a headlock or something. I love Randy Orton and I think his straight up not giving a fuckness is the best thing about him and he does not give a shit about what anybody in that crowd thinks about what he’s doing. He will ride a headlock for five minutes. He doesn’t care. So, I really take inspiration from that. So, I’m at these death match shows doing headlocks and someone in the crowd will be like, ‘Oh, my God. You’re so boring.’ Like, I heard them say it, and I looked at them and I’m like, ‘I’m doing it on purpose,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh. Oh, you fucking asshole.’ But, then these other fans don’t realize that I’m being boring, they just think, ‘Oh, he’s an asshole. He’s being a heel,’ because they’re not smart marks or whatever. So, I get ‘em twice. That’s fun for me."
You can see our full interview with Rickey Shane Page at the top of the page, and follow him on Twitch at this link. You can see GCW's Fight Forever on their channel and on Fightful January 29. Donate to wrestlers who have had their bookings impacted by COVID-19 at this link.