This match never should have happened. No, for real. This match wasn’t really the original plan for the main event of All Out. According to reports online, Kenny Omega vs. PAC would have actually slotted into this position had PAC not been pulled from Double or Nothing due to being unable to job as the Open the Dream Gate Champion. Without him, AEW improvised their booking on Double or Nothing to produce this match instead: Chris Jericho vs. Hangman Page.

Even on paper, this pairing doesn’t work.

Indie favorite cowboy Hangman Page against aging rocker superstar Chris Jericho? Very much a square peg in a round hole situation here. Although the booking of both men worked out in the end, I think even at the time, it was clear to see that this match didn’t have much behind it. And to be fair to Jericho, a lot of that rests on Page. AEW threw a lot of support behind Page across the early AEW shows but the guy readily disappointed across the board. He came across bland, inexperienced, and his lack of name value really stood out when juxtaposed next to Chris Jericho.

AEW tried to heat up this match at the Fight for the Fallen event where Jericho attacked Page while dressed up as a Dark Order creeper. He busted open Page with some punches and then delivered a promo later in the night promising to take the title away. Already, the beatdown angle came across as tired and overplayed: Jericho had used the same tactic against Omega and EVIL. It made Page look even more plug and play as he filled a role in a story that’s already been done before.

Jericho’s promo did Page very few favors that night as he Jericho worked it under the Painmaker persona which as I mentioned before, still doesn’t suit Jericho. It comes across as a mix of Jericho’s early Fed rocker gimmick and his 2008 No Country for Old Men character. The problem with mixing those two things is that they’re entirely opposed to each other. What made Jericho’s suit-wearing, near monotone deliver of 2008 work so well was the understatement that contrasted Jericho’s long history of being a loud, brash performer. As the Painmaker, Jericho’s promos constantly seem at war with themselves–trying to be both an intimidating force of violence while simultaneously playing a traditional cowardly heel.

All that brings us to the match. It starts well with Jericho looking decent nailing Page with a few good looking arm drags and takedowns. Page then proceeds to go into a more traditional babyface shine getting some offense in on Jericho. At one point, they directly lift a spot from the Okada match where Page chases Jericho around the ring and back inside before nailing Jericho with a big boot. Again, plug and play Page.

When this transitions into Jericho’s control segment, the match takes a deep dive. While the transition spot to get to that point looked great–a Shooting Star Press off the apron caught into a Codebreaker–the control segment displays a lot of Jericho’s worst traits. He’s sluggish and again relies on tired heel tactic moments such as his new favorite: ringing the bell to declare himself the winner. The thought behind it makes sense with Jericho working over Page’s arm to try to weaken the Buckshot Lariat but Jericho just doesn’t have any real interesting ways to do arm work.

Sad to say, but as bad as Jericho is here, Page might be even worse. At this point in AEW, Page definitely came across as the most bland member of the Elite and the build to this match gave fans very little to latch onto as far as character (or even match quality) was concerned. The consequence of that comes across in this match. Mechanically, Page is good but lacks the snap and cleanness that makes people like Kenny Omega stand out. So what we’re left with in this main event is someone doing what should be great spots but doing them just well enough to get by. There’s no real finesse to any of his technique here even when nailing some flashy stuff.

As such when Page tries to make his big comeback–even busting Jericho over the eye as payback for his own injury–the crowd doesn’t bite. It doesn’t help that this was the main event of a near four hour show but Page really felt like surplus to requirements here. Most people had already written him off as a mistake of a challenger who’s just around to feed the belt to Jericho.

And that’s what happens. Jericho even kicks out of Page’s Buckshot-Dead Eye combination finisher here which felt like unnecessary drama padding especially given that TV had yet to begin and Page’s finishers were better off protected than not. At the end of it all, Jericho nails the Judas Effect to get the pinfall and to end this slog of a title match.

There’s good ideas here and I do think Jericho tried to pull Page up to get something out of him but neither of these guys have ever been miracle workers. What we get is exactly what the build had driven us to expect–a misshapen main event that was more of a chore to get through than anything truly substantial worth seeing.

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