First reviewed here.

In which Hangman Page becomes the man.

As someone who didn’t really care for the Kenny Omega title match, this is about as close as I have to a crowning moment for Hangman. They do so much right for Hangman here that comparably didn’t quite hit in the Omega feud. The build up came across organically, without the stop/start pacing of Hangman having to go on paternal leave. Everything felt deeply rooted in intense, competitively-fueled emotions, and without the brief comedic sojourns like the Halloween interaction. And lastly, Jon Moxley’s just a better wrestler than Kenny Omega especially in the 2020s.

The month before, Moxley and Hangman had their most clever match. It was one that highlighted the two men’s character motivations, flaws, and how that manifests in ring work. With Hangman being outsmarted, the only thing left was to just prove definitively who could gut it out when they crash into each other at full force. The only way to go up from the February match’s intelligence was with pure violence.

They deliver.

It’s a wonderful gimmicked spectacle, filled with seething intensity and escalating setpieces. All the plunder means nothing without the emotional performances on display here, the innate charisma and physical dedication to commit to the moment. Mox especially feels so in his element in this kind of setting. Matches like this really unleash the full potential of Mox’s ability to control a match through these vicious spikes in violence. Notably, the match really settles into its best qualities the moment Mox gets his fork out. I couldn’t help but scream out loud when he began stabbing Hangman while in the triangle choke. Who’s to say what blading or bloodletting magic they use, but from my perspective it looks like Mox gets Hanger’s head just spurting blood. Beautiful.

There’s a lot of sneaky tricks of construction here. Not necessarily in the larger sense (this is a pretty standard control/cut-off/control bout), but in the individual moments. More than once, they direct the eye and attention towards one piece of weaponry, only for something else entirely to develop. Perhaps my favorite comes from Mox and Hanger struggling on the turnbuckles after Mox set up a chair in the ring. They fight and jockey for position, ending with Mox seated in the chair, only for Mox to shove Hangman off the corner through the barbed board set up below. A similar trick gets played later when Hangman stands the bricks up vertically to set up a brutal bump, only to instead just grab it and bash Mox in the head with it.

Beyond that, all the violence really does just feel very direct and brutal. Nasty stuff like the hand work with the bricks, all the little cuts they accumulate from the barbed wire, the hair getting caught in the wire, the traces of the viciousness are all over this match.

And that finish? God yes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, what a crowning moment for Hangman Page. Coming out to a great song, bathed in red light, wrestling a sick match, and then making good on his name and hanging Jon Moxley on the ropes. It’s so fucking cool, and also a nice punishment for Moxley. Instead of focusing on choking out Page with the Sleeper, Mox let go and went to the chain, likely to try and prove a point in the no holds barred setting. And his hubris in the scenario led to his downfall, for one night making Hangman Page the coolest man in all of pro wrestling.

To be the man, you’ve got to kill the man.

IS IT BETTER THAN 6/3/94? Another close call from 2023, a real shaky year even for the peak stuff. I think Hanger and Mox take the win though. There’s just such an economy of time here, it never really has the chance to settle in and it only goes up and up. I’m also much keener on the kind of bloodletting and violence here compared to 6/3/94’s more measured 90s puro championship style. The emotional punch of Hanger getting the win in such a satisfying manner does a lot to boost its credibility as well. One for the sickos.

Rating: ****1/2

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