SALEM, Va. (WFXR)– In his 15 years as a professional wrestler, Halifax native Adam Page has fearlessly faced some of the biggest and most powerful people in the ring.
But when he headlines the All Elite Wrestling show coming to the Salem Civic Center on May 13th, there is one person he may not want to face.
“My Mom’s trying to get everybody, everybody and their cousin tickets,” Page said,” “But it’s really cool to be able to wrestle, perform in front of family, friends, people that I haven’t seen in years. I have some family who literally live right behind the Salem Civic Center. So it’s really cool to be that close to home in many ways. Very cool.”
A huge fan early in life, Page knew wrestling was something he wanted to do when he grew up.
Page said, “I got into it when I was in elementary school. I tried to do it in the backyard on the trampoline. I started traveling around when I was, I think, 15 years old around small towns in North Carolina, and started wrestling at 16, traveling all over North Carolina, and Virginia. I just started doing it for fun and I kept doing it for fun until I realized that, oh, this, this may be a career. I guess there was never a point from the moment I started watching, it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Two North Carolina natives, who went on to great success in the ring themselves, helped inspire Page.
“My favorites were probably the Hardy Boys, Matt, and Jeff, my absolute favorites.” Page added, “Their dad was a tobacco farmer, same as my dad. They came up doing backyard wrestling and stuff. We had just a lot in common, our backstory, and I related to them a lot and they were great in the ring. So those were my absolute two favorites.”
Early on Adam was a frequent visitor to Shawsville, where he would work out with a man who is considered a professional wrestling legend, Jimmy Valiant. The WWE Hall of Famer has taught students at Boogie’s Pro Wrestling Camp since 1992.
“I went up there and first met him to do a school project and just kind of kept going for a while. Some of the trainers in Jimmy’s school were people that I was doing shows with every weekend, so I knew them. It was hanging out having fun training to some degree, training with peers, training students, and training under Jimmy. ”
Like most people who eventually found success in the ring, Page spent his early years wrestling on the independent scene in small towns in the region.
Now he is one of the main stars of All Elite Wrestling on television. The weekly shows are some of the highest-rated programs on cable television.
As a former World Champion, Page has performed in front of huge crowds, in some of the biggest arenas in the country.
But he looks back fondly at his early days of wrestling in small towns.
“I kind of miss the intimacy of wrestling in front of a smaller crowd or a crowd that is not participating in a TV taping. There’s an intimacy between the wrestlers and the people because you are the only people in on it.”
In recent months, AEW has booked live non-televised events in smaller venues.
These “house shows” give its wrestlers and fans the chance to enjoy the experience up close and personal.
Page says it’s a win-win for the fans and the wrestlers.
“They’re a good opportunity for younger guys to learn. They’re a good opportunity for guys like me to let our hair down, have fun, not worry about the constraints of television. So I’m really excited about that. It’s a good opportunity to visit somewhere like Roanoke, like Salem. Maybe it’s a test and if it does really well, maybe we come back with TV the next time.”
Page says fans and even non-fans should expect a good show when AEW comes to the Salem Civic Center on May 13.
“If you’ve never been to a live wrestling show before and maybe, maybe you’re thinking, ‘I don’t know if that’s for me,” let me tell you… It’s for you. It’s the best thing in the world to go to a live wrestling show, to sit there, to be part of it.
To me, it’s the best, most complete form of sports and theater. Wrestling in person is incredible and you won’t get a better show than when the cameras are off and it’s just me and you.”
Despite only being 31, Page has 15 years in the business.
He says it has already been better than he dreamed.
“I told myself a long time ago, a long, long time ago, that if I never really made a career of wrestling then I had fully enjoyed and it exceeded my expectation ten years ago for what I’d be able to do in professional wrestling. So I just look at every day, every week, month, year as just an extra cherry on top and I’m overflowing.”