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Muscle Will from Russellville

I’ve done it again.

Laugh all you want. I get it. A grown man crying over professional wrestling is hilarious.

Not only have I cried while watching, I’ve cried repeatedly talking about Ric Flair’s retirement match. The same goes for the night Vickie Guerrero finished her career by pointing to Heaven and doing her late husband Eddie Guerrero’s signature dance.

More than good goodbyes, accomplishment after a long journey always gets me.

That’s why I got choked up when All Elite Wrestling’s Hangman Adam Page won the World Championship in November.

Adam Page’s story could be summarized as, “Hot shot rookie loses first big title shot, begins to doubt himself so much he retreats to substances, loses his best friend and bottoms out. Then he finds new friends who show him how to believe in himself, kicks the substances, works hard to come back and defeats his former best friend – professional wrestling’s greatest artist Kenny Omega – for the strap.”

Stephen Woltz, the man who portrays Adam Page, held a full-time teaching position while wrestling the first eight years of his career. He lived in Japan for several years after honing his craft and building his name.

Four months prior to Adam Page winning the AEW World Championship, his wife delivered their first baby boy.

The professional and personal fairy tale ended with the Adam Page in the ring, proudly holding his championship, in his home state of Virginia with friends new and old, while Stephen Woltz’ friends and family sat in the stands cheering their native son.

Now maybe you have bad taste and don’t like professional wrestling, but the dynamic of the real man and the man in the ring affecting each other speaks to me.

My type II bipolar disorder means I am a mix of a man and the man who is portraying depression because the sun is setting earlier and he forgot a dose of Lamotrigine; portraying hypomania because he hasn’t slept the past few nights and had an energy drink; or the hardest thing to portray, a man who is not suffering from either, while he is.

I lost my first life equivalent of a title shot, retreated to substances, lost friends, got sober, and put the work in.

My matches take place in meetings with others trying to understand their own neurology. They happen in therapist offices when I’m finally brave enough to confront my unhealthy ways of thinking. They happen at 4 a.m. when I ignore the voice that says “You’re not really bipolar. You don’t need this medicine.”

“1, 2, 3. Muscle Will from Russellville swallows, and bipolar can’t kick out in time.”

Lately I feel my title shot coming. I’ve been putting in the work, getting healthy, making new friends.

I won’t be going to Virginia to celebrate my win, but I will be crying like Shawn Michaels just Super Kicked Ric Flair, and I’ll be as proud of myself as I was for Stephen Woltz and “your new AEW World Champion, Hangman Adam Page!”

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville. To contact him email wcstults@yahoo.com.

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