Wrestling for the first time at 35, little was expected of Page Falkinburg. But, against all odds, Diamond Dallas Page became one of the biggest stars of World Championship Wrestling. When the then-WWF acquired WCW in 2001, he dreamt of one feud. Sadly, it was the one rivalry that would forever elude him under Vince McMahon.
DDP – The Inspiring Story of Diamond Dallas Page
As a youngster, DDP spoke – a lot, and as he grew, continued to talk – a lot. It was a trait that would lend him to becoming perfect for the pro wrestling game; he just wouldn’t know it for many, many years.
Equal to his gift of the gab was a work ethic that would help him achieve everything Page aspired to be. Eric Bischoff once spoke of the fact that he would work 24 hours, 7 days a week, if it were possible.
At twelve-years-old, he was hit by a car, where he flew 40-feet in the air and suffered a debilitating injury to one of his kneecaps. There was damage to his knee that might’ve stopped others from attaining the sporting levels in life that they might be capable of, but not Page. After serious begging to his mother, New York City’s Dr. Nicholas, a big-deal orthopedic surgeon for the Jets and the Giants, worked wonders on his shredded knee, setting him off to not become his first dream of being a football player but a professional wrestler.
In his 20s, the flamboyant young man from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, was now a player in Florida’s nightclub business. This line of work would turn out to be his eventual route into wrestling. He started to meet and befriend wrestling personalities such as Terry Taylor and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, who would often frequent the Florida club scene. Gaining those connections would prove invaluable.
Getting a Start in Pro Wrestling, But Not as a Wrestler
DDP’s genesis in the business began as an exuberant manager in the AWA, establishing The Diamond Exchange in 1988.
At times, with his charisma, garish outfits, and curly blonde hair, he would often unintentionally overshadow those he was managing. It was evident that Page stood out from the crowd and was here to stay for the long term.
He’d continue to garner success as manager of The Fabulous Freebirds in the early ’90s, but he wanted to be more than just a manager on the outside looking in. He wanted to fulfill a dream and partake in the actual in-ring wrestling himself.
At thirty-five-years-old, he arrived at WCW’s Power Plant training facility. The real journey had begun.
DDP – Becoming a Professional Wrestler at 35
DDP was doubted and laughed at by his peers. A deep desire to attain success in the squared circle burned brightly. It seemed a million miles away in 1991, but he would stop at nothing to reach the top of the WCW roster.
Within just three weeks, he worked a match on television and improved at a rapid rate. He knew the clock was ticking, and he possessed limited time to create the career he had dreamed about.
In an interview on the PWB Podcast in February 2008, DDP reflected on his career with myself and my co-host.
“I did the impossible. They referred to me as the anomaly,” he said. “I was never supposed to happen. That just shows you what kind of dreams can actually come true if you’re willing to work for it.”
The anomaly was in the fast lane on the road to glory. His finishing move, the Diamond Cutter (an RKO before the RKO existed), was a massive hit with fans. Pro Wrestling Illustrated bestowed the Most Improved Wrestler award upon Page in 1995, and his feud with Randy Savage was their Feud of the Year for 1997. Double-crossing the white-hot nWo in the same year saw his stock and popularity hit new mountainous heights.
Those lofty levels of superstardom saw DDP work with Hulk Hogan, Savage, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Sting, and even NBA legend Dennis Rodman. DDP wrestled them all during his tenure in WCW.
He captured his maiden WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1999, pinning Ric Flair. He had beaten ‘The Man.’
Two more reigns with the strap meant he left as three-time world champion when WCW folded. He was beginning to be known as ‘The People’s Champion.’
But, there was already another People’s Champion in the sports-entertainment world, his name was The Rock.
“I really had a vision of it being People’s Champion vs. People’s Champion two years before joining the WWF because I had just met The Rock in Canada,” DDP explained to me in 2008. “Big Show had brought me in there to meet him. He was very humble. I was already a mark for him because Jake Roberts told me he was going to be a big star, and he said the same thing about me when I was a nobody. He said the same thing about Stone Cold Steve Austin when he was a nobody. So, I really paid attention to The Rock’s character.”
“He was very humble. As I was leaving, though, I hear, ‘Hey Diamond.’ I turn around, and Big Show gets out of my way, which is like a wall moving out of your way. I see him in the back corner and The Rock’s putting on one of his $1500 Versace shirts, and I could see him roll into character. He goes, ‘You know there’s only one People’s Champion.’ Big Show was like ‘Ohhhh,’ and I just picked that pregnant pause and I said, ‘You know Rock, you’re right and you, well bro, you’re looking at him.'”
Unfortunately, Vince McMahon had other ideas.
His Short Tenure with the WWE Not Going As Hoped
Instead of fast-tracking to a feud with the biggest star in the then-WWF, Page was shockingly given the role of being a stalker of The Undertaker’s then-wife, Sara. It was a sad fall-from-grace for a star who warranted a vastly better gimmick.
“I thought it sucked, but all my goals were to be in the WWE/WWF since being a little kid when it was WWWF,” he revealed.
“He (Vince) gave me an idea, and I said, ‘Okay.’ I did tell him about the People’s Champion vs. People’s Champion angle, and he said, ‘It’s good, but we really want to do this stalker thing.'”
DDP admitted it was probably his fault for not attempting to stifle Vince’s flawed idea of the stalker gimmick. In hindsight, he believed he should have taken a step back, considered it, and rebuked it. His eagerness to please the new boss was evident, and he wished to make the most of his shot at the big time, especially as time remained his biggest enemy.
“As time went on, I could see that Vince was never really going to do anything with a guy from WCW,” he admitted.
Reality had hit. The stalker angle fell as flat as everyone expected it to. He’d conquered WCW but wouldn’t be allowed to hit the same heights in the WWF. He even explained his dream of how his WWF debut would pan out:
The lights would go out, and his voice would proclaim, “Who’s the real People’s Champion?” The spotlight would hit him; he’d throw up the diamond cutter hand signal, then cue a promo battle for the ages with The Rock. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
It sadly never came to fruition.
After the stalker angle with Undertaker and Sara was complete, he then gravitated towards a gimmick more suited to his real-life persona, ‘Positively Page,’ a smiley, motivated and happy character, was born.
“I’m very thankful that I got to work with Christian,” DDP said. “Christian actually did sell his ass off, and we had an incredible match at WrestleMania 18. I came in with an explosion and left with an explosion.”
DDP’s tenure with WWF would finish mid-2002. It was a short ride, but one he was still immensely grateful to take part in.
“It all worked for me and was a great ride. You hear so many wrestlers talk so much shit and have so much negativity. They’re bitter. I’m positively Page, man!”
One of WCW’s most over stars had been grossly underutilized under the umbrella of Vince McMahon. However, to this day, he remains one of the most-loved wrestlers of all-time.
Diamond Dallas Page would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, took part in 2015’s Royal Rumble at age fifty-nine, and wrestled in a six-man tag match at January 15, 2020’s AEW Bash at the Beach at sixty-two!
His legacy reaches further than just pro wrestling. He revolutionized the realm of yoga with his DDP Yoga brand, even helping turn around the downward fortunes of Scott Hall and Jake Roberts.
These stories may also interest you:
- DDP and Randy Savage – The Heartwarming Story Behind Their Feud
- DDP and Hulk Hogan – An Unlikely Story of Respect
- WCW Monday Nitro | Behind the Curtain on Its Final Show
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