DDP got his start late in the game. Starting initially as a Falkinburg in 1988, it wasn’t until he was 35-years-old when he began training to become a wrestler for the first time. His wrestling career didn’t take off right away, and he was often featured in the curtain jerk match (first match on the show). Despite that, Hulk Hogan took notice.
DDP on Hulk Hogan: "He choked me up so much I’m sure a tear or two came down."
Some of our favorite stories are stories of respect. To take a quote from a recommended piece that we wrote back in 2017, "In that ring and behind that curtain, there’s a special exchange of respect when it becomes warranted. Through earning one’s stripes, giving back to the industry, and delivering that once in a lifetime performance, there comes a relationship where respect is the foundation." Here is one of those instances that will put a smile on your face. This story comes from a Busted Open Radio interview with Diamond Dallas Page.
"Hulk Hogan walks up to me in Germany, and this is around 1994 when Kevin [Nash] is the champ, and I’m wrestling Jim Duggan. I get the curtain jerk match, the first match, every night.
"It was the fifth or sixth night, and we are in Berlin, and when I walk through the curtain and Hogan is there, and he grabs me, and he pulls me over, and he says: ‘How are you doing it?’
"‘Doing what, Hulk?’
"‘Getting so much better…’
"I go: ‘Wow, thanks, man.’
"He goes: ‘I’ve been watching your matches the last couple nights, and I don’t see you on TV that much, but when you’re on, you are always doing something a little different, and this is the way they are getting you to learn your craft. They are putting you on the road…’
"I said: ‘No, they’re not. I haven’t been on the road for three months. The only reason why I’m on this card is because my real last name before I changed it to Page was Falkinburg, and the crowd loves its Germans, and I have a smoking hot wife that accompanies me to the ring. That’s the only reason why I’m here.’
"He goes: ‘How are you getting so much better?’
"I said: ‘I go to the Power Plant.’
"He really didn’t understand that because, in his day, you went from one territory to another to another, and that’s how you got better, and they can camouflage you, change your name, and whatever.
"I went down to the Power Plant because wrestling is a lot like playing the guitar – meaning you can’t get any good unless you play all the time. I went back to the Power Plant, and I started to train the young guys, and I realized that the more you teach someone, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get.
"Hulk goes: ‘However you’re doing it, whatever you’re doing, you need to keep doing it because it may not be today, next year, or the year after but somewhere down the line, you have the ability to draw huge money with me…’
"Let’s manifest that four years later.
"The number two leading scorer of all-time in the NBA, Karl Malone, has my ‘Diamond Cutter’ shirt on…we face off with Hogan and Dennis Rodman and shoot our angle, which was the biggest angle ever for WCW as far as money, super-coverage across the planet – and it wasn’t a wrestling show it was on, it was on the ‘Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno, the biggest show in the world.
"It was crazy.
"I found out they were going to put the Heavyweight title on me the night of the PPV. Nash and Hogan were actually booking then.
"They pulled me into the booking office and told me. I don’t think it sank in right away because I didn’t really sell it. The way I remember it, they told me and said, ‘We’ll talk about it later.’
"What really sticks out in my mind was after the match, after Flair took my finish and I actually had the world title in my hands, I walked into our dressing room, and Hulk was sitting there.
"His knee braces are on the ground; he had actually booked me putting him out of the match with Bret Hart’s legendary figure-four on the turnbuckle post, so we could set up an angle down the road when he came back.
"When I walked through the door, I’ll never forget Hulk looking up at me, and he said, ‘This is the way our business is supposed to be. That someone like you could work so hard that you silence the critics and skeptics and could raise yourself to the level of main event world champion…’
"It choked me up so much I’m sure a tear or two came down, and he gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m proud of you.’
"Now that was a moment…"
DDP: "I was a good example of work ethic, passion, and someone that cares about the business."
DDP wasn’t used much earlier on his wrestling career, so he took this time to put in work at WCW’s Power Plant to learn his craft. In a ‘Where Are They Now?’ piece on WWE.com, Page looked back at this time in his career. "Bischoff gave me the job as I was a good example of work ethic, passion, and someone that cares about the business. Since they wouldn’t really book me, I went down to the WCW Power Plant every day I wasn’t working. That’s how you adapt to adversity. Even when I started to make it, I still kept going back. Until I was on the road 260 days a year-plus, I was still going to that Power Plant. For five years, I went there because that’s how long it took me to get to the top."
As DDP has shown in his illustrious career, no matter your age, hard work truly does pay off!
These stories may also interest you:
- The Rock and Steve Austin – Rivals in the Ring, Brothers in Life
- 6 Stories of Respect in Wrestling | Special Bonds Outside of the Ring
- Bret Hart | 12 Stories That Show Who the Real Hitman Is