WCW around the world, rejoice and give yourselves a self high five, because “Diamond” Dallas Page is on his way to the WWE Hall of Fame. The company has just announced DDP will be joining Kurt Angle, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Theodore Long, and several more yet to be named former superstars in the 2017 class, to be officially inducted in a ceremony taking place the night before WrestleMania 33. Page was one of the preeminent legends of World Championship Wrestling and tried his hand in a number of other major wrestling companies once WCW went out of business, more than making him a deserving recipient of the honor.
For all of DDP’s success in WCW and elsewhere, his time in WWE didn’t go quite as well as it could have. Quite frankly, his time working for Vince McMahon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the less impressive elements of DDP’s career. In fairness, Page is probably one of the most beloved personalities in the business, and there aren’t any skeletons in his closet, per se. That doesn’t mean his career has been perfect, though, and in fact, DDP was just as culpable in some of WCW’s lowest moments as he was in the company’s greatest successes.
It looks like history is going to be kind to DDP, honoring his legacy as the man who made millions of fans feel the bang. However, there are two sides to every story, and while it may not be bad enough to constitute a dark side, there are still a few things about the life and career of Page Falkinburg that probably aren’t going to come up at his Hall of Fame Ceremony. To learn the full story, keep reading to discover 15 things WWE won’t tell you about “Diamond” Dallas Page.
15. He Used To Manage Nightclubs
Not everyone who becomes a WWE superstar dreams of being a wrestler from the day they were born, and even the ones who do aren’t always able to get there in a linear path. DDP was somewhere in the middle, a fan of wrestling who considered possibly entering the business during the late ‘70s when in his early 20s, only to ultimately decide he could probably make a better living for himself in another profession. Chances are he was probably right, as Page went on to become a successful nightclub promoter, with a number of businesses throughout the southeastern United States. His most popular club was Norma Jeans in Fort Myers, Florida, famous for having a pink Cadillac owned by Page on display. The nightclub lifestyle would later influence DDP’s flair for showmanship, and life as a promoter similarly helped him become the people person he’s known as today. He enjoyed life as a club owner so much that he kept his businesses running even after deciding to return to wrestling, not letting go of the side job until he signed with WCW full time in 1991.
14. He Debuted For The AWA
Throughout this list and in general, DDP is regularly given credit for being one of the shining lights of the notoriously mismanaged WCW. Predicting a career in poorly operated yet nationally famous wrestling companies, Page made his sports entertainment debut working for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association in 1988. He wouldn’t actually step inside the ring for a number of years, instead starting simply as a manager, with the AWA Tag Team Championship winning duo Badd Company as his first clients. Page would later include future Hall of Famers Curt Hennig and Madusa as his other charges while working for the promotion. Despite the high level of talent all these individuals possessed, the AWA was on a sharp downslide for quite some time before any of them joined the company, and none could save the inevitable from happening. Not that they had much of a chance, as most of them had jumped ship before AWA even went out of business in 1991, Page included. His deal with AWA was never long term, and when it was over, he returned to the nightclub business while moonlighting in smaller companies until Dusty Rhodes hired him to work for WCW.
13. The Pre-Fame WrestleMania Cameo
In the modern era, WWE goes out of their way to give up and coming superstars and former legends alike bombastic and incredible “WrestleMania moments” that can instantly define their careers. That wasn’t the case back in 1990 during WrestleMania VI, when “Diamond” Dallas Page had one of the most inconspicuous WrestleMania moments of all time. Granted, it wasn’t about him, and WWE was rather pointed about the fact they didn’t have any interest in promoting him. Although Page apparently failed a tryout to become an announcer, he did have one thing WWE wanted – the pink Cadillac he kept at his nightclub. With his long sideburns and hair slicked back, that was exactly what the Honky Tonk Man claimed to roll around town in, and Vince McMahon thought it would be perfect to have Honky and his new partner Greg Valentine head down the ramp in the real deal at the SkyDome. DDP agreed it would make a pretty great entrance, but he had one condition, in that he wanted to be the man driving his car to the ring. Because it would be years before Page meant anything on his own, the announcers at the event didn’t even acknowledge him, and being a footnote in his career, WWE probably won’t bother bringing it up again.
12. He Was “The World’s Oldest Rookie”
Most pro wrestlers start training to get in the ring at least by their early 20s, if not a lot sooner. Thanks to the WWE Performance Center and increased trends towards youth movements throughout the entire industry, this average age might drop even younger. That in mind, there are exceptions to every rule, and in this case his name is “Diamond” Dallas Page. As the list covered earlier, DDP originally thought about being a wrestler circa age 22, but decided it wasn’t for him, at least not yet. Nine years later, when he was 31 years old, he made his AWA debut as a manager, simultaneously training to step inside the ring. Two years later, he finally wrestled his first match in May of ’89, against Dick Slater. At that point, Page was still a wrestler/manager, a role he continued to hold until friends Magnum T.A. and Dusty Rhodes convinced him to wrestle full-time. When he was 35 years old, DDP started hitting the WCW Power Plant on almost a daily basis, earning a reputation as “the world’s oldest rookie” for possessing a work ethic and drive of a man half his age.
11. He Managed The Fabulous Freebirds In Their Lowest Hour
There are few units in the annals of pro wrestling more highly revered than The Fabulous Freebirds. Originally flying high over World Class Championship Wrestling, the group lead by Michael Hayes was cocky, brash, arrogant, and loaded with style, especially in their original incarnation. When Hayes revived the Freebirds in WCW with Jimmy Garvin, though their in-ring work faced a harsh drop-off thanks to the exit of Terry Gordy, the charisma and attitude was still strong enough to make them Tag Team Champions. Their flight finally started showing signs of weakness around 1991, around the time DDP was added as their manager. The Freebirds did achieve two more reigns as United States Tag Team champs during this era, but they also added Big Daddy Dink as their second manager, one of the more embarrassing turns in their long legacy. While it wasn’t exactly DDP, Daddy Dink, or anyone in particular’s fault, it probably wasn’t a coincidence that the Freebirds disbanded once this period of the group ended, and the most famous flock in southern wrestling never flew again until they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
10. He Won The Final Battle Bowl
WCW has never been given enough credit for their innovations in the business, largely because WWE generally refuses to recognize them (even when doing so would be entirely to their advantage). One of WCW’s most unique creations was the Lethal Lottery tournament and subsequent Battle Bowl, which ran four times between 1991 and 1996. The Battle Bowl winners were a veritable who’s who of WCW’s greatest superstars, with Sting, The Great Muta, and Big Van Vader all earning the prize prior to DDP’s victory. Unfortunately, Page’s win inadvertently killed the concept forever, albeit through no fault of his own. Bad booking was the real culprit, with WCW instantly deciding to nullify the win due to the classic Dusty Finish, announced the very next night on Nitro. For the uninitiated, a Dusty Finish is when a winner is announced and declared and the referee’s decision is final, only for the decision to get reversed when another official “views the tapes.” DDP was also supposed to get a WCW World Championship shot, taken away from him along with his win. Not only did the whole ordeal kill Battle Bowl, it also nearly killed Page’s career, as it was very hard for fans to care about DDP after such a blatant non-starter push.
9. Randy Savage Made Him A Star
Considering how big a deal he eventually became, the first half of DDP’s wrestling career looks exceptionally dour in retrospect. This list has only covered the worst of it, and the rest was marked by long winded and ultimately meaningless low level feuds against The Booty Man, Johnny B. Badd, and Evad Sullivan. Page started to work his way out of this rut through a significantly better feud with Eddie Guerrero, and the way it ended suddenly shot him into the stratosphere. Seeing that DDP had potential, the nWo started to court him, giving WCW crowds the hero they’d been waiting for when he rejected their advances. Although issue started with Page and the Outsiders, it was when Randy Savage intervened and took over the war that things seriously took off. In addition to his growing popularity, Page was also wrestling great matches with one of the industry’s biggest icons, and at Spring Stampede 1997, he even managed to win one of them. Defeating the Macho Man more than solidified both Page and his finishing move the Diamond Cutter as forces to reckon with from then on.
8. He Formed Tag Teams With Jay Leno And Karl Malone
In stark contrast to his first Pay-Per-View main event performance against Randy Savage, when DDP found an even higher profile enemy in Hulk Hogan, the matches started to take a rather questionable turn. WCW’s fastest rising star outside of Goldberg spent 1998 at war with the nWo leader, challenging him to back-to-back tag team matches at Bash at the Beach and Road Wild, each time with unique celebrity guests as his partners. First there was an NBA all star battle, when Page teamed with Karl Malone to face Hogan and Dennis Rodman. At Road Wild it was even worse, as Page tagged in talk show host Jay Leno to help him take down Hogan and Eric Bischoff. As wacky as it all looks in retrospect, the chaos in no way affected DDP’s star power, if anything making him an even bigger media celebrity thanks to his famous friends. On the downside, there were plenty of wrestling traditionalists who viewed these tag team bouts as embarrassments to the sport and an example of WCW indulging in its worst tendencies.
7. He Was Close Friends With Eric Bischoff
Professional wrestling has always been a far more political and secretive industry than the average fan could ever understand, and never was this more apparent than when Hulk Hogan was on top of World Championship Wrestling. The results of Hogan using WCW as his personal playground were too wide reaching to cover in this article, except to say they were also apparently contagious, with his buddy Eric Bischoff getting in on the fun and likewise giving his friends and closest companions favors once the booking pen was in his hand. Rumor has it no one benefitted more from Bischoff getting promoted to Executive Vice President than DDP, who also happened to be Easy E’s neighbor at the time. Regardless of how close the two lived to one another, Page has also admitted he and Bischoff were close friends at the time, and knowing how WCW works it would be fair to assume that could have played some role in his success.
6. He Lost The WCW World Championship To David Arquette
In arguably the darkest moment WCW ever witnessed, David Arquette pinned Eric Bischoff on the April 26, 2000 episode of Thunder to win the company’s World Championship. That sentence alone starts to show how complicated the situation never was, because Bischoff was never WCW Champion – the belt was put on the line in a tag team match, which started when the title belonged to DDP, who was Arquette’s partner. Page had very recently won the championship from Jeff Jarrett two days earlier on WCW Monday Nitro, and yet he seemed completely content losing it to Arquette without getting pinned, enhancing the controversy and lampshading what a bad idea it all was. It goes without saying that DDP doesn’t necessarily deserve the blame for any of this, simply being a wrestler involved in the ordeal, and yet at the same time it should be just as obvious that WWE won’t be bringing any of this up. It should probably stay that way, too, because Arquette winning the WCW World Championship will forever be one of lowest points in the careers of just about everyone involved.
5. He Stalked The Undertaker’s Wife
If diehard WCW fans saw any upside to their preferred wrestling company going out of business, it was that they would finally get to see all the WCW icons come face to face with WWE superstars. Unfortunately, things wouldn’t quite pan out that way, with most WCW main event stars signed to contracts with Turner ensuring they’d still get paid even without a place to wrestle. DDP was one of the very few top level WCW wrestlers willing to take a serious financial hit by eschewing the guaranteed pay to lead the Invasion in WWE. Or at least that was the plan, but again, things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, WWE made the bizarre choice to shed away his wildly popular character and make DDP a creepy stalker. He made his debut in the company by revealing he had been videotaping Sara Calloway, who was The Undertaker’s girlfriend/kayfabe wife at the time. As if that wasn’t a bad enough demotion, The Undertaker definitively achieved righteous revenge on DDP in all of their encounters, killing his potential in the WWE Universe fresh out the gate.
4. His Time In WWE Wasn’t A Bad Thing, It Was A Good Thing!
As if it wasn’t enough the WCW People’s Champ was turned into a stalker upon his WWE debut, after The Undertaker and Kane beat him into oblivion for a few months, he came back with arguably an even worse gimmick. Partially due to his famously positive attitude, WWE had Page start acting like a cheesy and overwrought motivational speaker, wearing big fake teeth and repeatedly spouting a new catchphrase, “that’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing!” Credit where it’s due, DDP gave the silly gimmick his all, turning what was clearly a huge demotion into a fondly remembered midcard joke. While it was never going to bring him back to the main event, his time as an inspirational speaker at least led to a minor feud with Christian that saw Page win the European Championship. He also managed to defeat Christian in a rematch for the gold at WrestleMania X8, though he would lose it a few days later to William Regal. Nagging injuries meant his career in the ring was over not long after that, making the European title his only championship in the WWE Universe.
3. He Wrestled For NWA: TNA
Most wrestlers stay in the ring for as long as they’re physically capable, or at least as long as it stays profitable for them to do so. Despite his advanced age and problems with both his neck and back, DDP still had enough star power and ring ability left to catch the attention of NWA: TNA. When all was said and done, DDP would spend less than a full year in the company, and he didn’t exactly do much while he was there. After debuting to reignite his old WCW feud with Raven, it wasn’t long before DDP found himself reliving his past problems with Jeff Jarrett, as well. At the time, Jarrett was NWA Champion and still the owner of the company, so it probably isn’t a surprise their battles uniformly ended with Jarrett retaining his gold. The only other noteworthy incident of DDP’s time in NWA: TNA was his involvement with the rising star that was Monty Brown, who turned on DDP during his final title match to begin establishing his Alpha Male persona. Had Brown become a bigger deal, the moment may be more memorable, but with him fading away from history, there’s not much about DDP in TNA worth mentioning.
2. He Sued Jay-Z And 3OH!3
WWE always loves it when they can get mainstream celebrities to interact with their superstars in the ring and on television, but there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if said superstars have particularly acrimonious relationships with those celebrities, it might be better not to bring it up. Case in point, “Diamond” Dallas Page has engaged in a number of high profile lawsuits with famous musicians, namely Jay-Z and 3OH!3. Both suits were related to Page trademarking his famous “Diamond Cutter” hand gesture, also called a “Self High Five,” which was reappropriated by the musicians and their fans with or without awareness Page held the trademark. Jay-Z started using it next in association with his music and the entire Roc A Fella dynasty, causing DDP to sue for infringement in December 2005. The case was quickly settled out of court with Page receiving an undisclosed settlement. Some five years later, 3OH!3 started using a similar hand gesture, and met a similar fate when DDP took them to court, as well. Like with the Jay-Z case, the full result of the suit were never disclosed.
1. The Healing Power Of DDP Yoga
When it’s all said and done, the in-ring accomplishments of “Diamond” Dallas Page are at best secondary to the fact he’s literally saving lives now that his days as a wrestler are over. In 1998, DDP suffered a serious injury that caused a number of doctors to tell him his time as a sports entertainer were over, and if you got this far in our list you already know that wasn’t the case. On the advice of his wife Kimberly, DDP fought this diagnosis by practicing yoga for the first time in his life, an act he admits would have made him laugh for the first 40+ years of his life. It wasn’t long before he considerably changed his tune, recognizing that yoga did more to alleviate his pain than anything else he had ever tried. Before long, DDP was championing yoga to other wrestlers and even developing his own workout system, which has since been used by countless people in and out of the industry to incredible effect. Wrestling takes an incredible toll on one’s body, and it looks like DDP might be the man who finally found a solution that helps relieve pain in a healthy and empowering way.