By Michael Battista
Rolling Stone reported on Feb. 20 that former WWE star, New Jersey-native Page Joseph Falkinburg, better known as Diamond Dallas Page, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2. The induction will occur the night before “Wrestlemania,” WWE’s biggest pay-per-view event.
From a talent and career standpoint, it’s easy to see why DDP is will be enshrined with legends such as Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels. During his career, Page won multiple championships and created some of the biggest moments during the 1990s, in what some consider the greatest time for professional wrestling.
He helped lead World Championship Wrestling against the WWE, then the World Wrestling Federation, in the “Monday Night Wars” as both shows battled for superiority.
Former WCW President Eric Bischoff said in an interview with WWE that Page’s ability to connect with the blue collar crowd is what helped him succeed.
“Diamond Dallas Page was the underdog,” Bischoff said. “He was the blue collar guy. He was the guy who was never suppose to make it.”
Growing up in Point Pleasant, N.J., Page battled through his parent’s divorce and his own dyslexia. He attended high schools in both Toms River, N.J., and Point Pleasant as a varsity basketball player.
Page first worked for WCW as a manager for other wrestlers. It was easy to see that Page had a incredible mind for the business. He could enthusiastically talk and elevate those around him with his eccentric attitude, but he yearned to compete in the ring.
The only issue was his age.
He was approaching his mid-30s at this time. While the industry was filled with stars from the ’80s who were past their prime and aging as well, a new wrestler in his 30s wasn’t seen as normal and many other promotions would have passed on to younger wrestlers.
Page didn’t give up. He trained every day in WCW development system and endured many losing efforts during his initial time. He was mentored by legends such as Dusty Rhodes and Jake “The Snake” Roberts on the psychological aspect of the business and how to improve his persona.
Their guidance would become essential in his bond with the fans over the next two decades.
In the mid-1990s, Page hit his stride, winning multiple singles championships and entering feuds with legends such as “Macho Man” Randy Savage and members of the legendary group, the New World Order. The fans were drawn by Page’s outspoken personality as he fought untouchable opponents.
It helped that Page’s finishing maneuver was one of the most well-liked and anticipated moves in the ’90s, The Diamond Cutter. The maneuver was both quick enough to be sudden, but slow enough so fans could stand up before the finishing execution. Fans were never sure how he would catch his opponent off guard with the move, but they appreciated it every single time.
Page would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1999, becoming the oldest first-time champion at the age of 43. Many more accomplishments followed in his career, spanning multiple organizations. His wins alone would probably be enough to get him into the WWE Hall of Fame. But the man behind the diamond cutter may usurp the wrestler.
It has become common knowledge that during the ’80s and ’90s, the wrestling workplace wasn’t alway a healthy environment. Drinking, performance-enhancing drugs and other vices were the downfall of many greats. To this day we see many heros from these time in horrible condition because of their addictions and what they put their bodies through.
Page never fell into that hole and has even gone out of his way to help others including former wrestlers. He helped found and create DDP Yoga which, according to the company’s website, “was originally developed… for athletes like himself who had suffered years of injuries due to high impact sports.”
The routine mixes elements of yoga with rehab treatments, as well as traditional workout principles, which makes it practical for anyone, ranging from athletes to those who are handicapped.
The healthy and positive lifestyle helped Page save the lives of former wrestlers Jake Roberts and Scott Hall.
Both men were shells of their former selves. In 2012, Roberts had become dependant on drugs and alcohol, financially strained and weighed more than 300 pounds. He could not complete simple tasks without losing his breath and eventually needed shoulder surgery. WWE had paid for stints in rehab centers, but nothing seemed to work.
Hall may have been in even worse shape. While dealing with addictions, Hall was also plagued by epileptic seizures and lingering injuries. He overdosed multiple times after his retirement from the ring and seemed to be going down a path of self-destruction. Once again, WWE helped pay for rehab, but going into 2013, nothing seemed to work.
Page called and offered a lifeline to both men. He invited Roberts and Hall to live in his home to rehabilitate them in a safe environment amongst friends. Roberts had been with Page for a few months when Hall was invited.
“What did I have to lose?” Hall said in an interview with Fox Sports in 2015. “I was drinking myself to death. I don’t even know why I answered the phone when Dally and Jake called because I wasn’t answering any calls or talking to anyone. I guess it was fate. Jake was one of my professional heroes and Dally was always a great friend.”
Today, both men are living sober lives and both credit their well-being to Page’s intervention.
While Page may have had an incredible in-ring career, his work outside the ring to help better the lives of people around him is what truly makes him a legend. His positivity and dedication to helping others has bettered the lives of so many, whether it be his fans or friends.
In the words of the man himself, “That’s not a bad thing… it’s a good thing!”