[Interview] Diamond Dallas Page Talks Being Mentored By Jake Roberts And Dusty Rhodes
As Diamond Dallas Page tells it, DDP and his “Diamond Cutter” finishing move carved it’s fair slice from the pro wrestling pop culture boom during the Monday night ratings wars between WCW, the Turner broadcasted company where he was a three-time world champion, and WWE, the Vince McMahon led survivor of the aforementioned ratings conflict.
Page’s unlikely rise to the top of the WCW mantle in the late 1990’s alongside Ric Flair, Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan props him up next to top names from his era. He built his main event climb on relationships with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash years before they were the NWO, learning psychology and craft from Jake “The Snake” Roberts and proving with crowd pops he deserved the mutual respect of champions. It’s a wild ride through a pivotal time in pro wrestling history. Considering the industry’s taxing toll on its performers, Page is thankful for his health after capturing WCW’s heavyweight gold for the first time at 43-years-old.
The Well Versed discussed at length DDP’s self-belief in the wrestling industry and now in his DDPYoga, “It ain’t ya mama’s yoga” vitality program.
The Well Versed: You’re most known for professional wrestling, but how has your latest venture, DDPYoga been received?
DDP: The response has been amazing. I don’t think it hurts that [Chris] Jericho actually came back after a year off when the doctor said he herniated his L4. He came back to WWE in the best shape of his life only doing DDPYoga.
TWV: Yoga isn’t typically associated with tough guys like pro wrestlers even though it’s a great way to retain shape.
DDP: You gotta remember bro; I totally understand that psychology because the first 42 years of my life, I’m a guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga. I grew up on the Jersey Shore—Bam Bam Bigelow, we’re not really yoga people. What happened was I didn’t start wrestling until I was 35. Steve Austin retired at 37 to put that in perspective and had to retire because of wear and tear.
You can say what you want about professional wrestling but you can’t fake gravity. My career didn’t take off until I was 40. That was 1996. Anybody who’s listening: I am the expert on the holding back the hands of time.
Wrestling is an art. You go out there in front of 20,000 people, and I know that they know and they know that I know, and they know that I know that they know, that me and my partner both know who is gonna win before we both go out there. How do you make them care? That’s where the character comes in.
What you say, how you believe it, you’re passion, people can feel that. Those other matches might have been a bunch of garbage but that [Randy] Savage-Page match, ‘Oh my god, they were killing each other.’ I’ve had people tell me how real that was, but still we knew who was gonna win. Randy was amazing.
Back to the question of yoga, I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it, but at the height of my career, ’97, ’98, I’m sure you know this but most people don’t, if you look at the cable rating from ’96-2001, the top 10 shows on cable television, five of them were wrestling shows. WWF at the time and WCW, we were just killing. Every Monday night, Thursday night and Sunday with the pay-per-view. It was crazy, crazy times, the wear and tear on your body.
The whole thing with yoga: When I hit the top of my game, I ruptured my L4 and L5. Doctors said I’m done. I’m the kind of guy: I’ll try anything. I have an open mind. Yoga, I was so inflexible until I tried it. The first three weeks, Danny, I’ll tell you, my body started to come back when the doctors said it wouldn’t. I was still doing rehab. I’m not into the whole spiritual mumbo-jumbo, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my thing. That’s where a lot of people really gravitated to DDP Yoga, our tagline, “It ain’t ya mama’s yoga.”
Real yogis who get it, they love it. I developed this for people who wouldn’t be caught doing yoga like me. I gotta tell ya, old school calisthenics, slow motion burn movement, it’s dynamic resistance. What I mean when I say that—have you ever seen a body builder go on stage?
TWV: Yeah it’s very rough, staccato movements.
DDP: Exactly. So they are moving, flexing every muscle because they want all the pop for the judges and the crowd. I figured out a way to do that by accident. Where as I’m moving my muscles and engaging them, your heart has to beat faster to get the blood to the muscle, hence I developed a work out totally by accident and it’s zero impact on your body. Zero impact on your joints. Kick ass cardio. It’ll dramatically increase your flexibility and core strength conditioning.
I’m the proof in the pudding. Jericho is too. I am big time because at 42, three doctors said my career was over. In less than three months, I was back in the ring. At 43, I was crowned heavyweight champion of the world. I know it works.