During the height of the Monday Night Wars that fueled professional wrestling in the late-'90s, Diamond Dallas Page was one of World Championship Wrestling's marquee stars. He represented the company during its war with the New World Order with industry icons the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Sting.
Page was instrumental in attracting mainstream media attention for the company through on-screen partnerships with 2010 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Karl Malone and Tonight Show host Jay Leno.
The pay-per-view matches that resulted from those pairings did outstanding business for the company, the match involving Malone at Bash at the Beach 1998 became the second-highest buyrate in the company's history.
Success did not always come easy for the New Jersey native, though.
Prior to debuting in WCW, Page wrestled some in Canada and the American Wrestling Alliance, but an injury sidelined him and seemingly ended his career before it could ever truly get started.
He began managing Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka, known as Badd Company, in AWA and even formed his own stable known as The Diamond Exchange. Page proved to be an excellent mouthpiece for the talent and his ability to talk eventually landed him a few commentating gigs.
Page would get his foot in the door at WCW thanks in large part to the legendary Dusty Rhodes. Picking up where he left off in the AWA, Page revived his managerial career, seconding the Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin).
It was clear that Page had a incredible mind for the business. He could talk, he could get others over and was a valuable asset to whatever company he worked for. But the itch to get back in the ring never really left and, at age 35, he underwent further in-ring training. At the same time, he would manage two young, unknown talents named Vinnie Vegas and the Diamond Studd.
Those two would leave for the World Wrestling Federation shortly thereafter, becoming far better known as Diesel and Razor Ramon, respectively.
Page would struggle as an older rookie, saddled with a bad gimmick and truly awful angles.
The character lost his fortune, and Diamond Doll, to the Booty Man. He lost arm wrestling contests to Evad Sullivan and struggled to defeat the past-his-prime Jim Duggan.
But he fought through it all and began building a championship resume. He won the television championship and defeated several WCW stars to win the 1996 Battle Bowl ring.
It was in '96 that the character began to undergo changes. Diamond Dallas Page became more subdued, more focused on achieving in-ring greatness. His finishing maneuver, the Diamond Cutter, became one of the most over finishers in the business, thanks in large part to the fact that it could be applied from any position.
Fans were never quite sure how Page would catch his opponent with the move but when he did, they popped in appreciation of his innovation.
The defining moment of Page's career, and the second that he was elevated from solid midcard hand to main event star, came when he shunned the New World Order and dropped Scott Hall with the Diamond Cutter. It resulted in one of the loudest ovations of Page's career and created a brand new marquee attraction for WCW.
The fans appreciated Page's loyalty to the company that made him, even in the face of certain pain and brutality at the hands of Hall, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan and the rest of the nWo.
His rivalry with nWo member Randy "Macho Man" Savage was the first real test of Page's ability to be a top level performer in the industry and he passed with flying colors, delivering a legitimate Match of the Year contender with the legendary star at Spring Stampede in 1997.
Page would go on to win three WCW Championships, two United States titles and four tag team championships.
Matches with Goldberg, Raven and Chris Benoit solidified his position as one of the sport's most entertaining and intelligent workers.
After the fall of WCW in 2001, Page would appear for World Wrestling Entertainment and TNA Wrestling but never quite achieved the same success that he did in the Ted Turner-owned promotion that he starred for throughout the '90s and early 2000s.
A true success story, Page is a living, breathing example of what someone who works hard, is dedicated, has undying passion, a mind for the business and a catches a few lucky breaks can accomplish.
Here is a look at some of the greatest moments and matches of Diamond Dallas Page's Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Driving Mr. Honky Tonk
At WrestleMania VI, Page made his first appearance in the then-World Wrestling Federation, though no one knew it at the time.
He drove a pink Cadillac down the aisle at Sky Dome in Toronto, ushering former intercontinental champions The Honky Tonk Man and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to the ring.
It was a once-and-done appearance for Page and, in the long run, was largely insignificant but it is a fine example of his humble beginnings in the business.
DDP Strikes Gold
In 1995, Page was showing flashes of potential through improved ring work and a firmer grasp on his character. At Fall Brawl in September of that year, he would have the opportunity to win the first championship of his career as he challenged The Renegade for the WCW Television title.
Accompanied to the ring by Max Muscle and the always stunning Kimberly, Page withstood the frantic offense of the Ultimate Warrior ripoff and, thanks to well-timed interference from Max, caught the champion with a Diamond Cutter.
Three seconds later and Page would have his first taste of championship glory.
DDP Says No to the NWO
The moment that DDP spun Scott Hall around and dropped him with the Diamond Cutter was the moment he instantly became a player in WCW. It was the moment that fans finally accepted him as a babyface and a leader for the promotion in its battle with the New World Order.
The above video does not have the full segment included but, at the :50 mark, you can see the Diamond Cutter and watch the audience react.
The Halloween Havoc Classic, Part I
The rivalry with "Macho Man" Randy Savage was monumental in the continued growth of Diamond Dallas Page for a few reasons.
First, it was an angle rooted in Savage and Miss Elizabeth's disparaging and disrespectful remarks and actions towards DDP's wife Kimberly. Page would be relied upon to hang with Savage, promo for promo, while relating his emotions to the audience.
Second, he would be expected to work at a high level with one of the greatest performers to ever lace a pair of boots. Savage had a reputation for delivering some of the most outstanding work in wrestling history, including what may be the pound-for-pound greatest match ever against Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III.
He passed the test with flying colors, delivering a Match of the Year candidate at Halloween Havoc in 1997 with Savage and announcing his arrival as one of WCW's top performers.
It was the first really great match of Page's career and the start of a string of high quality performances from the master of the Diamond Cutter.
DDP and "The Mailman" Deliver on Leno
By July of 1998, WCW's Bash at the Beach pay-per-view was shaping up to be one of its biggest of the year.
The main event would feature Hollywood Hogan teaming with NBA and Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman to take on DDP and his partner, Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone. Rodman's bulls had just defeated Malone's Jazz in the NBA Finals so there was already an established background.
As for Page and Hogan, the two of them had been feuding on and off for the better part of two years by that point, so wrestling fans were already familiar with their history.
To hype the match, Rodman and Hogan appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It would not be long until they were joined by Page and Malone.
The segment proved to be far more useful than the match itself. Here were two major NBA stars along with two of the top WCW stars on one of television's most watched programs.
Mainstream media coverage followed and more eyes were on WCW's product because of it. The fact that Page was chosen to be a part of the match was proof that the company not only believed in him but was willing to give him the proverbial ball, a big one with serious repercussions, and let him run with it.
The Halloween Havoc Classic, Part Deux
When Halloween Havoc rolled around in October of 1998, fans were anxiously anticipating one the of marquee matches on the card. No, it was not the contrived rematch between The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan that would eventually go down in history as an embarrassing sham of a match.
Fans could not wait to see that evening's WCW World Heavyweight Championship match between champion, Bill Goldberg and challenger, Diamond Dallas Page.
Something had to give as the two most popular stars in the company did battle for one of the industry's most prestigious prizes.
Would Goldberg extend his undefeated streak, and title reign, by defeating the ever-resilient Page or would the challenger make history as the first competitor to put a blemish on the champion's win-loss record?
Unfortunately, fans would have to wait an extra night as WCW committed a classic blunder and ran out of satellite time, thus causing the pay-per-view to shut off prematurely.
The replay of the match would be seen the following night, for free, on Monday Nitro.
In what would go down as Goldberg's finest match, and one of Page's finest moments, the challenger carried the champion to an outstanding contest.
A longer match forced Goldberg to expand his moveset, to try new moves fans had not previously seen from him. Page, to his credit, knew how to time every spot out to maximize the drama it would create and elicit the crowd response he wanted.
In the end, Goldberg would retain the title, but it was Page who fans were buzzing about the following day.
...and NEW WCW Champion...
Spring Stampede 1999 was the culmination of all of DDP's hard work and determination, and his growth and evolution as a performer. On that night, he stepped inside the squared circle with legendary stars Hogan, Savage, Ric Flair and Sting in a Four Corners match for the WCW title.
With Randy Savage as referee, things were guaranteed to get chaotic and they most certainly did.
When the dust settled, however, it was Page who would catch Flair with the Diamond Cutter and capture the first heavyweight title of his career.
It was a crowning moment for a man who had helped to carry WCW through its most successful period and a legitimate feel-good moment for his fans, friends and family.
Regardless of how fans feel about his WWE run in the early-2000s, the pop that Page receives when he pulls of the black ski mask and reveals himself as the man who had been stalking The Undertaker's wife Sara is a great moment.
The fans recognized the magnitude of someone with the star power of DDP joining the company and treated the reveal as the special moment it was.
DDP the Healer
Greater than all of his in-ring achievements has been Page's dedication to helping heal others. With DDP Yoga, he helps others get into shape and feel better about themselves. He has built himself a successful company and even offers free yoga classes in his very own home.
Over the last two years, he has also garnered widespread acclaim for his work in rehabilitating two of the all-time great, all-time damaged Superstars in wrestling history.
He allowed Jake Roberts and Scott Hall to move into his home, to get clean and to work at achieving a better lifestyle for themselves through the use of DDP Yoga and healthier everyday habits.
His work with those two men, whose closets overflowed with skeletons, was even documented on an episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
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