Interview with DDP, Monday Night Wars, WCW & Yoga

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The following is from Joshua Modaberi of Sportsvibe UK. You can find the original article here

Diamond Dallas Page was one of the most recognizable names and faces in the world of professional wrestling during the Monday Night Wars.

DDP only got involved in the wrestling business at the age of 35 before joining WCW in 1991 as a manager. He quickly progressed to stepping inside the squared-circle and stayed with the company until it’s final days.

During his time in WCW Page was a three-time World Champion, two-time United States Champion, four-time tag-team champion and one-time Television title holder. He eventually made the move to the WWE, where he was initially involved in the infamous ‘stalker’ storyline, where Page stalked The Undertaker’s wife.

Since his time in the ring came to an end, the 55-year-old has started his own DDP Yoga fitness DVD’s.

Sportsvibe caught up with DDP to talk about getting into the wrestling industry at a late age, becoming World Champion, stalking The Undertaker’s wife and yoga.

Q. How did DDP Yoga begin?

DDP Yoga came about because I was the guy that wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga for the first 42-years of my life. However I started wrestling at 35 and my career didn’t really take off until I was 40, so I was constantly trying to find ways to hold back the hands of time.

When I was 40 it was 1996. 1997 and 1998 were the best years for the Monday Night Wars and also the best time for Diamond Dallas Page. After that, I blew out my lower vertebrae in my back so badly that doctors said my career was over.

They can fuse your back. Shawn Michaels did that, but he got really lucky, he had a great fusion. Instead I just did the rehab and at the same time I had just signed a multi-million dollar deal and my wife Kimberley suggested I try yoga to heal my body. My instant reaction was ‘Yoga no way, I’m not doing that crap that’s for chicks’, and that was just my mindset.

I realized later on it was in fact an ignorance I had, and I had to just try it. When I started doing regular yoga it only took me a short time to realize it could help heal my body. That’s when I began to mix the yoga with the recordation moves I was doing then I started to add things like push-ups, crunches and squats before adding what I call dynamic resistance, which is the engaging of muscles like flexing when you move from one position to another. There is no other yoga that does that, that’s why we say ‘DDP Yoga, It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga’, it is kind of the black sheep of yoga.

Q. It was well documented before Chris Jericho’s recent WWE return he used DDP Yoga, how did that come about?

The doctors had told Chris his career was over, he was in too much pain and he had ruptured his lower vertebrae. After starting my programme, in three weeks Chris felt a significant difference, just like I did, and in five weeks he was 85 per-cent pain free. After three months he was 95 per-cent pain free.

Chris talks about the YRG system, which is part of my DDP work out. There are now a number of wrestlers that are doing it, including Kane, and having that big 290lbs Kane doing DDP yoga is pretty cool. I’ve got Tazz, Santino Marella and Mick Foley has just started. I don’t know if Mick will really keep doing it but if he does it will help.

I’m honoured that the only work out Chris is doing is my work out and it’s very cool for me because he promotes the hell out of it and I’m not paying him. He’s not a spokesperson for the company or anything like that, because let’s be honest I couldn’t afford Chris Jericho, he’s a million dollar guy.

Another person I have to thank for really getting DDP Yoga out there is Shawn Michaels, he was the first guy I got doing my YRG work out.

Q. Who is DDP Yoga aimed at?

The first video that comes up on DDPYoga.com is about a minute and a half and it shows the amazing transformations not just with myself, but with the disabled veteran Arthur Boorman. At the end of the promo I say: ‘They say it can’t be for everyone, but they’re wrong’.

I’m gearing this to the athlete that beat up and wants to feel young again and wants to be unstoppable, that’s number one. Number two is people who are over-weight because I can show you a work out that gives you zero impact and kick-ass cardio. The flexibility and core strength conditioning is a huge bonus for them, they just want to lose weight.

Now I’m about to do my first DVD for kids, entitled ‘DDP Yoga for kids’, and I’m going to have fun with it, make it fun for kids so exercise is fun for them. I also work with a few super athletes including NFL players and a couple of MMA fighters one of which is Josh Barnett.

Q. Going onto the wrestling side of things, and you broke into the industry quite late, how did you get into the business?

I first tried wrestling when I was 22. It didn’t quite work out, but I always had the bug and I always loved it. Then, when I was 31, almost 32, I decided to break in as a manager and that was just a wet dream. It was me talking about wanting to be a wrestling manager and I made a video of a bunch of guys that wanted to be wrestlers and that was the original demo that I sent to the AWA. It’s amazing, it holds up and it’s actually pretty good considering I didn’t know a wrist-lock from a wristwatch.

The AWA picked me up right away mainly because they just lost Paul Heyman so it was an awesome hole for me to fill and I got on television. I then worked at Florida Championship Wrestling under Dusty Rhodes’ tutelage. I learned a lot under Gordon Solie, Steve Keirn, and Michael Graham.

In 1991 Dusty then brought me into WCW to manage guys and I started off managing The Fabulous Freebirds [Michael P.S. Hayes and Jimmy Garvin]. I was then told I was too charismatic with the long hair and the Diamonds. Nobody was paying attention to the wrestlers, so they said they would put me in a pair of tights and boots and see if I could do it. I had seven months left on my contract and said to myself ‘I’m going to do this’ and that’s how it started.

Q. Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you when you were growing up as a fan of the sport?

Guys that would later become my mentors, which is really funny. First of all, a guy called ‘Handsome’ Jimmy Valiant, who later become the Boogie Woogie Man, was someone that I liked watching. Dusty Rhodes wasn’t that much older than me but to watch him in his twenties coming up to become a star force in a very short time was great. He had so much charisma and was by far the biggest mentor and friend I had in the industry.

I also liked watching Jake Roberts and ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham. I loved the managers like ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie, too. Most guys go from wrestler to manager, I’m the only guy that’s ever gone from manager to wrestler and become a world champion.

Q. I understand you have an interesting story involving Scott Hall?

I created Scott Hall’s entire look as the original ‘bad guy’ with the Diamond Studd, before there was ever Razor Ramo. Scott talks about that openly and gives me all the credit for coming up with the look and the toothpick and all of that, which is very cool because a lot of guys don’t remember how much you help them.

Later on, Scott Hall repaid the favour by giving me the Diamond Cutter when they were trying to recruit me for the NWO because they were so hot no one would drop them until me.

Q. You were with WCW from 1991 right until the final day of the company, what were some of your highlights from your time with the company?

The number one highlight of course will always be finally being awarded the World Championship because we all know you don’t win that thing, you’re awarded it just like you’re awarded an Oscar.

That was awesome for me, but the feud with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage will always be my most favourite thing ever. My career blew up in 1997, I was the Wrestler of the Year in WCW, Pro Wrestling Illustrated had me as the number four wrestler in the world, with Stone Cold Steve Austin at number three.

I had an unbelievable run with Savage, we were the Feud of the Year and it was an amazing time for me. I’ve done a number of tributes for Randy and I have so many great stories, not just from the matches but from things that went on behind the scenes, some really cool stuff.

Q. During your time with WCW, were you ever approached to join the WWE?

No, they weren’t allowed to do that, but Steve Austin was around at my house and we’d go over lines on a regular basis. He told me if I ever wanted to join WWF at the time I could of and I probably would have had a better run if I had left then. But everything works out the way it’s supposed to and I’m so grateful for being able to live a dream on a whole different level.

No one did it the way I did it, and know one will ever do it that way again because they’ll never allow it to happen again. I was the anomaly. I wasn’t supposed to happen.

Q. What was it like being in the WCW locker room when you were told the company was going to be sold?

For me personally, I didn’t see it as a negative thing because I knew I wanted to end my career in the WWE and that just made it inevitable. I did however feel bad for a lot of guys that had heat up there and knew they weren’t going to have jobs. I felt really bad for people in the company who worked for WCW, the guys behind the scenes, the camera crew, the guys that made that show the hottest show only a year earlier.

Q. What was it like when you eventually started with the WWE and one of your first story-lines being the infamous stalking of The Undertaker’s wife?

Let me put it like this, if I could change it I would. It’s funny because some people loved it, but the real wrestling fans they hated it because that’s not the way I should have finished my career.

It was hard to get people to boo me, plus the stalker thing was too real. I’m an actor so I know how to play a part but that was too real. I honestly believe ‘Taker and I would have had a different run together if it wasn’t coming straight off the whole WCW thing.

Thank God I got to work with Christian afterwards, and at WrestleMania X8 we had a hell of a match. They didn’t put anything on that feud but we had the people in the palm of our hands, and that’s how I needed to go out as a babyface.

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