Love Me Or Hate Me… You’ll Never Forget Me
In the early 1990s, Diamond Dallas Page was largely used in WCW as a loudmouth manager for various undercard wrestlers and sometimes as a color commentator for syndicated shows. By 1994, Page was featured more as an in-ring performer at the age of 38. Which, when you think about it, is just incredible that he accomplished so much in his career considering how late he started. However, at first there wasn’t much traction for his career.
Most of 1995 saw Page stuck in the mid card not competing on any pay per views for the first half of the year. By the summer, Page was involved in a silly angle with Dave Sullivan. The premise of the feud was Sullivan going on a date with Kimberly Page. By the fall of ’95, Page won the WCW Television Championship when he pinned the Renegade at Fall Brawl. The reign was short-lived as he lost it to Johnny B. Badd the following month at Halloween Havoc.
For the rest of ’95 and the first few months of ’96, Page would continually challenge Johnny B. Badd but come up short in his quest to regain the WCW TV Championship. At one point, Page put up his storyline lottery winnings to get a shot at Badd, but still lost. Oh, and because he treated Kimberly Page so badly, she ditched him for Johnny. By the spring of ’96, Page won the Battlebowl ring at Slamboree and was involved in a feud with Jim Duggan over the ring.
So, the first couple of years didn’t really amount to anything for Page. However, by the end of ’96, Page was getting stronger and stronger responses. He had a surprisingly good opening match with Chavo Guerrero Jr. at Fall Brawl and by the end of the year was in the finals for the WCW United States Championship at Starrcade 1996. Recently, I watched the event recently and there is a clear amount of support for Page that hadn’t existed previously. WCW management must have noticed this as well, as Page was cost the championship at the event by the Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall).
It’s around this time that Page was starting to show a more cocky attitude, confidence and an attitude that was seemingly not caring what happened to himself. The New World Order could sense a threat and on January 13th, 1997 on Nitro, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall attempted to recruit DDP to their team. It appeared to be going all well and good, until DDP shocked Hall with a diamond cutter and dumped Nash over the top to the floor before escaping through the crowd. It’s arguably the moment that elevated Page from the mid card to main events. I’m not so sure if that’s the case as I think it happens a little bit later.
With the NWO trying to get revenge on Page for embarrassing them, Page had a moment to celebrate at UnCensored ’97 with his wife Kimberly about her Playboy magazine. Well, the celebration was short-lived as Randy Savage and Elizabeth ruined the moment and attacked Page and spray painted Kimberly. A guy who was losing to Jim Duggan a year prior is now involved in the most heated feud with Randy Savage.
In a career defining moment, Page would beat Savage at Spring Stampede right in the middle of the ring. An in-depth look at their feud can be found HERE.
Page wouldn’t rise to the main event level following the feud, though. Instead, Page found himself in a feud with Curt Hennig that began in the summer when Hennig turned on Page and would eventually join forces with the NWO after turning on the Four Horsemen. Page battled Hennig at Starrcade ’97 where Page won the WCW United States Championship. The same championship that he had been screwed over from winning the previous year.
As Page entered ’98, I should note that he had a different look. Before his sudden rise to popularity, Page wore goofy glasses, smoked a cigar and his gear was rather generic. However, after his attitude changed, Page started to compete just wearing jeans and often times his ribs taped up from various heels attacking him throughout the years.
Page was quickly becoming one of the most popular acts in WCW, likely only behind Sting at the time. The first three months of ’98 saw Page involved in a feud with Chris Benoit and Raven over the WCW United States Championship. Page successfully defended against Benoit at Superbrawl and against both men at UnCensored in a wild brawl, which had gotten some acclaim at the time and holds up upon viewing today (2017). On March 23rd, Page unsuccessfully challenged WCW World Champion Sting on Nitro in a memorable match.
At Spring Stampede, Page would lose the WCW United States Championship to Raven and their feud would come to an end at Slamboree in a bowery steel cage match. However, the championship wasn’t on the line since Raven had lost to Goldberg on the April 20th edition of Nitro. Page won the cage match and ended the heated rivalry with Raven.
So, where does Page go from here? He’d have to be going for the WCW World Championship, right? Well, kind of. During the summer months, Page would find himself teaming with Karl Malone and Jay Leno in tag team matches against Hulk Hogan who would team with Dennis Rodman and Eric Bischoff, respectively. It was probably just poor timing for Page as he started an angle with Hogan when Hogan had just dropped the WCW World Championship to the popular Goldberg on July 6th.
Following those high publicity matches, Page would find himself in a feud with Bret Hart over the WCW United States Championship. However, most notable is that DDP won the War Games match at Fall Brawl that involved several high profile names, and Stevie Ray, which gave DDP a WCW World Championship match at Halloween Havoc against Goldberg. In what is regarded as Goldberg’s best match ever, Page came up short in his quest to win the championship. Page traded the WCW United States Championship a few times with Bret Hart until Page won the championship on October 25th edition of Nitro (the night after Havoc) and retained at the World War III pay per view. However, Bret Hart would regain the championship on November 30th with help from The Giant.
Page ended ’98 feuding with Giant and winning at Starrcade 1998. I don’t know about you, but it just feels like at some point they missed the ball with Page to give him a big WCW World Championship win, doesn’t it?
The start of 1999 saw Diamond Dallas Page begin a feud with WCW Television Champion, Scott Steiner. By this point, Steiner had incredible amount of muscle and his attitude was becoming quite popular with the fan base despite being a heel. Steiner had developed a liking for Kimberly Page and wanted her to become a freak. Page, who had been cocky and a no nonsense guy was left defending his wife. In some weird way, it kind of lessened his appeal to the WCW fan base. Not only that, but by this time Page had fallen behind Sting and Goldberg for being a top face in the company.
Page would fail to defeat Steiner at Superbrawl IX and would be off television for a few weeks. He would return on March 29th and basically say that he stipulation that Scott Steiner would get his wife for thirty days after losing at the pay per view wouldn’t be enforced. That seems like a cowardly thing to do, doesn’t it? Also, Page would lose to Hulk Hogan again even if it wasn’t exactly a clean loss.
Upon his return and actually since the beginning of ’99, Page wasn’t getting the same reaction. It use to be nothing but cheers but it was suddenly becoming a mixture of cheers and jeers. Page would somehow become a viable WCW World Champion contender as he was inserted into a fatal four way match at Spring Stampede against Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting with Randy Savage as the special referee. During the match, Page took Hogan out with a figure four around the ring post. In the end, Page walked out as the WCW World Champion. But, he had help from Savage and fans didn’t like that, either.
Page had developed a coward trait by this point as often times top contenders would challenge him for the championship but DDP would at first decline the offer but then the match would happen anyway. A guy once not afraid of a fight had developed fear. It’s likely that at Spring Stampede he had turned heel, but it wasn’t official until a few weeks later when he was rather insincere about Hogan’s knee being injured.
DDP’s title reign was short-lived when he lost to Kevin Nash at Slamboree. He’d go back to the upper mid card ranks when he formed the Jersey Triad with Chris Kanyon and Bam-Bam Bigelow. The trio would feud with Raven, Saturn and Chris Benoit over the WCW World Tag Team Championships. Page seemed to have a good routine for an upper mid card act while not translating into a main event act.
Page would have a singles match with Chris Benoit at Road Wild for the WCW United States Championship, but Benoit would prevail. By September, Page was involved in a feud with Goldberg where DDP was ducking Goldberg while talking smack about the former champion. They’d meet at Fall Brawl and it wouldn’t have the same magic that their Halloween Havoc ’98 match would have, but the same result occurred. The following month, Page had a singles match with Ric Flair at Halloween Havoc after Flair was making advances towards Kimberly.
Oddly enough, the end of ’99, Page was turning back to a good guy when David Flair was turned into a psycho and stalked Kimberly. This would lead to DDP being written off television after Starrcade. Page would be off television for several months before returning in the spring of 2000 for the New Blood angle where DDP was presented as the top face challenging Jeff Jarrett for the WCW World Championship. DDP regained the WCW World Championship on April 24th, but that lasted all of two days when David Arquette won the championship in an infamous tag team match.
DDP wouldn’t be on television for nearly six months. When he returned in the winter of 2000, Page was regulated to teaming with Kevin Nash as the Insiders feuding with the Natural Born Thrillers trading the championships a few times. His run and career in WCW comes to an end at WCW Greed when he failed to defeat Scott Steiner for the WCW World Championship. Scott Steiner had been taking out several WCW icons including Sting and Kevin Nash prior to defeating DDP at the last WCW pay per view to ever air.
DDP would go on to compete in the WWF, but not as the same DDP. Instead, DDP was presented as a stalker to The Undertaker’s wife Sarah and lost that feud rather easily. DDP then became a motivational speaker of sorts who’d have a silly smile and a catch phrase of “that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.” DDP would leave the WWF in 2002 due to a neck injury but would end up in TNA for a year where he challenged NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett at Destination X 2005 and also rekindled his feud with Raven before leaving the company and wrestling all together.
It’s been rumored that DDP will be inducted into the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame.
There have been few times where I’ve heard people claim that Diamond Dallas Page was a viable main event act. I don’t think he ever really got to that point. There’s no question that he was on the cusp of the main event scene, but for whatever reason, WCW just didn’t have the ability to pull the trigger.
I mean, really it comes down to poor timing. In 1997, Sting was the guy to dethrone Hulk Hogan and there wasn’t ever any kind of doubt about it. Perhaps instead of having Lex Luger defeat Hogan for the WCW World Championship on Nitro and hold it for five days, that spot could have gone to DDP. It’s not like Luger needed such a short reign. That kind of moment could have really elevated DDP at a time when they needed a solid number two behind Sting. Then, in ’98 the rise of Goldberg really prevents DDP from ever reaching the pinnacle moment.
DDP had a standout career and during the Monday Night Wars he was the man associated with the WCW United States Championship. I think DDP is a Hall of Fame talent. The story he had starting off so late and accomplishing so much. He carried Goldberg to the best match of his career and was able to keep up with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit during his career. He isn’t a headliner Hall of Fame guy, but just like his in-ring career, he is a solid pick and he’s going to get over.
What are your memories of DDP? Was there a time where you got tired of his act? Should DDP have won the world championship earlier than he did?
Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.