WWE – Diamond Dallas Page: Positively Living (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 66 minutes approx.
It’s fair to say that the soon-to-be (at the time of writing) WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page had one of the more unusual entries into the world of wrestling – or more accurately, into the wrestling ring.
The man known as DDP was in fact born Page Joseph Falkinburg in 1956 – that’s right he’s 61 years old! You may be thinking “So what? Most wrestling legends are around that age”, but Page’s heyday was the late 1990’s when most legends his age were either winding down or had retired.
Having read that, you may have just done your maths regarding DDP’s age and the timeline of his wrestling career and you are correct – he was a late starter. In 1991 after three years as a manager in the AWA and WCW, Page was about to be fired, so at aged 35 years old he started training to be a wrestler.
This latest WWE biography relates this fascinating story along with a look into Page’s pre and post-wrestling life, featuring contributors such as Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley, Triple H, Scott Hall, Jake Roberts, Terry Taylor and Page’s ex-wife Kimberly (who still looks gorgeous) discussing DDP’s wrestling career, whilst his mother, sister and childhood friends provide stories from his early years.
Unsurprisingly, Page’s childhood was unconventional – dumped his father and raised by his maternal grandparents after his parents’ divorce, reuniting with his mother and sister later on. Like most American kids, Page was into sports, in this case hockey, until a knee injury from being hit by a car ended that, so he took up basketball, excelling at that too.
Page reveals a late in life diagnosis of dyslexic but true to his indomitable spirit, he carried on regardless fixing or adapting to these problems as he went on. This is a common theme in this retrospective, which either will grate as it portrays DDP as mercurially unflappable or will earn your undying respect for being his indefatigability.
After his basketball days, Page ran a successful nightclub called Norma Jeans in Florida, where he first met Kimberly. It was there that the gregarious big man, known for his party rousing promos at the club, got to meet the wrestlers, including future mentor Dusty Rhodes.
One interesting revelation is that Page did try to become a wrestler in the late 80’s but was injured after a couple of matches. But this didn’t deter him and when he heard the AWA were taping in Las Vegas, he sent them a showreel tape of his flamboyant managerial persona. Clips from this are featured here, showing how much of the familiar DDP personality and fast talking style was already present in this nascent form.
In the AWA Page managed Badd Company, Madusa and Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, the latter two not mentioned here, instead focusing on DDP’s varied and garish wardrobe and female escorts, the Diamond Dolls. After a brief stint as colour commentator in the dying days of Florida Championship Wrestling, Dusty Rhodes brought DDP into WCW as a manager for the Fabulous Freebirds then Scott Hall, known as the Diamond Studd.
The discussion of Page’s transition from manager to wrestler reveals the inherent pessimism of his peers, no-one hiding their bewilderment at someone aged 35 training with a class of 20-somethings but his work ethic, determination and dedication won everyone over. Page’s first TV match, a tag team match with Hall, is found in the extras and shows some potential but little of what was to come.
Because this feature is only 66 minutes long, many of Page’s career highlights and milestones in WCW are glossed over or skipped entirely. So, his big face turn taking out nWo members Hall and Nash in ‘97, his landmark feud with Randy Savage, celebrity tag matches, challenging Goldberg for the WCW World title in ’98 and his own World title win a year later is covered inside 10 minutes.
DDP’s ill-fated WWE run is also given the brisk treatment, with some justification. Page admits, rather diplomatically, to being unhappy with how it went, supported by the embarrassing footage of him being pinned by Undertaker’s then wife Sara to end their feud. Naturally, DDP’s brief TNA run isn’t mentioned so the story jumps from the end of his WWE career to his current career with DDP Yoga.
This part of the feature is fascinating and really makes Page a man to admire for his entrepreneurial drive and altruistic desire to help others. The remarkable story of one man’s life completely turned around by DDP Yoga is heart warming, which inspires Page to help fellow wrestlers Jake Roberts and Scott Hall rebuild their lives. And if you look closely in one clip of the yoga classes, you’ll spot ECW Alumnus Stevie Richards as a trainer.
Page the wrestling persona has always been a braggart, loud, over-confident but able to back it up, yet in the most revealing scene of the whole programme, we see the real Dallas Page when he receives the call from Triple H (also conveniently filmed) informing DDP of his Hall of Fame induction. I won’t spoil it but it is a rare moment of genuine immersive natural emotion.
As seems to the current trend for WWE retrospectives, the potential to truly explore a fascinating story and detail the highs and lows is squandered for the sake of brevity. 66 minutes is not enough to discuss a career as unique as DDP’s, with plenty of personal adjuncts worthy of sharing also unfairly excised which would have made this a more rounded and complete presentation.
Regardless of this obvious shortcoming, this release does offer the opportunity for fans of DDP and newcomers alike to get the essence of the man and why his unorthodox life and wrestling career has made him the inspiration he is.
With a comprehensive selection of his best matches in the extras, it’s time once again to Feel the Bang!
WCW Fall Brawl – September 17th 1995 – WCW TV Title Match – The Renegade (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
WCW Slamboree – May 19th 1996 – Battlebowl Match – Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Barbarian vs. Earl Robert Eaton vs. Ice Train vs. Scott Norton vs. Rocco Rock vs. Johnny Grunge vs. Dick Slater
WCW World War 3 – November 22nd 1998 – WCW US Title Match – Diamond Dallas Page (c) vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
WCW Starrcade – December 27th 1998 – Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Giant
WCW Monday Nitro – April 24th 2000 – WCW World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match – Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
WWF Monday Night RAW – June 18th 2001 – Diamond Dallas Page’s WWF Debut – The Stalker Is Revealed
Rating – ****
Man In Black