The Mean 9.5.01: DDP

*DISCLAIMER: I have always found it really irritating when an online columnist devotes several paragraphs to talking about their personal lives, even if it relates somewhat to wrestling and yet I’m finding myself doing it myself more and more, and this week it has hit a peak. Thus, out of respect for you the reader, I’m going to give you fair warning that the first little bit of this column has all that crap about me, my friends, and our RAW watching experiences, so skip that if you want to. Once the familiar italics start, that’s the beginning of the “real” column you’ve been warned.

Well, I am comfortably situated back at Connecticut College in New London, CT after four months at home, in California, in the woods, and elsewhere. The most pleasant surprise I had awaiting me when I returned was that my friend and mentor Jay “Biz E. Drunk” had gotten an off-campus apartment that happened to have TNN, meaning that unlike during my freshman year, my friends and I would be able to watch RAW on a weekly basis. You see at Conn. a bunch of years ago some old lady gave our school a whole load of money to build stuff with two provisions: no football team and no frats. Neither rule kills me all that much because 1. I’m too small and too beat up from four years of high school wrestling to play football and 2. I don’t drink quite enough that I’d want to be in a frat. However, due to the lack of frats, last year an intramural flag football team that was called “the team with the most spirit in Conn. College history,” but that had its closest game end in a thirty point loss (it’s tough when your three man O-line weighs a combined three hundred pounds and you’re going against the lacrosse team) became something more; we became the Naked Trojans.

You can learn the full history of the Naked Trojans in our forthcoming website, but suffice to say, now that I’m watching RAW with my buddies, this column is gaining two new features: a quote of the week (pulled from the mouth of a Trojan each week) and thoughts on the one part of wrestling even our comprehensive website seems to overlook: the commercials. Without further ado, a radical departure from the usual high intellectual standards of this column it’s Trojan time.

(For the record, Trojans in attendance this past Monday: Jay “Biz E. Drunk” Breuer, Jordan “Bulbous Wang” Geary, Taylor “Curtis E. Flush” Cunningham, Dan “Dano” Hartnett, Jefferson “Sweathog” Post, and of course myself, Ben “Iceman” Morse, with guest appearances by Trojan chick Cassy “Rogue” Jabara)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: (This actually covers the past two weeks’ worth of RAW)

“Oh hey, here’s that guy with the one move oh, there it is.”

-Jay “Biz E. Drunk” Breuer as Rhyno gored The Rock during Rock’s interview last week

“Forget about her man, check out that guy’s ass.”

-A Trojan who will go unnamed out of shear embarrassment because the “her” and the “guy” in question are Stacy Keibler and Shawn Stasiak respectively.

COMMERCIAL OBSERVATIONS:

-The only possible good that can come out of Carrot Top as a 1-800-COLLECT spokesman is the inevitable Mr. T beatdown that has to occur.

-If it seems like you’ve suddenly taken ‘shrooms and there’s a rainbow involved it’s probably a Skittles commercial.

-The commercials where Tazz sells Stacker 2 to the Mafia and where Kane does the shrug after being unable to eat the Chef Boyardee’s have brought WWF advertisements to a whole other level.

-In order for Gatorade to work, you have to actually drink it.

-This could easily turn into a rant but why is this Tony Hawk guy getting more endorsement deals than Michael Jordan and when the hell did friggin’ skatepunks become “cool?” These are the kids we used to pick on in junior high. On a sidenote, I go to the video game arcade in my local mall now and again and much as I have since the late eighties employ the tried and true “push as many buttons as you can” method and I’ve got these little punks yelling me to use “combos” and other crap I can’t understand ok, another time

Well, there was the experiment; e-mail me if you want. Now, onto the real deal

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that everything in life could be broken down into two extremes: excess and deficiency. He believed that if a person could find the medium or mean between the two extremes in all that they did in life, they would travel down the path to happiness and virtue. With pro wrestling fans, the two extremes are clear: the deficient “mark” enjoys watching wrestling more than anybody but has very little knowledge of anything not on TV, while the excessive “smart” knows every backstage dealing, but as a result can become highly bitter and cynical, losing their ability to enjoy the show. These two extremes view each wrestler differently, often disagreeing with each other. Each week I look at both perspectives and then attempt to find “The Mean” between the two. This week, let’s take a look at Diamond Dallas Page

In recent years with the advent of “inside” looks into professional wrestling such as “Beyond The Mat” and “Tough Enough,” a lot of people have seen the hardships that wrestlers endure and the misery so many of their lives become, and gone on to ask the question why would anybody want to do this for a living? Well I guess even though I’ll never fully understand what would drive somebody to do what wrestlers do, I can at least partially understand what motivates some of the younger, hungry guys. As a former high school wrestler I understand that drive and intensity, and as an actor I can relate to the love of the spotlight and the addiction to the crowd, but I still don’t fully “get it.” So then if I can’t understand why a 22-year-old fresh-faced kid would want to wrestle how am I supposed to understand why Diamond Dallas Page does what he does?

Diamond Dallas Page is well into his forties and has suffered more than his fair share of injuries in a wrestling career. In the spring of 2001 DDP was faced with a choice: sit out the remainder of his WCW/Time Warner contract or join the WWF at a reduced salary. Just to put this in perspective, the money DDP would have collected by simply sitting at home for several years would have numbered in the high millions, he has a wife who has been featured in Playboy that would lovingly sit at home with him, and just to restate, he’s a broken down man in his mid-forties. The second option would put Page on the road more often than before, away from his wife, risking further injury, and making far less than he would by simply doing nothing. The choice seems obvious right? So of course DDP signed with the WWF. I think to even try to understand what possibly motivates a man like Diamond Dallas Page a good a place as any to start is at the beginning.

In the mid-80s, Page Falkenberg was working as a bouncer at a nightclub that he also had partial ownership of in Florida. Falkenberg was already making good money and living the good life with plenty of women, plenty of booze, and friendships with bands the likes of Van Halen and Skid Row. As the “Rock & Wrestling” phenomenon of the 80s was picking up, Falkenberg, who was a big rock fan, a closet wrestling fan, and a sucker for the spotlight, decided that at age thirty-two, he would leave a relatively easy and lucrative venture for the rigors of professional wrestling .am I sensing a pattern here?

Falkenberg had always in the back of his mind had a character developed be it for wrestling, rock & roll, or whatever: Diamond Dallas Page. The name was a combination of his real first name, his father’s favorite football team (the Dallas Cowboys), and a motif he felt had untapped potential: the Diamond. The Diamond Exchange (later the name of Page’s stable), the Diamond Mine (later his stable), and the Diamond Dolls (his string of gorgeous valets) were all ideas in Falkenberg’s head long before he even stepped into a wrestling ring for the first time.

Page figured at his age there was no place in the business for him as an active wrestler, but felt he could make a good manager and/or color commentator. He sent in a tape to Verne Gagne’s AWA of himself and three friends in hopes of landing a job as a manager. Because Paul E. Dangerously had just departed for the NWA, the AWA was in need of a quality heel manager, and Page fit the bill. He was made the manager of Bad Company, made up of Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka, two highly capable veterans; Page’s dreams of the Diamond Exchange and Diamond Dolls came to life and he rode high in the dying AWA. Page was a natural showman with a great knack for firing up the crowd and drawing heat coupled with a perfect look for the era (the lead singer of a hair band with muscles it worked in the 80s, Van Hammer was just a few years too late). Though the AWA did not last long after his arrival, DDP would go on to bigger and better things.

The WWF made a grab for Page & Bad Company at the dawn of the 90s, but Page didn’t feel he was ready for the big time yet (and that he would get lost in the sea of managers the WWF had at the time) and instead elected to take a job with Dusty Rhodes’ Florida Championship Wrestling as a color commentator. It proved to be a smart decision as Page had the honor and good fortune of broadcasting alongside the legendary Gordon Solie. From what he picked up from Solie, the already charismatic Page was now indeed ready for the “big time” and signed with WCW in early 1991 thanks in part to Rhodes’ new position of power in the WCW infrastructure.

DDP debuted in ’91 as manager of the Fabulous Freebirds, Michael P.S. Hayes & Jimmy Garvin. These Freebirds were a 90s incarnation of the legendary group Hayes had been a part of along with Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts in the 80s. The difference between the two groups was that the 80s Freebirds were simply brawling, good ol’ Southern boys, whereas the idea behind the Hayes & Garvin team was that they were rock stars (Hayes did in fact record several songs including their theme, “Badstreet U.S.A.”); thus DDP was a natural fit as manager. DDP immediately impressed WCW management with stellar promos to the point where fans began to focus more on him than the team itself.

About halfway through 1991, WCW decided that a manager of Page’s skill would be more useful paired with a newcomer than with two veterans; and so he was made the manager of the Diamond Studd, aka AWA veteran Scott Hall in a new package. For the remainder of 1991 and most of 1992, Page managed Studd successfully at the mid-card level. Then in 1992, Bill Watts took control of WCW and reduced the role of many on-air personalities, Page included. Frustrated with a lack of air time and with a year remaining on his contract, DDP sought the advice of 80s star turned WCW front office guy Magnum T.A. who gave Page the last suggestion he expected to hear: become a wrestler.

Initially Page rejected Magnum’s suggestion; but as time went on, and his managerial career began to seem more and more bleak, Page bit the bullet, went down to the Power Plant (WCW’s training facility) and at age thrity-five, for the first time, trained to be a wrestler. Not only did Page train, he trained hard, not content to simply rely on his presence or fall back on his age as an excuse. He debuted as a wrestler in late ’92 teamed with Hall. Page was very green when he started out and not much to watch, but the effort and dedication was there, the rest would come.

After Hall left WCW for the WWF in the summer of 1992 to become Razor Ramon, DDP was given a new partner: Vinnie Vegas, aka Kevin Nash. Nash had been saddled with the awful gimmick of Oz and was just now recovering with his new “wiseguy” gimmick. Nash’s and DDP’s gimmicks complimented each other well, and though neither was terribly skilled in the ring at this point, they were both extremely charismatic and formed a solid mid-card niche for themselves as the Vegas Connection. It looked as if DDP had a solid future to look forward to when suddenly and unexpectedly he suffered an injury to his bicep muscle that put him out for the better part of a year.

When DDP returned in late 1993, Nash had moved onto the WWF where he became Diesel, and again DDP was without a partner. WCW made the risky move to make DDP a singles wrestler, feeling that though he was still learning the ropes, he could get over on promos and charisma. Another plus DDP now had going for him was a beautiful girl named Kimberly whom he had married during his recovery period and who happened to be a model and fitness expert; she became his permanent valet, the final Diamond Doll. The problem was that during his layoff DDP had been unable to train hard and had gotten very much out of ring shape (easy to do for a thirty six year old with a muscle injury). In early 1994, WCW stuck him in a series of matches with the fast moving, high-flying, and very popular Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero). Though Page was still a bit green and now out of shape, he worked hard to keep up with the younger Badd, and the two found they had enough natural chemistry to put together a quality series of matches.

DDP spent the latter half of 1994 working his way back into shape mostly on syndicated shows against low profile opponents. DDP took his licks, did some jobs, and all the while honed his craft, becoming an avid student of the game. In 1995, it was decided that Page had paid his dues enough to receive a mid-card level heel push; it also didn’t hurt that Eric Bischoff, an old friend of DDP’s from the AWA, was now running the company. In addition to Kimberly, DDP was given a huge bodyguard named Max Muscle and took on the look of a sleazy biker who happened to have tons of money. He began treating Kimberly badly in the storyline, initiating a feud with Kevin Sullivan’s brother Dave, an extremely sub-par wrestler with a goofy gimmick (he was dyslexic and had a pet rabbit) who developed a crush on Kimberly. Though the DDP-Sullivan feud produced no particularly memorable matches, it did get DDP well over as a vicious heel.

At Fall Brawl 1995, DDP captured his first title, defeating The Renegade for the TV title and then immediately afterwards segueing into a renewed feud with his old rival Badd. WCW was counting on the duo’s old chemistry, with the addition of Page’s enhanced skills and the mistreatment of Kimberly to the equation, to make for a hot feud; they were not disappointed. Badd defeated DDP for the TV title at Halloween Havoc 1995 in a good match, then beat him again to get Kimberly as a manager at World War III ’95. As 1996 loomed, the DDP-Badd feud was hot, Page was gaining credibility as a wrestler, and the best was still to come.

In early 1996, WCW ran a storyline where DDP lost all his money and was forced to live out on the streets. He was scheduled to have a final blowoff match with Badd at Uncensored ’96 where Badd would put the TV title, Kimberly, and $1,000,000 (or something) up against Page’s career. However, after months of setting up a great feud, everything got ruined when Badd unexpectedly bolted for the WWF. WCW as a quick solution subbed in The Booty Man (the former Brutus Beefcake) who took on Kimberly as his “Booty Babe” and who defeated DDP to seemingly end his career.

To start from scratch after the Badd debacle, a month or so later, DDP reappeared on WCW television reinstated and with his money back, all thanks to a mysterious benefactor (one that was never revealed). Really, WCW just wanted to get Page back in the mix with minimal explanation as he was slowly starting to get over as a heel. He was given a big push when he won Battlebowl at Slamboree ’96. He went on to have a decent match at the Great American Bash ’96 with Marcus Alexander Bagwell, then a not so great match with Jim Duggan at Bash At The Beach ’96. Nonetheless, Page and his new finisher the Diamond Cutter were getting over and then came the NWO, and nothing would ever be the same again.

The NWO storyline gained huge momentum in the summer and fall of 1996, centering around Hulk Hogan and DDP’s old buddies Hall and Nash. The entire promotion was banding together to battle the rebel group with the exception of DDP who was having his own self contained feud with the Guererro family. DDP dropped his Battlebowl ring to Eddy Guererro at the August 1996 Clash of the Champions, then put Eddy out of action. He beat Chavo Guererro Jr. at Fall Brawl, and then Eddy in a return match at Halloween Havoc. Working with the extremely talented Guererros, DDP grew as a wrestler, and more importantly looked good. By November, the NWO angle was so big, that DDP wanted a part of it and it proved to be the best move of his career.

DDP became involved in the story as Hall and Nash attempted to recruit him, and while he flip flopped at first, he eventually turned them down, showing for the first time ever a babyface trait: loyalty (to WCW). At Starrcade ’96, Hall & Nash cost DDP a match against Eddy for the vacant U.S. title, making DDP an unlikely babyface. To everybody’s amazement, the crowd took to DDP with great enthusiasm and suddenly all the hard work he did to become a wrestler became part of the storyline as he was the “hard working man who wanted to make it on his own.” DDP tore through lower level NWO members like Scott Norton and Buff Bagwell en route to a showdown that would again change his career, with the NWO’s newest member, the legendary Randy Savage.

At Uncensored ’96, the now extremely popular Page came out to cut a promo, but was cut short by Kimberly (who had been off TV for months and revealed by the announcers to have been reconciled during that time with DDP) who emerged from the back crying and spraypainted with NWO colors. Out of nowhere, DDP was blindsided by Savage while Kimberly was taunted by Savage’s valet Elizabeth who waved the issue of Playboy that Kimberly had posed in. Both DDP and Savage were known for their extremely intense promos, and thus the feud gained megaheat. The two headlined Spring Stampede ’97 and DDP was given the upset win in a move that elevated him to the next level. The two followed it up with a great brawl at Great American Bash ’97 where DDP returned the job and established that he was a legitimate main eventer.

At Bash At The Beach ’96, Page brought in Curt Hennig as a partner to face Savage & Hall, but Hennig walked out on him mid-match. Page spent the rest of the summer putting over Hennig (who eventually went NWO) and teaming with Lex Luger while WCW decided what to do with him. By this point, aside from Sting, DDP was easily WCW’s most popular wrestler. At Halloween Havoc ’97, he and Savage had another wild brawl where Page lost after Hulk Hogan interfered, setting Page up for some matches with Hogan which elevated him even more. The only problem was the toll the manic matches with Savage were taking on DDP’s aging body, as his ribs and other areas began giving him serious problems.

To cap off 1997, WCW decided to finally reward DDP with a major singles title, putting him over Hennig for the U.S. title at Starrcade. He took a little bit of time off to let some nagging injuries heal as 1998 dawned, but when DDP returned as U.S. champion he now found himself a proven superstar who could carry others up to the near main event level much as he himself had; he also found that he no longer needed to feud with the NWO to stay over. Further, DDP was learning a thing or two from his backstage buddies Hall & Nash, masters of politicking, and as a main eventer was learning how to get himself over at the expense of others. He watched the intense Raven-Chris Benoit feud get over with the fans, and decided to insert himself into the feud and make it a three way. The difference between DDP and the other main eventers was that he made an effort to make his matches good, first with Benoit at Superbrawl VIII, then in a three way at Uncensored ’98, then at with Raven at Spring Stampede ’98 (where he dropped the title) and again in a cage match at Slamboree ’98. The fact that DDP and Raven were old friends helped as they were very comfortable working with each other both verbally and physically and the feud helped to further Raven’s status as a heel, and further enhance DDP (who ultimately went over).

Following the Raven feud, Eric Bischoff needed somebody for an ambitious summer feud he had planned with Hulk Hogan, and he tapped his friend DDP for the job. The twist on the feud was that it would manifest in two tag team matches headlining the summer pay per views (Bash at the Beach and Road Wild) and would involve Hogan and DDP with celebrity partners. At Bash at the Beach DDP teamed with basketball star Karl Malone to take on Hogan and Dennis Rodman in a match that was poorly perceived by the wrestling community, but garnered great mainstream appeal. In a riskier move, at Road Wild, DDP and talk show host Jay Leno took on Hogan and Bischoff; again the match was horrible, but it received plenty of mainstream coverage. It was moves such as this that ultimately led to WCW’s demise (Bischoff risking money on mainstream celebrities that the fans cared little about), but DDP got off best in the deal, getting a little mainstream celebrity status and showing that he was able to train celebrities to wrestle (at least somewhat).

With DDP riding high popularity wise, and because WCW needed somebody they could count on to make rookie sensation World champion Bill Goldberg look good in his first major pay per view title defense, WCW booked DDP to win a bizarre three way War Games at Fall Brawl ’98 which saw him technically go over Nash, Luger, Sting, Hogan, and Bret Hart, but in which the bizarre feud between Hogan and the recently signed Ultimate Warrior took center stage; as a result of his win, DDP earned a shot at Goldberg at Halloween Havoc. DDP went out and led Goldberg through the best match of his career to that point (it arguably remains so), almost universally praised for superb psychology and storyline. DDP even put Goldberg over clean to help build the new star. DDP had come full circle, from being the green rookie being walked through matches, to the guy who made the up and comers look good.

DDP had a solid, if forgettable mini-feud with Bret Hart that saw him briefly regain the U.S. title, and then finished out ’98 with a win over the WWF bound Giant at Starrcade. As 1999 began, the writers had very little in place for Page, until they had another new star they needed to put over: Scott Steiner. For years a babyface tag team wrestler, Steiner was now a heel member of the NOW doing a very convincing “psycho” gimmick; he just needed a big star to put him over. DDP, grateful for what he had at his age, anxious to give back to the company, and because he needed some time off to recover from his recurring rib problems anyways, agreed to do the job and do it convincingly. Kimberly was pulled from her spot as a member of the Nitro Girls and placed in the storyline, as Steiner stalked her and even threw her from a car. At Superbrawl IX, Steiner destroyed DDP eventually forcing him to pass out in his Steiner Recliner giving DDP a couple months off.

DDP returned in April of 1999 to an unexpected reaction. In DDP’s absence, the fans had started to actually cheer the rebellious, foul mouthed Steiner, as close an equivalent to the WWF’s wildly popular “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as WCW had. As Steiner’s most high profile rival, suddenly DDP was no longer “cool” to cheer for. Rather than force DDP down the fans throats, WCW did something more sensible: they turned him heel. It made sense, after all, DDP had played a heel for the first ten plus years of his career and was obviously capable of it, plus he was a legitimate main eventer and WCW lacked heels in the upper card. DDP’s heel turn was such a success (he basically just reverted to his old character plus a lot of old school cheap heat tactics) WCW gambled and put the World title on him, putting him over Hogan, Sting, and then champion Ric Flair in a fourway match at Spring Stampede ’99. DDP had unexpectedly reached a peak he had never expected to climb to.

DDP as a heel worked, but he wasn’t really cut out for the World title run quite yet, so he dropped the belt to Nash a month later at Slamboree. In an attempt to liven up the Tag Team division and hopefully elevate some mid-card heels, DDP was teamed with real life buddies Chris Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow in a stable called the Triad; they were given the Tag Team titles and were allowed to defend them in any combination much like the Freebirds did in the 80s.

The Triad was only a moderate success, so by the end of the summer, DDP was back to wrestling singles, and was again used to put over new stars. He dropped a solid match to U.S. champion Benoit at Road Wild and then a match to Goldberg at Fall Brawl that failed to match the luster of their first. At this point, Bischoff was ousted from WCW and the WWF’s Vince Russo was brought in. Russo was responsible for much of the WWF’s edgier content, the escalated violence, adult language, and rampant T & A; he brought much of this with him in his first few months in WCW. DDP was programmed in a feud with the legendary Flair, but under Russo’s direction, Kimberly became the focus, as she tried to lure Flair’s son David (who had recently joined WCW) to a hotel room and ambush him, only to encounter the elder who inflicted a barrage of spankings on her. DDP cut a profanity laced promo at Halloween Havoc ’99 and then defeated Flair in a bloody strap match.

Following Havoc, DDP again took time off to let injuries heal, meanwhile Kimberly remained on TV dealing with David Flair who took on a psychotic persona in the wake of his father being injured and driven out of WCW temporarily by DDP. Page made his return at Starrcade ’99 and easily defeated the very green younger Flair in a match that not even he could carry. Following the Flair feud, DDP was placed in something of a Russo experiment, as WCW circulated rumors on the internet that WCW superstar Buff Bagwell had been involved in an affair with Kimberly. The rumors were false (in reality, Page and Bagwell were good friends), but the line between reality and storyline were blurred. Most fans were confused by the feud and didn’t catch on, but DDP and Bagwell put on two good matches at Souled Out 2000 and on the Nitro following nonetheless. Before DDP had a chance to build on the matches however, the injury bug bit again, and once more he disappeared.

When Page returned to WCW, seemingly full healed at last, in the spring of 2000, it was once again a new landscape. Bischoff had returned and was working alongside Russo to craft a new storyline they thought would be revolutionary enough to make fans forget about the now played out NWO: the New Blood. On camera, Bischoff and Russo sided with the younger stars of WCW that they had for years ignored, while shunning the veterans (Hogan, Flair, Sting, Luger, Nash, DDP, and others) that they had supported. All titles were vacated and DDP was placed in a feud with Jeff Jarrett over the vacant World title.

The problem with Russo & Bischoff’s New Blood era was that they relied far too much on shock booking with little to no logic behind it. Hence, DDP saw his wife turn on him at Spring Stampede enabling Jarrett to win the title, his friend from Hollywood David Arquette (who inexplicably won the title in a tag match after DDP beat Jarrett for it) turned on him at Slamboree again giving Jarrett the title, and his longtime partner Kanyon turned on him at the Great American Bash costing him a match to Mike Awesome. All these shock value (yet surprisingly predictable) turns were hurting DDP’s credibility and making him look like an idiot. He was losing heat fast, and after Kimberly was sent home due to poor backstage behavior in June of 2000, DDP decided to demand a break as well.

DDP returned in November of 2000 as tag team partner to Nash, reforming the team they had comprised almost a decade earlier, but now both were main event players. They defeated members of WCW’s rookie clique the Natural Born Thrillers to win the Tag Team titles, then had a series of good matches with the youngsters before dropping the belts in January of 2001, but much of Page’s heat had been lost for good due to poor booking and his frequent breaks due to injury. By the time WCW was bought out by the WWF in April of 2001, Page was again off camera recuperating, this time having been put out of action by old rival and World champion Scott Steiner.

In June of 2001, DDP shocked the world by showing up on WWF RAW as the man who had been stalking the wife of longtime WWF superstar The Undertaker. Page became part of the WCW/ECW Alliance and took on top WWF stars. Since coming to the WWF, Page has given it his all, but he is clearly having trouble adjusting to the style. He was buried in the Undertaker feud, getting humiliated week in and week out, and eventually teaming with old buddy Kanyon (with whom he won the WWF Tag Team titles) against Undertaker & Kane in a Cage match at Summerslam where ‘Taker brutalized Page. The next night on RAW, he was administered another brutal beating so that he could take time off to (you guessed it) recover from old injuries. Despite it all, Page remains optimistic about his move to the WWF, loves the people there, and looks forward to returning.

So is Diamond Dallas Page crazy? Why is he fighting a battle that his body seems determined to lose? Why didn’t he settle down with the money and the gorgeous wife and call it a career? Why did he become a wrestler in the first place? What drives DDP? Let’s take a closer look

THE MARK: During his time at the top, the marks loved Page for his energy and enthusiasm. Today (and for the last few years) there are those who still give a response to Page based on his name value. To those people who weren’t big WCW fans during DDP’s heyday (and there are quite a few, as evidenced by his first few months in the WWF), he’s not much more than an old man in a young man’s world. He’s not a giant, his build is average, and he can’t fly; he can put on a decent match and take bumps, but he’s not capable of what he was a couple years ago. With solid booking, DDP can get over with a mark crowd, but with the type of sub par booking he’s been subjected to the last couple years, even his enthusiasm often isn’t enough to get the crowd into the character; and of course, the advancing years aren’t doing any good.

THE SMART: Page has polarized most smart fans. There are those who respect him for his hard work and the fact that he has very often put over younger stars. There are others who will lump him in with the Hogans and the Nashs by association and just see him as another old man unwilling to step aside, selfish and manipulative backstage. They also don’t care for many of his cheap heat tactics (adding the word “scum” to the name of every opponent he faced in 1998 was particularly unappealing).

And finally

THE MEAN: More than anybody else I’ve ever done in this column, I wanted to understand Diamond Dallas Page and what makes him do the things he does. Even after writing the column I still feel like I only partially comprehend the man, but the one thing that shines through is this: this is a man who truly loves what he does. Clearly he’s not in it for the money, or else he wouldn’t have given up his Time Warner contract, or even given up his nightclub business in the first place. Whenever he was faced with a tough decision during the course of his career, Page took the hard way rather than the easy. Granted he has been selfish at times, manipulative at times, but in many ways it is the nature of the business. It is unfair to lump DDP in with a Hogan or a Nash because he clearly has far more respect for the business of pro wrestling than those two; he gives up so much (financially, physically, seeing his wife) just to do what he loves.

It’s strange, but in a way I feel like Diamond Dallas Page represents better than any other wrestler the psyche of the smart fan in general and the internet writer in specific (he also represents the theater major, but that’s not particularly relevant here). Page lives for the spotlight and is willing to sacrifice plenty to get his piece; he is quite simply addicted to attention and the spotlight. Internet writers love the attention they can get by writing and being controversial on the Net in ways they’d never consider in real life; they’ll sacrifice large amounts of time and sometimes money to run websites, write columns, etc. Perhaps DDP shouldn’t be so much of a mystery if we all simply take a closer look at ourselves gives you something to think about no?

In the mean time, thanks for reading