Former WWE and WCW superstar Diamond Dallas Page recently participated in an exclusive interview with PWMania.com. DDP speaks on topics such as Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, his popular exercise system DDP Yoga, his time in wrestling, WWE, WCW and more. Below is the complete interview.
Dallas, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with PWMania. My first question is how did you get into wrestling?
I first tried when I was 22. I was watching the WWWF in my teens and thought I’d give it a shot. It didn’t work out for me, so I started running nightclubs around the Jersey Shore. When wrestling blew up in the 80s, I was pissed that I didn’t pay my dues, so I stopped watching. Eventually, I got drawn back in by different characters such as Jesse Ventura and Jake Roberts. But I thought, “I’m too old to be a wrestler, so I’ll be a manager.” So I taped some stuff, put together a format, sent it to the AWA and I got picked up.
I continued being a manager in WCW, but after a few months, they didn’t want me to do it anymore. Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. told me I should become a wrestler, so I went down to the Power Plant to learn. At the time, everybody laughed at me and told me it couldn’t be done. But they were wrong.
At the Power Plant, they beat the hell out of me and tried to run me off. It’s like hazing, so to speak, but if you can’t take the hazing, you won’t be ready for the big leagues. I had some of the best trainers down there and I ended up becoming one of the best trainers there because I started to train some of the young guys.
You were in WCW from the early days right up until the very end. How was your overall experience in WCW?
In the beginning, I was living the dream. Any time you work for a Ted Turner or a Vince McMahon, you feel like you’ve made it. But I didn’t want to get there just to be there. I wanted to be on top of the top. I had a lot of adversity along the way. It really tested my mental capacity at a different level. It also made me believe I can do anything. If I can become a wrestler at 35 and have my career take off at 40, that’s saying something.
WCW was beating WWE for around 2 years. We were the top of the top, but I wanted to be further than that, which I was. In 1997 and 1998, I was one of the top guys. That didn’t come easy though. I had to fight for everything. Every story line you ever saw me in, except for the Stalker, is something I created. I wrote everything for myself. Did other people have input? Absolutely.
That’s not to say I had complete creative control, but I initially created everything for my character. I’ll give you another example. My angle with the nWo started in my garage. Eric Bischoff and I had a couple beers. When it came time to put the black and white shirt on me, I told the nWo to piss off. I was the only person with a real relationship with those guys and because of that, we were able to play it off on TV when they’re like “Oh, you know Dally, he’ll come around.” But they kept dragging this thing out because the bookers did not want to see me drop those guys. Despite that, I was persistent and I finally made it happen in New Orleans at the Superdome. After my match, Scott and Kevin came out, I put the shirt on, shook Scott’s hand, pulled him in, put him in the Diamond Cutter and threw Kevin over the top rope. The place went nuts. It was an amazing run from there on out.
Getting back to your point of your career taking off at 40, do you think that can ever happen again?
When I was 35, people told me I’d never be able to make it in pro wrestling because they felt I was too old. So after that, I just never told anybody my age. People will forget your age especially when you perform at a whole different level.
But to answer your question, most wrestlers start in their 20s and rarely will you see someone start in their 30s. So I don’t think it’ll ever happen again. It’s just not geared like that anymore.
I was the first guy to do what I did. I was also the first guy to ice my knees, back and shoulders and the first to go to chiropractors and get massages on a weekly basis.
On a more important note, I was the first guy to tape my matches. Today everyone tapes their matches. Look at how many wrestling matches are on YouTube, especially of guys learning how to wrestle. Cody Hall, Scott’s son, tapes everything.
All that things that I told you that I did, everyone laughed at me when I did that. Now everyone does it.
Having spent most of your career in WCW, what was your initial reaction when you heard that WWE purchased the company?
I knew my career was going to continue in WWE no matter what. So it didn’t affect me personally until I realized that a lot of people were going to lose their jobs and essentially lose their dreams. However, I always knew I would get to WWE because that was my goal since I was 17 years old.
Even though you were only in WWE for a short time, how was your experience in the company? What did you think of the Stalker gimmick?
WWE gave me the Stalker character and I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do People’s Champion vs People’s Champion [The Rock] because that’s where the money was at. But I figured that they knew what they were doing when they were planning this.
History is always written by the winners. If Great Britain won the war, we would all be speaking with English accents and Benedict Arnold would be a god. But they lost the war, so he’s a traitor. So it’s all about who won the Monday Night War which WWE did so, on paper.
The positive side of it is it was an awesome learning experience. What I should have done was say “This is an awesome angle, but not for me; let me know when you want to do People’s Champion vs People’s Champion” and then walk away. Since I didn’t, I learned a huge lesson. I always tell people it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes as long as you learn from them. So in reality, the Stalker angle was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
I may not have had the run that I wanted in WWE, but I got a great Wrestlemania match with Christian and I got to be on the same card as The Rock vs Hulk Hogan. It’s also funny how things come around because I was a competitor at Wrestlemania X8, but 12 years ago when Wrestlemania was held in that same arena, I was driving a pink Cadillac.
I don’t focus on the negatives because all my life I have been held down. One of my tattoos has a wildcat and an 8-ball because that’s basically an illustration of my story. But I’ve had an amazing career and have nothing to complain about.
I’ll give the example of Michael Jordan. He played the majority of his career with the Bulls yet his last couple years he played with the Wizards. It doesn’t matter that he ended his career with the Wizards, because he has already had an unbelievable career. He has cemented his legacy to the point where it doesn’t matter if he didn’t play as good on the Wizards as he did for the Bulls. Right now, he’s still the best to ever do it.
What was your experiences working with Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon?
Bischoff was my close friend that I met in the AWA. We were nobodies together and we came up together. Nobody believed in either of us. We helped each other out with angles, matches, etc. He protected me when guys tried to mess with me. I missed having that when I got to WWE because there was a ton of egos.
As far as Vince is concerned, I never really got to know him. I have respect for him, but I don’t know the guy that well because I wasn’t a top guy in WWE.
Another topic I’m interested in is your entrance music. How did you decide to use a take-off of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit?”
When I came back from injury, I wanted new music. I had a new look and I had these BS tattoos that no one had back then. I met up with Jimmy Hart down at the music spot and told him I wanted to have this Nirvana song. I said “How can we get this to sound the same, but not exactly like them?” And Jimmy says “Oh, this is easy, we’ll just flip the notes.” So it still sounds like Nirvana, but technically, it’s not.
I remember when Raven and I did an angle on MTV and Dave Grohl was sitting next to me. Raven came out and hit me in the head with a stop sign and Dave just jumps out of his chair into his drummer’s lap.
Moving away from wrestling, how did DDP Yoga get started?
I’m a guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga the first 42 years of my life. But when you blow your back out so badly that three specialists say that your career’s over, I more than apt to listen, especially after signing a multi-million dollar deal at the time. I had to do it, because I had had shoulder surgeries, knee surgeries and had been rehabbing my back.
Kimberly, my former wife told me to do yoga and I told her “Hell no.” But eventually I came around and I’m so glad I did. In 3 weeks, I started to feel a significant difference in my flexibility and core strength. So one night, I went to bed, started doing yoga positions. Notice I didn’t say “posture” or “pose.” I’m an athlete, so the word is “position.” I started mixing yoga positions with the rehab techniques. Then I did calisthenics with slow movements. You can do a push-up, right? Try doing a 10 second slow burn push-up, go down for 10 seconds and come up for 10 seconds. I originally started with three seconds and then five, before I worked my way up to 10.
What I figured out by accident is that when you’re doing a slow burn push-up or curls without dumbbells, every time you flex, you engage your muscles and your heart has to be faster to get the blood to the muscle. So what that means is DDP Yoga is a great cardiovascular workout that will dramatically increase your flexibility and core strength with minimal joint impact. In less than 3 months of doing what was to be called DDP Yoga, I was back in the ring. At 42, doctors told me my career was over. At 43, I was the heavyweight champion of the world.
Since then, I have written a book on the subject called Yoga for Regular Guys and it was my version of Regular Dudes Doing DDP Yoga with Smokin’ Hot P***y. Rob Zombie wrote the foreword because he did the workout with me, which is how I got the part in Devil’s Rejects. I came up with a succession of workouts, the latest of which is called My DDP Yoga Fitness System, which is not just a workout, it’s a program guide where I teach you how to set goals and achieve your dreams. This workout was not originally intended for weight loss, but I’ve helped people lose hundreds of pounds. DDP Yoga is about rehabilitating and strengthening your body and it’s for everyone. I’ve trained guys from Jericho to Ryback. Have you seen Goldust in the ring lately? He’s done DDP Yoga and he’s 44 years old, but he moves around out there like he’s 23. He never moved around that great even when he was 23.
All those other cardiovascular workouts beat up your body. The only thing that helps is spinning but spinning doesn’t give you that flexibility or core strength. DDP Yoga does and it’s the only workout that does that.
One of my proudest accomplishments I’ve had with DDP Yoga is helping a disabled veteran walk again. I had General Motors call me up and ask if he could show the video at a conference with over 5000 people. I gave him the go-ahead. He’s used this video as a way to say “You can’t make a phone call? Look at what this guy did.”
How does DDP Yoga differ from other workout systems?
Well, let’s take Insanity, P90X, etc. for example. They do wonders for your strength, but what about your flexibility? It makes you less flexible because of all the pounding. It doesn’t really do anything for cardio either because you’re just lifting weights. Your heart rate goes up, then comes right back down. So it’s not really a cardiovascular workout.
With running, there’s only so many bumps your legs, knees and ankles can take before they start to wear down. That’s why you hear about all the stories of hip replacements and knee replacements. Also, what does this do for your upper body? Nothing. Is it great for your legs? Sure, but that’s about it.
Now, let’s touch on yoga, regular yoga that is. It’s not really a good cardiovascular workout. It will strengthen your core and break up scar tissue, but there’s no cardio.
DDP Yoga combines core strength, flexibility and cardio all into one.
I wrestled from 35-49 and beat the hell out of my body. With DDP Yoga, I’m not stopping time. I’m reversing time. And I do it in one workout.
Also, the reason I left the word “yoga” in DDP Yoga is because the younger generation is much smarter than the generation in their mid thirties and way smarter than those in their forties and fifties. The younger generation doesn’t look at yoga and go “Oh you’re gay if you do yoga.” They are more open to trying things.
When I went down to the WWE Performance Center, the first thing I asked the young guys was “Who’s got a problem with the word ‘yoga?'” I raised my hand and nobody else did. I said, “Ok, that’s very polite, but I really want to know. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga the first 42 years of my life. So who has a problem with the word? I get it.” All of them were 27 and under and they didn’t have a problem with it; they were excited and couldn’t wait to get started.
Damien Sandow was the first one to really “get” it. He came up to me and asked if I could send him the program. I said sure and asked him what he would use it for. He said, “I’ve been wearing down my back, my hip and my knee. I need preventive maintenance.” And I started laughing, because he understood it.
An example from the older generation is Ted DiBiase. He contacted me last week asking if I could send him and his wife the program. I’ve been trying to get Ted to do DDP Yoga for 12 years.
I believe that everybody in sports, not just wrestling, should be doing DDP Yoga because that’s the one they’ll relate to.
Are there any fitness centers that have implemented DDP Yoga into their wellness programs or classes?
There’s only a handful of people who get certified for this. For regular yoga, someone can go into a yoga class and after a week, they become yoga certified. Ours is way more complicated. We don’t reach our arms to the heavens and the universe smiles back at us or stuff like that. We have a boot camp class. Most yoga instructors walk around and tell people what to do. We do the exercises with you. The catchphrase “It ain’t your mama’s yoga” is real.
Well, Dallas, you’ve certainly used your learning experiences as a wrestler to your advantage and have connected it to endeavors such as DDP Yoga which has proven to be quite a success. What can the world expect next from Diamond Dallas Page?
I will continue to change the world. What I accomplished in the 90s was mind boggling. What I’m doing today, within the next three years or less, will dwarf that. It’s always been the goal, but it’s what I’m manifesting every day.
When I come out with my new app on Black Friday, I will change the face of fitness. We will become the Netflix of fitness.
I look forward to it all. Thanks again for your time. It has been a pleasure to speak with you. Everyone at PWMania wishes you the best.
What do you think? Comment below with questions, thoughts and anything else that was raised.
Follow Diamond Dallas Page @RealDDP
For more information on DDP Yoga, visit www.ddpyoga.com
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