The common thought for a professional wrestler is to get into the business at an early age, learn the ropes, pay your dues and then one day, maybe, you can achieve superstardom and make your career choice the right one. For Page Falkinburg, WWE Hall of Famer, things went a little differently.
Starting out in 1988, already aged 32, as a manager in the American Wrestling Association, Page soon got a tryout with the WWF and an early chance in the spotlight, but it was not to be. He did, however, make an appearance in the WWF, at WrestleMania VI no less, driving Rhythm and Blues to the ring in his pink Cadillac. Some nine months later, however, he finally made the big time in 1991, signing with WCW. He managed the Fabulous Freebirds to the NWA Tag-Team Championships and introduced Scott Hall as the Diamond Studd. During this time, at the age of 35, Page began training for a career in the ring. He made his in-ring debut later that same year, though remained ignored by the creative team. He decided to turn a negative into a positive, spending all his spare time at WCW’s Power Plan training facility, improving as a wrestler in the hope that he could force WCW management to take notice and start using him more prominently. He began to appear more on TV, teaming with future stars such as Scotty Flamingo (Raven) and Kevin ‘Vinnie Vegas’ Nash.
A torn rotator cuff injury took him out of action and off of TV, however he eventually returned along with his real-life wife Kimberly. He had a lengthy rivalry with Dave Sullivan over the affections of Kimberly, before moving onto a first championship in the promotion, taking the Television Title from Renegade. Following the title victory, on-screen dissension began to grow between Page and his wife, coming to a head at World War 3 in November 1995, losing the title to Johnny B. Badd. This loss also gave Kimberly her ‘freedom’ from Page, and she would go on to support The Booty Man as he defeated Page in a Loser Leaves Town match at Uncensored. Page would return two months later, and into a feud with the New World Order, specifically Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. The two began interfering in Page’s matches, with the commentary team making mention of Page’s history with the two. After six months of teasing, Page finally made his feelings clear when he rejected Hall and Nash’s nWo invitation with a pair of Diamond Cutters. Next programmed with Randy Savage, Page found his profile rise exponentially, becoming a regular and major staple of WCW TV and positioned as one of WCW’s more important superstars. The two main evented Spring Stampede 1997, putting on a superb wrestling match which Page won. Soon enough, their feud became a highlight of WCW programming, with fans eager to see every week what would happen next between the two. Their next battle, a Lights Out match at The Great American Bash, ended with Savage getting the win following interference from Hall. They continued to feud, often in tag-team matches, until the final match in the rivalry, a Las Vegas Sudden Death match at Halloween Havoc. Savage again came out on top, this time with the aid of Hulk Hogan.
Buoyed by his career-making rivalry with Savage, Page maintained the support of the fans despite the loss to Savage, and they wanted to see him succeed. Page was booked to win the United States title from Curt Hennig, who had previously turned on him and joined the Order. He would hold the belt for four months, dropping it to Raven, however if fans were worried that this meant a demotion for Page, those worries were unfounded; Page would become WCW’s go-to guy for mainstream celebrity involvement, chosen as the babyface to team with Karl Malone to take on Dennis Rodman and Hogan at Bash at the Beach. This later brought in chat show host Jay Leno, who famously (or is that infamously) teamed with Page at Road Wild.
With the celebrities out of the way, Page found himself in the main event against World champion Goldberg at Halloween Havoc 1998. He came up short, however quickly rebounded from the loss by winning the United States championship for a second time, this time defeating Bret Hart the following night. A rematch at World War 3 saw Page retain, before Hart regained the belt on the November 30 Nitro.
Heading into 1999, plans were put into place for Page to finally get a WCW World Heavyweight title reign. This came at Spring Stampede in April, when he outlasted Sting, Hogan and Ric Flair in a Four Way Dance, with old enemy Savage as the special referee. Soon after this, with a noticeable swing in fans’ opinions, Page turned heel. During WCW’s infamous period of switching belts on a moment’s notice, he lost and regained the World title on the April 26 Nitro, before dropping it again to Kevin Nash at Slamboree.
Following this, Page dropped out of the title picture, forming a team with Bam Bam Bigelow – the two quickly winning the WCW Tag-Team titles – and later Chris Kanyon, becoming the Jersey Triad. They swapped the belts with Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn, before losing the titles to Harlem Heat at Road Wild.
In 2000, with Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo taking over the creative reigns, Page became a member of the babyface Millionaires Club faction, battling Jeff Jarrett for the vacant World championship at Spring Stampede. He lost, thanks to interference from his wife Kimberly, but would soon gain retribution by besting Jarrett in a steel cage match for the title, before losing it three days later in the infamous tag-team match with his partner David Arquette against Jarrett and Bischoff. Less said about that one, the better.
Page had one more flirtation with the World championship, unsuccessfully challenging Scott Steiner at Greed, which ended up being WCW’s final PPV.
Following the sale of WCW to WWE in 2001, with the majority of the former WCW main eventers opting to sit at home for the remainder of their contracts and the WWF limping along with their failed Invasion story line, DDP decided to take the buyout, debuting on Raw as the stalker of The Undertaker’s wife Sara. Page and ‘Taker battled for several months, with Undertaker invariably getting the better of things. A short WWF Tag-Team title reign with Kanyon ended at the hands of Undertaker and Kane at SummerSlam, with the ultimate humiliation – both on- and off-screen – coming when Sara herself beat Page on Raw the next night. Following this, Page, who suffered an injury in the steel cage match, disappeared from TV. A blessing in disguise, given his treatment since his debut, it gave him the chance to both recover physically and re-design himself in preparation for his eventual return. He briefly returned in November, before disappearing again when he ‘lost his job’ following the Alliance’s defeat to Team WWF at Survivor Series.
Returning in January 2002 as a babyface, Page’s character was now that of a motivational speaker, promoting positivity. Soon after he won the European Title from Christian, and successfully defended the championship at WrestleMania X8. Dropping the belt to William Regal soon after WrestleMania, Page suffered a neck injury and the decision was made to let his contract expire. Page would spend a year in TNA, before making sporadic appearances for WWE over the next several years.
Away from the ring, Page developed and popularised his DDP Yoga regime, which has been credited for helping, among many others, Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. And after seeing those two become Hall of Famers in the last few years, Diamond Dallas Page – the man who got into the wrestling business aged 32 and would go to become a multi-time World champion – can now join his friends, peers and idols in the WWE Hall of Fame.