By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
Diamond Dallas Page
Having Los Angeles as the location for WrestleReunion 4, happening this weekend at the LAX Hilton, seemed ideal for "Diamond" Dallas Page. The former three-time world champion makes his home in L.A. and it would have been a short drive for him, if he weren't on the east coast immediately beforehand.
"I am actually heading to Chicago and then Boston, where a buddy of mine has the #1 show. So I am heading there to promote the YRG fitness system, then heading to Philly, Jersey, flying back just for WrestleReunion. I will stay home for a week or so before I head out again. It is too funny ya know? I have to fly in for something and I live here!" Page exclaimed to SLAM! Wrestling.
It's worth it to be part of the event, Page says. He has been one of the biggest supporters of WrestleReunion.
"It is a good time, and a real honor for the legends. I helped them get a lot of guys in the past that weren't going to do these types of reunions. There is a lot of camaraderie. You don't get to see the guys when you are off the road and it is all different generations of guys. Really I could have been from all generations because I started so late, a lot of these guys are only two or three years older than me. They were in the business since they were kids I didn't start until I was 35."
Page confessed he hadn't had a chance to look at the lineup for the event due to his promotion schedule. He looked up the website while talking and the excitement quickly jumped into his voice.
"Oh man, big mark for Bruno (Sammartino). Love seeing him, he is such a class act. I really want to hang out with Austin Idol. He added me on Facebook and I don't believe most of the wrestlers that add me are real, there are so many impersonators. I asked, 'When was the last time you saw me?' and he nailed it. I see Nick Bockwinkel is here, and I am looking forward to seeing what kind of shape he is in. This is a guy who really held back the hands of time, he wrestled for over 25 years on top and put his body through a lot of abuse. He is a guy that I look at because he is in great shape every time I see him. It's never disappointing, to just walk around and see whose there. I will walk around and see the guys, do my signing, and then there is the next block of guys who come in"
It is as much a fan experience for him as it is the fans attending.
"I have always considered myself a regular guy. People say, 'You're full of s**t man, you're a three-time world champion' but it's true -- I was the guy who was sitting on the couch saying, 'I should have done this when I was a kid.' No one ever did it the way I did, from manager to color commentator to guy who was on the bottom of the card and got his ass kicked. I tore my rotator cuff and they fired me and I came back at 37 years old. The only reason I got the job is because [Eric] Bischoff and I were friends. He wouldn't give me a push but he would give me a job, because we started out together. I knew when they let me go out and wrestle, the next guy who retired I would get a spot. I was 35 and a half and my career didn't blow up until 40. My career is like no one else's."
DDP and a fan at an October 2007 fan fest in San Francisco. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
Page enjoys the opportunity to meet the fans.
"I treat people the way I want to be treated. Some fans are rude, and I will give them a little bit of slack until they are to rude and then I will put them in their place. As a whole most people are really nice. When I was really over people would be shaking and s**t, 'My God, DDP!' People will still do it when we take pictures, I'm just like, 'Take a breath man.' I've tried to disable that whole 'celebrity' thing. When it comes to WrestleReunion you know they are the real fans, they are coming from all over the world. That is what is really cool about them is the fans do get that one time to meet you. I don't rush people through whether it is a small line or a huge one, I am going to talk to everybody, and I am going to talk to them about my YRG Fitness System!"
The reaction when people see him is one of amazement.
"I am in better shape now than I was when I was in the ring. I am not as big, I have lost about 25 pounds because I don't need to carry that weight. I am at 230 right now, but I am solid and lean and strong as f**k. I can bend over and put my head between my legs, stick my foot over my head and stand one leg. Most guys can't walk around on two legs! The YRG Fitness system is pretty amazing. If you go to YRGFitness.com you have to watch the videos 'Arthur Walks Again' and 'Arthur's Home Video.' They show his whole journey, from falling down to getting stronger. It is all about building that core strength and flexibility. In 10 months he lost 140 pounds. From walking on canes for 15 years to running, and now he teaches YRG."
With many wrestlers being in rough shape after years of taking bumps, DDP has offered the system to several of his fellow wrestlers.
"Tony Atlas called me and said, 'Dallas, I hear you got something for old beat-up wrestlers.' I started with him and sent YRG to Roddy Piperr, I don't know if he is doing it, he is pretty beat up but it is there for him. Tito Santana is a guy who is in amazing shape, he is one of the few that really took care of his body and he is still working! He wanted the program and I sent it to him. Shawn Michaels does it, not the way I would like him to do it, but he has the videos. He is the consummate performer, he gives 110% every time but his body has paid the price. A guy like Undertaker, I feel sorry for 'Take, I really do. It is one thing when you are 5'8" to 6'4, and 6'4 to 6'9". How many giants do you see walking around in their 60s? By the time they reach their 70s they are done. Taker is putting an extreme amount on his body. When it comes to pay per view he pulls out all the stops. He will need both his hips replaced, both knees replaced. That is what this workout it all about is not needing that. My hips are looser and open today then ever and I am 53 years young."
With older wrestlers Great Muta and Jushin "Thunder" Liger attending the weekend and wrestling, Page laughed when asked if the YRG system was available in Japanese.
"Last time I saw Muta he was pretty beat up. Wear and tear, he is another guy who has been wrestling for almost 30 years now. We have been negotiating to bring it to Japan. I don't know if they use an interpreter or what, but Billy Blanks' Tae Bo has been doing really well over there."
Another YRG client is Carnie Wilson, daughter of former Beach Boy Brian Wilson and member of the 1990s band Wilson Phillips.
"She is a sweet chick, a little crazy but so am I. She has got a lot of s**t going. Originally my partners, who also produce shows like Ellen and George Lopez, said they were going to put me with her and I could help her lose weight. I didn't know her so I wasn't sure about it. If you are not going to put your time in, it is a waste of my time and I don't have time to waste. I met her and she was great and really dialed in. I got her to lose 50 pounds in six months. Then she got pregnant at 41 years old. Once she had the baby we were supposed to start back up again, but she'd had a C-section and couldn't get her head wrapped around it. Then she started this reality show (Carnie Wilson: Unstapled). We talked a couple of times, but I never even got to see her baby. I spent a lot of time with this chick so I was a little aggravated. It came out in the show, that is the part they showed. She said she was in but it is really tough when you have a camera up your ass 12 hours a day, five days a week, you have a baby and a three year old, and her life is like a tornado. I have to breathe a lot when I am there and try to get a woman who is all over the place focused. I am not a trainer, I am a fitness guru. I work with people so they can do it themselves. I will work with you but you've got to do it yourself, that is how you take it and make it a lifestyle. Overall she is a great chick, she has a great heart and is real. She is the heavier version of me, with boobs."
Page still steps into the ring on occasion, most recently on January 2nd in Cedartown, Georgia.
"I did singles matches until I was 50 and I was amazed at how my body still felt good. So I said, 'I am 53, how am I feeling now?' I won't do singles matches anymore, I went 'F**k the singles matches, that means I have to take every bump.' I can get some young kid out there now to take the brunt of the punishment, all anybody gives a s**t about me is seeing the Diamond Cutter anyway. The last match I did the crowd was so hot I did a lot of technical chain wrestling, because I used to love doing that in the Power Plant and was with a guy who could actually wrestle. We went back and forth and did some high spot at the end of it, an entire section of the crowd started chanting, 'You've still got it.' That was pretty cool. Can I still do it? Yeah. Do I want to do it at that level? No. I feel to good and I don't want to f**k it up."
With Bischoff and Hulk Hogan now being involved with TNA, people are wondering if DDP has approached him to join the company.
"I think Eric pretty much knows how I feel about everything. Eventually I am sure at some point in time when they need a guest referee I may consider it. I want to do the Piper thing, he shows up for two months and then is gone for nine. That is the only kind of thing I want to do, and I am in the shape to still do it. I probably have 10 really good matches left in me, and I am not gonna throw them away or just put them out there. If they are willing to pay me to come back, and it behooves me, maybe. It would also help YRG right now to be able to see where I am in this point of my life."
Page still remains on the radar with matches being included in WWE releases and on WWE 24/7 and Classics on Demand. Classic matches against the likes of Bill Goldberg at Halloween Havoc 1998, and against foes like Raven, Randy Savage and Bret Hart can still be seen by long-time and new fans alike.
DDP chokes Randy Savage.
"It is pretty cool. The match with Goldberg is one of my favorite matches considering he had only been working a year and a half at that time and no one had a match with Goldberg like I did, it was a great match. There is one of my matches with Savage out there as well. I was pleasantly surprised because for some reason a lot of what I accomplished in my career has tried to be watered down. You can't water down 1997-1999, it was an amazing time for me. WCW was kicking WWF's ass. WWF was on their last straw too man, and it is funny because they went to the PG-17 rating and got rough around the edges, and now they are doing kids and mom and dad TV and TNA is doing the hardcore wrestling and bleeping s**t and stuff. To me a 'bleep' here and there you have prime time TV like The Biggest Loser or any show on VH1 without hearing 'bleep bleep bleep'"
Even with being watered down, his contributions to the business will not be forgotten by his loyal fans.
"One of the really cool things about right now, as far as lineage being out there, is you don't get lost in time when you have YouTube. If you go to DiamondDallasPage.com, and pull up my old school wrestling site, there are a bunch of videos and all they are is tributes that fans did. It is amazing to me the work that some of these kids have put into these videos. There is one on there called 'Diamond Cutter on Everyone.' The guys who have been off TV for so long and are getting 20,000 hits that is pretty good. For that one to have 145,000+ views is crazy! Every once in awhile I will go read what people say, some are kind and gracious and some are such douchebags I just laugh."
Credit: JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling