This week Underrated and Under Appreciated will be taking a look at one of the WCW's top faces--the Original People's Champion: Diamond Dallas Page.
It's a Wednesday, and you know what that means folks. Time to look back on the career of another one of professional wrestling's underrated and under appreciated talents--the Original People's Champion Diamond Dallas Page.
During the height of the nWo and WCW's popularity, Diamond Dallas Page (DDP) was a one man insurgency movement as he worked his way up the ranks. In an organization rife with politics and wrestlers who were willing to do anything to get ahead, DDP was different. Through hard-work, determination, and his ability to connect with the fans, Diamond Dallas Page became one of the top faces of WCW and the Original People's Champion. That's all pretty impressive for a man who started out training to be a wrestler at the age of 35-years old.
Diamond Dallas Page actually got his start in the wrestling business managing the likes of Curt Hennig, the Fabulous Freebirds, and Badd Company in the AWA and WCW. Eventually, he followed the advice of Magnum TA and headed to WCW's Power Plant to train to become a wrestler instead.
Of those early days of training, DDP had this to say:
[Bischoff] gave me the job as I was a good example of work ethic, passion, and someone that cares about the business. Since they wouldn't really book me, I went down to the WCW Power Plant every day I wasn't working. That's how you adapt to adversity. Even when I started to make it, I still kept going back, until I was on the road 260 days a year-plus, I was still going to that Power Plant. For five years I went there, because that's how long it took me to get to the top.
Diamond Dallas Page's work ethic paid off big time in the ring as he transformed himself into a talented and underrated worker. People often forget DDP was able to get WCW's [arguably] match of the year out of Goldberg, and one of The Giant's (Big Show's) greatest matches.
Although he was not on the level of a Dean Malenko technically, DDP did something that Malenko often had trouble with--he got people completely invested in his matches. The energy and charisma that DDP brought with him into the ring was infectious and the fans absolutely ate it up.
Part of that excitement came from DDP's finisher, the Diamond Cutter. There was always an element of tension and excitement brought by DDP to his matches because you never knew when or how he was going to hit the Diamond Cutter. Unlike a lot of finishers at the time, it didn't require a lot of set up or grand standing. Just BANG! Match over.
The energy he brought to the ring was also reflected in his character work. Unlike the previous two entries in this series, DDP was equally adept at playing both a face and a heel.
His most notable work however, was as the People's Champion during his feud with nWo and Randy Savage (one of the most underrated feuds of the decade). DDP faking out Hall and Nash by accepting their offer to join the nWo, before giving Hall a Diamond Cutter, is still one of my favorite memories as a wrestling fan.
Much like his ring work, DDP was able to make a connection with the fans, and as such they cared greatly about him. For all intents and purposes, DDP was one of the people, and it was the fans' positive reactions to him that took him to the upper echelons of the WCW; in the process, becoming one of the very few successful WCW homegrown stars.
DDP is one of wrestling's underrated wrestlers due to two main factors--his time in the business, and the mishandling of him by the WWE.
Due to his late start in the business, we only got to see DDP at the top of his game for the span of a few years. Also, as one of the few top WCW stars to come over to WWE after the buyout, he was a victim of the mishandling of the Invasion, and the attempts to bury all of WCW by being placed in an angle as the stalker of Undertaker's wife.
After injuries forced DDP out of the business, he has avoided becoming another one of wrestling's great tragedies through his success as a fitness guru, with his extremely popular and effective DDP Yoga.
Diamond Dallas Page was a great performer in the ring and on the mic. How far he could have gone if he had gotten started in the ring earlier will always be one of wrestling's great hypothetical questions.
Twelve minutes of Diamond Cutters and some of DDP's greatest matches: