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Creating the possible out of the impossible has always been part of “Diamond” Dallas Page’s career. The iconic wrestler keeps evolving, from the ring to acting to business, DDP is always on the go. Dan Clark teams up with the legendary wrestler himself to take a look back at how he achieved his successes. From making his mark in the ring to helping others with using DDP Yoga, we hear it all. Tune in for great insights from DDP as he walks us through how he became a power player.
Diamond Dallas Page: From Being A Headliner In The Ring To Creating The Possible Out Of The Impossible
This is an interview with three-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, Diamond Dallas Page. In this episode, my dear friend and real-life superhero, a three-time world wrestling champion, best-selling author, actor, TV broadcaster, podcaster, and Founder of the internationally acclaimed DDP Yoga, shares his life and climb to the top of his profession and induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, giving us an inside glimpse into the mind and heart of a relentless, resilient champion who did not learn to read until age 30, starting his wrestling career at age 33, and becoming world champion the first of three times at age 41. You do not want to miss this episode.
Talk to us about growing up and your preparation when you first discovered that you had that inherent passion for excellence in everything you did.
As a little kid, I was about 9 to 12, things came easy to me when it came to sports. I love football and hockey. To me, I was going to be playing defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants. It was a dream that I had as a twelve-year-old, but I really thought I could do it. Then I walked out in front of a car, the car hit my right knee, my face bounced off the hood, and I flew 42 feet from the point of impact. That changed my life physically, but it also changed my life mentally because what happened was the doctors would not let me play football or hockey anymore because they were considered combat sports, but they would let me play basketball.
Basketball was something that I sucked at, so I did not play. I did not make the team in seventh grade. In eighth grade, after coming off the operation, I would make the team, but I sat on the bench. I had never sat on the bench ever. This is where I learned what work ethic equals. I made a vow to myself that I was never going to sit on the bench anywhere ever again for any reason. Over that summer, I played probably 5 to 8 hours a day every single day. That next year, as a freshman at St. Joseph High School, we went undefeated. I started the entire year averaging fifteen points a game.
In the second year of my sophomore year, I ended up starting varsity. I had a heck of a run and realized that work ethic equals results. Take it all the way up to my Hall of Fame ring. Inside it, it says, “Work ethic equals dreams! – DDP.” That is where I started realizing that work ethic could really change my life.
A lot of people say, “Dallas had it easy. Someone else had it easy. You do not understand. Woe me, I had a horrible upbringing. My family life sucked.” They use every excuse under the sun to explain to the world, especially to themselves, why they did not endure and put in the work and become successful. Take us back to your childhood. What was it like growing up as a young man? Tell us about your family life.
By the time I was three years old, my mom was married, divorced, and had three kids. She was nineteen at that time. When my parents split up, my brother and sister went to live with my mom, who in turn had them live with my grandmother because she had to move up to North Jersey to make more money to try and help support that side of the family. I went to live with my dad because my grandmother was already trying to raise my infant sister, my 1-year-old brother and a 3-year-old little wild man.
Work ethic can change your life.
The problem was my dad was a good guy, but he was a wild man back then too. He was only 21 years old. Back then, he could not even spell the word father or let alone be one, so I ended up bouncing from one family to another like a pinball. On my eighth birthday, my dad finally brought me to live with my grandmother because he knew I needed some family structure. That was the last time I had ever seen my dad or talked to him when he was sober over the next ten years.
One of the things I learned is if I were at my mother’s house, they would all be busting chops on my father. If I were at my father’s mother’s house, my other grandmother would be busting chops on my mother. It is something that I learned at a very early age. I do not judge people at all unless they do something to me directly. Watch the TV. Everybody is persecuted from the moment they think they did something or know they did something through the news. I never let anybody influence me like that. I would not let my family influence me. I am sure I am not going to let strangers influence how I deal with somewhere.
I learned that when you do not judge people, life is so much easier because there is always my story, your story, and then what really happened. It made things a lot easier for me. People cannot believe how easily I will give someone a second chance. They are not sorry. I can tell. It is me that you have to deal with in that scenario, but I give people 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances because people inherently do stupid things. Inherently, people are good.
I’ve got to tell you the story because when I said, “Work ethic equals dreams! – DDP,” I believe people are inherently good people, especially if they were talked to the way they need to be talked to. I talk to people the way I want to be talked to, which I want to be talked to with respect. On the trip I was on, I was flying with my girlfriend, Paige McMahon. It was the first time I had been on a plane in months because of COVID.
There was nobody in line at TSA, so we got right up there. I gave the person my ID, I started to walk towards the check-in, and some guy went, “Excuse me. You dropped your license.” I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I said, “Thank you.” I go all the way to concourse D, get on the plane, fly to DC, get off the plane, and go to the restroom.
When you go to the restroom, what do you do? No matter what, you wash your hands on the way in and the way out. What had happened was, on the way out, I took off my Hall of Fame ring and stuck it on the counter. I was drying my hands and someone said, “Can I take a picture with you outside?” I was like, “Sure,” so we went outside. I got derailed. I went to my dentist, who is in DC. I went to wash my hands and realized I had left my ring at the airport. I was like, “No.” I am breathing and realizing like, “You blew it. You did not put everything where it is supposed to be, and you are going to pay this time.”
I walked to the back of the dentist’s office and the girl behind the counter said, “Did you just say you lost your Hall of Fame ring?” I am like, “I left it at the airport.” She was like, “Let me see if I can find it for you.” I was like, “I left it on the counter. It is going to be gone.” She goes, “Let me find out.” She got the number to the airport. There was nobody at the gate, but there was some guy there and he started talking to her. He says, “Some guy said he found a couple of rings in the bathroom and gave me his number.” He gives the number to her.
As I was walking up to her, I went, “It is okay. I know you think you are going to find him but it is the way life is.” She was like, “He is on the phone.” I go, “Who is on the phone?” She was like, “The guy who found your rings.” I go, “You are kidding me.” I take the phone and go, “Do you have my Hall of Fame ring?” He goes, “I do. I am sorry. I did not know who you were, but I saw the WWE logo and saw inside, “Work Ethic Equals Dreams, -DDP,” so I googled you. By the way, I am the guy in TSA who said you dropped your license.
He lives in Atlanta. He was like, “You do that yoga stuff.” I go, “It is not yoga. It is DDP Yoga or DDPY.” I had to cut him off right there. He goes, “You had a great second act after wrestling.” I was like, “Thank you. I am going to set you up with my program,” so I sent him this thing, the same thing I sent you. I told him that I told this story to Steve Austin, and when I told Austin the story, he was like, “The guy is your guardian angel.”
I sent him how I could hook him up with my app. He sends back to me, “This is divine intervention. I had been having chronic spine issues/pain every day since I was twenty years old. It can be extremely discouraging, especially when you cannot find people who understand and also when you have to uphold your manly image.” I said to him, “I got you.” I am bringing him in to have dinner. First, we are going to shoot a Motivational Monday for my app. We are going to work out and then have dinner at my house. The guy has become one of my best friends. You know how that works. It was crazy, and Work Ethic Equals Dreams is a part of that story.
I am so blown away. I got goosebumps. I am sure all the readers did as well. Based on work ethic and dreams, take us from graduation in high school and how in the world did you ever break into the world of professional wrestling?
Can I tell the story about coming up from my reading stuff first?
At 30 years old, I was reading at about a third-grade level. At 31, I made a decision I was going to learn how to read proficiently. I tell everybody that by the time you make a powerful decision like that, especially when you are reading at a third-grade level, you’ve got to set a goal, and I set a goal.
Let me interrupt you for a second. Remember that it was not because he was stupid. He had a learning disability that is called dyslexia. I have always kidded Dallas that that was one of the reasons why it was hard for him to be religious growing up because he had a hard time worshiping dog.
I did not know that I had ADD and dyslexia. Nobody knew about that stuff back then. They just thought we were stupid. The bottom line is DDP could not read. At 31, I set a goal that I was going to read a book from cover to cover, and I know most people that are reading and think like, “That is not a big deal,” but to me, it was.
I know that anybody who starts my DDP Yoga program thinks like, “I am going to lose 50 pounds or 100 pounds.” They start off, and in those first two weeks, they are gangbusters, and then life gets in the way. By that 3rd or 4th week, they probably stopped it completely. That is why my app with the Motivational Mondays and all the stuff I do keeps you engaged. It makes you write stuff down. I tell people all the time, “Do not think it. Ink it.”
What do you do when you have goals that are overwhelming? You break them down.
If I am going to read a book from cover to cover, if I do not write it down, I guarantee that I am going to lose focus, so I write it everywhere. First of all, you are wondering if I am just going to read a book from cover to cover. That is overwhelming. What do you do when you have goals that are overwhelming? You break them down, so I set another goal. I was like, “I am going to read one page from that book every day.” It was Lee Iacocca’s autobiography that I did. I found him fascinating.
I set another goal to read one page a day, and I put it on those sticky pads. It was little Post-it notes. I put it everywhere. I put it all over my bedroom, bathroom, and refrigerator. There were 40 places that said, “Read today.” The only person I am going to be lying to by not doing it is myself. The bottom line is I did finish it. It is so good to finally read my first book. Sometimes, I have to go back and re-read those pages. Sometimes, I might read 2 or 3 pages, go back, and re-read them. It started getting me better at reading.
I wrote my first book with my buddy, Smokey, which I wrote bits and pieces of it. I put there all my stories on Positively Page. I was out in LA when you and I were hanging out. I came across a friend of mine. We got in a surfer and we wiped out together. We ended up becoming good friends off of it. We talked about being dyslexic and he told me he was dyslexic. He told me there was a place in LA called Eras Learning Center, and it is in Culver City. They teach kids and adults with learning disabilities. He tells me, “You have got to see Rose.”
Rose was 80 years old when she worked with him years ago. She is 85 and is still there. Not being able to read, and I had kids to do stuff for me, I have always been able to be that guy. I was like, “I will do stuff for you and you do stuff for me, quid pro quo.” That is where I learned that growing up. Now, I wanted to learn myself.
This woman, Rose, I see her every Monday and Thursday. She said she took home more homework than anyone in anything she has ever done. I was with her for six months, and it helped me improve. It gave me repetition more than anything. The more you read and write, the better you get. In my book, Positively Unstoppable, 80% are my words. We have to bring in another writer to write it, so it is grammar approved. I still suck at that. That is the main reason for my book.
You did not do the test run or the blue line. You just wrote it.
I did not do the voiceover part. The reason why is because they changed my words. It is not the meaning of the word, but grammatically the meaning of the sentences. It will take me forever to read this thing with a passion. I was not just going to say the words. I could have gotten away with saying the words and reading it but anytime I spoke, I had to speak with passion, especially about something that I lived.
It is still proof of work ethic and the significance of dreams. Take us back to graduating from high school and trying to make it on your own in this entrepreneurial-free market system. Take us briefly through your journey from working the clubs, getting into professional wrestling, and eventually becoming a wrestler.
When I got out of high school, I did go to college, but the college was not accredited at that time. I went to Stockton State so I can still play basketball and not have to have the grades, which is crazy.
Things have not changed much. Most of the guys who are playing professional, seventh grade were their senior year, no matter what their transcripts say.
I believe that. I was painting when I was 14, 15 or 16 for a guy named Pat Kane. By the time I was twenty years old, I had Paige’s Paintings too. I had a bunch of guys working for me. They were the guys I grew up with. The painters did not come at 7:30 AM or 8:00 AM. We were there to crack at 10:00 AM because we probably were out all night. I did the Paige’s Paintings and was in the nightclub business, and I loved that. I tried wrestling. It did not work out for me when I was 23, but then when I came back into the nightclub business at a big nightclub in Fort Myers, Florida, that is where I started dreaming about maybe getting into wrestling again.
At 31 years old, I thought I was too old to be a wrestler, so I thought maybe I could be a manager. One night, we were all drinking at the club afterward, and someone mentioned something about wrestling. It was crazy and it stirred me up. I said I had tried it when I was a kid. My buddy, Smokey, who wrote Positively Page with me, was like, “What do you mean you used to wrestle? What was your name?” I said, “Handsome Dallas Page.” He goes, “You’ve got to forget about using that gimmick anymore.” Everybody laughed and we kept drinking.
At the end of the night, I had come up with Diamond Dallas Page. If Jimmy Hart could manage the Hart Foundation, I could manage the Diamond Exchange. I would have the Diamond Dolls walk me to the rig. I wrote all of this down on a blotter pad that was right in front of me. I was scribbling, drinking, and doing Johnson’s. A week later, they did a story on voice, and the voice was based on me doing radio commercials because I might do the synthesizer voice stuff and promote the club with different voices. I do Macho Man, Hulk or whatever.
They had seen these guys in my club, so they did not know if they were doing the commercials with me or not. At some point, they asked me, “Where does the voice come from?” They asked while they were filming me. I was sitting at my desk, and there was a pair of white sunglasses sitting right next to the Diamond Dallas Page.
I did not know if I should do it or not if those glasses were not there, but they were there, so I picked them up, I put them on and I said, “The voice comes from Diamond Dallas Page. I was born to be a professional wrestling manager. It is big, it is bad. It is Norma Jeans’ voice.” I took them off, we kept talking, and went on to the next thing. The point was it was written there, so I used it. I was playing, fantasizing and manifesting.
Some guy named Smitty, who had his own radio show, asked me to come on because he had heard about it. I go, “I don’t do it.” He is like, “Who cares? You are great at it. It is radio. It does not have to be real.” I went and did a couple of shows with him. He gave me a number to a company called the AWA in Midwest. They wrestled throughout the Midwestern area, like Wisconsin, Chicago, and St. Louis. All of those big cities, they wrestled there.
He gave me the number and an address of a guy to send my tape to. I made up three wrestlers that were in my head. I made up one guy that I called the Big, Bad John. Another guy was called the Rock Hard Rick, and I called the other guy Ted E. Bear. He was a midget. I had the Diamond Dolls with me. I put these videos together and sent them to the AWA.
Two weeks later, they called me, “We would like to tape. We want to bring you in, but we have got one question. No one has ever heard of you guys. Where are you wrestling?” I am like, “That is the catch. None of those guys could wrestle.” He was like, “Why would you send the tape?” I was like, “The bottom line is it is like a secret society trying to find your way into professional wrestling. Those guys could train to be wrestlers. They want to be wrestlers, and I could manage if you needed me to do it until they got somebody else ready.” It was a “Do not call us, we will call you” situation, but two weeks later, they called me back.
They had a young guy there. Paul Heyman left a big hole for a young guy that could talk, and they brought me in. The next thing you know, I am on ESPN managing the heavyweight tag team champions in the world. That is how I got in. People think, “You are on TV. You are making great money.” For the first three and a half years, it cost me a lot of money to be diving down on stage. I may have made money that is $150 here and there. They could not buy my boots. I was continually investing in me. It looked like it was never going to pay off, and then it did.
It was because of your dreams and work ethic.
If you can’t handle this wrestling school thing, you can’t handle hard business. It goes to that work ethic, fortitude, and drive that we would make it.
I ended up hooking up with a guy named Dusty Rhodes “The American Dream,” who is one of the biggest living legends of our business. He bonded with me and took me under his wing. He was a big brother, best friend, and mentor. Without Dusty Rhodes, I always tell everybody there would be no Diamond Dallas Page because he guided me from thereon. He brought me to the world championship wrestling when it looked like it was completely over.
The wrestling I have been doing, the independence, and the AWA, went away. They became defunct. Dusty pulled me up and brought me to Atlanta. He gave me an opportunity after five months because of the long, blonde hair, leopard-skin jackets, zebra skin boots, the diamonds and the blings, and the Diamond Dolls in the wrap. They said that I was too over the top as a manager for professional wrestling. Think about those words about being too over the top for wrestling. That is an oxymoron in itself, but they did not mean for it to be a wrestler. They are meant for being a character on the show.
I had seven months left on my contract. I was like, “I never got into this business to be a manager or a commentator. I wanted to be a wrestler.” I was 35 and a half years old when I started my journey in the ring. I told old friends of mine like Michael “PS” Hayes, and he fell down laughing belly hard. He was like, “You are going to do what?” He had been wrestling for fifteen years by then and thought I was out of my mind.
You had to take this passion and put it, accelerate your preparation, and start going to the plant. Talk to us quickly about your experience at the plant, learning your moves, and how you got back up and go again at the end of every single day, and it feels like somebody broke your arm off and beat you with it.
That is true too. The bottom line is they beat the hell out of me because they want to run you off. If you cannot handle this wrestling school thing, you sure cannot handle hard business. It goes to that work ethic, fortitude, and drive that we were going to make it. I cannot tell you how many times I hit that mat. There were no people there. There are not 20,000 people. There is zero adrenaline rush. When I hit that mat, every square inch of my body hits that mat. I cannot tell you how many times I have said to myself, “This fake stuff hurts like hell. Do I really want to do this?”
You always say when you’ve got 260 to 300-pound men jumping off a high rope, you cannot fake gravity. That is one of your most famous lines.
It is true. The bottom line is I wanted it more than anybody, so I was the first one there, and I was the last one to leave. If I was there, I was in the ring. I go from one ring to another, and I would challenge everybody. There were all these drills that you could do that beat up your body but were incredible cardiovascular training for a match.
Anytime you are out there in that ring, you are giving a piece of your body, but when you build that conditioning, there is nothing like wrestling conditioning because we are constantly moving, talking trash, and figuring out where we are going to go next to where the people are and what the people are buying.
A lot of this stuff has always been semi-choreographed, but it has never been 100% choreographed. It has been more preparation and improvisation. It is like a comedian. A comedian knows where he is going with his night of standup, but he is going to derail any time, so he has got to adjust to that. That is what it is like being a wrestler.
Take us on a quick journey through your three-world championships.
It took eight years to get to that spot. When you carry a world title, it is not just wrestling. You are a PR machine. You wake up and you are either flying somewhere, or you are on some early morning talk show. It could be simple, old Mississippi or it could be New York City. There is also radio. It never stops, and that is the stuff that wears you out.
By the time you get to the ring, you’ve got to get recharged all over again. Anybody who has ever had that spot is a handful of guys that can handle it. I have already done a lot of it anyway, so I knew that doing the passionate promoting was going to bring people to the arena, or what we call putting asses in the seats. That is what it is all about. Who’s drawing numbers on cable television? It is living the dream at that level.
The night I won the World Championship, it was a full-rate dance, and three of the biggest names of all time were in there with me. Sting, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair were in there. Ric Flair took the diamond cutter right in the middle, and I knew that that put me a big step closer to being in the Hall of Fame. It should prove that the work ethic did equal the dreams.
How old were you when you won your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd World Championship?
43 was the first one, and then 44 both times. It was more transferring the title from one guy to another, but it was so amazing to have that. It is like an Oscar. Wrestling is predetermined, and so are the movies, but you still got to go out there, play a part, and understand that before you go out there, you need to know that they know and they know that I know, and I know that they know that my partner and I know before we walk out there that they know that we know what is going to happen. How do you suspend beliefs now? How do you pull them in?
When we were working on your speech way back in the day, you said, “How do we get people to care about something that they know already is going to happen?”
That is the real magic. That is why you have some of the greatest wrestlers out there technically, but they never resonate with the people because they are just doing moves. They are like, “I do not care about you.” Think of John Schneider from Dukes of Hazzard. It was many years ago. When people see John Schneider, they connect with him because he has been in their homes on and off for decades. For us, you have been with me. I have been in the ring stuff for a long time, and you have been with me when I was up for one thing. You see the way people act. It is like I am their uncle that they love to have a beer with.
Let me interrupt you. You said something that is not true, and I need to correct you. When we were talking about the Ps, the Passion, Preparation, and Pursuit of that passion, you said it had been a long time since you have been out of the ring. I blew up the picture you texted me of you jumping off the high rope into the people on the ground at age 64. Talk to us about this pursuit of your passion that still will not go away.
It is just one time.
You were supposed to be on AARP.
I talked about Dusty Rhodes. His son, Cody Rhodes, is the guy who is the reason why there is an AEW, which is All Elite Wrestling. It is the reason why TNT, which I was on for eight straight years. TBS had been on for 38 years of wrestling, and then wrestling went away from TNT. Cody brought it back. I have been mentoring Dusty’s son since he was twelve years old. It started in the beginning because he was Dusty’s son. I wanted to give back to him, but at some point, it became about our relationship.
Life is so much easier when you don’t judge people because there’s always my story, your story, and then what really happened.
He always says it is about showing up. On both of his State Championship titles, I flew back from LA to Georgia solely to watch him win the State Championship two years in a row. I have always been there for him. I have lost my connection with WWE. I would not say they are mad at me because they understand, but they won’t let me work with them anymore, even as their DDP Yoga stuff, because I am working with the other team. There was no way I was not going to help Cody. The passion to get out there and do it is what’s great. Have I sent you Relentless yet?
We are about to send you our documentary, and it is called Relentless. It starts out with me getting my back blown out because it is a story of DDP Yoga. Now, I am branding it more as DDPY because I want people to stop calling it yoga. I am passionate about that because it is not just yoga. I do not want people who do yoga to think, “He does yoga, right?” It is yes and no. Anybody who has ever done a workout with me always goes, “That is not what I expected.”
You mix yoga moves with physical therapy moves, strengthening moves, and cardiovascular moves. You are saying you are going to send me Relentless. Tell our audience how they can find it on your website to download and watch the four-minute documentary on Arthur. We are running out of time. Let’s figure out a way to help our audience take advantage of your influence and join your tribe. Talk to us about the documentary on Arthur and how we can get ahold of you.
Let’s put Relentless the next time I come on because The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, which you know, was where I went in there and took Jake and turned his life around for him. It was not just him. It was also Scott Hall, better known as Razor Ramon. Both of them became Hall of Famers because I helped rehab them mentally and physically the whole way through. I did not do the work. They put the work in, but it is one of the most powerful stories you will ever see. If you go to DDPYoga.com and get the app, you’ve got it for seven days to try it. The main reason I want you to try it is because I want you to see that movie, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake. It is so heartfelt.
We were at the premiere together at Sundance Film Festival. Trust me, readers, it will move you regardless if you are a wrestling fan or not. It will transform your life.
It is not about wrestling. It is about addiction, brotherhood, and helping people. It is dark because it has to do with addiction, but it is also funny in some spots. It is going to make you laugh, make you cry, and most of all, inspire you to believe it is never too late. When you are on that same site, DDPYoga.com, we talk about Arthur Boorman, a disabled veteran.
Do not stay at the top. Scroll to the bottom. The first video you see is Arthur and Arthur’s war. When you play it, you are like, “I have seen this,” because it has been seen half a billion times. It is super powerful. If you want to know more about what I am doing, go to DDPY.com or DDPYoga.com, and watch that video with Arthur. Sign up for the app. You’ve got it for free for seven days. If anything, get it just to watch Jake’s movie, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake. It is right there on the front page, or you can catch it on DDP TV. It will make you believe anything is possible.
You are so right. Our guest has been the incredible Diamond Dallas Page, professional wrestler, fitness instructor, motivational speaker, amazing actor, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and truly one of the class character-based human beings on our planet. Thanks. I love you, I honor you, and I cannot wait to hang out.
I challenge everyone to re-read this episode because Diamond Dallas Page proves true how I always close this show. When you finally decide to be a power player, your power play begins in you. Remember that it is about work ethic and dreams. Until next time. On behalf of DDP and myself, quantify your takeaway and go make a power play. Thanks for being on the show. You have transformed lives, I guarantee it. I cannot wait to see you face-to-face and belly-to-belly again.
I love you. I will see you.
About Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page has moved from a headliner in the ring to headlining documentaries like “Resurrection of Jake the Snake” and “Relentless” – movies like “Ready to Rumble,” “The Devil’s Rejects,” and “Gallowwalkers” – and action series like “Guardians of Justice.” You can call him pro wrestling icon, movie star, global entertainer, inspirational speaker, or worldwide fitness guru, but DDP will always be the man that creates possible out of impossible, every day.