By Chuck Carroll
Diamond Dallas Page is a healer who believes that with hard work, money will follow. With those principles, it’s no surprise that he has become a karma millionaire.
A nose-to-the-grindstone mentality and refusal to resign to limitations has taken the one-time nightclub employee to unimaginable heights. If his life is an obstacle course, he is dead set on dominating the challenges in front of him.
At an age where most wrestlers are slowing down, Page transitioned from the manager role to actually competing in the ring. Despite not having a debut match until well into his 30s, he became a household name at the height of pro wrestling’s popularity and became a three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Gold would also follow, once Vince McMahon purchased the company and brought him onboard. His legacy was cemented in March when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Page was not immune to the wear and tear of competing in the ring 200-plus days each year. Injuries mounted, and it was through the rehab process that he first discovered yoga. The benefits were undeniable, but names like Tadasana, Virasana, and Bhekasana weren’t clicking for him. He tweaked them, tinkered with the workouts, added his patented style, and bang! DDP Yoga was born.
“People say, ‘Hey man, I love your yoga.’ But I don’t do yoga, I do DDP Yoga, because it’s so different than regular yoga. It’s on the other side of the planet,” Page told me.
In fact, the styles are so different that the WWE Hall of Famer will begin phasing out the word “yoga” from his brand altogether. Within three years you can expect for the DDP Yoga to evolve simply into DDPY.
Since retiring, DDP Yoga has become Page’s mission in life. The program has extended the careers of fellow wrestlers and improved the quality of life of those who hung up the boots long ago. But some of the biggest success stories are from the average Joes who have used the app to achieve radical body transformations.
By late Fall, DDP Yoga will expand and release a program designed specifically for seniors. Realizing the possibility of severe physical limitations, Page says the first three workouts don’t require getting out of bed. Once their bodies build enough strength, the workouts progress to chair exercises. Eventually, the once-bedridden senior is being put through some of the most “psycho extreme” workouts you can imagine, according to Page.
As he was explaining the new concept, I couldn’t help but to think about WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk, who at age 73 is preparing to come out of retirement and get back in the ring. When I told Page about the wrestling legend’s plans, he couldn’t help but to laugh heartily. The chuckle stemmed from the fact the elder statesman can’t help it. He’s incapable of staying out of the ring, as evidenced by his many previous retirements. Dallas promised that Funk would be getting a phone call shortly and a box of DDP Yoga DVDs in the mail. “I know it can help him,” he said.
On the opposite end of the age spectrum, Page is also now working with college athletes. Both the Temple and University of Virginia football teams have adopted his program. His initial challenge for players four decades younger is to keep up with a 61-year-old guy. Page says 99 percent can’t do it initially.
I chatted with Page recently about DDPY and his improbable rise to the top of the wrestling world. He was also kind enough to share a doozy of a story about Ric Flair and a private jet. And no, it didn’t happen way back in the day. It was relatively recently. Indeed, the Nature Boy is alive and well.
On overcoming adversity to become one of the biggest names in wrestling.
You have to put the work in. It’s like everything. From Steve Austin to Triple H to Kevin Nash, they’ll tell you I’m the hardest-working guy they’ve ever seen. It’s why I was could start wrestling at 35, have my career take off at 40 and go on to the WWE Hall of Fame. I’ve lived every dream I’ve ever had. My dreams have come out of my biggest adversities…
I was on such a fever pitch in 1997 and 1998. I just signed a multimillion-dollar deal, and then I blew my back out. These are some of the worst days of my life, because I went to three spine specialists, and they all told me my career was over. Well, that couldn’t be, because I just got to the top. I could have listened and let someone tell me what I can’t do, but by that point I’ve already been doing what people told me I couldn’t do my whole life. So, I’m not going to listen exactly to those doctors. I’m going to keep searching and find a way to fix this.
And I did through yoga. But Yoga didn’t give me everything. I mixed it with sports rehabilitation techniques. Then I added in old-school calisthenics, push-ups, squats and crunches done with a slow-burn movement. And before I knew it, I had a [serious] workout that today is known as DDP Yoga… In less than three months I’m back in the ring. At 42, they told me my career was over. At 43, I’m heavyweight champion of the world.
On production of a biopic of his life.
We have a movie right now that we’re almost finished with. One of my directors has gone off on a project on his own. It’s called Relentless. It’s all about my story from the ring to getting hurt to coming out with the program to get back in the ring to developing the entire DDP Yoga world. How did that happen? I didn’t create this for yogis. How do you get people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga to do DDPY? We show the journey. Did I second guess myself at times? You bet, but it’s only for moments.
On 73-year-old Terry Funk coming out of retirement and climbing back in the ring.
(laughs) I’m going to call Terry. You know, one of my biggest supporters is Gerry Briscoe. He’s 70-ish now. He’s a former world champion and wrestled since he was six years old and had a really beat-up body. The last time I saw him at WrestleMania, he looked like Tommy Lee Jones. He looked like a million bucks. He’s the biggest advocate, along with Mick Foley. And Chris Jericho, he’s 46 and bumping around like he’s 23.
Now, as much I love Terry, no one bumped around anymore than he did, but he ain’t going to be bumping around like he’s 23. It’s just because he misses it so much. He could get away with it his whole life because he’s so believable. He’s one of the nicest guys on the planet and another Hall of Famer. If there’s a way to see it on the internet, and he’s going to get in there, I’m going to watch. I’m going to call him and tell him I’m going to send him my DVDs, because I know they can really help him.
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On the status of Scott Hall and Jake Roberts.
Scott still has bumps along the road. Even though he did really well with his transformation, but he never really wanted to stop drinking. He did, and he still will, but he doesn’t want to. Jake does. Probably since the movie (The Resurrection of Jake the Snake), he’s fallen once or twice. Technically he’s been sober for five years and without a bump for two or three years. Jake realizes that he doesn’t want to be that guy and Scott occasionally forgets that.
I feel that it’s part of finding yourself. I’ve seen Scott at that point, and a lot of people have seen friends and family there. They’ve seen the person so close, and they’ve been sober for so long, and then they fall. Well, sometimes there are some little twitches or something that sets them off. Or, like I said, they don’t want to quit drinking. I could never have helped either one of them at the time if they didn’t want to. All I know is that it enabled them to both wind up where they belong which is in the Hall of Fame.
On Ric Flair’s generosity and an epic story.
I made sure Ric knew how thankful I was to him [at the WWE Hall of Fame]. Even though Ric and I have had adversity with each other over the years and said some things we probably both wish we could take back. We’re in a really good spot today, and I think the world of him. I wanted him to know that him putting me over for that world title, I know it put me one step closer to that Hall of Fame podium, and I will never forget it.
Ric and I, we had such a good time when we were up there. I ran into him a couple times at the Hall of Fame. On the last night before we were going, he asks what time my wife and I are leaving. He asks what time our flight was and I said 7:30.
Now, we’re both at the bar, and it’s 12:30 and I’m getting ready to go crash. He said, “Woo! Who made that reservation?” I said it wasn’t me. He goes, “Forget that. I’ve got a Learjet. You’re coming with me. You and [your wife] Brenda.”
I said, “Ric, I’ve got so many bags” and he said, “FedEx them home. You’re not taking that flight!”
So, Mr. Limousine Riding, Jet Flying us home in his Learjet. Then when he found out it was the day before my birthday, he took us both out to his favorite restaurant. We both live in the Atlanta area. He fed us and then sent us home in a limousine. It was the perfect punctuation to an unbelievable career and Hall of Fame weekend. It was amazing.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.