In January, former WCW Champion and yoga entrepreneur Diamond Dallas Page was announced as the first inductee to the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class. On Tuesday, WWE revealed Page would be inducted by former WCW executive producer and president Eric Bischoff.
“I’m honored,” Bischoff told WWE.com in an exclusive interview. “It puts a smile on my face because I know how much it means to him. This is the Holy Grail for him.”
Page and Bischoff developed a close relationship during the late ’80s while working for WWE Hall of Famer Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association, where the two were neighbors. Bischoff worked as an announcer while DDP served as the charismatic manager for Badd Company.
The duo eventually headed to WCW, where both served as key components to the Nitro program’s early ratings success against Monday Night Raw during the Monday Night Wars. DDP worked directly with Bischoff, then serving as a mouthpiece for the nWo, during his first WCW Championship push.
“So many [wrestlers] are larger than life,” Bischoff said. “They look like they walked right off a movie screen and stepped into the arena. Diamond Dallas Page didn’t have that larger-than-life persona, but he had a different connection with the audience.”
“When [Page] finally hit pay dirt is when he finally shed all the over-the top-stuff,” he continued. “The bling and girls and cigars … [He] just became a real person, coming down from the crowd. That said, ‘I’m one of you.'”
DDP, who transitioned to a full-time wrestler in his mid-’30s, earned the moniker of the “People’s Champ” during his WCW run as one of the company’s most popular superstars. Bischoff credited Page’s real-life blue-collar personality for making him a believable top babyface that fans could relate to.
“His journey [in life] is similar to his journey in the ring,” he said. “DDP was the common guy, the everyman, a blue-collar guy from New Jersey. He represented something that the average person could believe in, in a way that was a little unique. [People thought] ‘That could be me. If I could just get that break, work a little harder, I could be that guy.’ That’s a very inspirational quality to have.”
DDP won the WCW Championship three times, the world tag-team titles four times, the U.S. title twice, and the TV title once during his tenure with WCW. Page credited his feud with the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, then a member of the nWo, for jumpstarting his push with the company.
But Page’s work with DDP Yoga is arguably as important to his Hall of Fame legacy than his in-ring career. The program has extended both the careers and lives of many former professional wrestlers, most notably fellow Hall of Famers Scott Hall and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, whose rehabilitation was chronicled in the documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.
“If it wasn’t for DDP, if I wouldn’t be dead right now, I’d be asking to die,” Roberts told ESPN in 2013.
During an interview in 2013, Page told Real Sports that he wanted to pay back Roberts, who served as an early mentor during his wrestling career.
“Jake Roberts [was] the guy that gave me the knowledge when no one else believed in me,” he said.
Current veteran superstars such as Goldust and Chris Jericho have also credited DDP Yoga for extending their careers. Jericho, who endorses the product during his Talk Is Jericho podcast, told WWE.com that he was in pain all the time before he started DDP Yoga.
“[In 2012,] I was in such excruciating pain and was willing to try anything. I had never done yoga in my life, but after about five or six weeks, the pain started to go away. After two months it was gone… The program has helped immensely; had I not started doing DDP Yoga, I would not have been able to return to WWE.”
Bischoff will induct DDP into the WWE Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Friday, March 31, two days before WrestleMania 33.
[Featured Image By WWE]