Is there any more patient wrestler than Diamond Dallas Page? The New Jersey-bred superstar didn't break into sports-entertainment until his early 30s, first trained for in-ring competition at 35, and has enthusiastically witnessed mentors and protégés like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall get ushered into the WWE Hall of Fame while waiting to find out if his number would ever be called. Must be all that DDP Yoga.
But as of today, the wait is over, and we can exclusively confirm that Dallas Page will join Kurt Angle, the Rock 'n' Roll Express and Teddy Long in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Fans can watch Page's induction live on the WWE Network on March 31, but in the interim, we caught up with the 60-year-old, diamond-cutting icon about this career-capping honor, his improbable rise and the mentor he wishes was there to witness his HOF entry.
Where were you when you got the big news?
We were filming Positively Living, the Diamond Dallas Page three-DVD set. I'm a Jersey boy, so I was on the Jersey Shore in my hometown, and it was the end of the day and we were filming one more thing. They handed me the phone and said, "Boss wants to talk to you." It's HHH. I called him a couple weeks earlier and he hadn't gotten back to me yet, so I thought this was that return call. So we're talking about casual stuff, and then I start to hear him talk about my career and where I've been and how I got here, and then it hits me – is this that call? I'm not a guy who has trouble talking, but I couldn't talk. Tears are running down the sides of my cheeks and I just said, "Bro, I love you man."
So lest anyone think these calls are staged, you were caught off guard.
It was October. I know friends of mine, like Jake [Roberts] and Scott [Hall] – they found out in January. It was a magic moment and something I’ll never forget.
You've been sitting on this for months then. Where are your emotions at as we near the announcement on Raw?
Still choked up. You can hear it in my voice. I don't know if you watch Stranger Things, but in that third episode, you got a chill through your whole body. It wasn't goose bumps. You couldn't control that. Bottom line is, work ethic equals dreams, and I am walking proof that that's a fact. They had you give them an inscription for inside your ring. I wrote, "Work ethic = dreams!"
This is your own singular achievement, but have you thought about it in the context of going in after your close friends Jake [Roberts] and Scott [Hall]?
Yeah, I'll tell you what: When I inducted Jake, and Scott went in the same night, it was my 58th birthday, so it was like a crazy birthday present for me. And I felt at some point I would get my due, not just in the ring but outside the ring. I don't wish for something to happen right now. I wish and I manifest and work toward things happening when they're supposed to. And it couldn't have happened at a better time as far as everything that's happening in my career, in my life. When I came into WWE after Monday Night Wars, it wasn't my greatest time in the business… but they kept bringing me back. God has blessed me on a lot of levels. Have I worked for it? Absolutely. But it still takes that blessing. I'm super-humbled to be with Kurt [Angle] and the Rock 'n' Roll Express.
With Sting and yourself inducted, does it legitimize the legacy of WCW?
I think absolutely. Nature Boy [Ric Flair]'s been in every federation, so the Four Horsemen going in I thought was the beginning of that. But then when Stinger went in, I thought OK, this is huge. And now that I'm in, wow. And Rock 'n' Roll Express too. People don't realize how over they really were. They were like the Beatles man, and they're out there wrestling the Road Warriors. Before the Midnight Rockers, they were the guys. It's just gonna be a great night for all of us, and more than anything the fans.
Who are you most looking forward to being there for the induction, and who do you most wish could be there that isn’t with us?
My ex-wife, Kimberly, who went on this whole ride with me, her and her husband are coming in. My wife and I went to their wedding, and they went to our wedding. I don't know many people who do that, but we do, so I'm really happy she's gonna be there. My daughters are gonna be there. And without Jake, there's no three-time World Champion and Hall of Famer. Same thing with Scott. Scott was very pivotal in my career, and mine with his. And the guy who isn't there is the guy who would be inducting me, which is Dusty Rhodes. I always tell everybody: Without Dusty Rhodes, there is no Diamond Dallas Page. Being inducted, in our business, is just as important as the NFL's Hall of Fame. I can't tell you how many times I hit that mat, especially that first year, where I said to myself, "Man, this fake stuff hurts like hell. Do I really want to do this?" And every time I would come back, "Yeah, I wanna do this."
What you guys endure, and not everyone survives, is so unique, that the camaraderie among that Hall of Fame fraternity must be exceptional.
Absolutely bro. And I'll tell ya: There were guys that were bookers that I wanted to choke out at times, but every one of those guys, I love them. What would make them think I could really be one of those guys? But I had Dusty Rhodes in my ear all the time. I had Jake Roberts to go to. That’s the kind of stuff that really helped me.
The inevitable question: Where does being in the Hall rank compared to winning world titles?
It surpasses everything. I remember Dusty Rhodes saying to me, "In our business, the things that are really real are your first world title and the Hall of Fame." I would love for him to be here. I get choked up just thinking about it.