By Chuck Carroll
(CBS New York/CBS Local) — If Diamond Dallas Page has wrestled his final match, that’s just fine with him. Then again, the WWE Hall of Famer says he could also compete in the ring into his 70s if he wanted to.
It really doesn’t matter to him. He’s good with whatever does or doesn’t come his way. That’s just the way DDP is — endlessly optimistic about pretty much everything.
His favorite word — positivity — has become a mantra of sorts for the inventor of the Diamond Cutter.
Through his unwavering belief in the power of positivity, he’s building a second career that has already taken him to far greater heights than any of his three world title runs ever did. Today, he’s not just entertaining fans, he’s changing their lives through a program of his own creation, and more than a handful of pro wrestling elite are also undergoing radical transformations under his tutelage.
In this second chapter of his life, Page is part yogi and part business tycoon in an exploding fitness market. Both sides are driven by the same optimistic outlook.
His DDP Yoga program has become one of the leading digital workout plans. Its members have combined to shed thousands of pounds and reclaim their health, with many of their journeys being well chronicled and used to inspire the next crop of DDPY subscribers. Perhaps the most well-known is Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who began working with Page as his life was circling the drain. Death was looming ever closer for the severely drug-addicted former world champion, as both his body and mind had become crippled from the years of self-abuse. Waking up was far from guaranteed.
Yet, there was Page wearing rose-colored glasses in the darkest of times and refusing to write off his friend. He still saw the good that was inside of Roberts, while everyone else had long since assumed it was gone forever.
Page was right: It was simply lying dormant.
The pair of legends worked together round-the-clock for months, with Roberts devoting himself to Page’s plan. He became a devout follower of DDP Yoga, while his body detoxed from the narcotics that had been slowly killing him for years.
The entire pilgrimage was filmed and The Resurrection of Jake “The Snake” became one of the most streamed documentaries in the history of Netflix.
If you ever get the opportunity to speak with Page, you’ll quickly realize that he has the same belief in everyone that he did in Roberts. The infectious positivity is no facade, it’s as real as it gets.
Recently, Page solidified his status as the Tony Robbins of sports entertainment when he authored a new book. And wouldn’t you know that “positivity” is in the title.
Positively Unstoppable: The Art of Owning It is a self-help guide that promises to help readers overcome physical and mental barriers that are preventing them from writing new chapters in their lives. The advice is a summary of what he’s learned from decades of helping others.
While some anecdotes have been well-publicized, there are others in the book that are less familiar, such as a series of uplifting exchanges with a young Cody Rhodes. The two became close while Cody was still in school and Page was working with his father, the late Dusty Rhodes, in World Championship Wrestling. Long before DDPY gained notoriety, Page was giving positive affirmations to Rhodes while he was still an amateur wrestler in high school. The pep talks helped lead the future WWE Superstar and All Elite Wrestling executive to back-to-back Georgia state titles on the mat in his junior and senior seasons.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Page to talk about Positively Unstoppable, his limitless optimism, his acting goals and upcoming Netflix project, his future in wrestling, whether he’ll be working with Cody in AEW, and loyalty to WWE.
You’ve expanded the reach of DDPY far beyond just the reach of the wrestling fan base. Do you consider yourself to be a crossover fitness celebrity?
I thought I was famous when I ran nightclubs to the people who liked to go out and party. When I came to what I’m doing today, I’m still following my acting goals. I’ve touch on them a little bit in the book. I have a series that’s going to come out on Netflix this year, and it’s taken a really long time. This is a project we were shooting for YouTube and then it went to Netflix. I think something like that — depending on what kind of reaction you can get — something like that could change my life again. But for what I’m doing right now, this is something that I do every day. It wouldn’t matter what I do. It wouldn’t matter if I was still wrestling or if I’m acting or just doing the fitness and wellness stuff. It’s still trying to inspire people.
How long have you had this mindset? Because I’m going back, and it dawns on me that you put out an autobiography in 2000 that had the word “positively” in it and then the DVD set that WWE put out had “positively” in it. When did you strike the word “negative” from your vocabulary?
Oh, a long time ago. A long time ago. You know, people been telling me my whole life what I can’t do, and the one thing that I realized very early on, no one has to believe in you. You do, and that is 100 percent the story you tell yourself. It’s like one of my quotes is “never underestimate the power you give yourself by believing in you.”
It seems like that sunny disposition served you well when your career was being derailed by injury.
The hardest day of my life, and week after that, was when I blew my back out [ruptured L4 and L5 vertebrae], and they said my wrestling career was over. I went to three different doctors. I flew to Atlanta, I flew to New York, and I flew to Houston, and I’m like, “Someone’s going to tell something different.” But they didn’t. They all told me the same thing, “You’re done. Like if you try to wrestle, you’re going to be crippled.” I ruptured my L4 and L5. And that’s when yoga came into my life, and it was amazing, but it wasn’t everything.
Back injuries seem unfortunately common in wrestling.
Hulk Hogan’s had eight back operations — eight. And I begged him, “Please, Hulk, let me help you, because I’ll fly myself there. I’ll come and work with you for a couple of weeks and come back once every couple of weeks.” But he just didn’t want do it, because he’s old school. But heard the word “yoga.” That’s another reason for using DDPY [instead of DDP Yoga]. DDPY is yoga positions. Again, you’ll never hear me say posture or pose. I’m an athlete. I know how to get into position and play a position. I relate to that word. It’s rehabilitation techniques. I’ve rehabbed both shoulder surgeries, both knee surgeries and this back.
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In the book, you go into your longtime friendship with Cody Rhodes and trying to give advice and inspire him at a young age. It seemed like even when he was still in high school that he was picking up what you were putting down.
Well, when he was a kid, he loved football. Loved it… And his sophomore year I said, “When do you guys start practicing?” He said, “I’m not gonna play this year.” I’m like, “What?! You love football.” He’s like, “Yeah, but I’m not this year. I’m gonna focus on wrestling. In my sophomore year, I’m really gonna buckle down.” He goes, “My junior year, I’m gonna win the States.”
[He] went 48 and 0 his junior year. I was there. Then he lost on his 12th match in his senior year. And I called him up … I was living in LA the whole time, but I’d come back and forth [to Georgia]. He said, “Dallas, I lost. I [freaking] lost.” I go, “Thank God.” He went, “What? Why would you say that?” I said, “Do you think you learn anything from winning, bro? You learn from losing. You learn from falling down.” I said, “Let me ask you, would you rather have been 46 and 0, got to the semifinals and then that kid took you?” I said, “Here’s what you’ve learned. I know that you didn’t walk out of that match going, ‘I shouldn’t have done this and that.’ Now you know what not to do.”
I said, “Because the positive side here is if you meet that guy again on the mat, and he thinks he beat you. You know you’re gonna adjust, you’re gonna learn from your mistakes, and you’re gonna move forward.” I said, “Losing this match, my friend, could be the best thing ever happened to you.”
He met that kid in the finals, and he ate him alive. But, again, if he doesn’t fail, and he beat that kid, he might have taken him lightly. And he’s like, “Yeah, I already beat him,” as opposed to, “[He] beat me, that’s not happening again.”
You must be proud of everything he’s accomplishing now with the launch of All Elite Wrestling and having walked away from a guaranteed sizeable paycheck to gamble on himself.
Cody Rhodes is doing unbelievable things right now with the Young Bucks and the group of guys that they put together [in AEW].
Getting back to the book, I talk about when he was a kid and the journey that he goes on about wanting to be a state championship wrestler. I was there. I flew in from LA for both the state championships, and I know that Cody gets it. And he’s been down. I’ve talked to him when he’s been down about not getting the opportunity. It takes a lot to walk away from a half-million dollar deal, which is the minimum he ever made in WWE, because you believe in yourself as a main-event guy.
Now, when he left there, he didn’t think “I’m going to get my own promotion and not only be a main-event guy, but be the guy who pretty much, along with my two other buddies, run the company.” He didn’t think that. And that’s a perfect example of something I talk about in Positively Unstoppable. When you’re setting goals, shoot for the stars. Go for it. Because it’s okay to end up a little to the left or a little to the right or not quite get there. That’s okay. It’s better to be a little under it or go halfway up than it is to shoot for the curb and hit it. Many people shoot for the curb, because they don’t want to be disappointed and don’t want to fail.
It’s all about that positive mental attitude… Since we’re talking about Cody, what are the odds that we might see you get involved in AEW in some way, shape, or form?
If Cody needs me to do a spot for a big show or something, I wouldn’t be opposed to that, because he’s my boy. But I’m a WWE guy. I’m loyal to the WWE. Cody just knows me, so he wouldn’t even … I’m sure he’d love to have me on his crew and help him.
But WWE’s been … it wasn’t that amazing when I first went there, but in the big picture they’ve really come around and been really good to me, and they’re good to my company. When I’m on TV, I wear my DDP Yoga shirt. They let me wear it. They let me do what I want to do. They’ve been really good to me, and I love the affiliation. I work with guys at the Performance Center. I’m not doing it for the money, I’m going there to help these kids to keep building their craft. NXT was in town a couple weeks ago, and Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly from The Undisputed Era, Todd from the War Machine, and Ricochet all came, because they wanted to work out with me at the Performance Center.
That’s saying something. A sign of respect.
It’s pretty cool, man. I would help Cody with whatever he needs, and if he ever needs me for a spot or whatever, I would be there, just like I was for him at All-In. That was a super proud moment for me. I help him if he needs videoing and different vignettes put together. If he needs help, I help him find some stuff. It’s just out of love. I don’t charge him anything.
What about getting back in the ring for another match? Have you hung up your boots?
I don’t see myself getting back in the ring. Now, if WWE asked me to do it, I’d do it. For me, the last big match was at WrestleMania in [the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal] two days before my 60th birthday. Just to go out there and have some fun was awesome. I had a great time, but if that’s my last memory of it, I’m good. But if something else comes up, I’ll do it with them. I’ll be able to do that into my 70s.
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.