Vince's Shovel Week 4: Burying DDP in the WWE
If you were a wrestling fan in the 90s, at one point or another, you felt the bang.
Diamond Dallas Page was a late bloomer as a pro wrestler, spending a large chunk of his career as a manager before finally deciding to lace up the boots...in his 30s. Page's age didn't keep him from being successful. Grim determination and one helluva cool personality helped him to rise through the ranks and become a 3-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and one of the main players of WCW and the Monday Night Wars. Also, he had a pretty sick finisher.
WCW saw that the had a superstar in DDP, and pushed him to the moon. When WCW was acquired by Vince McMahon in 2001, however, Page and a host of others had some big decisions to make. They could either let their WCW contracts ride out while sitting home and collecting paychecks, or they could allow buyouts of their contracts and get back in the ring with WWE (then WWF). Confident in his ability to draw crowds, DDP allowed his contract to be bought out, and headed north to Vince's shark tank.
Fast forward a little ways, and WWE has a new angle going on which is equal parts interesting and fucking weird: The Undertaker's wife, Sara, has been getting stalked by a mysterious man. Videos continually surface which have apparently been taken by the creep in question, and The Dead Man is none too pleased. Who would be foolish enough to fuck with the wife of the most dangerous man in wrestling?
Well, DDP nailed it...I never saw it coming. A creepy introductory gimmick may have been better suited for a darker character, not for the casually cool, cigar-smoking king of the Diamond Cutter. Still though, great pop from the crowd, and he's jumping into a fued with one of the biggest names in the WWE. This could get interesting.
So DDP gets a beatdown for his in-ring debut. I understand that it actually makes sense in a fued with 'Taker, but why put him into that angle to start out then? Can't we feed him some mid-level talent and have DDP wipe the floor with him so he's established as a threat? Having Page get taken to the woodshed, and then flee the scene in terror does absolutely nothing for him, or the Undertaker for that matter. We already know 'Taker is the man, so why don't we establish Page in the same way? This fued probably isn't over yet though, so let's be optimistic, right?
Wrong. Looks like we'll go ahead and ditch the idea of DDP being competitive in singles action for a while, as he teams up with fellow Jersey dweller, Kanyon. Remind you of how WWE jobbed Tazz out to Triple H and Jerry Lawler before teaming him with Raven? Here we go again.
Well, okay that's good...I guess. DDP and Kanyon get the Tag Team gold from the APA, but manage to do it while also being made to look about as threatening as Doink and Dink, the 90s wrestling clowns.
Do you think a tag team that looks so inept would stand a fucking chance in a cage against The Brothers of Destruction?
If you said no, you win the prize. What is the prize, you ask? Disappointment, my friend...disappointment.
The icing on the cake was that DDP suffered a legit injury during this bout and would be out of action for a bit. Silver-lining here is that this gives the WWE an opportunity: with Page on the shelf, they get the chance to repackage him and maybe turn him into more of a contender. The dude has proved that he's money over the years, so there's no good reason to bury him by booking him in dead-end angles with silly gimmicks. Let's get Page back to looking like the cool, rebellious megastar that he was in WCW, shall we?
I fucking guess not. Page ditched the cool demeanor and cigar-smoking so that he could put in enormous fake teeth and pretend to be Tony Robbins. Why? Because anything that was good about WCW needs to be destroyed apparently. Is the above video funny? Of course it is, but that's not the goddamn point here. DDP could have been an absolute beast under the right circumstances, and WWE would have had years worth of material with his ring and mic skills. Following this, DDP has a run with the illustrious European Title (who gives a fuck??) and feuds with Christian, even beating him a Wrestlemania X8. By this point, it truly doesn't matter. Page looks like a joke, and even though he beat the talented superstar, Christian was in a gimmick that made him look like an equally huge joke at the time. This whole thing is fucked. How does DDP end his time in WWE?
Pretty cool hearing it in his own words with the actual footage, but no less tragic. DDP beat all the odds in pro wrestling and climbed to the pinnacle in WCW only to have his career ended by Bob Holly...on fucking Smackdown. I guess it's just the risk you take as a WCW guy putting your career in the hands of Vinnie Mac.