Diamond Dallas Page is a unique character, and the opinions on DDP as a wrestler tend to vary greatly. Some see him as nothing but a hack and shameless self promoter who only ascended to main event status because of friends in high places (or in this case, next door). Some see him as the ultimate underdog, a man who started wrestling relatively late in life and, through sheer effort and work ethic, ascended to the top of the industry. Some see him as an overwhelmingly positive influence who is willing to do anything to help anyone, particularly his friends. So who is the REAL DDP?
The answer, quite simply, is all of the above.
“Positively Page” is quite a unique wrestling autobiography. It is not solely authored by Page or solely authored by his ghostwriter Larry Genta. Instead, it weaves between Page’s narrative, Genta’s narrative, and testimonials from Page’s friends, colleagues, family, and others. On top of that, all three of these perspectives are written in different fonts: one for Page, one for Genta, and italics for people offering their unvarnished opinions on the man.
Another unique detail of this book is this: Larry Genta is NOT an author. Rather, he was a bartender for Page in Florida in the 1980’s and remains a friend to Page to this day. With that said, don’t look for this book to try to recreate the life’s work of Tolstoy or anything. There are quite a few grammatical errors (I know-pot, kettle, black, whatever) and quite a few sentences that are hard to decipher. Also, weaving in and out of narratives from the various parties in this book can grow quite tedious at times, especially if you don’t read it in one sitting. Another problem is this: all obscenities are edited, for some reason. I mean, instead of “f---” you get “f##k”. If you are going to throw an expletive in there, for Christ sakes, its a F------ BOOK. I don’t want to hear excuses that “Oh, a kid might read it.” Yeah, they are going to have NO CLUE what that f–k word is. Just leave it be, its not like books have ratings.
Aside from those obvious flaws, the book is very interesting, as Page’s journey to stardom is wholly unique and entertaining. Page Falkinburg was born in 1956 and grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. He was born into a broken home, as his parents were barely 20 years old when Page was conceived. His father ran a septic company, and when Page’s father (Page 1, as he is referred to in the book) wasn’t working hard, he was drinking hard. His mother (a total milf, by the way, judging from the pictures of her when she was younger) was not ready to handle motherhood and an absentee husband. The two divorced in short order, and Page was sent to live with his maternal grandmother. Apparently, he was quite the hellraiser and womanizer, as most authority figures had a tough time reigning the youngster in.
From a very early age, Page realized he had a rather crippling problem: he couldn’t read. He would do anything he could to avoid having to read passages in front of his classmates. This problem is a recurring theme to the book that will come full circle later on.
Page was also quite the athlete. He preferred contact sports, so he gravitated towards football and hockey. He was quite good at the latter, and at the age of 11 was going to be named to a team comprised of older players. However, the day he was to get that news, he was hit by a car, which destroyed his knee. Doctors told him he would never be able to play contact sports again. Page was crushed. However, another recurring theme of the book, Page refused to let this accident bring him down. Instead, the naturally tall Page took up basketball. When I say “took up basketball” I mean Page threw himself headlong into the sport, competing with an unbridled zeal and work ethic that eventually paid off, as he was invited to play college ball at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Before heading off to college, though, Page started working odd jobs at restaurants and bars on the Jersey Shore. Page was enraptured by the hospitality business, and proved to be a quick study. He worked seemingly every position at these establishments, from bouncer to dishwasher to short order cook to busboy to bartender, etc etc. Page couldn’t get enough of this, and purposely picked Coastal Carolina because it was situated in Myrtle Beach, another seemingly big bar town.
Page got to Myrtle Beach that August and the party there was still raging. However, once Labor Day hit, the town was basically shut down and all but abandoned for the season. Page was miserable, and decided to leave college to pursue a career in bars and nightclubs back in New Jersey.
Page ended up running a club on the Shore called Xanadu. He showed a flair for the business, and had unparallelled vision for the next trendy thing to come. A quick example: His club featured a DJ or a band doing covers. However, one night, Page was frequenting another nightclub (scouting is more like it) and he came across a band led by front man Jon Bongiovi. Page loved his act, and tried to persuade the owner of the club to book the band for a night. They did…but it only drew about 40 people. Bongiovi never forgot, even after changing his name to Jon Bon Jovi.
By this point Page wanted to branch out beyond New Jersey. He took a trip to Houston to scout some bars there, and then was lured out to Fort Myers, Florida to start a club there. He named it Elations…the Hot One, and it was an immediate success. It was here that Page met the co-author of this book, Larry “Smokey” Genta, and the two became fast friends. He also encountered a physical comedian named Smittee. Page soon became Smittee’s manager, and landed him a plum gig on MTV’s Spring Break. Everything Page touched seemed to be turning to gold….until the owners of Elations, greed in their eyes, muscled Page out, figuring they could get someone else to run this cash cow. Big mistake. Page hooked on with a new night club, which he called Temptaions….the Hot One, and within four months Page’s new club had put his old one out of business. Page was on a roll.
Page loved the nightclub business and was remarkably adept at it. He opened a new club in Fort Lauderdale called Norma Jean’s (Page is a huge Marilyn Monroe mark) which, unsurprisingly, was a huge success. But there was something missing in Page’s life, something he had enjoyed as a child, and something he had a brief cup of coffee with years earlier in Asbury Park, New Jersey: Pro Wrestling.
Page had some quick training in New Jersey before leaving for Florida initially, and he had one match as “Handsome” Dallas Page. However, Page decided to leave wrestling behind and start his nightclub career. Well, now that his nightclub career was popping, he decided to turn back to the pro wrestling ranks, figuring with his strange charisma and rap that he could become a great wrestling manager. He sent a video to Verne Gagne and the AWA, and was given a tryout at the AWA TV Tapings at the Showboat in Las Vegas. He made sure to bring every gimmick afforded to him: ostentatious jackets adorned with rhinestones, gaudy diamond earrings, a ridiculous walking stick, and, of course, a bevy of beautiful Diamond Dolls. It worked, and soon he was managing the then AWA Tag Team Champions Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond, Badd Company.
However, at this point, the AWA was all but dead, so the bookings became fewer and far between for Page. He landed a gig as a color analyst for the recently revived Florida promotion, broadcasting alongside the legendary Gordon Solie. Dusty Rhodes was the man who recruited Page to FCW, and he foresaw great things for DDP, going as far as calling him the next Jesse Ventura. Lofty praise, to be sure. But before Page could gain any traction there, Dusty was gone, back to WCW. Page was demoralized, but he soon received a call from Big Dust, telling him he had a spot in WCW when he could get there.
Around the time that Page’s WCW career was beginning, another chapter in his life was budding. Namely, his romantic life. He had recently met a woman named Kimberly Lynn Bacon, and the womanizing Page fell head over heels for the Auburn University graduate, and they were married in 1991.
When Page first got to WCW, he was made the manager of the Fabulous Freebirds. While that might sound good on paper, it wasn’t. If you remember WCW at that period in 1991, the Freedbirds had been expanded to include half of Cobb County Georgia. Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, Brad Armstrong as Badstreet, and DDP AND Oliver “Big Daddy Dink” Humperdink as managers. Firstly, the Freebirds didn’t need a mouthpiece….so why give them not one, but TWO more? It was overkill and Page saw the writing on the wall. However, Page was saved one day when Scott Hall came to him and asked Page to help remake his image. The result? The Diamond Studd. Page managed Studd through the remainder of 1991 and part of 1992, when Scott Hall made the jump to WWF as Razor Ramon. Page was left in the cold again doing nothing of note besides being on the fourth string announce crew with new WCW hire Eric Bischoff. Clearly, if Page wanted to be something in the wrestling industry, he needed to make a drastic change.
With that in mind, DDP began training to become an in ring performer, at the spry age of 36. The boys in the locker room laughed at him. Who did this guy think he was? They already mocked him for always complaining about some nagging pain when he was a manager….what was this guy going to do in the ring. Page trained with Jody Hamilton at the Power Plant, and was soon placed at the very bottom of most WCW cards.
Let’s get something clear here, and even Page…kind of….acknowledges it: He SUCKED at first. I mean, really, REALLY bad. Give the man credit though, he kept working at it and working at it, picking the brains of anyone he could, taping all his matches to go over them move by move. I am sure it didn’t hurt that some of his travel partners at that time were Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Scott “Raven” Levy. That is quite the crash course there. Page still floundered though, and in late 1993 he suffered a torn rotator cuff and was sidelined for months. WCW did not resign him, so Page was once again out of luck. Luckily, help was on the way in the form of a most unlikely individual.
That individual was Jake Roberts, of all people. Jake helped DDP better learn the psychology of the business (in my opinion, no one understands the psychology of wrestling better than “the Snake.” This was like a p.h.D course) and also got him booked on some independents after Page’s arm healed. Jake also lived with Page for a while. There are two funny stories regarding Jake in this book. The first was Page’s neighborhood was hit by a huge snowstorm. After a couple of days, Jake became stir crazy and started frantically shoveling Page’s house out because “He had a craving for bar FOOD.” Sure. The other is one night, Jake was off….well…God knows where…but his snake had roamed free somewhere INSIDE of Page’s house. Kimberly freaked the f--- out (rightfully) and told Jake in no uncertain terms to get out. Gotta love Jake Roberts.
Page returned to WCW in 1995, once again doing not much of note. He began a feud with Johnny B. Badd over Page’s treatment of his new Diamond Doll….Kimberly. The two were supposed to meet in a match to blowoff the feud in 1996, but Mero jumped ship to the WWF, leaving DDP to lose a “retirement” match to The Booty Man (Ed Leslie’s worst gimmick, IMO). Kimberly became the Booty Babe, and Page left to start filming vignettes about how he had lost all his money and had become a destitute transient.
Page eventually returned later in 1996, as he had recouped his money thanks to a mysterious benefactor that was never revealed. However, this time, Page started getting a push. It started with a program with Eddy Guerrero, which had the effect of essentially elevating Page and burying Eddy in the process. To be fair, that is not how Page puts it…he says it elevated both men. In Eddie’s book, he said he hated the angle and it hurt his character. Anyhoo, the next step for DDP was an angle with the newly formed NWO. Namely, his old buds Hall and Nash wanted Page to join their faction, and Page refused. Suddenly, along with Sting and Roddy Piper, DDP was one of the most over faces in WCW in 1997. He engaged in a great, hot feud with Randy Savage throughout most of 1997, and Page credits Savage for “making” him.
Most of 1998 saw Page feuding with the NWO and engaging in matches with celebrities, most notably Dennis Rodman, Karl Malone, and Jay Leno. Page sees all three of these as positive experiences for all involved, but here is one point where I beg to differ. Rodman and Malone….yeah, I guess that kind of worked, as both were legit great basketball players. But the Leno thing really stretched the whole “suspension of disbelief” aspect of wrestling. On top of it, it persuaded Bischoff to look towards MORE mainstream acts to try and counter the WWF ratings surge. KISS, the f------ No Limit Soldiers, et al. All that ended up being bad for business. But you won’t see that in this book, mainly because it was published in early 2000, before WCW had completely been sunk.
In 1999, Diamond Dallas Page shocked the World by becoming WCW Champion. At the time, most wrestling fans (and some wrestlers) had a tough time swallowing that one. I personally never saw a problem with it…Page had worked damn hard to get to that position and he only had a few more miles left on his body at that point. But it brings up the question: Did Page reach the levels he reached because of his commitment and dedication, or did he get there because he was best buds and neighbor with Eric Bischoff? Throughout the book, Page and some of his contemporaries, and even Bischoff himself, state that Easy E’s position of power made the road to stardom HARDER for Page. I don’t know if i necessarily agree with that, but, you know what, its his book and he is free to say whatever he wants.
All in all, DDP’s book is a fairly engaging read. It is also almost entirely self congratulatory. Page started wrestling in the early 1990’s and this book was written in 1999. Yet this book is longer than Ric Flair’s book, Shawn Michaels….the list goes on. Towards the end of the book, Page starts relaying all the charities he helps, namely through his program “Bang it out for Books.” Kimberly had seen that Page had trouble reading and decided to help her husband overcome his biggest fault. Page says he can now read, if very slowly, and enjoys a good book. His book program helps to foster literacy in elementary schools across the nation by providing books and supporting the Scholastic book program. It is truly a noble, worthy cause.
Throughout the book, DDP describes his life as a “yo-yo.” That is evidenced on the front cover of the book where Page is holding…you guessed it, a yo-yo. That is also an apt description for his book. Sometimes he comes off incredibly charming and humble. Sometimes it sounds like he is just blowing smoke up his own ass. The wrestling portions of the book are somewhat disappointing, yet the nightclub chapters are tremendously engaging.
After reading this book initially about 5 years ago, I did not know what to think of DDP. However, with his successes with DDP Yoga and his recent reaching out to Scott Hall and Jake Roberts to try and sober them up and lead productive lives again, I think most of us can agree that Diamond Dallas Page is a good man underneath the tough guy veneer. I would recommend reading this book if you can find it. I wouldn’t shell out the money for it though, unless the proceeds are still going to DDP’s charities, which I am unsure of at this juncture. It is well worth the time to read it though.