Charleston Post and Courier – March 18, 2001
By Mike Moneyham
Diamond Dallas Page has come a long way since his days at Coastal Carolina.
Page, a three-time world heavyweight champion who goes after a fourth title tonight when he meets Scott Steiner in the main event of WCW’s Greed pay-per-view in Jacksonville, Fla., spent a couple of months at the Conway school on a basketball scholarship during the late ’70s before packing his bags and heading back to the Jersey shore. Page admits, however, he was attracted more by the Grand Strand’s party atmosphere than by any academic or athletic challenges.
“I was also not a guy who was really smart with money back then,” says Page. “I was a kid. I wasted a lot of money the first couple of weeks I was there. We were living in these one-room efficiency apartments. It was two guys, and these were the rooming conditions. The town back then just folded up and went away (after the summer months). It’s not like it is today. I said, ‘Where the hell did the people go?'”
Page, who grew up in Point Pleasant, N.J., and played football and basketball in high school, had been an honorable mention All-American basketball player at StocktonState in New Jersey when he decided to travel south and accept a scholarship at Coastal. His short stay, though, was marred by problems.
Page says he and some baseball players at Coastal, hoping to win a thousand bucks, participated in an endurance test on a water slide, but were forced to quit after seven hours. Page contracted strep throat and a 104-degree fever, was bedridden for a week while his wisdom teeth came in, and his weight dropped from 207
“It was just brutal for me coming back from that … I couldn’t get my way back,” says Page. “I was depressed as hell.”
Page and some teammates were playing basketball when he says he decided he “had to get out of here.” He went to a local wrestling show featuring Ricky Steamboat, and he was hooked.
“I said to myself, ‘This is something I’ve really wanted to do my entire life. I’m quitting school and becoming a wrestler.'”
Page calls his time at Coastal “a learning experience” and said it was just another obstacle in a long list of hurdles that he had to overcome.
“I was a kid,” explains Page. “I’m a big proponent of school and education now, but back then I wasn’t. Basically I was dyslexic. I couldn’t read. Try going to college and not being able to read. Never mind just getting through grammar school and high school. It was really tough. I did a lot of memorization. I wrote a lot of notes. You can fake your way through anything, but reading out aloud was very scary. I was like a total illiterate.”
Page, though, overcame his dyslexia and now sponsors his own charity, “Bang It Out For Books,” which helps fight illiteracy and promotes the benefits of reading with Scholastic America.
His own autobiography, “Positively Page,” was published last year.
“But I don’t think they’ll ever recruit another guy from Jersey,” Page jokes about his short stint at Coastal.
Page, who took a job in the club business back in New Jersey after leaving college, made an hour-and-a-half drive with a friend each week to a wrestling school in Jersey City. He admits he learned little more than the basics, and had to give it up after injuring his knee while wrestling in Canada. An opportunity came up to run a bar, and Page took it.
“That’s something I always wanted to do. The booze, the broads and the party kept me from going back (to wrestling) for a long time.”
Page, whose real name is Page Falkinburg, spent 10 years in the bar business before giving professional wrestling another try at the age of 32. He managed and did commentary for a couple of years before actually stepping into the ring. The odds were against him from the beginning, Page says, but once again he used adversity as a motivational tool.
“I had only wrestled a year and I was 35 years old. Everybody told me it couldn’t be done.”
And when the 6-5, 250-pound Page suffered an injury and old-school traditionalist Cowboy Bill Watts took over WCW in 1992, it looked like struggling curtain-jerker Diamond Dallas Page was all but history.
“He’s hurt now, so I have a reason to fire him.” Watts said, according to Page. “They let me go. My wife at the time was telling me that I had to get a real job.
“(She said) Don’t let the door hit you on the (behind) on your way out.”
That was all it took for Page to shift into high gear.
“The one thing I’ve learned, too, is that you’ve got to get disturbed before you’ll really say … I’m doing this.
“And I’ll give you a perfect example: Rosa Parks. Think about this little black woman in Mississippi, of all places, and she says, ‘I’m not going to the back of the bus.’ She had to be so disturbed, but when you get like that, you get so focused that nothing will derail you. You just refuse to let anyone else tell you it’s not going to happen because you’re going to make it happen. She changed the world. It’s little things that become really big things, but you’ve got to get disturbed.”
Page is a major proponent of motivational skills, and to him this was just another hurdle to overcome.
“I was so disturbed from way back of not doing this earlier that I became so focused,” says Page.
“I had always seen my window as like five years. I’m in my ninth year as a wrestler. I’m going to be 45 in April. I’m literally in the best shape of my life. I’m into yoga. I’m into juicing.
“I don’t know how many professional athletes organically juice, oxidizing their blood, but I’m literally in the best shape of my life.”
Page, who made his ring debut on Nov. 18, 1991, won the Rookie of the Year award in 1992 and three years later was voted as the Most Improved Wrestler.
Page’s match tonight with the volatile Scott Steiner has an interesting history. Steiner was the major reason DDP’s wife, Kimberly, left WCW last year. Steiner reportedly made some unflattering lock-room comments about Kimberly, a dark-eyed, statuesque brunette who has a masters degree in advertising from Northwestern and an undergraduate degree from Auburn, and is the founder of The Nitro Girls.
Page and Steiner, whose out-of-ring feud had been simmering for months, came to blows behind the curtain minutes after the WCW world champion cut an unscripted promo ripping Page several months ago. Page, who had refused to work house shows against Steiner because of the comments Steiner had made about his wife, suffered bruises and scrapes on his face as a result of the short scuffle with Steiner, who witnesses claim tried to take DDP’s eye out.
It took several wrestlers to pry Steiner off of Page, who was upset at Steiner for making comments about him on the air.
Page, however, claims he has since mended fences with Steiner.
“Everything is cool with me and him. It’s better than it’s ever been.
“We get along great. We really are in the best place we’ve been ever. We’re buds. To me, you have to be to do this business properly. We work together. Scotty’s our figurehead right now. Even if Goldberg were back, Scotty would still be the top guy. I don’t get jealous or whatever. I’m happy for everyone’s success. Everything is cool.”