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What went wrong with DDP in WWE?

I have been a wrestling fan since the mid 80’s. If you are like me, you dreamed of the day when the top guys from the NWA/WCW could step in the ring with top WWE guys. In 2001, it seemed like those dreams would come true when the WWE (then F) purchased WCW. In this series we will visit what went wrong with several WCW and ECW stars that came to WWE. So, join me and let’s discuss, what went wrong with DDP in WWE.

The people’s champ. The hardest working man in pro wrestling. A three-time WCW champion. Diamond Dallas Page was a guy who got over by hard work and overcoming the odds. You might be inclined to say, nah, he was Eric Bischoff’s boy. The reality is that while DDP may have been close with the EVP of WCW, Bischoff had no role in getting 15 thousand fans to hold up the diamond cutter every Monday night. Bischoff may have given DDP some opportunities, but it was DDP himself that got over.

If you were a fan in the late 90’s there no doubt that imagined how might DDP fair in the WWE. Page was one of the few WCW wrestlers who elected to take a buyout on their WCW contract to go to WWE. Page wanted the run, the fans wanted it, the WWE wanted it (I guess). How could it fail?

DDP debuted in the WWE in June of 2001 as the stalker of the then wife of the Undertaker. DDP’s initial reception to the WWE audience was great. He delivered a solid promo but it was downhill from there. The chemistry just wasn’t there with the Undertaker in ring. Plus, Page’s feud with the Undertaker mostly kept him from the Alliance storyline which kept him from being viewed as one of the top Alliance guys.

Following an injury, Page then debuted a new motivational speaker character which was a far cry from his previous WCW character. He would go on to win the WWE European championship and wrestle against Christian at Wrestlemania 18. DDP’s contract was not renewed in April of that year. What a forgettable WWE run.

There were so many match-ups that could have been great. Sadly, DDP was squashed by the Undertaker from the very beginning. This pretty much killed any future DDP had in WWE. Not to mention that he went full sicko. Never go full sicko.

If WWE would have just kept with the ‘DDP is doing what he is doing to play mind games to get the edge’ theme it wouldn’t have been that bad. But when it became about actual stalking, it failed. The DDP wrestling fans knew was not a stalker.

The series of matches DDP had with Undertaker, the tag team matches with Kanyon and Kane just didn’t click. People like to blame DDP’s need to plan everything out as part of the problem. However, it could be argued that the WWE never gave anyone from WCW a fair shake in terms of in-ring action. Also he never received a chance to work a significant program with any other top stars.

DDP certainly lost more than he won early in his WWE career. Frankly, he should have been winning. Winning would have built equity in DDP to the WWE fans that were not as familiar with him. But nope, how could a WCW guy ever beat a WWE guy?

What got DDP to the top of WCW was his ability to pull off the overachiever. That and the diamond cutter. The diamond cutter was one of the most over finishers between 1997 and 2000. If the WWE would have fed DDP a string of wins he may have had a completely different run.

The end of DDP in WWE came with the motivational speaker character. Again, it was such a leap away from what DDP was known as. Yes, I remember the Positively Page book but give me a break. Even without the injuries, DDP would have never overcame those two terrible characters.

What went wrong with DDP in WWE? Terrible characters, injuries, and just an overall presentation of him by WWE to the fans. He could have had runs with The Rock, Steve Austin, and Triple H. Page was that type of a performer. He didn’t and now all we can do is imagine, what could have been?

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  • CC

    As I said, initially it was a very anti-WCW bias and Booker was turned into a comedy character initially.
    Later on though he did hurt himself with his constant talk of retirement due to his bad back, but for whatever reason they finally did pull the plug on him as champ, but in my opinion it was too little too late.

  • Rinn13

    Them booking Booker to lose to HHH at WM19 made zero sense. They framed the entire storyline as “Booker is just an entertainer, not a fighter, and so he can’t beat HHH, he can’t make a good champion”. And then HHH beats him at WM, proving HHH’s point, effectively blunting Booker’s career for the next few years, honestly. Really, really stupid booking.

  • CC

    Yeah they kinda did drop the ball with Tazz when they had him lose to HHH after a strong start (Vince apparently even regretted booking that loss), but his injuries killed his career anyway. He was only in WWE a year or so before he retired from the ring so he never could have been any bigger than he was.

    With DDP it was typical WWE and their bias against WCW made stars. Maybe had he not got injured they would have changed their stance like they finally did with Booker, but sadly Page’s age was going against him as well.

  • Rinn13

    I mean, a lot of the same things that happened to guys that ALSO should have been pushed and been big stars in WWF/E, like: Raven, Rhino, Tazz, Ultimo Dragon, Vader, Dan Severn, etc. etc.

    In DDP’s case specifically, they misused him from the start, and then he got injured wrestling Bob Holly. Right when they finally were giving him a BIT of a push.

  • Kristopher Robinson

    He was one of the guys I really wanted in the WWE. Such a waste of a talent and character.