Monday, February 5, 2007

WCW: Diamond Dallas Page, part 3

At Fall Brawl 1998, Page won the WarGames main event, and got a World title shot against the undefeated Goldberg at Halloween Havoc. Page did not win the match, but his presence in the World title scene was now certified. Satellite difficulties prevented many viewers from seeing much of the highly anticipated World Championship match, so it was re-aired the following night during Nitro. Despite this setback, it was also voted "Match of the Year" in WCW Magazine.

Page finally became World Champion in April, 1999, at Spring Stampede when he defeated Sting, Hogan, and Ric Flair in a 4-way dance for the title. This match was ironic for Page, as it featured Randy Savage as the special-guest referee and also saw Hogan eliminated early when Page seriously damaged Hogan's leg with a submission hold.

Page was finally champion, and being champion changed him. During his first promo as champion, because of what he perceived to have been an unappreciative crowd reaction, he would refer to the crowd as "a bunch of jackoffs" even though in reality he was receiving a positive reaction. Shortly after gaining the title, Page wrestled Goldberg for his championship. Page turned heel during the match, using everything at his disposal to try and beat down Goldberg (the match eventually ended in a no contest). Throughout the rest of his reign as champion, Page resorted to lowbrow tactics to keep his championship.

His first reign as champion lasted all of 15 days. On April 26, 1999, Page was defeated for the World Championship by Sting on WCW Monday Nitro but regained it a little over an hour and a half later during a four way match the same night (thanks to a match set up by a returning Kevin Nash, who challenged Sting, Goldberg, and Page for the title). Page hit Nash with a foreign object to regain the title without actually defeating the reigning champion. Page was defeated by Nash at Slamboree that year, and fell out of the World title picture shortly thereafter.

As 1999 drew on, Page changed his look, and along with Chris Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow, he formed the Jersey Triad. The group got its name from all three members being from New Jersey. The Triad held the WCW World Tag Team titles at one point and invoked the Freebird Rule, stating any combination of the three members could defend the titles.

In 2000, with WCW under new control, Page (who had returned to facedom) earned a shot at the vacant World Championship. He would get his shot at Spring Stampede, the same event where one year prior he won the title for the very first time. His opponent would be ex-nWo member, Jeff Jarrett. In a surprise twist, Page's wife Kimberly turned on Page and helped Jarrett become the new World Champion. This also led to Kimberly forcing an unconscious Page to sign divorce papers.

Page would get the better of Jarrett on an episode of Nitro in May, but, in a tag team match against Jarrett and Eric Bischoff in which the belt could change hands, Page would lose the title to his very own tag partner, movie star David Arquette. Page and Jarrett met Arquette in a rematch at the Slamboree PPV in the first triple cage match, but Arquette, who had vowed to stay out of the match and support DDP and help him regain the title, betrayed Page, allowing Jarrett to regain the gold once more. The angle was poorly viewed by fans as one of WCW's biggest mistakes.

Page took some time off shortly after this, but returned in late 2000 as a full time wrestler. He was eventually involved in a real-life fist fight backstage with Scott Steiner, after Steiner did a shoot on Page moments earlier on Nitro. DDP hid behind the curtain and sucker punched Steiner as he entered the backstage area. Steiner then attacked DDP and eventually got the better of him. At the end of the fight, because Page could still move under his own power, he mocked Steiner by yelling at him "I'm still standing!". And much like many of the negative real life issues that encircled the WCW employees in this era, it was turned into an on-camera angle. Even the mocking statement Page made during their altercation was turned into his new catchphrase. Their feud hit a climax at WCW's final PPV in their history, WCW Greed, which saw Page's final match in WCW and a semi-burial type defeat as he passed out in Steiner's finisher, The Steiner Recliner, and was never seen or referred to on WCW television after the match, probably due to his early jump to WWF.

When WCW was purchased by WWF owner Vince McMahon in 2001, Page was one of the few major WCW stars to sign with McMahon. Despite this, he ended up being involved in what many fans considered to be bad storylines, and this led to him being voted WWF Magazine's "Most Misused Talent" of 2001. Page went from the People's Champion (in WCW) to crazed stalker, to the smiling man, in less than a year. He became known for his catchphrase "It's me, it's me, it's DDP," during this time.

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