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Now, it should be pointed out that Page was tight with Eric Bischoff (although, to an extent, every person in the history of wrestling who got a pushed had to be liked by somebody). But Page, who worked with Bischoff right when he started working with WCW certainly didn't represent somebody who could claim he was getting any favours from the man in red and yellow. In fact, at 38-years-old it was surprising he was getting any kind of favours at all.
And this isn't even to say, on the surface of things Page did anything of any note in 1995. A feud with Dave Sullivan and a couple of matches with Johnny B Badd hardly seems worth writing about, does it? But there's a few things a Wikipedia entry doesn't have time to go into detail about that makes the story a little more interesting.
Page was part of a trio, along with real life wife Kimberly (playing the Diamond Doll) and "Max Muscle" (a former bodybuilder by the name of John Czawlytko who had retired come 1997). Page played this obnoxious, arrogant heel, with ditsy Doll by his side seemingly able to overlook these negative traits. Muscle, who beyond looking like a 10 offered very little to suggest he could be anything more than a bodyguard, completed the trio quite nicely.
What makes the Page story more interesting in 1995 is less about the storylines that will play out in the rest of this piece, and more the fact there were any storylines at all. WCW Saturday Night in 1994 was a baron wasteland of "stories" outside of matches and promos. Things picked up a little in 1995, with more angles shot outside of Centre Stage, but it would not be outlandish to esitmate that around 50% of all of those angles either included or were related to Page and his storylines.
The first of which early in the year involved Page down on his luck. Secret footage, presented to him by Eric Bischoff, showed Page down driving an absolute banger of a car, trying to sell his own blood and even try to shill fake sunglasses to Bischoff. Page stuck with the number one rule of being a heel: deny everything. Then, suddenly, his character allegedly came into a fortune of $13m, he says after going on a hot streak in Las Vegas. WCW did enough presenting him as a heel where there was doubt cast as to the validity of the story, but never anything in what followed to try and explain where else his new found wealth had come from. Page celebrated the win by going to an art gallery and buying "all the art".
Page's first major storyline of 1995 was with Dave Sullivan. Dave played the on screen brother of Kevin Sullivan, but that's where the characters diverged. Dave, or Evad as he was often known, was a childlike character, who played quite an important role in the Ric Flair/Hulk Hogan storyline in late 1994 that retired Flair. Flair, on being reinstated, returned to WCW Saturday Night and laid waste to Sullivan, it was a nice full circle storyline even if WCW forgot to mention it.
While Dave was in hospital recovering from the attack, he got a visit from The Diamond Doll – who didn't want to be identified. She bought him a pet rabbit as a gift – "Ralph" (apologies if this is sounding like a children's story!). Dave kept the rabbit, even as he recovered, and would end up accepting the challenge of DDP to an arm wrestling contest (these were a thing for DDP in the early half of 1995). If Dave won – he got a date with the Doll, if Page won - he took ownership of Ralph. DDP basically implied if he won the match he would eat the rabbit.
This all came to a head at The Great American Bash. It was an arm wrestling match – so don't expect miracles, but Dave won after the Doll bumped into Max, who bumped into Page. The rabbit was safe and so was Dave's date with The Diamond Doll. Dave took her to see "The King Lion", before taking her out for dinner. A message arrived with Dave's stew, essentially implying Ralph was in it – but as Dave rushed to his car he found Ralph safe and well. The whole thing was a ruse, Dave got attacked by Page and Max by his car in a segment complete with comedic sound effects. (Look – I never said these Saturday Night segments were good!).
Mercifully, the feud with Sullivan ended with Page beating him at Bash At The Beach (an awful, if short match at an awful, but not short, show). Page spent the next couple of months playing golf (in one of the more memorable Saturday Night segments) and wrestling guys who’s fame in WCW would seemingly start and end in 1995. Namely – Alex Wright and Ultimate Warrior knock-off The Renegade.
I’ve detailed the Renegade story in a lot more depth here, but in September 1995 the company finally gave up the ghost with him and his Television Title reign. Page was given the task of getting a good match out of Renegade. He failed – he’s no miracle worker – but he did at least win the title and end Renegade’s push.
It was on the same show, in the opening match, where Johnny B Badd defeated Brian Pillman in a match that lasted 29 minutes. If it sounds like a joke that’s because it was. After Steve Austin was released, WCW sent out two guys in Austin’s category (young, “overpaid”, think too highly of themselves) and gave them half an hour to drown. They ended up having one of the best WCW matches of the year. Badd won the right to face US Champion Sting, but after an angle on WCW Saturday Night where DDP let the air out of Badd’s car tyres (one of the few things not filmed) the company pivoted into a program between Badd and Page.
If you looked beyond the little Richard comparison and the confetti gun, Johnny B Badd’s gimmick was that he was a babyface. A former boxer, Badd had been around WCW’s roster since the beginning of the 90s, and had improved to be one of WCW’s best workers. Not that it particularly mattered in an era where friendships mattered more than ability when it came to ascending WCW’s roster. But, even so, the powers that be still recognised the needfor quality in ring action, even if it was just a starter before the “real stars” came along.
Badd vs Page was a perfect matchup. Badd was likeable – for all of the character he lacked outside of the ring he was one of the most emotive within it, and Page was a genuinely unlikeable heel, never letting The Doll get a word in edgeways in promos, and forming a traditional if basic heel partnership with Muscle at ringside.
Things started at Halloween Havoc, a truly mental show. Badd and Page were in their traditional opening spot, and wrestled a very good match – DDP dominating the middle and Max Muscle managing to whip up the crowd by chanting D… D… P… so they could clap along in time. Badd was increasingly impressing the Diamond Doll, who was slowly becoming receptive to his crowd pleasing offense. After an excellent false finish, Muscle levels Page by accident with a right and Badd wins the match, and the Title.
It was more of the same at World War 3. The Doll, tired of Page’s antics, had put herself on the line in the rematch. For the second show in a row the pair opened up and could probably make a claim for having the best match of the night (in some part due to the fact we'd seen Sting vs Flair so many times it wasn't anything special even though it was comparable). After Page used the Doll as a human shield Badd wins cleanly with the Badd day slingshot legdrop, winning the title and a very confused Doll as his new valet.
That lasted all of 24 hours... Page returned to WCW Monday Nitro with a boquet of flowers for The Doll ahead of his rematch. The flowers contained a chain, which Doll threw to Page in order to help him win the match. Except, of course, the throw was low (it was a good throw, believably low of Page's hands and straight to Badd), Badd hit Page with them and picked up the win.
While it may not have seemed like much, WCW had done a really strong job in building Dallas Page as a solid heel mid-card act, and someone who mercifully wasn't tied to the Dungeon Of Doom at a time where it felt like everyone else was. It'd take a few years to get there – the Diamond Cutter was still a quite awkward bulldog type move at this stage, but Diamond Dallas Page was ready for the big time.