I recently interviewed former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page last month to discuss the special Resurrection of Jake The Snake movie screenings taking place across the country. There will also be a screening for the movie this Friday at the Hollywood BLVD Cinema and Eatery in Woodridge, IL outside of Chicago. Scott Hall, DDP and Roberts will be conducting a Q&A session at the screening.
As first reported yesterday, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin will be participating in a Q&A session at the Resurrection of Jake the Snake movie screening next Wednesday, October 14th, at the Arclight in Culver City outside of Los Angeles. Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Diamond Dallas Page will also be appearing, and there will be autographs and photo ops after the Q&A session. You can call (310) 559-2416 for additional information. You can get more details at JakeTheSnakeMovie.com.
Below is part one of the interview. Make sure to check back next week for the second part where DDP talked about working with Roddy Piper, his favorite Piper angle, his pull-apart fight with Eric Bischoff in the AWA, his role in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving the WWF for WCW, Scott Hall's progress and more.
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I know you're a busy man, how are things going with the Resurrection of Jake The Snake movie screenings?
"Wrestling fans have always been great about supporting things. In this scenario, they'll really decide if it stays in the theater or not by coming out and seeing it. Everybody can find out what city we're coming to at JakeTheSnakeMovie.com. I didn't farm anything out or have other editors do anything, we do it all ourselves. The movie stands on its own. It's going to be interesting. I said three years ago that we had a movie we hoped would get nominated for an Oscar.
"There was one guy on your site in particular, I can't remember his name and I'm not going to put him over anyway, saying 'what does this guy think, saying he'll be nominated for an Oscar?' It's a goal. Usually I ignore people like that. A guy like that would never understand it anyway, but to everyone else reading it, every time I've done something in my life, I set a goal. A realistic goal, and a fantasy goal. When I became a professional wrestler, I didn't even have the balls of having a fantasy goal of being the world champion. Three years in, I had that fantasy goal that was going to happen, and it did. That DDP Yoga would become a household name, and it's happening. That Jake's movie would go through this journey and he would be on his walk away from the business, and it happened. He didn't become world champion, but he got a higher award than that in being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was banned from WWE. They weren't going to touch him, Scott Hall either. That was a goal that we set. Probably the loftiest goal we've ever set is that this film could be nominated for an Oscar. It really can't be unless it plays for a week in NYC and a week in LA. That's pretty much the criteria to get any Oscar nod. It has to be reviewed by New York Times and LA Times, and a few other choices. When that happens, you're in line to get the nod. When we started this product, nobody thought we were going to get more than a date here and a date there. A theater in Portland said they want it for a week. We'll be in Atlanta Jake, Scott and myself on September 21 & 22 doing two-a-days at The Landmark , and they kept it for a week. Then we were set to go to Dallas, where Jake and Scott were set to go, and AMC Theaters picked us up for a week. Then we go to Tampa, Philly, Yonkers, NYC, LA. AMC has picked us up for a week. All of a sudden, it's possible. So whoever that individual was who was such a rude asshole, there are dream stealers who want to knock you down because they can't do sh-t themselves."
I saw the documentary earlier this year, and it was an amazing piece of work. When you started out, did you have any idea how long the process was going to take, or were you just going to let it go?
"I was talking to Jake, and we hadn't talked for a while because of a little falling out. I wanted to fix that, because I love Jake. It was an ego thing, and an addict thing. My ego getting hurt and Jake being an addict. I say that if it weren't for Dusty Rhodes, there'd be no DDP, but without Jake The Snake, there's no DDP that was in the main event on Monday Nitro and Thunder and PPVs. DDP is never a world champion without the continuing guidance of Jake "the Snake" Roberts. I wanted to repay him.
"My initial goal was for him to be able to walk away from the business with his head held high, the way he deserves. Not as the junkie, as the legend, the icon. That was the goal, and I didn't know how we were going to do that. I called him up and asked him to start the program, my whole lifestyle. It's about making your body feel better. I said 'don't even do the workout, just do the food stuff.' I didn't know how broken Jake was at the time. I don't know if I'd have really pushed for him to try to own his life if I had known how broken down he was. My director Steve Hughes and I, it was our assumption that he was drug free. I knew he'd go out and have a few beers, but I didn't know he was doing cocaine and smoking crack until I got there. Having to stop with booze, pills, coke and crack at the same time, think about that. I said 'man, I'm f-cked.' I already promised him that I'd help him out and move him to Atlanta and get him out of this hobble he was in, but I didn't know if he'd be okay. He had to lose 20 pounds on his own before I would start, because he had to show me he was going to put the work in, because it was going to be a lot of work. He did that, which in the months to come blew my mind. I knew that year we couldn't do it, but maybe we could get them in a position to consider him for the Hall of Fame the following year. Steve and I, that was our goal. For Jake, it becomes about the Royal Rumble, which you see in the movie. Jim Ross talks about it in the movie, he said that was good for Jake, because it gave him something to strive for.
"The really cool thing about the movie, Stone Cold Steve Austin talks about his admiration for Jake, and Steve Austin is never one to pull any punches. He also cuts through all the bullsh-t. Jim Ross is in it, Ted Dibiase, who had one of my favorite matches with Jake Roberts on MSG TV. Jim Duggan, Dustin Rhodes, Chris Jericho, Edge, and all giving their commentary and comments of what is perceived and what is real and where they saw Jake's career either working with him, or as a fan.
"The whole journey in a nutshell, was to help him walk away from the business with his head held high. That came to fruition, and I'm not giving anything away, because anybody who's a wrestling fan knows Jake's in the Hall of Fame, and I inducted him. But what was the journey like to get there? The way Steve edited and directed this movie, it was shot like guerrilla warfare. There were cameras all over the house. The direction comes in taking a movie that should take 9 hours to tell, and do it in 90 minutes with the substance in there and the highs and the lows and the failure. When you can grab someone's emotions and make them tear up and choke up and laugh out loud, and then inspire them. And you haven't seen the last cut, bro. The last cut is different than what you've seen. It's even better. Nothing is like seeing the movie with people. When you see it at home, and it'll be on video on demand, it's cool. It's nothing like being in the theater and hearing the people laugh and go through it. I've seen it so many times, and I can't normally watch my stuff more than one time. Because this is such a hear felt movie, I've seen every cut of it. When we did our first cut, it was shown to me about a year and a half ago. I got two-thirds through and said 'This sucks. This is not the movie. This is not it Steve. You're missing this, this and this.' What's going to be cool is when we do the DVDs and put it all out there. Some people have seen the full-length Scott Hall phone call, things like that. The direction comes into making it 90 minutes and keeping people on the edge of their seats. They are filmmakers, and we're a production company. I love this film, I could watch it a million times."
It felt like you couldn't script a better ending. In the cut of the movie I reviewed, Jake looks like a completely different person at the end than the beginning. When the WWE Hall of Fame happened, did you know that it was the end of the movie?
"To me it was that or the Royal Rumble, whatever allowed Jake to walk away from the business with his head held high. Even Raw, when he showed up with the legends. It could have ended with that. Now Jake is back in the good graces of the company. He wasn't banned because of creative differences, he was alienated because he was a mess. The WWE isn't going to be involved in anyone with a monster controversy. I think that once Jake got to that spot, it could have ended anywhere there. The ending now is what people say is their favorite part."
You made the surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble. How did that come about?
"How crazy was that? I'm getting my best push in the WWE in the past two and a half years (laughs). Hosting the Best of Nitros, people seem to love it. I never would have thought you'd get Best of Nitro 3. When they called me, I was getting ready to go to SlamDance, for our big initial screening. There were only a handful of people who knew. Mark Cerrano, who called me, Triple H, Vince, Kevin Dunn, Johnny Laurinaitis. Nobody really knew. When they told me, I would normally be sketchy about coming back in the ring, but everything they've asked me to do, from showing up on Raw 1000 with Heath Slater, cutting a promo with Booker T for DDP Yoga and having Ron Simmons come in. That was amazing stuff.
"Once they told Cody, Fandango and Bray, I got a text from Cody. I've known Cody since he was 7 years old, and known him well. He text me and says 'It is so apropos that I'm the first one to feed you.' It was funny because he wanted to do something when I got in the ring, and I said 'no I want you to stop me, beat me down, get yourself over, then go to slam me and I'll see ya later.' He didn't understand it, maybe because he's young in the business, but he has a great mind for it. I think he could be one of the top babyfaces in the company if he gets the shot, because the guy can talk as good as anybody there. If you would have saw him at his dad's memorial, or saw him induct his dad into the Hall of Fame, that kid can talk. He could be an amazing come from underneath babyface.
"Johnny, Fandango, he's awesome. Bray's one of my favorite characters the last couple of years. For him to take a Diamond Cutter I've never given anybody on TV, that was cool. It was just an awesome moment. Cody text me when I was leaving for SlamDance and said 'I didn't understand why you wanted to get beat down until it started to happen, then I realized, that was exactly what to do." I went to Salt Lake, flew into Philly then flew right back to Salt Lake."
What do you think about his Stardust gimmick? Do you think he should keep it?
"I kind of think it was a good transition for him. He was doing his Cody Rhodes thing, but he needed to get out of the box. I'd love to see him at some point to be that come from underneath babyface. People love him, women love him, and that's really the secret. When you have that guy that women want and men want to be, and outside of the character Cody Rhodes is a stud. Even since he was a teenager. It's only gotten better for him. I'd like him to get this opportunity."
Were you surprised when Sting signed with WWE?
"I wasn't surprised, only because of what happened with the Network. When the Warrior came back, I thought that was brilliant. Short lived, God bless him. If you can be happy for a guy who was banished on his own, and had a lot of confrontations. None of that happens without Triple H making that come together. When I saw him come back, and the programming isn't what it once was. Sting would never come back if the show went from Attitude Era to PG13. There's a lot of born-again Christians, but Sting really lives that life. If he tells you something, you count on it.
"Sting is maybe the smartest guy ever in our business. You look at all the guys on top, outside of Rock because he's in a different world, he may be one of the smartest guys. Who's had the run that he's had? He left WCW when it was over and didn't let anyone have him. He sat back with his money and waited for the right deal. He signed with TNA, got exactly what he wanted and made stupid money again. When it was the right time for him to show up in WWE, he did. Vince McMahon wanted Stinger. If you're going to own all of wrestling, you need to have Sting in there. He got to work a main event at WrestleMania. He didn't go over, who cares? He was in a main event and turned out to be a great match. It isn't what he'd be able to do ten years ago, but he's 55. The son of a b---h, he was booked so beautifully his whole career, and anytime he wasn't, he made the best of it.
"I thought it was great for the WWE, great for the Network, and Steve will be a guy you can count on. If he says he'll do something, he'll do it the right way and do it with class."
You released that awesome tribute video of Dusty. What are a couple of your favorite memories of Dusty?
"In that tribute, I couldn't put the detail of this. The first time I talked to him, I had strep throat. I had to be up at 6 to catch a 9 o'clock flight at the beginning of my wrestling career as a manager. I'd sent a tape to Mike Graham. I'd been working for AWA for nine months, which meant I worked nine days. I thought maybe I'd go to FCW and manage there. Keep in mind, I was running the hottest nightclub from Sarasota to Cuba, so I had an awesome paycheck coming in. I was already DDP back then. I hear my phone go off, and I'm crashed out. I heard my answering machine, and heard Mike Graham. I'm trying to whisper because I have strep throat. I heard him saying 'Diamond, pick up the phone. I've got Dusty Rhodes here with me. We just finished off a case of beer and we're about to start on the Jack Daniels.'
"I picked up the phone and he said 'We're going to bring in Dusty and re-pop the territory.' Dusty was a God there. He could sell out an arena of 5,000 just doing autographs. Mike wants me to blow Dusty away being one of the biggest marks on the planet. I'm like 'Mike, no. I have strep throat, I have nothing prepared, show him my video tape.' He said his video tape player was broken, and put me on. I said 'Good god, Dusty Rhodes. The man of the hour, the man with the power, funky like a monkey,' and stole everything he ever said, some of it I made up. I said 'that's all I got, Dusty, I'm sorry. I've got strep throat.' There was dead silence. It felt like 5 minutes, but it was probably 30 seconds. Then he says 'was that a recording, kid?'
"We started talking and he said he wanted to take my tape back to Dallas and was going to look at it, and he'd meet me in Tampa. I was so nervous. Mike Graham met me at the door and introduced me to Steve Kiern, then Gordon Solie, then Dusty Rhodes. I was so nervous until I shook his hand, and it chilled everything out. I talked to him like I'd known him my whole life. It was crazy how he would take me under his wing and give me that opportunity. I got to learn to be a color commentary by sitting next to Gordon Solie. Dusty said 'Don't worry, Gordon's gonna talk you through it all.'
"I had a Corvette back then. I made 50 bucks, and it cost me $57 dollars to drive from Fort Myers to Tampa and back again. I always got a kick out of that. Once a month I would get in the ring with Steve Kiern and take bumps, so I could feel what these guys are feeling, so I could call it. I wasn't a wrestler, and I felt like I needed more experience to call stuff. Then I go into Dusty's office, and we'd sit there and talk about the business, an he'd talk about production. Dusty would bring me into all of the production meetings. When he brought me into WCW and put me with the Freebirds. It's like 'you're going to have me talk for Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes? Those guys?'
"I was lucky because me and Hayes met when I was in the AWA, when the WCCW came together with it and we went on a road trip to Memphis. We got together, and became good buddies. He'd call me from time to time, so by the time I came back, he liked me. He told Jimmy this guy's got some good chops, and that they were going to start the promo with their backs to the camera and I was going to come out between the middle of them and do the talking. I thought 'Wow, talk about being baptized under gunfire.' I delivered a one-take promo that they loved and we were off and running.
"Dusty, he looked out for me. I asked him one time 'I'm taking a couple of bumps, I'm learning a little bit, do you think I could ever get with two other wrestlers and do a Freebird thing?' He was like 'no, baby, you're a fire breathing manager, you're going to be the greatest manager of all-time.' When he brought me into WCW after five months, they wouldn't let me manage anymore. Dusty said 'it's not your fault, kid. We should have put a pair of boots and trunks on you to see what you could do.' I had seven months left on my contract, and Dusty thought I was too old to start. I was 35 and a half. I worked hard and wrestled for about 11 months before I tore my rotator cuff. Watts was in charge, and he let me go.
"That's where Jake came into my life. He moved in for a few months until he lost a cobra in my house. He still stayed and taught me. We went on the road together a lot. He would critique my matches for me. Then when 11 months had gone by, and Bischoff said 'you're healthy, do you want to come back?,' he gave me the bottom money that you could give, which was $85,000. I was going down to the Power Plant every day, so when I came back I'd be ready. I was there the day before my meeting with Dusty, and there he was. There's three rings and he said 'kid, jump in the ring with this guy and let me see what he's got.' Then I went into the next ring, then the next ring until I was done. This is probably my favorite moment that has to do with my wrestling career, Dusty said 'D, I know you always seen yourself as a top guy in our business, but I've never seen it until yesterday.' He went on to tell me how much I'd improved, and that he'd never seen work ethic like that. He said that if I keep progressing like that, I could live my dream."
Make sure to check back next week for the second part where DDP talked about working with Roddy Piper, his favorite Piper angle, his pull-apart fight with Eric Bischoff in the AWA, his role in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving the WWF for WCW, Scott Hall's progress and more. To get more information about The Resurrection of Jake The Snake and screenings for the movie around the country, go to JakeTheSnakeMovie.com for dates and times. Also, you can get more information about the DDP YOGA Performance Center by visiting DDPYOGAPC.com.