At Spring Stampede 1997, Diamond Dallas Page faced “Macho Man” Randy Savage in a match that was hard-hitting in the ring and heartwarming outside of the ring. In the mid-to-late 90s, World Championship Wrestling was starting to see an uprising against the New World Order. One of the stars that took umbrage with the group was DDP, which led to his ascent to the top of the company. If the master of “Self High Five” donned the black and white, perhaps the ascent in question would have never taken place.
By his admission, Page owed much of his success in wrestling to Randy Savage. With almost two and a half decades of experience by that point, Savage was one of the most seasoned wrestlers in WCW. He was also one of the most selfless. Savage saw potential in the charismatic DDP, who started wrestling later in his life than most. What culminated was not only a fantastic main event on April 6th, 1997 but the beginning of a legendary rise for WCW’s “People’s Champion.”
Diamond Dallas Page made his WCW return in May of 1996 following a Loser Leaves Town match three months prior. From there, Page began to feud with Eddie Guerrero, the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight Championship on the line. During this time, nWo members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash attempted to recruit DDP. This led to an iconic moment on the January 13th, 1997 episode of Nitro.
Following a victory over Mark Starr, Page was, once again, approached by Hall and Nash. In the center of the ring, Page embraced Nash before being presented with a sleeveless nWo shirt. Soon after donning the shirt, Page laid out Hall with a Diamond Cutter. Page proceeded to dump Nash over the top rope and escape through the crowd. On that night, DDP truly became a fan favorite among WCW fans. However, his rejection to join the most powerful faction in the company wouldn’t be swept under the rug.
Enter Randy Savage, who joined Hall and Nash to attack Page on the February 24th episode of Nitro. On this night, Page faced Squire David Taylor in singles action before the nWo approached the ring. With Page distracted by Hall and Nash, Savage blindsided Page. From there, Savage spraypainted “nWo” on Page’s back, not unlike what the group had done to WCW stars in the past. As if this wasn’t enough, Savage decided to take his grievance with DDP to a personal level.
At the March PPV, Uncensored, Savage revealed a personal detail about DDP’s life. Though not to the surprise of smart fans, at the time, Savage declared that Page was married to his long-time manager, Kimberly. He proceeded to attack Page and even placed his hands on Kimberly, spraypainting “nWo” on her in a show of humiliation. This led to a showdown at Spring Stampede 1997, at the Tupelo Coliseum in Mississippi, the following April. In Page’s first main event pay-per-view showing, he challenged Savage to a no disqualification match.
The goal wasn’t to win the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, nor was it to become the number one contender. Rather, this was a grudge match that necessitated the main event spot of Spring Stampede 1997. Miss Elizabeth stood in Randy Savage’s corner while Kimberly supported Diamond Dallas Page at ringside. On commentary, Tony Schiavone stated that this was the biggest night for DDP; truer words couldn’t have been spoken.
Savage took to the mic to taunt Page before the match began. Early on, Page attempted to get his hands on Savage, who quickly retreated to the outside. This led to a brawl that returned inside of the squared circle. The master of the Diamond Cutter took control, even attempting his finisher, only for Savage to narrowly avoid disaster by holding onto the top rope. The action spilled back to the outside, as Page and Savage battled through the crowd.
Page took “taking out the trash” in a literal sense as he introduced Savage’s head to nearby trash cans. Back at ringside, Savage cowardly used Kimberly as a shield. This allowed Elizabeth to rake Page’s back, giving Savage the advantage. Savage hit Page with a flying double axe handle to the outside. Though Savage continued to pick apart Page, the crowd remained firmly behind the latter, as “DDP” chants could be heard throughout the Tupelo Coliseum.
Savage would soon retrieve a steel chair, courtesy of an intimidated Michael Buffer, who had done in-ring introductions for WCW’s major matches. Not only did he scare Buffer, but Savaged attacked David Penzer to grab his chair as well. This would prove disadvantageous to Savage, as Page used the chair to lay out the more seasoned grappler. Page rebuilt momentum by unloading on Savage with a flurry of punches. He then laid out the “Macho Man” with a discus clothesline, buying himself time to recuperate.
Slowing the pace of the match, Savage hit Page with a series of scoop slams. The “Macho Man” returned to the outside to retrieve one of the ring bells. He then climbed to the top rope, though he didn’t count on Kimberly swiping the bell from him. This allowed Page to get his legs up as Savage attempted his signature flying elbow drop. Page recovered and went for the Diamond Cutter for a second time, but Savage took advantage with a low blow, unbeknownst to the referee. Nonetheless, Page remained in the match.
With frustration building, Savage planted the referee with a piledriver before whipping him with his own belt. Savage returned to the top rope; this time, he successfully drove his elbow into Page’s chest. Without an official, a pinfall couldn’t be counted. Nick Patrick, the nWo’s endorsed official, rushed to the ring while Nash watched gleefully from the ramp. It appeared Savage let his guard down, though. With the third time being the charm, Page successfully dropped Savage with the Diamond Cutter. To the surprise of everyone, Patrick made the count, awarding the victory to DDP.
Post-match, the rest of the nWo, led by Eric Bischoff, made their way to the ring. Nash attempted to revive Savage, all the while keeping a firm grip on Patrick. Nash proceeded to jackknife powerbomb Patrick and the attack on Page continued. Savage caught a frightened Kimberly as Bischoff attempted to reason with the “Macho Man.” This led to a shoving match between Savage and Bischoff before the nWo intervened. It could be argued that Page’s victory over Savage, on this night, aided in the eventual unraveling of the New World Order.
Spring Stampede 1997 might have been their most memorable match, but business wasn’t quite done between Diamond Dallas Page and Randy Savage. The following June, they squared off at The Great American Bash in a falls count anywhere match; once again, they were the main event. With the help of Hall, Savage picked up the win. They would square off once more at Halloween Havoc in October, this time in a Las Vegas Sudden Death Match. With the help of a Sting lookalike, baseball bat and ball, Savage secured the count-out victory.
To say that Page and Savage’s feud was well-received would be an understatement. Fans fondly remember it for the fact that it produced solid matches and helped to elevate DDP to the next level. Following the feud, Page became a four-time WCW World Tag Team Champion, two-time WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, and three-time World Heavyweight Champion. Critics seemed to be just as fond of the program as viewers were, too. When Pro Wrestling Illustrated issued their annual awards for 1997, they declared Page vs. Savage as the Feud of the Year.
Page attributes much of his success to Savage, who took an interest in elevating the former. When Arn Anderson asked Savage what he wanted the finish of the Spring Stampede 1997 match to be, the “Macho Man” responded by saying he’d like to take the Diamond Cutter. Due to Savage’s gracious action, Page was able to become a main event star in WCW, able to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Goldberg and Sting. The fact that the historic Spring Stampede victory came one day after DDP’s 41st birthday made it a belated gift not to forget.
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