Many, many stars across the world of wrestling and beyond have credited WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page for changing their lives through DDPY. From his inspirational mindset to his innovative workout regimes, DDP has helped stars such as Chris Jericho, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and many others – and former WWE Superstar Tucker is the latest talent to credit the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion for a transformation of body and mind.
“Super important, man. Super important. Well, around my 30th birthday, which I’m almost 31, I was having some really serious hip issues, right hip flexor issues, and had been having some some kind of inside abductor things going on for a few years, and just had gotten pain there and having a hard time really, like, with my mobility in my hip and it moving the way I wanted it to.”
Cooper, who wrestled as one half of Heavy Machinery alongside Otis on SmackDown and in NXT, opened up about his weight loss.
“I think at my biggest, in WWE, I was like 325 and pretty consistently, in my Heavy Machinery run, I was over 300 pounds or right at the 300 pound mark. When I wrestled in college, I was like 265 or so, so that extra weight does take a toll on your joints over time. I just realised that basically, for those 30 years or since I’d started training, lifting weights and whatnot, that the entire time I’d spent in an attempt to get bigger, faster and stronger, regardless of the cost to my long-term health. Like, ‘Hey, I want to be the best athlete I can be. To do that, my training goal is going to be just to get bigger, faster and stronger.'”
Tucker added that he had his own mind-set for how to achieve goals, and had two very specific paths – but he discovered a third in the form of DDPY.
“To me, when you’re trying to reach a goal and you come up against an obstacle, you can do two things. You can dig in, which means kind of do all the same things you’ve been doing, but just do more of them or do them harder. Or you can innovate, which means you either take what other people are doing or you try to find a new way of solving that particular problem. So for 15 years, I’m innovating and digging in on the problem of trying to get bigger, faster and stronger. Well, finally, I realised, ‘OK, there’s a third thing here that you have to take into account sometimes, and that’s a pivot when your goal is not serving you exactly the way that you want it to.’ And so I realised – ‘Oh, man, like, I can squat 500 pounds, but I can’t do it correctly. My technique is wrong and I’m realising now, I can’t breathe properly, up under my diaphragm here, I’m super weak.'”
The former SmackDown star opened up about how he’s lighter and more mobile and agile than ever before thanks to adapting his training to include DDPY – and those were just the physical benefits.
I’d been doing DDPY a little bit here and there and, basically, I made this giant pivot in my training and, for the better part of a year. I’ve been in search of greater mobility. And I have this book called The Modern Art and Science of Mobility, and it has all your functional muscular chains. There’s 12 of them. And so I’ve been focusing on those so that my body’s kinetic energy moves in the way that it’s supposed to move and that I’m not having these mobility positions that I can’t hit and essentially my body can’t protect itself in the way that it’s designed to protect itself – and bolstering my core strength. DDPY has been a massive, massive part of that physically, obviously, I’ve talked about a lot. But then on top of it – yeah, the mental piece too.
As far as the mental side, Cooper noted how challenging the pandemic has been for everyone, but detailed how his year saw an immense challenge face him as life in WWE wasn’t going as expected.
“That’s kind of another long-winded story, I guess, but for me, mentally, things were fairly challenging, right? Especially once the pandemic started and things weren’t going that well for Heavy Machinery. I mean, even from like April or after Otis won the Money in the Bank up until the split. I guess there was a chunk of time where things we weren’t really doing too much. He was just kind of doing his stuff. And then we ended up doing the Miz and Morrison, the court date angle, and that was sort of the end of what we had. I’m sure there’s a lot of people in the world that we’re… Everybody’s going through his crazy stuff in the last two years. Right? I mean, everybody’s world’s been thrown upside down. So mental health around that has been the challenge for sure. I’m sure it’s been a challenge for a lot of a lot of people.”
— Levi (@REALLeviCooper) April 29, 2021
Levi Cooper candidly discussed his own ego, and how the attachment to wrestling was unhealthy – but how a change of mindset has led to him living a happier life.
“For me, I’ve discovered that my ego was too attached to wrestling and not just wrestling, but the highs and lows, if you will. As an amateur athlete, it was easier for me to attach my ego to wins and losses because I was in direct control of those things. But even then, I tell as many amateur athletes as I can now to try to detach your ego from the outcome and attach it to the process. I’ve shifted a lot of that ego energy onto my marriage and my ability to be a father – so what makes me feel good about me now is more about being a good husband and being a good father than it is about being a good wrestler. And being a wrestler is just a piece of who I am. It’s not the bulk of my identity. For a lot of my life, it was the bulk of my identity.”
Detailing the correlation between the mental and physical changes, Cooper noted how yoga has helped him with his own self-care and how progression, no matter how little, is a step in the right direction.
“That goes hand-in-hand with the yoga because, in my opinion, it gives you that time every morning to see what’s kind of coming at you. You just take a stop, slow down a little bit and give not just your body, but give your mind a chance to tell you what’s kind of there and what are the things that are like cycling all the time for you, you know? And yeah, I mean, I could go on and on. I’ve done a lot of studying about this mental health thing because I believe it’s very important and it’s something that the world doesn’t talk about nearly enough – and self-care in general, I think, is is a massive, massive thing and something I’m very motivated to try to help other people with, because I know it’s not something that I took as seriously as I should have for some of my life up to this point and it’s something that just a half an hour a day, in the morning, of a little bit of stretching, a little bit of mindfulness, I know it improves my day exponentially, and I think it has the power to do that for a lot of people and just kind of realise that the things that maybe you’re worrying about, all that negative self talk that you have in your mind is just your perception and it’s not the reality of the world. And if you can kind of take a step back and figure out what’s super important to you and what really matters in your life and you make decisions in service of those things, you’re going to be a lot happier person.”
Tucker also opened up on the small victories in life and how important they can prove to be.
“It’s called yoga practice, right? It’s called yoga practice, not “yoga you can do it right away” and that goes back to what I was talking about with your ego and the journey, right? Feel good about yourself. Nobody needs to practice negative self talk. As human beings, we got that part down. The thing we need to practice is positive self talk. Celebrate your small wins. If you wake up in the morning and do 30 minutes of DDPY or you go for a walk in the morning or whatever it is, like, you did something. You woke up in the morning to take care of yourself, to improve your day and improve yourself – then you need to be telling yourself in your brain, ‘Hey, good job. I did a good job this morning. Like, I got up. I could have slept in, I could have done this. I could have spent half an hour on social media. I could have wasted my time in any number of ways. But instead I focused my time and energy and I improved at something. And I should be proud of myself for that.’”
As for becoming a DDPY instructor, that may also be on the horizon for Cooper.
“Well, it’s interesting you mention that, because that is part of my plan. Yeah, I’ve talked to Dallas a couple of times and I don’t feel like I’m where I want to be in my personal practice, I still feel like I have a little bit more to improve on in a couple of areas before I really want to, like, fully dig into potentially becoming an instructor. I’ve learned the lesson that I need to really feel like I’m perfectly in the space for myself before I kind of launch myself full force into something else like that.”
— Levi (@REALLeviCooper) May 28, 2021
One other man who told Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy of how DDPY changed his life recently was IMPACT star W Morrissey, formerly Big Cass in WWE, who discussed how DDP helped him be open about his addiction and learn to face the stigma head on.
“I think he was a big catalyst in me starting to open up about where I was at mentally and my addiction, and that’s something that I hid for a really long time because I was embarrassed and there was a stigma that comes with it, and I didn’t want to people to make fun of me or look down on me because, you know, I was having mental health issues or because of my alcoholism. So I hid that for a while.”
The former Big Cass disclosed how DDP and DDPY helped him be “open and honest” in his approach to life now, crediting Page for helping him with the mental side of things just as much as the physical.
“He was somebody that told me to just be honest and open about it. That’s kind of how I approach life now is I’m always honest. In any of these interviews, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to be very transparent. You can ask me anything and I’m going to be super honest with you because I’ve got nothing to hide – unlike a lot of other people in the wrestling industry.”
W Morrissey continued, saying he no longer feels like he has to play a part or act, and can just be open and honest – with everyone.
“I’m not going to hide anything anymore because that’s not good for me mentally to play a part and to act, and to wear a mask, and be somebody that I’m not. So he was the one who told me to be honest and open up, and we put a video out, and that actually lifted a huge weight off of me. So going forward, always being honest, that’s where I started being honest with fans, with other people in the industry, with anybody that knew me. He kind of helped me to open up about that, and that was probably the beginning of me becoming a different person, starting to live a different life, probably, is that honesty and that that’s something that’s preached in recovery is honesty.”
In closing, the former Big Cass spoke of how he had some obstacles and hurdles trip him up since initially speaking with DDP, but said living a lie simply is no longer an option.
“I could get into the physical aspect of things, I think the mental aspect of things is a lot bigger – so when I started being honest is when things started changing for me. I definitely had some downfalls after, but I vow to just be honest going forward because I don’t want to lie and living a lie is what causes me anxiety and stress, and puts me in a bad mindset.”
Meanwhile, speaking with Inside The Ropes last year, DDP detailed the success of DDPY.
“DDP Yoga/DDPY took eight years before I made a dime. I had $548,000 invested in the program. And at the moment, it looked like I was never going to see that money again. I never really focused on the money. I focused on the work and just kept putting money in. I would have put money in until I didn’t have any more money, and I was close. Eight and a half years ago, it took off and we ain’t ever looked back. We just grow, grow, grow, grow every year. It’s mainly because it’s organic and people tell people because they’re getting out of pain, or we have so “saved my life” – forget “change my life” it’s “save my life” and I’ll leave you with this.
“You’ll see a video come out next year sometime, it’ll be a guy who’s six-foot-seven. 698 pounds. On his own, he loses 172 pounds walking, changing what he ate, but his body was so beat up that he really couldn’t even walk anymore. He was so beat up, so he started our program. In one year, he lost 173 pounds. In 20 months, and the second half coming on with us, he would end up losing 378 pounds 20 months. Forget the weight loss, couldn’t do a push-up, to be able to do five-second push-ups. To be able to lift his foot up. To be able to have the confidence in him that he’d never had – and that’s what the program’s about – helping give people confidence.
If there’s one thing, if they put the work in, I know they’re going to get – they’re going to feel better about themselves, they’re going to get more confidence. You can’t pay for confidence.”
You can find out more about DDPY here. You can check out the entire interview with Levi Cooper here and with DDP here.
Thank you to Levi Cooper for taking the time out to speak to us! You can follow Levi on Twitter and Instagram, and also check out Levi Cooper’s Twitch Channel.