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Duke Droese Remembers Jerry Lawler’s On-Screen Apology

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Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese has lifted the lid on the angle with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler that ended with the latter being forced to apologise on camera.

Several weeks after the character’s debut in the World Wrestling Federation in 1994, he ran into wrestling royalty in Jerry Lawler who at the time was a right of passage for any new star entering the company. Though ‘The King’ was a caricature of his former self, he would help establish singles stars such as Bret Hart, Doink the Clown and Mankind through the years.

However, shortly after Droese’s debut the pair locked horns in a match that would have ramifications for Lawler when he used the trashcan that accompanied ‘The Dumpster’ to the ring to gain an unfair advantage. Following the bout, ‘The King’ was forced to apologise on camera thanks to breaking standards and practices of what was a product aimed at families and children.

Now, Duke Droese has joined Interactive Wrestling Radio to discuss the match, the feud and the moment his foe was forced to take to came to issue a heelish apology:

“It was on the King’s Court on RAW and it was live. Live! Live! Live! Live as you could get. Jerry and I talked about it. He wasn’t going to let me in the ring; he was going to make fun of me, tell a bunch of stupid jokes, and I was going to get sick of it and walk away. The heat was I had dumped garbage on him in my debut match on Superstars because he was goofing on me. The plan was he was going to run up on me and attack me from behind as I was walking away. That is all they wanted. He asked me, ‘Would you mind if I hit you with the garbage can?’ Down in Florida, man, I was hitting everyone with it. I was even getting hit with it some! It was a free for all! You could hit anybody you wanted. I said, ‘Yeah, of course!’”

Despite working with a known and respected road agent who put the bout together and even cleared the trashcan spot in question, Vince McMahon would frown upon the weapon attack as it wasn’t the image his company were attempting to portray at the time:

“We were working with Jack Lanza who was the agent. It was like the perfect storm – Jack Lanza wasn’t going to go ask Vince! Jack said, ‘Just go ahead and do it [laughs]! So, he hits me once and I go down. He hits me again and – if you watch it, it is probably still on YouTube – just as he hits me for the second time the camera goes way wide. Way, way, way far away [laughs], like, way to the other side of the arena so all you could see was the trash can coming up and going down. But you couldn’t see him hitting me anymore because they deemed it too violent for the product at the time because it was considered family entertainment… Like the 80s.

So, we got to the back and Shane McMahon came up to us and was like, ‘What happened?’ I was like, ‘Well, we talked about it and we decided this was going to be good.’ So, anyway, immediately after they had Gorilla Monsoon and Macho Man Randy Savage come on and apologize for it on live TV. They were doing the commentary at the time. They said, ‘You’ll never see anything like that again.’ And then, they turned it into another thing… I think it had to do with TV stations and sponsors. They cared about that a lot. But, then they had Jerry Lawler do this ridiculous apology thing. When I saw it, and I didn’t know a lot, I knew it was kind of killing off a lot of the heat. They made him do that and if you listen to that apology, the studio voice that is telling him to continue is Shane McMahon [laughs]. Shane had filmed a lot of the vignettes with me for my debut. But, when they did that, I know they had taken a bucket of ice water and thrown it on our heat.”

Unfortunatley for Droese, the storyline with Lawler would be the biggest thing the star did on WWF television until his war with Hunter Hearst Helmsley at the latter end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996.

In an attempt to revitalise the character prior to his departure, Droese sheared his trademark locks, traded a baseball cap for a beanie hat and did away with the blue trashman overalls in favour of a white shirt and green trousers. While a bout with Helmsley at WWF In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage was a mild-success, the star was gone by summer 1996.

Credit for the interview: Interactive Wrestling Radio

h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.