Duke Droese has spoken candidly about his battles with addiction and revealed that he was high when he competed in the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17.
Droese was a fixture of the mid-nineties in the World Wrestling Federation where wrestlers who had gimmicks in other professions were all the rage. In amongst the wrestling dentists, farmers, and plumbers, Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese was wrestling’s garbage man and the crowds loved to see him take out the trash.
But in Droese’s personal life, things were not great as he battled addictions throughout his run in the company. Speaking to Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, Duke Droese spoke candidly about his struggles and opened up about how his appearance at WrestleMania 17 – five years after his WWF exit – came to be.
“They didn’t reach out. I reached out to them. It was interesting. I was working for the company down in Florida that I wrestled for before I went to the WWF the first time, Sunshine Wrestling Federation, who had then just become Florida Championship Wrestling, which was before it was a developmental place for Vince. One of the guys that worked through them came up to me one day and said, ‘Dude, they’re going a gimmick battle royal. You need to call somebody and get in on that.'”
A perfect fit for a celebration of the company’s wackiest gimmicks, Droese joined the likes of Kamala, Sgt Slaughter, and Hillbilly Jim in the match eventually won by The Iron Sheik.
For Droese however, rather than being able to enjoy one more moment in the sun, the event was a struggle to get through due to ongoing battles:
“Even working for these guys down in Florida, I was on a lot of drugs. It was bad. It should have been a great, awesome moment. My WrestleMania moment. But, in all reality, I was on drugs so bad—I was going to the Methadone clinic in Miami—so, I had to get extra Methadone to take to WrestleMania with me so I wouldn’t get sick and withdrawals during the weekend. I barely made it. I had to drink alcohol at the end of it. I made it back home. But, it wasn’t a great WrestleMania moment because I was in no condition to wrestle.”
“But, thankfully all I had to do was walk around the ring and act stupid with a bunch of older guys. Nikolai Volkoff screaming at [the Iron] Sheik, Brother Love beating up Jim Cornette, all of us just goofing off. Eventually Doink the Clown clotheslined me out of the ring on the wrong side and twisted my shoulders out of place. But, you know, it was WrestleMania and I will say walking out in front of 65,000 people was amazing in the Astrodome.”