Del Wilkes, better known in the wrestling circuit as The Patriot, was a recent guest on the WINCLY to talk about his time in the WWE, and his battle with pill addiction during that run. Wilkes also recalls the CTE lawsuit against the Vince McMahon that he eventually pulled out of, and briefly discusses getting injured during his tenure in Japan. Highlights are below.
Hiding his addiction during his WWE run in the Attitude Era:
To my knowledge, when I was working for Vince, no one knew I had that problem. Those problems didn’t come to light until I confessed that I was dealing with these injuries and a horrible addiction at the time. I felt I covered my tracks pretty well. I remember the podcast I did with Steve [Austin] on the number of pills I was taking, and he was taken aback by it because I don’t think anyone there would have looked at me and thought I was a junkie.
Getting hurt in Japan:
I started getting hurt quite regularly. I tore a tricep, had it repaired and went back to work too soon and tore it again. I had a staph infection. I blew my knee out. When I got to Vince I was already on borrowed time and I tried to cover it up the best I could. I felt if they knew the kind of condition I was in, it could cost me money or years on the contract. It eventually caught up to me and I couldn’t continue to go. So, I didn’t get hurt while I was there as when I arrived there my body was shot.
On how beat up he was when he joined WWE:
When I signed that three-year deal with Vince, I was damaged goods. I didn’t get injured in a WWF ring. I went to work for Vince a damaged man; my body was shot.
How he was in a bad place with prescription drugs:
I was in a bad place when I got there not only injury-wise but with the drug issue. I had gotten into a mess with these prescription drugs. It took the pain away and allowed me to work and do what I was paid a lot of money to do. Fast forward to 1997 and I’ve got many more injuries and much more serious injuries. My pain pill intake was going from two (a day) to up to 120 a day. And you mix all of the other muscle relaxers and sleeping pills, it’s a wonder that I lived through that. It did get worse after I retired as it even got worse than that. It got to a dangerous, dangerous level of narcotics I was using.
Health insurance for wrestlers:
I think it’s a good thing to offer those and yes, they should be offered. But honestly, I don’t think it would have had an effect on me. I had health insurance and just don’t foresee a difference with me no matter what they would have done at that point in time. Now maybe if they would have drug tested me and threatened to take me off the road, maybe that would have done something. I don’t know.
The CTE lawsuit against WWE that he dropped out of:
Well it’s a very real, serious issue. Big time. I was contacted by the lawyer that had the suit against the WWE and Vince on these concussions. I initially signed up to be a part of the lawsuits, but then after reflecting on it I contacted the guy and said I want no part of this. Any injury or concussion I suffered never happened in a WWE ring, so why would I hold Vince McMahon responsible and sue him. Having said all that, it is a real serious issue. So I think anything we can do to make football or pro wrestling safer, I’m all for it.
Check out the full interview below.
(H/T and transcribed by Wrestling Inc.)