Show: Interactive Wrestling Radio
Guest: Duke "The Dumpster" Droese
Your Hosts: James Walsh
We recently sat down with former WWE Superstar Duke "The Dumpster" Droese who spoke with us about Undertaker recently saying modern wrestling had become soft. He agrees. He also discusses his own struggles withd rug abuse and beyond in an exciting new interview you can check out below.
Droese is doing his own podcast called "Road to Recovery" which you can check out here!
To listen, visit www.WrestlingEpicenter.com.
DUKE "THE DUMPSTER" DROESE:
On returning to the public eye:
"It was just the past couple of years that I came out of my hole. I disappeared for a while. I wasn't really doing anything for a while."
On his podcast:
"My podcast is called Road to Recovery. A large part of my life now deals with working with people who have substance abuse problems which I had my issues with in the past which is why I disappeared for so long. It is called Road to Recovery but we don't just talk about substance abuse. We also talk about people who come back from difficult situations and find a way out, find redemption in their lives, and find a way to recovery. We have some really good guests on there and we also have a really good time. We play some funny games on there and have some really good conversations. I'm part of the same podcast network, WWAB - Wrestling with Anything But started by Avi Klein. He's got about 7 of us wrestlers under his network now. I'm really just thrilled and privileged to be part of it. Things are going great. And, yeah, Del Wilkes (The Patriot) is such a great guy."
On why his "day job" persona seemed more genuine than say a TL Hopper the plumber:
"Well, I think the reason is because I came up with it. I was wrestling as "The Garbage Man" Rocco Gibraltar down in Florida. I worked on it for a long time. The reason I did it is because I knew that was the kind of thing that Vince McMahon would probably grab ahold of. I remember the Big Bossman as the police or prison guard gimmick and it just felt like something the World Wrestling Federation would have in the late 80's, early 90's. It worked. It got me in. I pretty much just kept doing what I was doing except they changed the name to Duke "The Dumpster". The creative staff maybe went a little more in that (day jobs) direction after I came in. I don't take any credit for that. If I had something to do with it, great! But, people now seem to be looking back at those years in a nostalgic way. I'm really kind of proud of that. And, I'm meeting a lot of new fans because of that era I came from. It was a blast!"
On the time WWE made Jerry Lawler apologize for hitting him with a trash can:
"It was on the King's Court on RAW and it was live! Live! Live! Live! Live as you could get! (laughs) 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!" We were working with Jack Lanza who was the agent working with us. 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 deamed it too violent for the product at the time. Because, it was considered family entartainment... 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, immediatelya fter 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 ahd 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 (Lawler) 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."
On the Undertaker's recent remarks about modern wrestling being "soft::
"I don't really watch much modern wrestling. If something really cool happens, usually I'll watch it on YouTube. I don't really have TV. I don't have the Network or anything like that. So, I don't really keep up with it. But, I would tend to agree with Taker. It was just a different time. We had a much tougher road schedule, It was a much different company. It was still very much a "Mom & Pop" operation, Mom & Pop McMahon, obviously. There weren't share holders and all of that stuff. There wasn't a bunch of writers and a team a doctors in the back to help you if you got hurt. You know, we had to get along on our own. You had to be a certain kind of tough to make it on that schedule. It was rough! And, it was just a different breed of people. You know, later on when Vince opened up the "Entertainment" part of it and made it "World Wrestling Entertainment" and started doing movies, you had an influx of people who were not necessarily pro wrestling minded who were just trying to use it to get into movies or into different aspects of entertainment. It was just a different breed of guys. Now, that is not to say that people today aren't tough. They still beat their bodies up in all kinds of ways I'm sure. Certainly not as much... It is more of a TV product now than a road show. It was flipped back then. We were doing tons of live dates. But, I'd tend to agree with Taker on that. The talent has softened a bit. (laughs) That is not to say that they're weak or they're wimps. Bt, it took a special kind of tough to handle that road schedule back then."
On getting along with Undertaker, Bret Hart, & The Kliq backstage:
"Yeah, and I tried to. I mean, you could see things you didn't like. Especially Shawn (Michaels). He had so much power. Too much power for a lot of people's liking. But, that is just the way things were. For me, man, I was just having a good time. I've said this before but I was clueless to a lot of things. I was just having a blast. In a lot of ways, I was still just a wrestling fan working with all these guys. (laughs) I wasn't making much money. I was just happy to be there. And, I was not an official member of BSK (Undertaker's group opposite the Kliq). Let me just clarify that. There was a time, though, that everyone that wasn't in the Kliq was kind of an honorary member of BSK. Owen Hart had hats made for everybody. (laughs) We were just a bunch of guys hanving out in the same place. We were at the back of the bus playing Dominos on the European tour. But, the thing was, a lot of the time, the Kliq guys were back there playing Dominos with us. The folklore isn't all exactly true. You had to get along or you were going to just be miserable."
On leaving before the huge wrestling boom of the late 90's Attitude Era:
"For a long time, I regretted not being part of that. You talk about a time that was tailor made for me. If they would have let me bring some of my personality to my character, it would have been a totally different story. But, I will say this. At the time that I left, I was getting pretty heavy into taking the pain killers and the drugs and all of that stuff. Shortly after I left, Savio Vega called me and told me they (WWE) sent out a memo that they weren't drug testing anymore. They had stopped drug testing for a while. Where I am now, finally being away from drugs, I realize that if I had been around then, I probably would have become a statistic."
On memories of the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X7:
"First let me say that Bobby (Heenan) and Gene (Okerlund) were two of the best people and biggest class acts I ever met in the wrestling business and in life. I got to sit with Gene some at conventions here more recently before he passed and it was always a blast. They were both very nice and very gracious to me. At the time of the Gimmick Battle ROyal, I was still living down in Miami, Florida and I was in a bad place. I was so messed up on drugs that I had to go to the methadone clinic where you would stand in line in the morning to get their little methadone shot so you don't get dope sick from a lack of the opioids you were addicted to. When I went to WrestleMania, I had to get 3 days worth for the weekend so I wouldn't get really sick. If you look at me, I was really white and really skinny compared to when I wrestled... And, of course, I had a shaved head. As far as in the ring, we didn't really have to do much. We just walked around and punched each other and laughed. (laughs) Everybody goofing off. Eventually, Doink clotheslined me out of the ring on the wrong side and double twisted my shoulders."
On what brings him back to the wrestling public now:
"It is an interesting story. In 2013, I got into a lot of trouble. I live in Tennessee now. In 2009, I relapsed anyway. I was running with the wrong crowd. I got set up by one of those former friends and got busted. I had a teaching career... I lost everything. I just wanted to disappear from Earth. I wanted everyone to forget I ever existed, honestly. I got clean and sober, I went through a drug program. This was the second time I got clean and sober and I realized this time, I had to do it differently. I had to humble myself and I had to talk about the things I had gone through. I had to talk to people about these things and help them and in turn help myself. Around that time, I met a wrestling promoter in Central Tennessee named Scott Hensley. I mean, he literally kept asking me to make an appearance for his show. He asked for like 2 years. I always said "No thanks, "No thanks!" I didn't want to show my face. I was so embarrassed! Finally, I agreed. It wasn't even a great appearance for me. I looked so different that some people didn't even know who I was. But, I got to sign a few autographs. But, after that, I started getting friend requests. Instead of hiding like I had done for so long, I started accepting and interacting with the fans. They would send me pictures and videos of me in the ring and bring up stories and remind me of stories and I'd start telling stories on facebook. Within a matter of months, I went from 275 friends on Facebook to maxing out at 5,000. Different people would start talking about what I was doing and everyone was being nice. ANd, I realized, that is the way it should have been. It should ahve been fun! And now, I'm having fun."