Former WWE Superstar Duke “The Dumpster” Droese was recently the guest on the Steve Austin Show. Here are some highlights…
On refusing to job to Steve Austin:
“I pretty much got myself into the sh*t storm ‘cause I started taking it all personally. You know how it is. There’s lots of broken promises and what ended up happening – if you remember correctly when you [Steve Austin] came in is when I started to kind of get pissed off about things. I was supposed to wrestle you and I respectfully declined: one of my many great career moves. I’m not gonna job to the future biggest fu*king star in the business, no. I stood my ground. Once in awhile you’ve got to stand your ground with what they’re doing with you and that’s the point where I was at, so at that point I basically asked Vince McMahon, ‘Dude, what do I got to do to improve my position?’ At that point, I was killing it in the gym, getting in shape, working on my ring work, all these things and it just felt like they were taking me further and further down. I got frustrated and of course, you know Vince, ‘Well, pal you’re doing it now.’ Big bullsh*t line. It felt like he was promising the moon and the stars and the biggest push to come….and they just kinda moved me to opening match, mid-card, babyface, doing jobs for all the new guys that came in. That’s when I really started to get pissed off and frustrated and letting it get to me and that’s where I really started making much bigger mistakes.
On his drug use:
“I came in with the attitude that I wasn’t gonna drink and get messed up and go out and party all the time. I’m gonna be very serious. I’m gonna build my name and work really hard and do it that way and probably 4 months in, I just remember walking into a hotel room and I was rooming with Bob Holly at the time and he looked at me and I walked in and I stuck my tongue out and I had like two Xanax bars on my tongue and he just looked at me and goes, ‘Wow dude, you’ve changed.’ It steam rolled from that point and became a situation where you had a cocktail for every occasion; getting out of bed in the morning, getting to the gym, getting to the building, getting into the ring, getting out of the ring. When I started out I tried to be mister straight and narrow and that didn’t last very long.”
On evading drug tests:
“It was Luna Vachon who filled me in on the loophole gimmick for the drug tests. She said, ‘As long as you write it on the paper what you’re taking, you don’t have to show them a prescription.’ You just had to write it. As long as you wrote it – I didn’t even know how to spell half of the occasions. [laughter] You don’t spell Xanax with a Z [laughter]. I used that loophole, big time.”
On backstage politics in WWE:
“My expectations in the beginning were very unrealistic. I thought I was gonna be this big star [laughter] and you learn real quick, the grind, and if you’re not smartened up to the money, if you’re not smartened up to the politics right away, you better learn that stuff real fast or you’re not gonna last and that’s kinda what happened to me. I went up there with stars in my eyes thinking I was gonna be this big star just based on the merits of my ability to work, especially I considered myself a big guy that can move in the ring. I found out real quick that there’s a whole lot more to this business than just what goes on in the ring actually. It’s not necessarily the best wrestlers that are gonna get the best accolades and the push and the things of that nature because sometimes the business works different and it’s all a matter of getting smartened up to that stuff when I first came in, so I was kinda behind the eight ball. That’s why I was like the goofy little brother running around making stupid noises and making everybody laugh because I was just there to have fun a lot of the time. That was just what my attitude was. I was gonna be friends with everybody. I was gonna make everybody laugh. We were gonna have a good time and I was gonna be the biggest partyer in the room and unfortunately you end up being out of the business because one of the few things that happens is you’re gonna end up not surviving it, or like me you’re gonna end up, like me, losing your sh*t and losing your mind a bit and working yourself out of the business. I’ll never forget and that saying of Randy Savage’s always rang in my ears, ‘Don’t ever take yourself out of the game. Don’t ever take yourself out of the game.’ That’s exactly what I ended up doing. Like I said, I wasn’t smartened up to that stuff.”
On what he made his first year in WWE:
“The money wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I thought that that was the big time and you were gonna come in and make great money. Of course they offer you that ridiculous guaranteed contract: 10 matches a year for $150 per match, $1,500 per year. That’s your guarantee. I don’t suspect anybody down there working for [Ted] Turner had that guaranteed contract….but, that was the guarantee and J.J. Dillon used to always say, ‘But, of course, you’re gonna make more than that.’ [laughter] I haven’t heard many people to do this, but I’ll go ahead and be honest. My first year I’ll tell you exactly what I made. I made $24,000 fu*king dollars and that was before expenses and taxes: $24,000…after expenses and taxes I think it was just below the poverty line. That year’s salary was just below the poverty line.”
Huskie Howard is the owner and editor-in-chief of WrestleFix.com. He is a long time contributor to WrestleOhio.com, where he is known for his extensive coverage of Ohio pro wrestling and interviews with the stars of the Ohio pro wrestling scene.