Duke Droese has spoken candidly has spoken candidly about his appearance in the WWE WrestleMania 17 Gimmick Battle Royale.
A fixture in an era of characters within the company, Droese was the trashman of WWE and the crowds were behind his antics taking out the trash.
However, speaking openly with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, Droese has discussed the fact that he wasn’t originally scheduled to be part of the battle of the gimmicks on the grandest stage of them all.
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.
Eventually won by The Iron Sheik, Droese joined many of the company’s top characters in the match five years after he originally left.
Despite the fact he was part of the match, it wasn’t a fond memory for Droese.
Part of the discussion involved what drugs he was on going in to the match and his coping mechanisms for getting through it.
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.
Whilst many hold the Gimmick Battle Royale in high regard for having the opportunity to see their childhood heroes in the squared circle again, this is a shining example of some of the battles these wrestlers go through – and hopefully they can then still take the positive from those moments.