Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese On First Meeting Vince McMahon, Refusing to Put Over Steve Austin

Jul 28, 2020 - by James Walsh

WWE alumnus Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese recalled his first meeting with Vince McMahon, refusing to job to Steve Austin and more in a new interview with Spencer Love on the Conversations With Love podcast. The show sent out some highlights that you can check out below, along with the full audio.

On how he’s doing during the pandemic: “Everything’s going fine man. You know, things are slowly but surely kind of getting back to normal. Where I live, it’s in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Tennessee. Everything’s cool here, and I can’t complain, man. I’m very happy. I’ve been doing a lot of wrestling related stuff, appearances like this and autograph sessions and just got interacting with fans. So yeah, things are great right now.”

On why he still doesn’t watch wrestling: “I always say – yeah, people say ‘when did you quit watching?’ It was the Katie Vick incident. What I’ll see is I’ll see people talk about certain matches on social media in the comment sections. I’ll listen to people argue about wrestling and if something catches my interest, I’ll go check it out on YouTube or something. I don’t have – I don’t even own a television. I don’t watch TV. I don’t have any of this stuff. I don’t have the WWE Network or any of that kind of stuff. I do have internet with like YouTube. But yeah, that’s about the extent of it. I don’t watch any of the current wrestling except to catch something after the fact.”

On if he still considers himself a wrestling fan: “Yes, I would. But, I would tend to try and watch – I’m still a fan of a lot of the older stuff. I just joined a group on Facebook that is strictly Championship Wrestling from Florida from the old days, and I love watching that because that’s the stuff I grew up on. I love watching the old WWF stuff, older than my time even, but I do still consider myself a fan. One of the other reasons, besides the Katy Vick incident, that I stopped watching wrestling was – and this is the truth, and a lot of wrestlers will say this – is a lot of the storylines are the same. It’s the same old thing rehashed over and over and all they do is they just plug in new names. Basically, a lot of the storylines are things they’ve done many times over and over and over again. So from our standpoint, it can kind of be a bit tedious. But again, I will try to – if something’s spurs my interest, I’ll try to catch it maybe on a replay or on YouTube or something like that.”

On his tryout with WWE and first meeting with Vince McMahon: “Well, it was interesting I was, as we just talked about, I put together this promo package and I made like 30 copies of it, a VHS tape with a highlight reel, a promo, a highlight reel and a wrestling match all put together on it. I had a written resume typed up off of a typewriter, and I had photos done. 8×10’s of Rocco Gibraltar. I was gonna ride around the country in my old 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille and go to all the old territories to find a job. Right as I was finishing college at the University of Miami in 1993, as I was getting all this together, I was reading the paper one day at my work. I was working at this private beach club as a night watchman, and I read the article that they were interviewing Hulk Hogan locally at some convention about the steroids scandal because he was at WCW now. He talked a little bit about it. And then, the last sentence of the article said ‘Vince McMahon, who was also at the convention had no comment,’ and I realized Vince McMahon was in my town in Miami Beach at the convention center at the NATPE convention of TV executives, and that was my moment. I remember I just said, ‘I got to go there.’ It was interesting. One of the members of this private beach club I worked at was a TV executive at (the) local channel too. My boss knew him and called him and he gave me his credentials. I put on a suit, and I put on his credentials and walked in the door like I was a TV executive, and nobody asked. Otherwise, you had to pay like $500 to get in. I just walked in like I worked at the TV station. I just saw Vince by himself and walked right up to him, I didn’t give myself a chance to think about it, and I just pitched him. I said who I was, I wanted to work for him. I’ve been wrestling for several years and I just graduated college. He asked me a few questions. Like, one was he asked me why I wanted to do it since I graduated college. I told him it was my dream. After that, I got out of his face and got out of that building as fast as I could … By the time I got to the car, man, I was pretty much hyperventilating. I couldn’t believe what I just done, but I did it. Basically, they – JJ Dillon was the Head of Talent Relations at the time, and he called me about a week later. So Vince, apparently Vince and Shane McMahon watched the tape together and decided they wanted to bring me in.”

On WWE changing up his character: “Well, I will tell you the thing that happened. I was doing certain things as the Garbage Man Rocco Gibraltar in Florida, and I was getting over. I remember one thing: I was cutting promos like Road Warrior Hawk. I was just screaming in my promos. Well, that was the first thing they stopped, you know, and you want to make everybody happy, and you think you’ve got to listen to everything that the backstage agents tell you to do. So, I listened. They said, ‘Don’t yell. We don’t do that here,’ and they started changing things about the way I presented the character. So not only did they change the name, but slowly but surely, because I let them they, started changing the character. Knowing what I know now, I would have stuck to my guns and kept doing it the way I was doing it in Florida and just got over because that’s the name of the game, get yourself over, and then you make money and then you get the big matches with the major players. But, I got so wrapped up in trying to make everybody happy and being worried that I didn’t want to piss anybody off that I kind of started losing parts of what Duke the Dumpster was.”

On his storyline with Jerry Lawler: “Yeah, again, it was a situation where knowing what I know now I would have stood up more for myself, because when we did that angle on Monday Night Raw, he hit me with my own garbage can, and that freaked them out because they said it was too violent. They came back on TV and they apologized for it. They even had him take this comedy routine on the next Superstars show where he was apologizing, and it was just kind of killing it. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have pulled Shane McMahon aside, because Shane came running up to me in the back right afterwards, and I would have said ‘Listen, we need to keep this. This is good heat.’ I would have called a meeting with Vince, and I would have pled my case and tried to get it put on. But again, I was just so worried about pissing people off that I was so worried that I was gonna get in trouble for doing that. It just killed it. We didn’t even do a pay per view out of it. We ended up on a Monday Night Raw match for a blow-off, and that was it. We could have got so much more out of it.”

On refusing to job to Steve Austin: “I did refuse to do a job, and that was that job that I refused to do. But, it was a combination of things. It was I was completely frustrated. I was riding with Brett and he gave me that piece of advice [to take a stand]. And, also, my initial two-year contract was almost over. So, that was probably the only reason they listened to me, was because my contract was almost up and they wanted me to resign for another year so they could just beat me down again, basically. But yeah, it was a combination of things, and that’s just kind of how it worked out. But, yeah, the actual person I was supposed to wrestle that night was the Ringmaster in his first match in the World Wrestling Federation. And I refused to do it. But of course, I pulled Steve aside and I told him what was up, he was completely understanding and we became very good friends after that.”

On if he was a victim of backstage politics: “I don’t think – as far as the other wrestlers, I don’t think they necessarily felt threatened by me because I was getting over with the fans so much. I just think – Bruce Prichard recently said on his podcast that Duke the Dumpster was too nice for the wrestling business. I tried to be everybody’s friend and I was probably too nice for the wrestling business. That worked against me in a lot of ways, because at certain times, you’ve gotta be a prick in the wrestling business, and I didn’t know that. I was just so worried about not piercing people off and not stepping on toes that everybody stepped all over me. So that’s kind of how it worked.”

On returning for the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-7: “Well, I tried to come back, and they made me try out, which was interesting. It’s like ‘Why do you need to see me try out if you already know how I wrestle?’ And I also had to try out about the same time with WCW. I was trying to get into both. I wanted to get into either one. It was interesting because during the time I was getting ready for those tryouts, I asked again, I asked advice from a couple of people. One was Bret Hart. One was Steve Austin. I asked what they thought I should do and Bret Hart said do both of them. That was the professional thing to do. And Austin, who you could tell he was getting ready to take off but he had not fully – I mean, he was on his rise. But anyway, he said, Austin said, ‘just pick one, because these are very vindictive people, and if you do both, you’ll probably piss everybody off.’ Well, once again, I took the wrong advice. I took Bret Hart’s advice, and I did both. Apparently I pissed everybody off because they didn’t bring me back in. So then fast forward. By the time I came around for WrestleMania 17, I was severely addicted to drugs. I was going to a methadone clinic in Miami. So I was in no shape to wrestle. In fact, I had to bring some methadone on the road with me, so I didn’t get sick during the WrestleMania weekend. So I was just kind of hiding in the locker room. I really didn’t want to see a lot of people. It was just a kind of weird feeling. Everybody was really nice to me, but I was just happy to get in and get out of there and get the payday because, like I said, I was in no condition to wrestle. At that point, I wasn’t trying to come back. I was just trying to get a payday and get out of there.”

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