Get a load of that headline!
Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese was one of the more popular ‘dual job’ gimmicks in the 1990s WWE that included plumbers, racing car drivers and hockey players.
Mike Droese joined the company in 1994 out of the Florida independent scene, transplanting his indie gimmick to the world stage to some degree of success. Whilst he never troubled the main event, we do remember him over 20 years later so an impression must have been made.
The highlight of his run was defeating Hunter Hearst Helmsley on the pre-show of the 1996 Royal Rumble, a win that granted him the coveted number 30 spot in the Rumble.
Around that time, a newcomer called The Ringmaster was joining WWE from WCW by way of a short sting in ECW. The Ringmaster was of course Steve Austin, a performer who had significant success in WCW and would go on to be the biggest wrestling star of all time.
But what happened when Droese was told he would be putting the future megastar over in his debut.
He refused, naturally. Droese picks up the story in an interview with Spencer Love of The WCSN:
“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 Bret [Hart] and he gave me that piece of advice 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 re-sign 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.
“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.”
Imagine being a fly on the wall for that conversation?
Droese had another fantastic tale to tell about how he joined the WWE in the first place by unusual means.
Rather than go through the usual channels, Droese decided to use his connections to sneak into the USA’s biggest TV convention instead:
“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 NATPE convention of TV executives, and that was my moment. I remember I just said, ‘I got to go there.'”
The only problem was NATPE was not a free for all. The entry fee for delegates was a not inconsiderable $500.
After convincing his boss at the beach club to petition one of their members, who was a TV executive, to lend Droese his entry badge, he was in and ready to pitch the most powerful man in wrestling face to face:
“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,” recalled Droese. “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, one was 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.
And the rest, is garbage dumping, bodyslamming, trash compacting, job refusing history.
Who won’t always have a soft spot for a guy like Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese?
Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcriptions.