During the 90s we saw a ton of outlandish gimmicks. As wrestling fans, we saw a dentist, a witch doctor, a doctor and even a clown. One of these was a garbage man from Florida named Duke “The Dumpster.”
Who In the World is “The Garbage Man”
Duke Droese came up through the independent circuit after training with the “Jamaican Jammer” Bobby Wells. With an amateur background from high school, Duke was already in shape and wanted to take it to the next level.
“WrestleMania I… It kind of showed me what wrestling could be.”
Like so many a young Droese was blown away by Vince McMahon’s spectacle during the 1980s. Throughout the early 90s, Droese wrestled as “The Garbage Man” including a tour taking him to the Islands wrestling in the Caribbean.
“They were wild (the fans)… I’m glad I was a babyface down there early on… If you were a heel and they turned on you, it could be dangerous, you had to be careful… I went down there to do a job “Haitian Sensation” and put him over strong, and these people wanted to kill me… I didn’t even do anything in the match, they chased me, they wanted blood.”
During this time Duke “The Dumpster” was born. While honing his skills on the independent circuit and the Islands he got wind of an event that Vince McMahon would be at and he took advantage of it.
Crashing a Party and Still Getting The Job
Using borrowed credentials from a friend in the media, Droese would in fact crash the party and cash in his media promotion package that night to Vince personally. This would be the tactic that would land him the gig.
“In a lot of ways, I was a fluke… I didn’t know anyone there.”
Coming in on the personal word of Vince McMahon didn’t come without a little heat. During his interview with Botched Spots and Chair Shots, Droese says he got more than a little heat for being “Vince’s guy.” Droese himself said this would be his eventual downfall inside the company. His overreliance on the personal relationship he developed with Vince.
“I had a developed my Garbage Man gimmick down in Florida… When I went to him, it was easy for him, they changed the name and it was a ready-made gimmick.”
The experience in the islands and the indies gave Droese the advantage of having a gimmick ready for television.
The Rumble + Working W/ a Young HHH
This self-declared “ready-made gimmick” come up during a very interesting point in wrestling history. He had a feud with a young Hunter Hurst Helmsley. During this point, he saw a very focused Helmsley. HHH was one of the few guys who stayed away from drugs and alcohol.
“I always say this about the Kliq with the bad rap they get. They could be pricks, but they loved the business. If you ever took the chance to listen to them talk wrestling, they truly loved the business. And so, did Hunter.”
During the conversation, Droese also dove into the process of planning for the Rumble in 1996. He explained the process of Pat Patterson writing the order out on a whiteboard. Enjoying their breakfast in catering, the roaster of participants would sit there and plan the entire match.
“It was kind of stupid proof, but some guys still messed it up.”
“You’d find the guy who goes out before you and know it’s your turn.” Droese would explain that sometimes you might get with the guy who eliminates you, to plan something specific to the spot.
WrestleMania X-7 and The Recovery Podcast
The business wasn’t always sunshine and roses for Droese. Towards the end of his tenure in WWE, the WWE Universe saw him participate in the Gimmick Battle Royal. This was a bad time for Droese as he admits to being on drugs for the match. This was when he knew he needed to turn his life around.
Now settled in the Middle Tennessee area Droese is sober and helping people through recovery. He hosts a weekly podcast “The Recovery Podcast” and “Trash Can Live.” Active in the community Droese uses his platform to raise awareness for substance abuse in and out of the world of wrestling.