Duke “The Dumpster” Droese worked the indie scene in Florida for a couple of years before landing with WWF in 1994. His garbage man gimmick was known as Rocco Gibraltar in Florida and the character followed him to the WWF.
How Droese came onto WWF’s radar is an interesting story and he discussed his first meeting with Vince McMahon when he talked to Spencer Love of the WCSN.
“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 and a wrestling match all put together on it. I had a written résumé 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 Coup de Ville and go to all the old territories to find a job,” stated Droese.
“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.'”
One of the members at the beach club was a TV executive and Droese convinced his boss to get the executive to give Droese his credentials. He then put on a suit and walked into the convention with the credentials which helped him avoid paying a $500 fee 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,” 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.
“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.”
Droese was a low-card talent in WWF and never held a championship or even competed in a match for one. But he did have leverage at one point and he talked about how he used that to refuse a job to Stone Cold Steve Austin in his WWF debut as The Ringmaster.
“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,” stated Droese. “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.
“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.”
Seeing that The Ringmaster eventually became Stone Cold Steve Austin, Droese was asked if he has any regrets at not getting in the ring with Austin.
“Ah, man, there were so many things I have regrets about, but I’ve learned that I had to kind of own up to a lot of things that I did incorrectly as far as the business was concerned. But no, I don’t necessarily regret it,” stated Droese. “Again, I wish I had taken more of a stand for myself and done things differently ? had more creative ideas. That’s where people miss out. People think they just complain and things change for them. No, if you’re gonna complain, or you don’t want to do something, you better have three better ideas on deck and I didn’t understand that concept back then.”
Droese was a face for most of his WWF run outside of a short-lived heel run during the middle of his tenure. He discussed who the catalyst was for that heel run and why it stopped so quickly.
“I think it was that they just decided not to turn me, or at least they didn’t turn me right away. But it was during that short stint that Bill Watts came in (1995) and was gonna take control. He was the one that had me go out and wrestle heel against Marty Jannetty on TV,” recalled Droese. “It was a good match, and the people responded to me as a heel, but it just didn’t go any further after that. It’s just kind of how it worked out. And then, of course, Bill Watts was gone, so I think anything he was coming up with, they just kind of swept under the rug and moved on.”
As part of his planned heel run, there was talk of pairing Droese up with Ted DiBiase who was a manager at that time and was building the Million Dollar Corporation. Ultimately, the idea never came to fruition but Droese talked about whose idea it was.
“That was what Vince Russo came up with when he was the editor of the magazine. He ? well I won’t say he came up with that ? the office came up with it but Vince Russo, that was one of the first stories he kind of ran with and really got creative with in the magazine. It was a very large spread in the WWF magazine; it was a really good story and it looked like they were going with it,” said Droese. “And then, again, something just happened and they didn’t go with it. I don’t know if DiBiase didn’t want to do it or Vince just got turned off to the idea, but they just changed their mind. I just kind of went back to being a mid-card heel for the time being. That’s just kind of how it happened.”