Droz (wrestler)

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Droz
Born (1969-04-07) April 7, 1969 (age 47)
Mays Landing, New Jersey[1]
Alma mater University of Maryland
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Darren Drozdov
Darren Laxingham
DD Da Death Dude
Droz
Drozzy King Lake
Puke
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2]
Billed weight 250 lb (110 kg)[2]
Debut 1997
Retired 1999[2]

Darren A. Drozdov (born April 7, 1969) is an American essayist, former football player and retired professional wrestler who competed in the World Wrestling Federation in 1998 to 1999 under the ring names Puke and Droz. Drozdov is quadriplegic due to a neck injury sustained from a botched wrestling maneuver, but has regained most of the use of his upper body and arms.

Drozdov was born in the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, New Jersey.

Football career[edit]

Darren Drozdov
No. 97
Position: Nose tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1969-04-07) April 7, 1969 (age 47)
Place of birth: Mays Landing, New Jersey
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 281 lb (127 kg)
Career information
High school: Mays Landing (NJ) Oakcrest
College: Maryland
Undrafted: 1993
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Drozdov, as a 6' 3", 245 lb quarterback in high school, threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lou Rothman to win the last game of the 1985 regular season to finish the season with a perfect 10-0 record. Drozdov set an Atlantic County, New Jersey record in track & field in the shot put event. He was All-State in football at Oakcrest High School in South Jersey.[3] After a stint at Fork Union Military Academy, he attended the University of Maryland and was a defensive tackle for the Terrapins. He culminated his collegiate career by graduating with a B.S. in Criminal justice.

Before his wrestling career, Drozdov was a professional American football player for a few seasons with the National Football League (NFL)'s New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos.[4] He gained some notoriety (and the nickname "Puke") when he vomited on television during a Monday Night Football game directly onto the football before the center could snap it. A 1993 Sports Illustrated article stated that he had vomited at nearly every game that season[5] and would reportedly see a psychiatrist for a "chronic vomiting" problem. Apparently, many in the football industry found his antics bizarre and appalling.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Drozdov originally competed on the independent wrestling circuit under the ring names of Drozzy King Lake, Darren "Ripping Yarns" Laxingham and DD Da Death Dude.

Drozdov appeared with Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1997-1998, where he formed a stable of "invaders" from the WWF with Lance Wright, Brakkus, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon.[6][7][8][9]

World Wrestling Federation (1998–1999)[edit]

Drozdov made his World Wrestling Federation (WWF) debut in 1998.[1] He claimed the natural ability to regurgitate on command, and WWF management decided to use this as his gimmick. In the documentary Beyond the Mat, his meeting with Vince McMahon is shown, with McMahon requesting Drozdov to vomit into a trashcan in his office.

He was first featured in dark matches and on WWF Shotgun Saturday Night. He debuted on the May 25, 1998 episode of Raw is War as an associate of the tag team, the Legion of Doom. Dubbed Puke, he was the unofficial third member of the group.

In late 1998, Droz competed in the WWF Brawl for All tournament, making it to the semifinals before losing to Bradshaw.

Droz was involved in a confrontation involving L.O.D. member Hawk's alcoholism. In this confrontation, Hawk was seen by his partner Animal as unfit to wrestle and Droz was tapped to take Hawk's place in the tag team. The situation ended with accusations that he had been the "enabler" of Hawk's problems and had dosed the L.O.D. member to take his place in the team. During this segment, Hawk was shown to have fallen off the TitanTron. The feud culminated at the UK pay-per-view WWF Capital Carnage when the L.O.D. team of Droz and Animal took on The Headbangers. During the match, Droz entered the ring to defend Animal who was on the receiving end of an illegal double-team by The Headbangers. While the referee was occupied ushering Thrasher out of the ring, Mosh rolled up Droz, and the referee turned around and made the three count. Animal, enraged that Puke got involved, began to brawl with him before walking away from the ring in disgust, effectively ending Droz's run with L.O.D.

After Droz's stint with the L.O.D., efforts were made to rebrand his persona, including one involving a series of skits called Droz's World, where he would tell stories about his life as a professional wrestler. He started to come into his own after turning heel. He started to build a stable of wrestlers who shared his bizarre lifestyle. He added Prince Albert to his faction as his personal "body piercing artist" and Key, allegedly to be Droz's dealer.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Drozdov #142 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1999.[10]

Injury[edit]

Droz's active wrestling career ended suddenly when he suffered a severe neck injury during a match with D'Lo Brown during a WWF SmackDown! taping on October 5, 1999 at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Droz, in an interview, states he was wearing a loose shirt during the match. When Brown went for his signature running powerbomb, he was not able to gain a proper grip on him while Droz was unable to execute a proper jump to aid in the lifting of the powerbomb.

Droz landed on his head, and fractured two discs in his neck.[11] He was immediately rushed to Nassau County Medical Center, where he underwent hours of surgery to reduce and stabilize the pressure on his injured neck. Because the match was pre-taped, it was not aired to fans during the October 7 broadcast and has never been shown to the public. However, the footage of him being taken out on a stretcher has been seen in WWE's "Don't Try This at Home" public service announcements.

Even with intensive medical care, his injury initially left him a quadriplegic with essentially no movement below the neck. Droz has since regained movement in his upper body and arms, as can be seen in a shoot interview online (he holds his right arm up to the camera at one point). (The medical definition of quadriplegia requires only that some impairment exist in all four limbs; many quadriplegics with injuries to one or more lower cervical vertebrae have fully functioning arms but impairment of the fingers.)

Fellow wrestler Mick Foley recounts in his 2001 book Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, that he was at the hospital with D'Lo Brown after the match. Brown was extremely upset at what had happened. Foley tells how Droz (on a stretcher) told Brown not to blame himself and that it was an accident.

In a 2014 interview with Jim Ross for FOX Sports, Droz said that he still believed that the incident was an accident and holds no animosity towards Brown for his injury.[4]

Post-injury[edit]

Droz continued to work for the WWE as a writer and columnist following his accident and wrote articles and essays for website and magazine content. He also became a recurring guest on the WWE Byte This! internet show, commenting on his opinions regarding talents or upcoming matches. For several years, he also wrote articles with his predictions for each WWE pay-per-view.

During an internet rant, The Ultimate Warrior was responding to an invite by WWE to appear on Byte This! following the release of the controversial DVD The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior; in response to the invite, Warrior infamously referred to Droz as "the cripple."

Droz also made an appearance on the Life and Death of the Road Warriors DVD in 2005, discussing his run with the group in 1998. In September 2007, Droz was named honorary captain for a Maryland Terrapins football game against Villanova University.

Personal life[edit]

Drozdov married fellow WWE employee Julie Youngberg in 1999, only days after his accident. He later stated that the one thing he would like to do would be to walk Julie down the aisle. The two divorced in late 2005.

Drozdov currently uses a customized, tank-like wheelchair that was designed and financed by his college friend, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.[4]

In wrestling[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Droz". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Darren Drozdov". 
  4. ^ a b c Ross, Jim. "WWE's Darren Drozdov thrives 15 years after being paralyzed during match". FOX Sports. Retrieved August 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ King, Peter. "The End Zone." Sports Illustrated. 9/20/93, Vol. 79, Issue 12
  6. ^ Forbes, Chris (January 3, 2003). "5 Yrs Ago: ECW Arena Report - Storm, Lynn, Snow, RVD, Dudleys". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  7. ^ Powell, Jason (January 6, 2003). "5 Yrs Ago: ECW - Storm & Candido win titles, Dudleys, Tazz, Snow". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ Powell, Jason (January 28, 2003). "5 Yrs Ago: ECW - Snow, Dreamer, Taz, RVD, Nicole Bass". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ Powell, Jason (May 4, 2003). "Lynn, Snow, Heyman, Storm, Tazz, RVD - ECW TV 5 Yrs Ago". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Droz « Wrestler-Datenbank « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". 
  11. ^ "Wrestler Is Injured In L.I. Competition." The New York Times. New York, NY. October 7, 1999. pg B8.
  12. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Droz « Wrestler-Datenbank « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". 
  13. ^ "Droz". 
  14. ^ a b c d World Wrestling Entertainment (1998-11-15). "The J.O.B. Squad vs The Legion of Doom 2000". WWF Sunday Night Heat. 

External links[edit]