Before They Were Superstars: Duke “The Dumpster” Droese

Not everybody is born to be a pro wrestler. For every Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, there are countless others wannabes that have to work their way up from the very bottom, often working other jobs on the side just to make ends meet as they pursue their dreams of turnbuckled glory. But these people are the true legends of wrestling, for they display unparalleled dedication, hard work, and a pure will to succeed.

Duke “The Dumpster” Droese is one of these people. And this is his story.

Duke Droese: Wrestling Legend

Duke Droese: Wrestling Legend

The following scene takes place in Mount Trashmore, Florida, circa 1993:


It’s mid-morning, not a cloud in the sky. A garbage truck, with two GARBAGEMEN hanging from the back, slowly rumbles down a very ordinary suburban street.

One of the garbagemen is DUKE DROESE. Dressed in plain blue coveralls and wearing a backwards baseball cap over his flowing mullet, Duke is in his mid-20s and built like a former college football player — a large frame (but not exactly chiselled from granite), standing about 6’6′” and tipping the scales close to 300 lbs. As the truck comes to a stop, Duke SIGHS and wipes his brow with his sleeve.

Duke half-heartedly hops off of the truck and walks towards the curb. His partner, BARRY, is already walking back to the truck, effortlessly carrying a garbage bag in each hand. Barry is older the Duke — lines of experience are etched into his tanned and leathery face.

Barry tosses a look of disappointment Duke’s way as he tosses the garbage into the back of the truck.

Come on, Duke. Move it.

Duke picks up an aluminum trash can from the curb and walks back to the truck.

How long has it been?

Has what been?

Duke starts emptying the contents of the trash can into the back of the truck.

Since you started working this shit job?

Barry shrugs.

Goin’ on eighteen years now, I reckon.

That’s a fuck of a long time, Barry.

Duke tosses the empty can towards the curb and steps onto his perch on the back of the garbage truck.

DUKE (cont’d)
A fuck of a long time.

Barry looks at Duke, hesitates, but says nothing. He steps onto his perch and bangs his fist on the side of the truck.

The truck lurches into motion and moves towards the next house. Mere seconds later, the truck stops again, and Duke and Barry hop off. Dozens of trash cans and garbage bags litter the sidewalk, while a pair of old tattered couches sit on the front lawn.

Huh. Looks like the Thompsons finally moved out.
Been talkin’ about it for some time, you know.

Duke and Barry both pick up a pair of trash cans and head back to the truck.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about moving, too.
Gonna go up north. Connecticut, probably.

Barry empties his trash cans into the truck.

That so?

I’m not like you, Barry. I got bigger things
planned for my life, you know?

Barry steps aside as Duke empties his trash cans.

DUKE (cont’d)
I took Frankie to that WWF show at the
Coliseum a couple weeks back. You know,
Hulk Hogan and all that shit? Well, it really got
me thinking, seeing all those big old bastards up there
doing their thing. I said to myself, holy shit, I could do that.
I could be a fucking  pro wrestler, no sweat.

Duke and Barry walk back to the curb, tossing the empty trash cans onto the lawn.

Lorenzo thinks you’re a real natural, you know.
He don’t say that ’bout too many garbagemen.

I know, I know. This ain’t easy. (beat)
It’s just that Frankie deserves better than
growing up in Mount Trashmore.

Duke sits down on the arm of one the old couches. He wipes the sweat from his brow.

Barry grabs another trash can and takes it back to the truck.

Hogan’s a real big fella, Duke.

Yeah, so?

Barry unloads the trash can.

I saw him doing autographs down at the mall.
Hands the size of hams, Duke. He could kill ya.

Barry nonchalantly tosses the empty can onto the lawn. He then takes a seat on the other arm of the couch and turns to face Duke.

BARRY (cont’d)
Please, think of Frankie. Think of Janine.
I’m sure Lorenzo will give ya a raise, if you ask.

You don’t believe me, do you?

Barry stands up. Turning his back to Duke, he reaches for another trash can.

Come on Duke. Move it.

Duke stands up.

No! Anything he can do, I can do better!

Duke bends at the knees, wraps his arms around the end of the couch, and with considerable effort, hoists it up to waist level. His legs tremble and shake.

Duke GRUNTS, his face turning red.

With considerable effort, Duke GROANS and lifts the entire couch up over his head for a brief second before slamming it to the ground.

(out of breath)
Yeah! You see that? Bodyslam, motherfucker!

Duke GRUNTS as he dives elbow first onto the broken couch. As he gets back to his feet, he kicks over one of the nearby trashcans, spilling its contents all over the sidewalk.

You see that, Hogan? I’m coming for you!
I’m gonna destroy you!

Duke picks up a garbage bag. Holding it at chest height, he SNARLS as he tears the bag open like Hulk Hogan tearing a T-shirt, his arms fully extended as he stretches the flimsy plastic.

Duke seems oblivious as old pizza crusts and dirty diapers land on his feet.

Duke drops the shredded remains of the garbage bag as he lets loose A PRIMAL, GUTTERAL SCREAM. He then crouches, arms resting on his knees, panting and out of breath.

Barry puts his hand on Duke’s shoulder.

Come on, Duke. Time to go.

Yeah. Time to go.

Duke slowly rises to his feet and follows Barry to the garbage truck. Barry climbs onto the back of the truck, but Duke stands his ground.

Go on without me, Barry. I’m done.

But what will you do?

I’m gonna get on the next bus to Connecticut,
march into Vince McMahon’s office,
and demand that he gives me a job!

BARRY pauses for a moment, then smiles.

If you say so, Duke. If you say so.

Barry pounds on the side of the garbage truck. It slowly drives away from Duke.

BARRY (cont’d)
What do you reckon I should tell Lorenzo?

Tell him that from this moment on, I am
a garbageman no longer! And when he sees me
next, it’ll be as WWF Heavyweight Champion
of the entire goddamn world!

A man of his word, Duke Droese made the trek to Titan Towers, and somehow, actually convinced Vince McMahon to give him a job as a professional wrestler. However, by that time, Hulk Hogan had already left the company, and Duke was saddled with the unfortunate moniker of “The Dumpster” due to his previous occupation and hilariously alliterative name. To make matters worse, McMahon really low-balled him on his contract, and to make ends meet Duke had to moonlight part-time as a garbageman in Stamford, Connecticut. He truly could not escape his destiny.

Duke “The Dumpster” Droese would go on to have a remarkable unnoteworthy career in the WWF, but dammit, he followed his dreams, and for that, he is a true legend of wrestling. And we salute him.

Duke Droese: Wrestling Legend

Duke Droese: Wrestling Legend