Published on March 18th, 2017 | by Joey Finnegan0
Misfortunes and Miracle
We move onto Darren Drozdov, AKA Puke (for his ability to vomit on command), AKA Droz, also a former football player. He is currently a quadriplegic due to a disastrous incident which took place during a SmackDown taping on October 5th, 1999 at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. His opponent was D’Lo Brown.
As the best theory goes, Droz didn’t get the proper jump to aid in D’Lo’s running powerbomb, while Brown himself couldn’t get a good grip because of Drozdov’s loose shirt. This resulted in Droz crashing to the mat in a gruesome manner, leaving him paralyzed. It was a true accident. Footage of this injury currently sits inside the WWE vault, alongside the tape of Owen Hart’s fall at Over The Edge 1999. Instructions on both read: Never view, copy, or destroy.
These are the only two pieces of WWE footage with this guidance.
As Mick Foley tells it in his book “Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling,” while on a stretcher, Droz made it a point to tell D’Lo Brown not to blame himself.
That must’ve been a tall order.
D’Lo, for his part, had this to say:
“Do you feel comfortable talking about Darren Drozdov’s injury?”
“Yeah, I do. Um, not one of my (pauses, a clear change happening as his mood turns blue) definitely not one of my brighter days. Probably the worst day of my life. Talking, in terms of wrestling and real life. Um (pauses) just, uh, that’s an instant downer for me.”
“When was the last time you spoke to him?”
“Probably about, um, six months ago. He and I, we were never close before the accident and, um, I don’t know how an accident can draw two people closer. And then, there’s heat with his wife and me for some reason, I don’t know. You know, she puts a lot of blame on things. Droz and I have talked about it on several occasions. We don’t know what went wrong.
Out of respect, we don’t watch the tape. I can clear up a few [misconceptions]. It wasn’t a fan throwing ice in the ring, throwing garbage in the ring, and I didn’t slip. It was just, and it could’ve been anybody in the ring with him that night. It just happened to be me. It happened to be my sad misfortune to be in the ring, and because of that, you know, a man’s paralyzed.
People ask me all the time, does that affect me? Hell yeah. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be human. For probably about a year, I wrestled differently. I second-guessed everything I did and that, that-that was probably- I should’ve just taken- I mean, I should’ve taken time off. And if it hadn’t been for Jim Ross really talking to me, I was gonna quit the business. I was done.
I was this close to saying, “The hell with it.” I couldn’t- ’cause, no one ever got hurt on my watch. No one has since. You know? And someone is trusting me to give me their body. I want them to walk out of the ring in the same condition they came in, and that’s one thing I prided myself on. Really, I was really close to quitting. Like I said, Jim Ross sat down with me.
We had a long, long, probably three-hour conversation full of football references and how we all know the risks going into the game. How it could’ve been anybody. He eventually turned me around and made me want to continue wrestling. But that accident not only affected me professionally, but personally. I mean, I was a whole different person.
You know, I almost separated from my fiancé during that time. I’m not a party guy, but all of a sudden, I was just living life like there was no tomorrow. Ass wide open. Just gone. Because I didn’t know what to do and that was my way of- I was depressed and I didn’t know it. So my way of trying to get rid of my depression was to party.
That took about a year, where I didn’t know really what was going on.”
In an interview with Jim Ross for Fox Sports, Darren Drozdov spoke about the accident and his thoughts regarding Brown, “I have no hard feelings toward D’Lo because shit happens and everyone who gets involved in athletics, including WWE, knows the risks that exist. It was an accident.”
While Chuck Austin’s story shows us the importance of proper training, Droz and D’Lo’s stirs a much scarier thought: even the most technically sound wrestlers can suffer horrible misfortune. On any given night, a performer can get injured due to an accident.