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Darren Adrian Drozdov (born April 7, 1969) is an American essayist, former football player and retired professional wrestler who competed in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from 1998-99 under the ring names Puke and Droz.

Droz
Birth nameDarren Adrian Drozdov
Born (1969-04-07) April 7, 1969 (age 50)
Mays Landing, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Alma materUniversity of Maryland
Spouse(s)
Julie Youngberg
(m. 1999; div. 2005)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Darren Drozdov
Darren Laxingham
DD Da Death Dude
Droz
Drozzy King Lake
Puke
Billed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2]
Billed weight250 lb (110 kg)[2]
DebutNovember 1997
RetiredOctober 5, 1999[2]

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 careerEdit

Darren Drozdov
No. 97
Position:Nose tackle
Personal information
Born: (1969-04-07) April 7, 1969 (age 50)
Mays Landing, New Jersey
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:281 lb (127 kg)
Career information
High school:Oakcrest High School
(Mays Landing, New Jersey)
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, Drozdov 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.[citation needed]

Before his wrestling career, Drozdov was a professional American football player for three seasons with the National Football League (NFL)'s New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos.[4] He garnered a measure of 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.[citation needed]

Professional wrestling careerEdit

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. He appeared with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) from 1997–98, 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 first wrestled in dark matches and on WWF Shotgun Saturday Night. He debuted on Raw is War on the May 25, 1998 episode as an associate of the Legion of Doom. Dubbed Puke, he was the unofficial third member of the group. In late 1998, he 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 been pushed off the TitanTron by Droz.

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, Drozdov 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 Drozdov, 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 Drozdov's run with L.O.D.

After Drozdov'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. Drozdov 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]

Career ending injuryEdit

Drozdov'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 vertebrae 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). However 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.[citation needed]

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 reiterated that the incident was an accident and that he holds no animosity towards Brown for his injury.[4]

Post-injuryEdit

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.

Drozdov 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 lifeEdit

Drozdov continues to reside in South Jersey with his sister and her family. Drozdov requires 24-hour in-home care and is required to take multiple medications daily in addition to needing to lie flat for long periods of time. With the assistance of his medical staff, and continued support from WWE, he is able to sustain a degree of independence.[12]

Drozdov married WWE seamstress Julie Youngberg in 1999, 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 uses a customized, tank-like wheelchair that was designed and financed by his college friend, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  2. ^ a b c "Droz". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  3. ^ "Darren Drozdov IMDb profile". Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  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, September 20, 1993, 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 September 22, 2012.
  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". Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Wrestler Is Injured In L.I. Competition." The New York Times. New York, NY. October 7, 1999. pg B8.
  12. ^ Ross, Jim (December 16, 2014). "WWE's Darren Drozdov thrives 15 years after being paralyzed during match". foxsports.com. Retrieved October 19, 2017.

External linksEdit