Darren Drozdov Death – Undisclosed Causes

1969-2023 (54)

darren drozdov dead

Darren “Droz” Drozdov stood out from the crowd in the WWF

Darren Drozdov was a former wrestler whose career prematurely ended but who lived an inspiring life for nearly 24 years after an in-ring accident.

Born on April 7, 1969, Darren Drozdov was a gifted athlete who set regional records as a track and field athlete and also excelled as a high school football quarterback.

He played football for the University of Maryland and according to The New York Times, “he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.” He later played in the National Football League and Canadian Football League.

darren drozdov football player and wrestler, paralyzed

He’s Gonna Puke!

Darren Drozdov transitioned from football to professional wrestling, working in Extreme Championship Wrestling for what wrestler Tazz described as “a half a cup of coffee.”

Drozdov hit the big time when he joined the WWF, with a special gift that seemingly sealed the deal with WWF kingpin Vince McMahon. As detailed in the documentary Beyond the Mat, Drozdov had the uncanny ability to vomit upon command, a talent he showed to Vince McMahon.

In 2023, former WWE Superstar Mark Henry discussed Droz on Busted Open Radio, including the former football player’s ability to vomit at will:

“He could just throw up at the drop of a hat. I mean [the nickname] ‘Puke’ was the real deal. He did it in sports, he did it in wrestling, he did it in locker rooms, he did it at the bars, he did it at the gym. Anything that was repugnant would make Darren throw up, and he would amuse the hell out of us.”

Working with a Legendary Tag Team

Drozdov began working in the WWF as “Puke.” “Puke” became an unofficial part of the Legion of Doom (aka the Road Warriors). He worked a still-talked-about controversial angle. The storyline featured Road Warrior Hawk dealing with his well-known real-life personal demons.

The WWF incorporated Hawk’s past problems by having him appear to be intoxicated, proving a liability to his tag team partner, Road Warrior Animal. The WWF angle led to Puke taking  Hawk’s place.

It was later revealed that Puke had been supplying Hawk with drugs. In one of wrestling’s most tasteless angles yet, Hawk climbed the Titantron, seemingly prepared to kill himself, only for Puke to push him off.

The WWF quietly ended the storyline. Drozdov moved into a different storyline where he assembled a freak show cabal of wrestlers including Prince Albert. The talented tumbler utilized vignettes titled “Droz’ World” to get him over.

A Career Ended in An Instant

Unfortunately, Drozdov’s career came to a premature end during a match against WWF talent D-Lo Brown. On October 5, 1999, Brown performed a powerbomb on Drozdov. The move did not go as planned and Droz broke his neck. Unlike wrestlers Owen Hart and Mitsuharu Misawa, Droz’s in-ring injury didn’t end his life.

darren drozdov paralyzed news

Another tragic moment in the pro wrestling world: news about Darren Drozdov’s accident hit mainstream media

Drozdov became a quadriplegic. Over time, Droz was able to regain some movement in his upper body.

In a 2015 interview with The Pancakes and Powerslams Show, D’Lo Brown discussed the accident and the aftermath:

“As a performer, I was never the same. There was a time after that when I quit wrestling. Luckily, Jim Ross called me and talked me out of that. There’s no hatred from Droz toward me. We both understand the risks we take when we go in the ring, and it’s dangerous in there. Just because it’s predetermined, that’s why they have the PSAs of ‘Kids, don’t try this at home.’”

D’Lo Brown discussed how things were between himself and Droz after the in-ring injury:

“But as far as Droz and I are concerned, we’re boys, we’re good, we’ve talked throughout the years. He has a place in my heart. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. There’s no blame on either side from either person.”

Darren’s positive attitude only added to his fans’ and wrestlers’ admiration for him.

darren drozdov d-lo brown after the accident

D-Lo Brown (right) with Droz (center), and Bubba Ray Dudley (left)

Life After Wrestling

Although Drozdov could no longer wrestle, he remained involved with the WWF. He married just days after his accident. Drozdov showed incredible spirit as he lived the best life he could, continuing to pursue his hobbies.

Despite his injury, Darren Drozdov refused to wallow in self-pity, living the best life he could. As far as he was concerned:

“No matter what puts you down, in my eyes and in my mind, there is always another day. Just because I’m paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean my life is over. I’ve learned to live again and my life is far from over.”

Droz used a special mobility vehicle known as a rip chair, described as a:

“tank with wheels,” and allows Droz to put his wheelchair in the custom-made vehicle and move around in the woods so that he can resume his passion for deer hunting.

Darren’s friend Kevin Plank (the CEO of UnderArmour) helped him get the chair and it was put to good use.

The Death of Darren Drozdov

Darren Drozdov died on June 30, 2023, at Pomona, New Jersey’s AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. He was 54.

The family released a statement, an excerpt which follows:

“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We would like to extend our deepest appreciation for everyone. All of his fans, teammates, colleagues and friends for all the love and support he received over the years. You all gave him meaning, purpose and something to live for. He loved each and every one of you and cherished the conversations, notes and letters he received. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.”

Darren Drozdov is survived by his sister and her children.

Other pro wrestlers who died in 2023 include “Superstar” Billy Graham, Bray Wyatt, Butch Miller, The Iron Sheik, Jay Briscoe, Jerry Jarrett, “Leaping” Lanny Poffo, Mantaur, and Terry Funk.

What are your memories of Darren Drozdov? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below.