Former WWE Wrestler Darren Drozdov, Who Was Paralyzed After A 1999 Ring Injury, Dead At 54 

By Melissa Romualdi.

Former WWE star, Darren Drozdov, has died at the age of 54. He was left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair following an in-ring accident that occurred back in 1999.

On Friday afternoon, WWE announced his death.

“An imposing force in the ring, Darren Drozdov became a notable figure in WWE, known to fans as both Puke and Droz during his time as an in-ring competitor,” the pro wrestling company said in a statement.

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Drozdov’s family also released a statement, revealing that he died Friday morning of natural causes.

“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now,” the family said. “Darren, affectionately known as ‘Droz,’ was involved in a tragic ring accident while wrestling for the WWE in 1999 that rendered him a quadriplegic. Nevertheless, Droz maintained a championship mindset and lived every day to the fullest even though he was unable to move from the neck down for the past 24 years.”

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In October 1999, Drozdov was mid-match against fellow wrestler D’Lo Brown for a taping of “WWE SmackDown” when he slipped from Brown’s grasp and fell on his neck. The accident led to two fractured vertebrae in his neck, as per a previous New York Times report.

Following news of his death, tributes from the pro wrestling community came flooding in, including a heartfelt tweet from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who recalled wrestling with Drozdov.

Before wrestling, Drozdov played college football for the University of Maryland and was eventually drafted to the NFL. He played for three seasons for the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos took to Twitter to post a tribute after learning of Drozdov’s death.

After his NFL career, Drozdov joined the WWE in 1998 and found a fan in WWE executive chairman, Vince McMahon, who gave Drozdov the nickname “Puke” after his fascination with the newcomer’s ability to vomit on command.

Shortly after joining the company, Drozdov began making appearances on WWE television — which, at the time, was known as the World Wrestling Federation (“WWF”).

When the athlete was injured in 1999, he required 24-hour at-home care, as per Fox Sports, and, according to Drozdov, WWE and McMahon continued to help him throughout several surgeries over the years following the accident.

According to Drozdov’s family, and former pro wrestler Marc Mero, he would always say, “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.”

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Over the last two decades up until his passing, Drozdov resided in New Jersey with his sister and her family, across the river from their parents’ home.

“He was a devoted son, brother, and friend who had always put others first, especially his family,” Drozdov’s family continued in their statement Friday. “He was kind, generous and was always there for his people. He was our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing. His warmth, love, and laughter were infectious.”

They noted that, in times of need, they “could always turn to him for wisdom and solace.

“His absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts,” the Drozdovs added. “Everyone who knew Darren was a better person because of it.”

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