Darren “Droz” Drozdov was paralyzed in the ring during a match against D’lo Brown in WWE. He was immediately rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a broken neck and without any movement from the neck down.
The former football player had his career cut short with this injury, and never walked again following his horrendous injury. However, he immediately forgave D’Lo Brown, and continued to work for the WWE up until his death in 2023.
Who Was Droz?
Darren Drozdov was a WWE wrestler in the 1990s, best known as his ring name “Droz”. He originally worked as a football player, having brief but memorable stings in both the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). He spent three seasons in the NFL, but was most famous for his chronic vomiting during matches, earning him the nickname “Puke” in football circles.
After leaving American Football, he made a beeline to professional wrestling. He fired appeared in ECW in 1997, appearing alongside a host of WWE “Invaders”, in a short-lived and long-forgotten stable that also included Lance Wright, Brakkus, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon. He signed for the WWE soon after, and was given the name “Droz”.
Originally, Vince McMahon wanted him to wrestle under the name “Puke”, due to his ability to vomit on command. His interview with McMahon was shown in the documentary “Wrestling With Shadows”, where McMahon performed mock commentary while Droz tried to vomit in a trash can, famously reciting the words “He’s gonna… he’s gonna puke!”.
Droz was made a part of the legendary tag team Legion of Doom (also known as The Road Warriors), although he found little success in the group. He would eventually leave and form his own stable, although Droz’s career came to an abrupt end just one year after his debut, when a botch during a wrestling match changed his life forever.
Darren Drozdov Was Paralyzed By D’Lo Brown and Never Walked Again
Droz was paralyzed after a powerbomb by D’Lo Brown was botched, dropping Droz onto his head and breaking his neck immediately. This ended his wrestling career then-and-there, and the former NFL player never walked against.
The match took place during a WWF SmackDown! taping on October 5, 1999, at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. It was a “Dark Match”, which meant that the bout was never planned to be shown to anybody outside the area, and as such was not broadcast on TV. The cameras were rolling, so footage of this match does exist in the WWE archives.
Little is known about the match, other than reports from the arena and subsequent times wrestlers have spoken about the accident. No footage has ever been released for the match, being placed inside the WWE vault as matches to never, ever show (alongside clips like the death of Owen Hart).
D’Lo Brown attempted to hit a running powerbomb on Droz, but due to Droz’s loose shirt he was unable to complete the move properly, dropping him on his head in a horrific accident. Droz fractured two vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down, resulting in his immediately becoming a quadriplegic.
Droz spoke about the accident during a shoot interview in 2019, talking through everything that happened in the match that lead to him breaking his neck and losing feeling in his limbs. He revealed how he heard his spine cracking as it broke, and how he immediately knew something was wrong.
“I got up, you know, got up in the ring still talking. No D-Lo ever came running out, boom, met the ropes, we did a couple moves, and then finally I ended up putting them in a corner. I remember I went and came running into the corner. I’m ready, hit me in the stomach, and two things that I look back on that were, you know, just minor things at the time.”
“I always wrestle with my nipple, all my piercings, some nose, ears, nipple. Oh, a breast of all my rings. And that night, for some reason, I took my nipple ring out. I didn’t think, you know, it wasn’t any big deal. And I also wore baggy shorts that I had never worn before. It was like a holy black, like a sweatshirt, all loose and moose.”
“Anyway, so we go through, and he ends up kicking me in the stomach. He goes – he was gonna give me a running powerbomb, which he had done before. We had wrestled a bunch of matches before. And then with that, he went, he picked me up, and I remember going up, and I knew something wasn’t right.”
“It just felt weird, and I didn’t pull all the way up. I just remember going down, and I still remember hitting, and I heard two cracks. I basically said, ‘Oh [ __ ]! I just broke my neck.’ And, you know, I was in shock, you know, of course. I’m like, ‘Well,’ and I’m just thoughts are going through my mind. I knew I was in trouble.”
“I’m talking, I remember everything about it, you know. I remember people coming in, talking to me. You know, I was just like, ‘You know, take your time, do your thing.’ I knew I was screwed. I knew I was paralyzed, and I knew it was, I heard when I heard that, I heard crack, crack. I knew right there, instantly said that I knew that paralyzed, and I couldn’t move anything.”
Droz Forgave D’Lo Brown For His Part In The Accident
Despite losing the use of his arms and legs during the accident, Droz never blamed D’Lo Brown for the accident, forgiving him for the mistake that broke his neck in the ring.
In an interview with D’Lo Brown in 2015, the former Intercontinental Champion revealed that Droz forgave him for his mistake that ended up paralyzing him. Droz held no animosity towards D’Lo, with both men knowing the risks they take every time they step into the ring to wrestle.
“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.’
“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.”
After being paralyzed, Droz was continually employed by the WWE as a writer and a columnist. He was a regular contributor to both WWE magazine and the website, giving his take on the wrestling world at large despite his disability. He never walked again, but eventually regained the use of his arms after many years, but still required round-the-clock care for the remainder of his life.
Droz died in 2023, at the age of 54. The cause of his death was not revealed, and he was honored by the WWE followed his untimely death.
Wrestlers Who Were Paralyzed During Matches
Darren “Droz” Drozdov was just one of many wrestlers who have suffered from paralysis in the ring. Some have lived the rest of their lives in a wheelchair, never regaining any use of their extremities.
Others learned to live without them, some even managed to walk a few steps later on in life, while a select few managed to cheat death, even regaining their movement mere minutes are fracturing their vertebrae.
Click here to learn more about wrestlers who were paralyzed in the ring.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.