Former WWE superstar The Patriot, real name Del Wilkes, recently spoke to Wrestling Inc. about his past problems with substance abuse.
On the show, Wilkes admitted he was grappling with pain when he joined the company in 1997 as a result of the injuries he picked up while wrestling in Japan and other promotions.
“When I got to Vince I was already on borrowed time and I tried to cover it up the best I could. I felt if they knew the kind of condition I was in, it could cost me money or years on the contract.”
With his injuries making him unable to perform at his best, Wilkes turned to drugs to overcome the toll wrestling was taking on his body. According to Wilkes, Curt Hennig gave him his first Percocet in order to ease his physical pain, which subsequently led to him developing a habit that put him in a “bad place.”
Wilkes also spoke about how his drug taking drastically increased over time, while also revealing that he’s surprised he survived the experience.
“My pain pill intake was going from two [a day] to up to 120 a day. And you mix all of the other muscle relaxers and sleeping pills, it’s a wonder that I lived through that.”
These days, WWE has a zero-tolerance policy over superstars taking banned substances. Back then, though, it was commonplace among wrestlers.
That said, Wilkes said that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon wasn’t aware of his situation at the time. In fact, the news didn’t come to light until the wrestler told the boss about his injuries and the unhealthy ways he was coping with them.
McMahon wasn’t the only person in the company who was unaware of Wilkes’ habit either. During the interview with Wrestling Inc., he said that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was also taken aback by the revelation when the pair discussed his career on an episode of the WWE legend’s podcast.
When Wilkes retired from in-ring action, his problems got worse. He said that he was taking a “dangerous level of narcotics” after he stepped away from the limelight, even though he was no longer taking bumps night after night.
Additionally, Wilkes also recalled being contacted by a lawyer about suing his former company for concussion damage. However, he chose not to take part in any lawsuits since his injuries weren’t picked up in a WWE ring. He claims that he understood the risks involved with pro wrestling before he decided to embark on such a career path and doesn’t hold anyone responsible for his misfortunes.