It's snake eyes for you, my man.
Tue, 29 November 2005
by: The Gimmick
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For those of you who don't know, the story of Jake "The Snake" Roberts is one of triumph and a hell of a lot of tragedy. From his childhood days growing up in a not so perfect home in Texas, becoming one of the biggest stars in wrestling history and in between his battles with drugs and alcohol, his is a story that could be made into a movie and I still don't think you could cover everything. But WWE and Shock have done a great job in putting together and releasing the story of Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Pick Your Poison, a special 2 DVD set.
It begins with an insightful and emotional poem which is entitled Thieves of Dreams penned by the Snake himself. The main feature is an almost 2 hour journey through the ups and unfortunately downs of the life and times of Jake Roberts. His stories run through an assortment of emotions from soaring heights down to devilishly lows. His mother became pregnant at the age of twelve by her mothers boyfriend, former pro wrestler Grizzly Smith. He grew up in his grand parent's home with an alcoholic grandfather and that, amongst other things, caused him to become withdrawn and a loner. After his Grandmother died, he moved in briefly with his father, but his step mother put a subtle end to that. He eventually moved in with his birth mother and her husband, but due to his past experiences, he had already "put up a wall" and the perfect family life which eventually came about was too late. But the story of his sister and her premature death, is as shocking as you will hear from anyone.
The strenuous relationship he had with his father was what eventually fuelled him to become not only a professional wrestler, but a better and more famous wrestler than his father ever was. He wrestled all over the south and mid south of America and in Canada until he cemented a spot in Georgia Championship Wrestling where he became the T.V champ and an original member of the Legion of Doom. He eventually made his way to the World Wrestling Federation in 1986 and, in the six years he was there, he and his python "Damien" were involved in some of the greatest matches and feuds professional wrestling has ever seen. From the likes of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, The Honky Tonk Man, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Andre The Giant, "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase and "Macho Man" Randy Savage to name a few. The DVD features stories of the birth of the DDT (the greatest finisher in the business, in my opinion) and the birth and following troubles with the snake Damien.
He is extremely candid about his drug and alcohol addictions that plagued him through out his career and into his post career and stories of this are scattered throughout the feature. He left the WWE after Wrestlemania VIII in 1992 when he had been promised by Vince McMahon that he would be the head writer for the company, but Vince pulled it from him and he headed for WCW. However that didn't last long, after an ultimatum from his (now ex) wife forced him to retire. He made his return however in January 1996 to the WWE but this time he had cleaned up his act and had found religion and even had a snake named "Revelations" to torment his opponents with.
|Draping your snake over an unconcious man...the jokes write themselves here. |
His feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler at this time was a hard feud for him as Lawler made many disparaging remarks about Jake's battle with the bottle and behind the scenes it cut Jake deep and eventually he fell off the wagon and also left the WWE. He wrestled for ECW briefly and toured overseas but he now makes his money working the independent circuits in America. The feature finishes in a foggy way because it's unclear whether he has cleaned himself up or he is content to live with his addictions. Regardless, no man can argue his talents or his legacy he has left on the world of pro wrestling. Also on Disc 1 is his match with Ricky Steamboat from The Big Event, Canada in 1986, his Wrestlemania III match against The Honky Tonk Man (featuring insightful and entertaining alternate commentary) and a match from MSG where he battled Rick Rude in a DDT Vs The Rude Awakening match. There are other little informational bits and stories on this disc but most of the extras are on disc 2.
Disc 2 is probably my favorite because it showcases the talent of the man inside the ring instead of all the negativity that is so focused nowadays. It features matches against Ronnie Garvin from 1983, his WWE debut against Lanny Poffo from MSG, the match against Earthquake in 1991 where Damien met his demise at the hands of the Quake. His "Coal Miner's Glove" match against Sting from WCW is featured as are his 2 ECW appearances. But my favorite is the angle against Randy Savage where he tied Savage into the ropes and let his Cobra to bite into the arm of the Macho Man. I have seen so many tough guys wince after seeing this, it is truly an incredible sight.
|A couple of the things Jake claimed DDT stood for: "Damien's Dinner Time", or "the end". |
Amongst the great matches (and there are a lot more on this disc) there is a plethora of pro-mos and interviews and that, in my opinion, is what separates Jake from every other wrestler. I consider him the greatest worker of the mic in wrestling history. I know there are legends like Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Mick Foley and others who many consider the best, but for my money it's Jake Roberts. His classic pro-mos with The Ultimate Warrior are featured on this as is the segment where Rick Rude tried to give the Rude Awakening to Jake's wife Cheryl. The aftermath of Rick "The Model" Martel's attack on Jake on the Brother Love Show is also on this and quite possible the most famous of them all, his match at the King of the Ring 1996 against Stone Cold Steve Austin and the interview after that that shot Austin to superstardom.
There are so many other things that should keep you enthralled, but to list them all would be fruitless. I implore you all to get a copy of this and take a look, not for the "slow down and watch the car crash" reason, but to find out why and learn from it all. Jake has been involved in everything that is good and bad in the world of pro wrestling and he holds nothing back in this DVD. Some of the best stories I've heard are on this, including the story of Ricky Steamboat saving Jake's life one night during a match and the night he met Dick Ebersol, head of sports on NBC America. Unfortunately, it also includes some of the worst stories I've ever heard. All in all it is a story of a man who despite all his demons battled through them, made a huge impact on the wrestling industry and survived. That is the Jake Roberts I want to remember.
by: The Gimmick
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All in all it is a story of a man who despite all his demons battled through them, made a huge impact on the wrestling industry and survived. That is the Jake Roberts I want to remember.