Jake "The Snake" Roberts
is regularly posting entries on his MySpace.com
sources claim 'The
Wrestler', the highly acclaimed movie, is
based on Jake, however the 'The Wrestler' could
be the story of a number of former professional
Legends of WrestleMania
"The Snake" Roberts DVD available via
"The Snake" Roberts in a living legend of
the height of his popularity he was one of the most
famous wrestlers in the world and headlined many wrestling
feuds are some of the hottest the wrestling business
have ever known. They included: Ricky Steamboat, Randy
Savage, Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan.
master of ring psychology and with solid wrestling
skills, he usually finished off his opponents with
the DDT (a front face lock piledriver).
has battled many demons over the years and was the
talking point of the controversial documentary, 'Beyond
will always be remembered as one of the true greats
of professional wrestling.
Jake Smith, Jr. (born on May 30, 1955), better known
by his ring name of Jake "The Snake" Roberts,
is a second-generation American professional wrestler,
the son of former wrestler Grizzly Smith. Roberts
is best known for his stint in the World Wrestling
Federation throughout the 1980s.
was known for his promos and his dark charisma, his
extensive use of psychology in his matches and for
inventing the DDT finishing maneuver. He is generally
considered to be one of the greatest wrestlers to
never hold a major championship title.
Roberts is credited with training Diamond Dallas Page
and Raven, as well as teaching much about wrestling
psychology to Steve Austin and The Undertaker. Roberts
and fellow wrestler Vader appeared on the ABC sitcom
Boy Meets World for one episode.
National Wrestling Alliance
Roberts started his career in 1975 in the Georgia
area and made his name in the NWA as part of Paul
Ellering's heel stable The Legion of Doom . He feuded
with Ron Garvin in the 1980s over the NWA World Television
The Origins of the DDT
During a match when he had his opponent in a front
facelock, he slipped and fell down and his opponent
fell on his head, legitimately knocking him out. From
that match, he incorporated the move as his finisher,
naming it the DDT. For a long time, many fans had
tried to figure out what DDT had stood for, with some
even believing it stood for Damien's Dinner Time,
as to the fact that Jake routinely placed his pet
python Damien on top of unconscious wrestlers following
the (usually match-ending) DDT. Most people believe
the move referenced the pesticide DDT, which was perceived
by the public to be a poison during the 1980s. When
at last asked what the DDT stood for, Jake famously
replied, "The End".
How He Became "The Snake"
Roberts derived his nickname from being thin and snake-like.
Roberts also said that he got his nickname from Oakland
Raiders quarterback Ken "The Snake" Stabler.
To accentuate this, he often would slide ("slither")
into and out of the ring on his belly under the bottom
rope. Once he reached the WWF, Roberts would bring
a huge, live python (though various snakes were used
over the years, most were named "Damien",
and for safety purposes, most were heavily sedated)
to ringside in a canvas bag. After executing a DDT,
Roberts would coil the constrictor around the opponent's
neck, and the snake would slither around on top of
the fallen wrestler, sometimes appearing to strangle
him. It was a masterful show of kayfabe (besides the
fact that numerous fellow wrestlers and commentators
were legitimately ophidiophobic), as the wrestler
lay twitching and sometimes foaming at the mouth with
the monstrous snake appearing to squeeze the life
out of him. This display of theatricality got over
with professional wrestling fans when George Wells,
former Canadian Football League player turned wrestler,
played "victim" to Damien at WrestleMania
2. His frothing at the mouth sold the gimmick as being
World Wrestling Federation
Many Feuds of "The Snake"
Roberts' first major feud was against Ricky "The
Dragon" Steamboat. Few WWF fans knew that the
two were former tag team partners in the National
Wrestling Alliance, as it was never acknowledged on
camera. The feud began when, on a nationally televised
episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in May 1986,
Roberts DDT'ed Steamboat on the floor right in front
of his wife, Bonnie, whom Roberts had pointed to just
before delivering the blow. He later stated that he
was initially against doing the angle for fear that
he might seriously injure or kill Steamboat. While
Vince McMahon and booker George Scott were adamant
about wanting the DDT to take place on the floor,
he refused until Steamboat told him that he would
be able to adequately protect himself from injury.
However, Roberts' fears were not unfounded: Steamboat
was rendered unconscious and sustained a concussion
from the force of the blow.
Steamboat's recovery, the feud featured Steamboat
introducing a komodo dragon as his "pet"
to combat the psychological effects Roberts' reptilian
counterpart had on most adversaries. The feud continued
with Steamboat winning most of the matches, most notably
a Texas Death Match at The Big Event in Toronto, and
the rematch on the October 1986, edition of Saturday
Night's Main Event. Since their feud ended, both men
have cited tremendous respect for one another, stating
that the feud was a personal favorite for both. When
asked about "The Dragon" in an interview,
Roberts stated, "[Steamboat] was a great wrestler,
but an even better man."
Jake also began a brief feud with Hulk Hogan, but
the angle was dropped when Roberts started receiving
cheers from the crowd (even though Jake was initially
intended to be a heel). This was seen as bad for business
considering that Hogan was the top box office draw
for the WWF.
Honky Tonk Man
One of the more memorable moments in his career was
when he had Alice Cooper in his corner during WrestleMania
III in 1987. Jake's WrestleMania III opponent, The
Honky Tonk Man , brutally attacked Jake with a guitar
on Jake's interview segment The Snake Pit. In reality,
The Honky Tonk Man's guitar shot legitimately injured
Jake's neck, rupturing two discs. Jake admitted in
interviews that the shot was prior to the use of breakaway
guitars, so when Honky clubbed him, he really got
hit hard. Jake started using pain killers following
the injury, which led to severe opiate addictions
later in his life. The Honky Tonk Man denies that
he legitimately injured Jake.
Perhaps his best-known feud was against "Ravishing"
Rick Rude, who was doing a gimmick where he would
select a woman from the audience to kiss after each
match. Rude inadvertently chose Jake's real-life wife
Cheryl, who refused the kiss; Jake rescued her before
Rude could attack, although Cheryl slapped him hard
enough to send Rude reeling. At another event, Rude
wore a pair of tights emblazoned with a visage of
Mrs. Roberts, which an irate Jake tore off, sending
Rude running apparently naked from the ring when shown
on TV, when those at the arena saw Rude in a thong.
feud ended due to a reportedly real-life affair between
Rude and Cheryl, though Roberts has stated that, to
the best of his knowledge, there was no affair.
André the Giant
Next, "The Snake" engaged in a feud with
André the Giant. In this storyline, Roberts
used his snake to gain a psychological edge over the
ophidiophobic André, to nullify the Giant's
overwhelming size and strength advantage. Jake can
claim a victory via disqualification over André
after André attacked special guest referee
Big John Studd at WrestleMania V . In retrospect,
he views his feud with André as a compliment,
citing that since André usually worked with
the top guys in each territory, he believes WWE management
was subliminally telling him he had the potential
to be a top guy.
Shortly after his feud with André had ended,
Roberts entered into a feud with "The Million
Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. It was at this time
that Roberts' disc problems were publicly acknowledged,
as DiBiase attacked Roberts after a victory over
his bodyguard Virgil on WWF Superstars of Wrestling.
In the attack, Roberts was "injured"
by DiBiase, and needed time off to have surgery
to repair the damage.
successful surgery, Roberts returned and feuded with
DiBiase throughout the end of 1989 into 1990. The
culmination of their feud took place at WrestleMania
VI, where DiBiase gained a count-out victory over
Roberts. After the match, Roberts, to the delight
of his fans at the packed SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario,
mounted an offensive against DiBiase and Virgil, and
began giving away DiBiase's "money". One
of the recipients was actress Mary Tyler Moore, who
was seated at ringside.
Following a brief feud with Bad News Brown in
the summer of 1990, Roberts feuded with "The
Model" Rick Martel throughout late 1990 into
early 1991, after Martel blinded Roberts (kayfabe)
by spraying cologne into his eyes. Roberts went
so far as to wear white contact lenses to 'prove'
his blindness. After several months, the feud
culminated in a match at WrestleMania VII, in
which both contestants were blindfolded. The bout
ended after Roberts vanquished his rival with
In early to mid-1991, Roberts engaged in a bitter
feud with Earthquake after his 450-pound body "squashed"
Damien (in actuality, it was hamburger stuffed in
pantyhose with a small motor to make it look like
a live snake was in the bag), and then used Damien's
"carcass" to make "Quakeburgers",
which he fed to on-air commentator Lord Alfred Hayes.
would appear on Brutus Beekcake's interview segment
"The Barbershop" and stated that "you
could do two things: Roll over and die, or get yourself
a bigger snake", in which he revealed that his
new snake was a larger python, a reticulated python
whom he named "Lucifer"- the supposed big
brother of Damien and "the devil himself."
The Ultimate Warrior
In mid-1991 Jake Roberts turned heel once again. For
weeks, he was the one the Ultimate Warrior turned
to in his feud with The Undertaker. The angle involved
Roberts telling the Warrior that he would have the
knowledge of the dark side necessary to defeat his
adversary after passing three tests, which would be
shown on WWF TV in consecutive weeks. The first was
to be locked inside of a coffin, repeating an incident
that occurred on The Funeral Parlor (which was hosted
by 'Taker's manager Paul Bearer), a few months prior.
The second test had Roberts "bury" the Warrior
alive in dirt and walk offscreen. The third test involved
Warrior entering a room full of snakes to and having
to walk through them to find "the answer"
in a chest in the middle of the room. When the Warrior
opened the chest, he was alarmed to find a king cobra,
which (kayfabe) bit him in the face; in actuality,
the snake was devenomized and in fact, never actually
bit him. As Warrior "weakened" from the
"effects" of the cobra's strike, Roberts
was joined by The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, revealing
the three were in cahoots all along.
beautifully planned out, the two were set for what
WWF hoped would be one of the hottest feuds of 1991
after SummerSlam 1991 , but, due to a financial dispute
that the Warrior had with the WWF around this same
period, the match never materialized. Warrior was
fired after the event, but WWE still struck while
the iron was hot and turned a negative (losing one
of their biggest stars and, with it, the money grossing
potential the feud had) into a positive.
Afterward, Roberts had an extremely intense feud with
Randy Savage after he interrupted the Savage's wedding
reception at SummerSlam and later famously used a
(devenomed) cobra to bite Savage's arm (the snake
died after the incident, due to a toxic reaction).
WWF president Jack Tunney reinstated Savage, who had
lost a retirement match (to the Ultimate Warrior)
earlier that year at WrestleMania VII, as an active
wrestler to get revenge for the attack, and he and
Roberts feuded for the next few months. Their first
match was at the Tuesday In Texas pay-per-view, which
saw the "Macho Man" earn a victory over
Roberts, but it was Roberts who would have the last
laugh as he attacked Savage after the match and slapped
Savage's wife, Miss Elizabeth, in the middle of the
ring. The feud would continue through the early part
of 1992, and included Savage eliminating Roberts from
that year's 1992 Royal Rumble match.
feud would end on Saturday Night's Main Event, with
Savage getting the duke. Roberts, livid at having
lost to his arch-nemesis and having received two of
Savage's patented flying elbow drops (one of which
happened after the match; Savage was going for a third
until officials intervened), was helped backstage
and, enraged, grabbed a steel chair, saying that he
was going to hit whoever came backstage first, whether
it was Savage or Elizabeth. Just as he was about to
swing the chair, someone stopped him. While Savage
and Liz, seeing they had averted a potential tragedy,
got out of dodge, Jake turned to confront The Undertaker,
who distracted Roberts long enough so that Savage
could hit Roberts with a chair instead.
In early 1992, Jake turned on The Undertaker, who
had been his partner in the assault on Savage's wedding,
thus completing the Undertaker's turn into a babyface.
After an incident on The Funeral Parlor in which Roberts
locked the Undertaker's hand in a casket and DDT'ed
the show's host and Undertaker's manager Paul Bearer,
the two continued to build momentum for their encounter
at WrestleMania VIII. Roberts lost to his opponent
at WrestleMania VIII and left the WWF soon after that,
upset that WWF chairman Vince McMahon didn't offer
him a position on the writing staff despite being
promised previously. After Pat Patterson stepped down
from his post on the writing staff, Vince decided
that out of respect for Patterson, the spot would
be left vacant. Jake felt he was not only being lied
to, but also being betrayed. In response, Jake threatened
to no-show WrestleMania VIII if he wasn't given a
release from his contract.
World Championship Wrestling
Jake went on to work for World Championship Wrestling
alongside his father, Grizzly Smith, where he aligned
himself with The Barbarian and Cactus Jack to feud
against Sting and Nikita Koloff. However, before he
could officially join WCW, he had to wait almost 90
days. Jake had negotiated a major contract with Kip
Allen Fry, who was running the company at that time,
would earn him $4 million and give him 50 percent
of all merchandise sold as opposed to the eight cents
got per shirt sold in the WWF. Just a few days before
his contract could officially go in to effect, Jake's
old real-life adversary back in the NWA, Bill Watts
took over for Kip Fry. Watts had promoted Roberts
on his own merits in the Mid-South Wrestling, and
disliked the snake-bearing gimmick the WWF had put
on him. With Watts now in control, Jake went from
making about $4 million to half a million.
single WCW pay-per-view match was against Sting at
Halloween Havoc in 1992, after picking their match
via a wheel, which was inspired by the movie Mad Max:
Beyond Thunderdome. There was a series of gimmick
matches on the wheel, but because the wheel wasn't
gimmicked, it landed on what many pundits believed
was the worst option - The Coal Miner's Glove Match.
However, it was the company's top-selling PPV for
several years, but Jake soon left WCW after his wife
gave him an ultimatum to either focus on his career
or on his family. The couple would divorce not long
Return to WWF
Jake returned to the WWF in 1996, as a Bible-preaching
face (his new snake was named "Revelations").
Roberts claimed to be a changed man who regretted
his past, although some in the industry felt he was
holding religious seminars as a way to make money
rather than out of genuine faith.
was pushed as a "Cinderella story" and faced
Steve Austin in the final match of the King of the
Ring tournament. Austin won, and as Roberts was helped
to the back, Austin mocked the Snake's recital of
the biblical passage John 3:16, saying "Austin
3:16 says I just whipped your ass!" "Austin
3:16" became a catchphrase that helped propel
Austin to the top of the WWF and pro wrestling for
the next three years.
feuded with Jerry "The King" Lawler, who
went to great lengths to ridicule Jake's past bouts
against alcoholism. Later, Roberts and Lawler both
said this angle was uncomfortable for them; at one
point Lawler spat real whiskey at Roberts.
Roberts was fired from the WWF in 1997 for failing
to show up for work during a series of house shows,
as a result of an ongoing lapse in his sobriety. He
competed briefly in Mexico, where he was shaved bald
by Konnan, and began appearing in the independent
circuit in the U.S. and Great Britain, largely out
of the view of most wrestling fans.
got a high amount of Internet buzz in 1999 as a candidate
to be The Undertaker's 'Higher Power'. When Vince
McMahon was revealed to be the one, he specifically
cited on the air the speculation over Roberts.
Beyond the Mat & Heroes of Wrestling
1999 featured two notorious incidents showcasing the
depths that Roberts' drug and alcohol addiction had
was unflatteringly featured in the wrestling documentary
Beyond the Mat. Throughout the film he made numerous
confessions about his tragic past, including the murder
of his sister and the collapse of his marriage. Amongst
the more disturbing moments was Roberts reportedly
smoking crack in a hotel room after a reunion with
his daughter Brandy, though the act is not shown on
camera. In 2005, Jake, along with others, heavily
criticized the film for showing him in a negative
light, complaining that the depiction of him was "not
the real Jake Roberts". Roberts also claimed
that director Barry Blaustein and Terry Funk lied
to him about the aims of the film, telling him it
was a television special on the effects of drug and
in 1999, at a Independent PPV show entitled Heroes
of Wrestling , Jake cut a rambling, incoherent promo
in which he heavily slurred his words. Minutes later,
he staggered toward the ring, apparently drunk, for
an awkward match with Jim Neidhart, at one point even
asking a hesitant female fan at ringside to fondle
his pectoral muscles. During the match, when Jake's
snake wriggled free from the bag, he waved the snake
toward the audience while it was protruding from his
more details on this topic, see Heroes of Wrestling#The
infamous Jake Roberts interview .
In 2001, Jake Roberts moved to Great Britain, where
he began competing for Brian Dixon's All-Star Wrestling.
In December, he made his debut for Ricky Knight's
World Association of Wrestling in Lowestoft, teaming
with Steve Quintain against the U.K. Pitbulls
October 20, 2002, Jake Roberts became the NWA (UK)
Hammerlock Heavyweight Champion in Maidstone, Kent,
England by defeating "Vigilante" Johnny
Moss. Moss defeated him for the title the next night
in Ashford, Kent, England, though. In November 2002,
Jake started his own wrestling promotion in the UK,
called "Real Stars of Wrestling". Jake would
later go on to open his own training school.
legal troubles continued, after he was accused of
animal cruelty for leaving the snakes at his house
unfed for several months. One python subsequently
died from starvation. Jake was fined £800 and
was banned from keeping animals in the U.K.
would later return to action for the World Association
of Wrestling and became a regular on their shows again.
He would also go on to compete for the Ultimate Wrestling
Alliance, owned by Paul Tyrell and Phil Powers.
In February 2004, Jake wrestled for Wrestle Zone Wrestling,
who are the leading wrestling promotion in the North-east
of England. Jake headlined WZW's first sellout tour
of Scotland and Carlisle. The tour would bring about
even more controversy to Jake's already controversial
career. On the night of the first show in Dumfries,
Jake got into a backstage confrontation with established
UK wrestler Alex Shane. Alex, after being taunted
by Jake, attacked the legendary wrestler. Alex later
said that he couldn't take anymore of Jake's insults
and felt it necessary to hit Jake. Jake, after a warning
by then-WZW owner Gary Graham went out and faced the
UK Hardcore Icon Iceman. Jake won via his patented
DDT. The next night at the Lakes Court Hotel in Carlisle,
Jake lost his match to Phil Powers, but on the afternoon
show Jake would get his revenge, when he beat Powers
in what has been described as Jake's best match this
side of the Atlantic.
Jake was later booked by Alex Shane on an FWA show
as a late replacement for Steve Corino, who had been
unable to attend the show because of flight problems.
2004, Jake caused further controversy by entering
into a relationship with a female trainee of his,
with whom he lived for six months, and who later went
on to become popular UK-based wrestler, Aphrodite.
made a WWE appearance on March 14, 2005 on RAW, where
he confronted Randy Orton, who was preparing to challenge
the Undertaker at WrestleMania 21. Roberts warned
Orton that facing The Undertaker, particularly at
WrestleMania, could be a soul-altering experience;
he then fell victim to Orton's signature "RKO,"
helping to fuel Orton's "Legend Killer"
gimmick. He worked with the company to create a DVD
retrospective of his career, which was released later
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
Jake made an appearance on the October 19, 2006 edition
of TNA iMPACT!, and announced he would referee the
Monster's Ball match between Brother Runt, Abyss,
Raven and Samoa Joe at Bound for Glory. He had a snake
in a bag. Whether this was supposed to be Lucifer
is unknown. At TNA Bound For Glory on October 22,
2006, he performed a DDT on Raven, giving Samoa Joe
the win in the Monster's Ball match.
Finishing and signature maneuvers
Swinging knee lift
"The Snake" Roberts MySpace
Roberts has accepted Vince McMahon's offer to
go into the WWE Wellness
Message from Jake Roberts - 9th March 2008
53 years ago, I hit the ground a-running. Most
of the time didn't even look to see where I was
going. I can say now without being ashamed that
I made a lot of choices that were wrong. It's
amazing with all those that I chose, that I'm
still alive today. Three months ago, I made a
great choice. One that has given me the opportunity
to get my life under control and start enjoying
all that I have sewn. It has been very tough and
hard to do what had to be done. There were times
that I really felt like getting up and hitting
the ground a-running again.
were a lot of things that kept me from doing this.
Number one: my children. Number two: family. Three:
myself. Four: fans and friends. Those were the
most important. You see, I've neglected all of
the above most of my life. Oh, I showed up to
holidays, some birthdays, and events, but I was
never completely there. You see, for many years,
I didn't take care of anything in my life including
the above, my mind, or my health. I was shooting
through the sky and the world like a shooting
star. It amazes me and confirms to me that there
is a God and my God simply has something else
for me to do. You see, I should have fallen to
earth a long time ago.
me, I had to reach a point where I had absolutely
nothing left to lose. The hard part was living
long enough for that to happen. But by the grace
of God, I did it. You see, being stubborn, headstrong
and gifted isn't necessarily a good thing. That
allowed me to survive--if you want to call it
that. My heart was beating but I wasn't living,
feeling, smelling, touching, hearing, or seeing
... just existing. At the end, I was praying that
I could somehow get to rehab and try one last
time to exorcise the demons that have lived in
me so long. My prayer was answered, through God,
by Vince McMahon and the WWE.
whatever reason, I am so thankful, grateful, and
owe my life to the WWE. That is a huge statement
and one that I don't enjoy saying due to the amount
of shame that it brings. I put that shame aside
and got my ass and mind and soul into the rehab.
They have done nothing but be the most supportive
and accommodating and helpful and hopeful and
inspiring. Basically, they have stood in the corner
and been the anchor while I was in the ring for
the fight of my life. No, not wrestling, but a
fight that would seal my fate.
months with two weeks to go, I have made the most
amazing transition from hell to heaven on earth.
No, I'm not getting soft, mushy, or living on
a pink cloud. I'm just telling you the damned
truth. You see, none of you have walked in my
shoes and none of you should wish that on your
worst enemy. I am proud of myself and of the WWE
for giving me an opportunity that I would have
never believed possible just a short time ago.
rehab therapist physiologist and treatment team
damned sure had a full tub of crap to work with.
They were diligent, supportive, brutal, and loving.
They picked me up when I couldn't stand up. They
supported me and helped me walk. They guided me
so I could see. I can never thank them enough,
but I'll damned sure try. The way I'll do that
is try my best and dedicate myself to a better
life , a sober existence, and try in every way
to encourage others who are in the same dilemma.
guys, and girls, don't be afraid, don't be shy,
and most of all, don't be stupid. If you are hurting
and doing some of the same, reach out and get
help. You may not be as far along as I was, but
consider this ... you may not live long enough
to get as far along as I was. You see, I've always
been a freak of nature. Not by choice, but Divine
now available for bookings whether it be wrestling,
acting, autographs, appearances, motivational
speaking, tug of war, jello wrestling (a new favorite,
I sure won't eat it..) and just about anything
else. Reason being not only do I need to work,
but I want to. That is different. You see, before,
I had to work to support my addiction.
of addictions, I want say this: in the beginning,
I enjoyed tremendously every drink and drug that
I did. Had some wonderful times. But that is a
nasty hook and lie that will wind up consuming
you. When it's a choice, there is a right and
wrong. When it becomes an addiction, it's all
that matters. The addiction becomes you, and you
become the addiction. All that you do in your
life will be centered around this disease.
also tell you that I'm not ashamed or angry that
I'm an alcoholic and drug addict. On the contrary,
I'm quite thankful. You see, if I weren't afflicted
with this disease, then the only excuse I would
have had would be because I was a complete world
record-holding asshole. I never wanted nor have
I met anyone whose dream was to grow-up and become
a statistic and a fatality to something that I
originally chose to do.
far as these rumors that fly about Wrestlemania
and /or HOF, I have not been approached or spoken
to--in any form or fashion--to be a part or even
appear. It's a wonderful thing to have fans that
appreciate what I have done and can look past
my mistakes. I want to thank the fans and friends
that have expressed their feelings. Someday, I
have no doubt that I will be inducted. Why, you
might ask? I'll tell you why. No one has ever
been able to stop me from doing anything that
I wanted to do. I was the only one that could
stop me. Good news is, I don't think with my brain
anymore when it comes to the right and wrong.
I simply listen to my heart. You see, my mind
could justify anything, but my heart knows the
truth. Truth is ... it would be wrong to induct
me at this time simply because it would look bad
having a new world champion that is already being
inducted to the HOF. Oops! Now you know just one
of my goals. The rest will be shared as needed.
warning ... there are 13 days left before the
snake (the NEW snake) will be released. That is
good news for most, and bad news for those who
want to get in my way. Looking forward to seeing
you all again and showing you the reward for all
your help, love, support kindness and faithfulness
that has created a new beginning for a proud,
wiser, healthier, older, and optimistic human
March 9, 2008
"The Snake" Roberts - Australian Sports
"The Snake" Roberts and Greg Tingle, Sydney,