wrestling / Video Reviews

From The Back Of My Closet: Jake “the Snake” Roberts-Pick Your Poison DVD

November 22, 2005 | Posted by Leonard Hayhurst

From the Back of My Closet: Jake “the Snake” Roberts-Pick Your Poison DVD
And according to Jake he picked everything, but heroin and whippets

The title is a misnomer because this review comes from the front of my closet as I just picked up the new Jake “the Snake” Roberts 2 DVD set. The collection also comes with a booklet featuring excerpts from the autobiographies of “Superstar” Billy Graham, Jerry “the King” Lawler and “Classy” Freddie Blassie. But I can’t read, so we’ll skip that.

Before we get going let me mention that I have actually interviewed Jake Roberts in 1999 and we discussed many of the issues covered in the main feature of the DVD. On some points he was a little more open with me than with Jim Ross who conducts the interview here. At the time I was working at as an intern for my hometown newspaper of Zanesville, Ohio and Jake came in a week early to talk to me and do the local TV. He totally kayfabed the TV guy because his first question was “Is wrestling fake?” He then asked Jake to put him in a headlock for a bumper spot. Jake told him that he doesn’t full around with that, but if he just wanted him to straight kick his ass he had no problem with that. I didn’t go into fan boy mode, but Jake could tell I was a fan and I felt privileged to have received so much of time and candor.



We start with a poem written by Roberts scrolling up the screen entitled “Thieves of Dreams.” It’s about child molesters and abusers and as we will learn this is an issue very close to Jake to tackle. For anyone who has read Jake’s website, you know his writing can be very stream of conscious and esoteric.

An opening montage hypes Jake as a top superstar of the eighties and highlights his troubles with drugs and alcohol. To hammer home how bad this is the current Jake appears very haggard, and that’s an understatement. Imagine a not so fat David Crosby.

Jake was born in Gainesville, Texas to an unwed 13 year old mother. His father was a professional wrestler known as Grizzly Smith who was actually dating his grandmother at the time. The pair married, but divorced when Jake was 5. He was then turned over to his grandparents on his father’s side. His grandmother was a wonderful woman, but his grandfather was a drunk. Jake was split up from his younger sister and brother. This caused emotional problems in him that led to bed wetting until he was 11 or 12. No mention is made is that he is the half brother of former WWE’s wrestlers Rockin’ Robin and Sam Houston. He didn’t see his father much and he didn’t help him out with money either. More than him not being there, it was humiliating for Jake to have others ask why he wasn’t taken care of better since his father was a big star. Jake became a loner so he wouldn’t have to answer questions like that.

At the age of 11 and a half Jake’s grandmother died of advanced cancer. Ironically, this allowed Jake to get closer to his dad who came home for several weeks to take care of matters. Jake went to live with his dad, but only stayed three months. His stepmother didn’t care for Jake and put him in sexual situations that embarrassed and frustrated him. He went to live with his mother and stepfather. He calls his stepfather a good man that always treated him well. His sister eventually came to live with them as well. She became pregnant at the age of 12. Jake was afraid she would get them kicked out of the house and he beat her. Two years later she became pregnant again and Jake beat her again. At the age of 18 she married a man 53. She had a child by him. The man’s ex-wife and her current boyfriend kidnapped Jake’s sister. The body was never found, but it was a sure bet she was dead. When I talked to Jake he was in the process of establishing a foundation for abused children in Texas under his sister’s name. Jake talks about how his upbringing of mental, physical and sexual abuse has caused him to push his own children away because he didn’t want to fall into similar traps. He got his high school girlfriend pregnant and married her at the ripe age of 18.

While visiting his father in Baton Rouge, he was short a referee for a wrestling card one night and threw Jake into the role. Grizzly Smith never smartened his children up to the business. This caused more mental abuse as Jake and his siblings were always scared that their father could get killed. Jake told Grizzly that he wanted to become a wrestler. He laughed at him and knocked him on his ass. He told Jake he didn’t have what it took to make it in the business. From there on Jake wanted to prove him wrong.

He wrestled as a total jobber in Mid-South for a few months before going to Championship Wrestling from Florida. He wrestled and refereed there. He broke his wrist while there and was out for 18 months. During this period he worked on a dairy farm in Texas. Once healed, Jake returned to the ring and worked various territories. In the mid-seventies he returned back to Mid-South. Ted Dibiase, Jim Ross and Hugo Savinonich talk about working with Jake in Mid-South and all the potential he showed. Jake broke his arm and was forced to come back early by owner Bill Watts, which caused him to re-break it. Once healed, he went to Mid-Atlantic. Ricky Steamboat talks about working with him during this period.

Jake’s original finisher was a knee lift. The footage shows him working it much like Shawn Michaels Sweet Chin Music. One night Jake was wrestling the Grappler. He had his in a facelock when the Grappler tripped and they both went down. The crowd reacted very positively to what they thought was a new move and Jake knew he had something. Thus the DDT was born. Bruce Pritchard expands more on the DDT name coming from the poison. Steamboat, Dibiase, JR, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan put over the move. We get a montage of Jake DDT’ing about 30 guys.

Jake was tagging with Dory Funk and they didn’t mesh. Jerry and Jack Briscoe invited him to Georgia Championship Wrestling where Jake started writing and booking. There he became part of the original Legion of Doom with the Road Warriors, the Spoiler and Paul Ellering. Animal talks about rooming with Jake and how he never saw more Jack Daniels in his life. Jake started coming into his own and won the Television title. He had Ronnie Garvin knock him out on TBS television and take the belt, which just wasn’t done. This made a big star out of Garvin and led to a monster feud. Vince McMahon bought out GCW. Jake quit the fed. He went back to Mid-South for two years and went nowhere. He quit and called the WWE. Sorrowfully Vince was out of town, but he got the message and hired Jake to the WWE in 1986.

We see one of Jake’s first promos where he introduces Damien the snake and scares Gene Okerlund. Vince thought it was a natural to have him carry the Snake based on the nickname he was already using. The fan reaction to it was fantastic. Jake said he gave a similar idea to Bill Watts, but he rejected it. Steamboat talks about being “the Dragon” and how he brought out a komodo dragon to counteract Damian. They feuded. Booker George Scott wanted Jake to DDT Ricky on the concrete floor. He refused. Steamboat said he could block it. Jake did it. Steamboat didn’t block it. He suffered a concussion.

Jake was then given his own interview segment, the Snake Pit. Vince again thought this was a natural fit with Jake’s verbal skills. Vince, Okerlund, Steamboat and Pritchard put him over as a talker. Animal says that Jake was the guy responsible for the first touches of edginess and darkness injected into wrestling.

Jake interviews the Honky Tonk Man on the Snake Pit. Jake and scares him off with the snake. HTM sneaks up on Jake and bashes him with a guitar. The problem was that the guy sent to get the guitar rigged screwed up and Jake was bashed with a real guitar that blew two discs out in his neck. This was the turning point of his drug addiction. He was taking pain pills so he could keep working and then needed uppers to get ready to wrestle. The feud went to Wrestlemania III where Jake had Alice Cooper in his corner. HTM stole the win, but Jake and Cooper got revenge with Damian on Jimmy Hart. Jake credits this match with turning him face and Honky heel, but I think their turns had already taken place by that point. Various people then put Jake over as a top star of the late eighties.

Jake says his job was to school people to get them ready for Hulk Hogan. This included Dibiase and Rick Rude. Although Dibiase had already worked with Hogan a bit before getting to Jake and Rude never did have a big program with him. Footage is shown of the Roberts and Dibiase feud over the Million Dollar Belt. We then move to the feud with Rick Rude. Rude hit on Jake’s real life wife Cheryl in the crowd one night. She slapped Rude, he grabbed her arm and Jake attacked. Jake says he came up with the idea in order to have Cheryl on the road with him, because he was just getting out of rehab and needed the extra support. However, Jake did reject to the painted tights Rude was to wear with Cheryl’s picture on the crotch. Jake said if Rude was going to put them on, he would rip them off. This led to Rude getting stripped in the ring in a huge angle.

In a clip from 1996, Jake talks about his descent into drug and alcohol abuse. Others talk about it. We see dramatized footage of a guy who looks more like Sean Waltman than Jake drinking and doing drugs. Jake says he did every drug you could think of, save heroin. His first drink came when he was ten when his grandfather gave him some whiskey, out of ‘fun.’ Jake talks about how addiction goes from want to, to need to, to have to. This strained his marriage. He talks about how his wife had to shake him to keep him breathing and dig vomit out of his throat. His children became scared of him. Jake wanted to die. In a very powerful clip he talks about how he heard of the deaths of people like Hennig and Hawk and cursed God for not taking him. Why does he live and they have to die? Jake also cheated on his wife.

The mood lightens as more is expanded on Jake’s use of Damian. Pritchard relates how once as Brother Love Jake shoved the snake down his pants. Dibiase says that Jake had to take care of the snake while they were on tour. He had to sleep with it in the hotel room and it would often get out.

Jake was honored to work with Andre the Giant. In the old days when Andre came to your territory he would wrestle the top guy, so this told Jake he was a top guy now. Jake came to the aide of Randy Savage in a match with Andre by scaring him off with the snake. The idea being that Andre was a force of nature with no weakness, except a fear of snakes. To Andre’s credit he did a great job of selling his fear in the clip they show. Jake told me that he loved working with Andre and how they tore up a bar once together while touring Japan. People didn’t believe Andre was who he said he was, because Jake was almost as big as he was. How can he be a giant when he’s got a guy his size right next to him?

Footage is shown of Jake’s feud with Earthquake, which played out similarly to the Andre feud, where you had this big guy afraid of snakes. Earthquake tied Jake up in the ropes and squashed Damian. Jake does a superb acting job of selling his grief. He would then bring in Lucifer to replace Damian. According to a WrestleCrap interview with John Tenta in the bag when he sat on it was pantyhose filled with hamburger. Oddly nothing is said about the feud itself, we just see tape of it. Savinonich and Dibiase just put Jake over more.

Jake was told by Vince McMahon to go to the Ultimate Warrior and ask his permission to feud with him. Jake thought it was stupid that he had to ask the Warrior’s permission. He did so and the Warrior swore at him and said he better hold up his end of the deal. They filmed vignettes to set up the feud and then the Warrior held Vince up for a better payday at SummerSlam and was fired. Savinonich tells how Jake partied with him during a tour of Puerto Rico. He had to run away from him, because he was afraid he was going to die. The next day Jake missed the show, because he was too messed up.

At the wedding reception of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Jake gave them a cobra that attacked Liz. Jake would later tie Savage up in the ropes and have the cobra bite Savage. Jake relates that the Cobra wouldn’t let go of Savage’s arm and he basically had to rip him off. Dibiase says there is not enough money to have had him do that angle. A bit is shown of Roberts laying in wait with a steel chair behind a curtain to bash Savage and Miss Elizabeth. They set this up great as first Liz is in front, then Savage, then Liz again. McMahon is going nuts on commentary. They come through the curtain and the Undertaker oddly makes the save. They had been in cahoots, but now UT decided to turn on him and went face.

Vince says that Roberts was one of those guys that could be drunk and stoned out of his mind and you would never know it. He was so smooth in the ring and together when he talked to you. Jake told Vince that he always wanted to write. Pat Patterson stepped down from the position shortly before Wrestlemania VIII. Out of respect to Patterson Vince said they were not hiring anyone to replace him. Upset, Jake signed a big money deal with WCW. He held Vince up for his release or he wouldn’t wrestle UT at Wrestlemania VIII. Jake is ashamed of that and calls it one of the worse things of his professional career.

He had to wait 90 days for his full release. On the 87th day a power switch at WCW put Bill Watts in charge. He tore up the contract Jake signed and made him resign for a lot less than he was even making in WWE. Jake debuted by coming in from the crowd and attacking Sting. The announcers play this off like they have no idea what Jake is doing there. This was years before the Outsiders and people coming in from the crowd was common. Sting took two DDT’s on a steel chair. This led to a spin the wheel make the deal match for Halloween Havoc that year. Jake disappeared shortly after that. He says it was because his wife told him he needed to make a decision between his career and his family, so he retired. He told me that WCW just jerked him around and he disagreed with them creatively. They were too silly.

Roberts returned to the WWE at the 1996 Royal Rumble. Jake wore a green smock in the ring at this point, which I always thought was unusual, but it was because he was so far out of shape. Jake said he was ashamed of how out of shape he was. Jake worked a character of a born again Christian. He had a new yellow snake named Revelations. I had completely forgotten about that. Dibiase and Pritchard say that Jake really wanted to be born again and follow the right path, but he just couldn’t. Jake didn’t think this new direction was good for his character, and he told me much the same, but if he helped out one person then so much the better. It was Jake’s religious tone in promos that led to the famed Austin 3:16. Jake says that he saw potential in Austin and knew he could be a real superstar. Jake told me that Austin talked to him a lot about his character, how to talk, how to walk, how to wrestle to create the Stone Cold character and that the character was very drawn from what Jake did.

In the summer of ’96 Jake feuded with Jerry Lawler. Roberts would sit in on commentary and Lawler would make drunk jokes on him. A feud grew from that. Lawler thought Jake was fine with it all, but Roberts reveals here that he hated the angle and feud. Lawler was making light of his real life plight. In one segment Lawler spit Jim Beam in Jake’s face. He could have used tea, but no he had to use real whiskey and this hurt and humiliated Roberts. Lawler made the beef with Roberts personal. The boys in the back would often tease Jake and pour booze in his Coke. One time in Europe the guys were merciless in busting his chops on drinking with them. Undertaker finally stepped in and said to leave him alone for their sake. If Jake started drinking again he would bury every one of them.

At this time, Cheryl divorced Jake. This pushed him back into drinking and drugs. JR and Pritchard state that Jake was getting ready to move behind the scenes as a writer and trainer. Dibiase relates a story of Jake missing a TV taping. He went to his hotel room and found him messed up. He got on his knees and prayed with and cried with him. Yet, the loss of his family was too much and he went off the deep end again. He was fired.

Jake says that he was approached to do “Beyond the Mat” under the guise that it was a TV documentary to help get kids off of drugs. He was led into it by Terry Funk, who he thought was his friend. Lawler, Vince, Savinonich and Pritchard defend Jake and blast the filmmakers for purposely making him look bad.

Jake showed up in ECW to DDT Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lawler. That was all he did. They paid him well. He went home.

In 2002 he moved to England in order to clean up and restart his life and career. In 2003 a woman reports him to the authorities for beating his opponent in a match with a “1200 pound” snake. A year later authorities bust Jake for not keeping his snake in a large enough aquarium. After that Jake was set up by certain people in a hotel room. The cops were called, but there were no drugs in the room and the room was in fact registered to the people who ratted Jake out. No mention is made of how Damian was supposedly starved to death by Jake during this period.

Footage is shown from earlier this year of Jake showing up on RAW to take on Randy Orton. Vince hints that if Jake really does clean himself up that there might be a chance for him to come back to the WWE in some capacity. Jake knows that no one can hurt him more than he has hurt himself. He tried to kill himself twice and couldn’t even do that right. Various people lament Jake’s troubles and put over how much he could have accomplished. Jake wants to be remembered as a survivor and to be judged by his successes. To be happy he has to be involved with wrestling and would like that to be with the WWE.


Snake Bites

Jake’s relationship with children: Jake speaks on his fondness for children and how he can sense when a kid has been abused. Children will tell you straight and that’s why Jake still has time for them, but can barely suffer adult fans.

How he became “the Snake”: Roberts was a big fan of quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler. Jake was a name his father once used and he liked that. So you got the nice rhyme of Jake the Snake.

Wrestling with the Dynamite Kid: Jake speaks fondly of Tom Billington. Bret Hart would bust Kid open in a match and to get revenge he would go to Jake and say “left eye or right eye.” No, don’t make him choose. Ok, he’ll do both. Ok, right eye. Elbow, knee or fist. Don’t make me choose. I’ll do all three. So then Kid would go out there and elbow Bret right in the eye to bust him open. Jake does a great impression of Dynamite Kid.

Legion of Doom: King Kong Bundy was coming into GCW. Gordon Solie for weeks played hype videos for Bundy and bemoaned that he would join the Legion of Doom and end Georgia Championship Wrestling as they knew it. Finally Bundy was to show up. Paul Ellering went out to talk to Gordon. He threw it to another video, but the two were still miked. He called Bundy a fat pig and dogged him. Bundy came out and attacked Ellering. The LOD made the save and for one of the few times in his career Bundy was a face.

“Steamboat saved my life…”: One night while wrestling Steamboat, Jake was using the snake to spook him. The snake wrapped around Roberts’ neck and knocked him out. Steamboat tore the snake off of him. Jake came around in time to prevent it from going into the crowd, but if Ricky hadn’t pulled it off he would have died.

Meeting Dick Ebersol: One of the first Saturday Night Main Events Jake was given a script by a man from NBC. He thought it was horseshit and told the man to shove it up his ass. Hours later he’s talking with Jesse Ventura. He mentions the script and Jesse says that was just a suggestion, really it was so Jake would no when and where to be for his pre-tapes. Jesse asked who Jake cursed out and he pointed to a man walking up to meet with Vince McMahon. Jesse said “oh my God, Jake…bye” and took off. Jake was beckoned over by Vince. Turns out the man was head of NBC sports Dick Ebersol. Ebersol asked Jake if he had any ideas worthy of his work. He said that he could always take a shower with a snake. Ebersol loved it. They then show the promo of Roberts hanging in the shower room with Damian while Mean Gene tries to interview him. Good stuff.

Snake on the loose: Ricky Steamboat tells how Jake would throw the snake into the showers before a show to keep it moist. In one building they only had a small stall. The snake crawled up the side of the wall and wrapped itself around the hot water knob. He turned it and scalded himself. The snake freaked out and came slithering into the locker room. Guys jumped up on the furniture and ran for the door. Jake just laughed and eventually calmed it down.

Grizzly Smith: Various people put over Jake’s father as an in ring worker and road agent.

Hogan/Jake feud: Hogan and Jake were set to feud in late 1986. Hogan came onto the Snake Pit and took a DDT. Unfortunately the crowd gave the wrong reaction. Instead of cheering for Hogan to recover, they chanted for the DDT. They wrestled two matches, one in Montreal and one in Providence. They did big business, but the crowd reaction was mixed. Jake says that was not good business, because eventually you have the crowd turning on Hogan and you don’t kill the goose laying the golden eggs. Jake was less diplomatic when he talked to me. He didn’t think much of Hogan as a worker or person and said that it was Hogan who got Vince to kill the feud, because he was afraid of Jake taking over his spot as top babyface.

Easter Eggs

Highlight Legion of Doom under Snake Bites and press right on your remote control. You get Animal talking about the Bundy angle.
Highlight Grizzly Smith and press left. Hogan talks about meeting Grizzly Smith. He picked him up for a show and drove a hundred while crying the whole way. This was shortly after Jake’s sister had been murdered.

In chapters highlight Growing Up and press right. Jake tells a story about his dad getting laid out by the Assassins. He then proceeded to work a young Jake by making him drive home and having him think he was dying from the blood loss.


Snake Pit match vs. Ricky Steamboat from The Big Event on 8.28.86
This is an outdoor event with a huge crowd. This is no DQ, no count out, no time limit and a blow off for their feud. Jake attacks Ricky on the apron and brings him into the ring. Steamboat ducks a short arm clothesline and works the chops. Backdrop sends Jake bailing. They take this opportunity to take off their outfits. This is one of the few times I remember seeing Jake in a ring robe. Back in, Steamboat gets a chop off of a whip for a cover. Jake tries to act like an armbar isn’t hurting him, so Steamboat lifts him over his head with it and slams him down. He works a wristlock on the mat. Jake powers up and they go to the ropes. Smartly Roberts ducks the chop this time, but Steamboat gets him coming back to the other way for another cover. Steamboat does an awesome move where he clamps Jake’s arm between his feet and then falls back to wrench it. He keeps on the arm. Jake fires a punch to break, but Steamboat ducks and gets a couple chops. Back to the arm. Steamboat gets a savat kick to double Roberts over and send him to the floor. Nobody was wrestling like Steamboat and throwing in martial arts stuff at the time.
Steamboat goes to get him, but takes a shoulder tackle. Scoop slam by Jake. He drapes Steamboat’s head over the edge of the platform they’re on like a chopping block and nails him in the throat. Jake goes for a chair, but Ricky catches him and claims the chair himself for a shot to the gut. Chair to the head. Ricky tosses him in and goes up top for the flying chop. That was his finisher, but it gets two.

Back to the arm. Steamboat with the mounted punches and then chops him in the corner. Jake reverses a cross corner whip and Ricky does a header over the turnbuckles and to the floor. Jake meets him outside and slingshots him into the steel post. A woozy Dragon falls off the platform. Jake drives his head into the guardrail. Steamboat is bleeding. Jake taunts him back in the ring and then works the cut. Short arm clothesline and he signals for the DDT. Ricky pushes him into the corner and Jake shakes him off with a knee lift. Inverted atomic drop by Jake. Pumphandle gut buster. He makes the arrogant cover by sitting on Ricky face. Steamboat brings his legs up to hook Roberts around the shoulders and reverses to get the surprise pin fall. *** ј A solid match with some nice ‘hardcore’ spots for the time period. However, all the arm work went nowhere and the pin fall came out of nowhere. The two also didn’t seem to flow as well as I’ve seen them in other matches.

Vs. Honky Tonk Man from Wrestlemania III on 3.29.87
This match comes with bonus commentary by Roberts and Jim Ross, but it’s nothing special. HTM has Jimmy Hart with him. Roberts is accompanied by Alice Cooper. In shades of our last match, Jake pearl harbors Honky on the apron and then beats on him inside. HTM telegraphs a backdrop leading to a knee lift by Roberts. HTM bails and gets his jumpsuit off. Snake follows for some punches then tosses him in the ring. HTM slides out the other side, but Jake follows again and body slams him. Back in, Roberts eats knee on a blind charge. HTM kicks him while he’s down. Jake works up, weathers some punches, then lands one of his own and the short arm clothesline. Someone today should lift that. He signals for the DDT, but Honky bails again. Jake follows and chases Jimmy Hart. He catches a blindside attack by HTM, but is then whipped into the ring post. Cooper helps Roberts into the ring, but HTM gives him a driving knee to knock him off the apron. Scoop slam leads to a second rope fist drop back inside. Honky beats him down. Roberts backdrops out of the Shake, Rattle and Roll neckbreaker. Jake collapses in the corner and Honky works the mounted punches. Roberts carries him out for an inverted atomic drop and takes the offensive. Honky begs off. No dice. Another backdrop. HTM tries to bail again, but is caught in the ropes and does the old Memphis rocking chair bit. Roberts lines up the DDT, but Hart grabs his leg allowing a schoolboy rollup. HTM grabs the ropes and steals the win. He runs off, leaving Hart alone with Roberts and Cooper. They put the snake on him and he freaks out. ** They hit all the usual spots, but there was too much random brawling and repeated moves. The finish was cheap, but the post match stuff with Hart and the snake was good.

In a Rude Awakening against DDT match vs. Rick Rude from Madison Square Garden on 10.24.88
Whoever hits their finisher first gets the win, no pin fall needed. The way Howard Finkel describes it though it sounds like Rude could hit a DDT or Roberts a neckbreaker and still win. Heenan is announced, but he’s not with Rude. Roberts has his wife Cheryl. Rude does his standard pre-match spiel. Rude has his own face on his tights. Chreyl is looking good. She’s got her guns loaded and her legs strutting. Snake sneaks in on Rude and tries to pants him. Rude then gabs at Cheryl and Jake gets him from behind. Rude reverses a whip, but Roberts dodges the charge. Rude sells a wristlock like he has his nuts in a vice. He tries to get over the ropes to the floor, but Jake holds on and drags him back in. Rude thinks he lost Jake on a crisscross, but turns around for a kick to the gut. Lord Alfred Hayes on commentary babbles about how the DDT is better than the Rude Awakening because wrestlers have really developed necks, but soft heads. Rude goes to the floor. Jake tries to pull him in, but takes an eye rake. Rude on the offensive. Jake gets his own eye rake and takes over. Rude ducks a punch and nails a clothesline. He ties Roberts in the ropes and goes after Cheryl on the outside. Jake gets loose and blindsides Rude. Rude begs off in the ring. Rude gets an inverted atomic drop, but sells his knee. To the outside again. Rude posts Jake in the shoulder. Rude gyrates. Back in the ring, Rude works a rear chinlock. Jakes turns into the move and powers up. He reverses to a hammerlock, but eats a back elbow. Rude with a mounted head vice. Nice work by him to soften up the neck. Jake works up again and breaks with a back rake. He takes a knee on a charge. Both men down.

Rude is up first and sneaks around the apron to get behind Jake to hang him out to dry on the top rope. Roberts bites Rude’s hand as he goes for the Rude Awakening. Jake is knocked out of the ring by forearm shots. Rude goes to post him again, but Roberts blocks to post him. Body slam on the outside. Jake tosses Rude back in for the pump handle gut buster and then a face slam. Knee lift by Roberts. He signals for the DDT, but Rude grabs the ropes to block. He tries to crawl out the other side of the ring, but Jake catches him by the tights and he moons the crowd. They blur it out. Short arm clothesline. Rude throws Jake into the corner out of the DDT. Rude sweeps Jake’s leg out from under him on a knee lift. Rude comes off the top with a fist drop. He sweet talks Cheryl. She tries to slap him. Rude grabs her arm. He then picks Jake up. Jake pops out of a body slam attempt and hits the DDT out of nowhere. That should end it, but Jake pins him anyway. Jake lets Cheryl slap Rick. He then drapes Damian over him. **** Once more the finish comes out of nowhere, but this match had a better flow and storytelling. Both men did a good job of building up to their finishers, teasing the move and providing counters. They could have done a little more of that though. Previous elements of their feud like Cheryl slapping Rude and Jake pantsing him were worked into the narrative and really fleshed that out.

Disc Two


With Ricky Steamboat vs. Jim Nelson and Mike Miller from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on 9.9.81
Jake has short hair. Steamboat and Miller start with a test of strength. Steamboat works the arm until Nelson can be tagged. Dropkick leads to an armdrag and Jake is tagged in. He leaps over Nelson on a backdrop attempt. Body slam sets him up for the knee lift. Snap mare for a cover and Nelson dives to tag Miller. Jake gets a single leg pick up and tags Ricky. He works on the leg. Tag back to Roberts who works the leg. He kicks out of a knee bar then stupidly backs into the face corner and is smacked by Steamboat. Roberts gets a headlock takedown, but Miller slides it into a head scissors. Jake backs off and tags Ricky. Miller clubs him down in the corner and tags Nelson. Steamboat powers out of a rear chinlock. Tag to Miller. Steamboat ducks a wild right hand for a chop. A flurry of offense and he tags Jake. He and Miller trade punches. Body slam, snap mare, knee lift. Jake whips him into a Steamboat chop from the apron. Roberts holds Ricky by the shoulders so he can kick Miller in the chest. Tag to Nelson. Steamboat with a flying shoulder tackle. Tag to Jake. The knee lift sets up a back suplex for the win. * Roberts and Steamboat looked good, but it was just a glorified squash.

Vs. Ronnie Garvin for the TV Title from Georgia Championship Wrestling on 12.3.83
Garvin is still going by the One Man Gang nickname. Jake looks to be wearing pajama pants. Gordon Solie on commentary notes that they went to a time limit draw the week before. Jake gets a headlock takedown. Garvin powers up. They grapple on the ropes. The referee is named Scrappy McGowan. Ellering at ringside gives Jake minute by minute updates on the time. Hands of Stone punch gets a two. Garvin pulls Jake’s foot off the ropes for another cover. Jake kicks out and bails. Back in, Snake covers up like a boxer and tries to avoid the right hand. Garvin works a front chancery. Roberts powers out, but Garvin gets a forearm shot and goes back to it. Roberts pushes him into the turnbuckles, but can’t break loose. Garvin is wasting too much time. The two work a face lock on each other in a neat spot. Garvin swings out of it and stomps the face on the mat, but Jake gets his leg on the ropes before the cover. Commercial break.

Jake is on the offensive now. He has Garvin in an STF. Garvin bites his hand to break, which just pisses Jake off. Body slam. Knee drop for a one count. Garvin fights out of a back suplex attempt, but takes a shoulder block into the corner and falls to the apron. Roberts boots him to the floor. He makes the apron and Jake tries to run his face into the ring post, but Roberts blocks to clock him. Cross body off the top gets two. Roberts bails. Jake is favoring his leg and covers up for the punch back in. Body slam by Garvin. He drops a couple knees across the throat. Roberts rolls to the outside. Back in, Garvin catches Roberts’ foot on a kick. Jake punches him in the head until he falls and then stands on the throat. Garvin fights back. Roll up for two. Inside cradle, but Jake gets his foot on the ropes. Garvin whiffs on an elbow drop. Inverted atomic drop by Jake for two. Garvin slugs back, but the time limit expires. They keep fighting. Ellering pulls Jake out and they leave. *** ј Nice working of the time limit to play into storylines without having the idea overshadow the match. A little slow in the early middle stages, but good action throughout that showed how well both men knew each other. Roberts did a nice job of putting Garvin over.

Vs. Lanny Poffo from Madison Square Garden on 3.16.86
This is Jake’s WWE debut. Poffo is Randy Savage’s brother. His gimmick at this time was throwing Frisbees to the crowd and reciting poems. Tonight’s, “It’s the first appearance of Jake the Snake and we all wish him luck on his debut. But if Manhatten doesn’t like his style I hear the Bronx has a hell of a zoo.” Poffo kips up off of a shoulder tackle straight into a right hand. Poffo flips out of a body slam attempt and rushes Jake into the ropes for momentum on a roll up. Jake holds on, but turns into a dropkick. He bails off of a second. Jake works an arm wringer back in. Lanny runs to the top turnbuckle and backflips off to get under Jake to boot him off. He goes arm dragging. Cross body off of a crisscross gets two and Roberts lunges for his bag in the corner. Back to the ropes, Roberts gets a diving punch to the stomach and follows with the gutbuster. He drops a series of knees on the stomach. Big kick to the gut off of a whip. Snap mare to a chinlock. Poffo bridges out, but Roberts pulls the hair to get him back down. Poffo powers up and takes a shoulder tackle to the stomach. Poffo kicks Jake in the face on a backdrop try and takes over. Backdrop by Poffo and Roberts bails. Lanny goes for a springboard cross body to the outside, which was crazy for ’86, and trips on the top rope to take header outside. He stupidly doesn’t sell it. He tosses Jake back into the ring and follows, but is then bucked back to the floor by Roberts and that he sells. Hip toss on the floor. Roberts waits for Lanny to crawl back inside and he hits the DDT for the win. He throws Damian on him to drive the crowd bananas. * ј A really solid, high energy match to start, but it slowly wore down. The major botched spot by Poffo really destroyed the match and led to a weak finish. These two could have an excellent bout, but this wasn’t it.

Vs. Earthquake on Superstars from 4.27.91
Earthquake attacks before the bell, but telegraphs a backdrop to take a knee lift. Jake chops him down with clotheslines. He lets Damian out and Earthquake and Jimmy Hart run off. They try to leave, but the referee makes them reenter the ring. Senior official Earl Hebner comes in and makes Roberts put Damian underneath the ring. Earthquake attacks him from behind and brings the bag back out. Or I should say a bag. He ties Roberts up in the ring ropes, does the stomp and then butt splashes the bag. They don’t show it, choosing to cut to Sean Mooney in the control center reacting to it. He does it again. Officials finally come out to drive Earthquake off and free Jake. Roberts checks the bag and is beside himself with grief. DUD. We got all we needed of this angle on the main feature. I don’t see why we get it here.

Roberts attacks Randy Savage post match with a cobra from Superstars on 11.23.91
Roberts has his cobra handling glove on. Savage, Roddy Piper and Vince are on commentary. They talk about how Savage is trying to get reinstated so he can lead a Survivor Series team against Roberts. Savage had to retire after losing to Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VII. Roberts is against a jobber in a red singlet and we never get his name. Jake beats him a bit and then hits the DDT. DUD. Roberts asks for a microphone and talks trash on Savage. At one time he almost looked up to Savage, envied Savage, but now he’s hiding behind a woman. He tells him to borrow Piper’s skirt. Vince and Roddy try to stop Savage, but he goes down to the ring. Savage climbs up on the apron, but Hebner tries to pull him off and Jake clotheslines him. He posts Savage on the outside. He ties him in the ropes back in and latches the cobra to his arm. Piper and various officials finally make the save. Elizabeth runs out. Roberts holds everyone at bay with the snake. A delusional Savage tries to attack Jake, but is beaten down. Again we got all we needed of this on the main feature. We should have seen the Tuesday in Texas match.

Coal Miner’s Glove Match vs. Sting from Halloween Havoc on 10.25.90
I’m surprised the mini-movie of Jake in the biker bar isn’t on here as an extra. There were several gimmick matches on a wheel and whatever one came up was what they were going to do. It landed on Coal Miner’s Glove. There is a big, heavy coal miner’s glove on top of a pole attached to the ring. The guy who gets it down can use it in the match. Jake runs for it right off the bat. Sting pulls him down and body slams him twice. Sting goes for it, but Jake pulls him down. Roberts on the offensive. Sting ducks a punch and hits one of his own. Jake pulls up on a crisscross and Sting misses a dropkick. Roberts works on the back with knees. Stomp to the crotch. He throws Sting to the floor and follows. Sting shoves Jake into the ring post. He posts the shoulder again and goes inside to climb the pole. Roberts catches him. Back suplex. He sells the shoulder and can’t capitalize. Sting stays on the arm. Jake hip tosses Sting over the ropes, but he lands on the apron. Jake climbs, but Sting brings him down to crotch the top turnbuckle. Sting goes back to the arm. Roberts drops on an armbar and bucks Sting to the floor. He waffles him with a chair on the outside. Back in, Jake takes off his wrist tape and chokes Sting out with it. Roberts whiffs on a knee lift and cold cocks himself on the mat. Jake is blown up. Roberts moves on the Stinger Splash. Short arm clothesline with the bad arm and he sells it. He uses the bad arm for the DDT and is in real pain. This slows him from climbing. Sting pulls him off, but takes an elbow to the face. Sting runs the ring apron and pivots around the pole for a kick. Cactus Jack brings out a snake. Sting gets the glove. Roberts goes to attack with the cobra. Sting nails him in the kidneys with the glove and gets the pin. The cobra bites Jake in the face. Roberts is clearly holding the snake to his face. He stumbles off with Jack. ** Not a bad bout and the arm work paid off, but the finish and post match stuff was so stupid. I’d expect better from these two.

For the Smokey Mountain Heavyweight Title vs. the Dirty White Boy on 5.7.94
Dirty White Boy briefly wrestled in WWE as TL Hopper. He has a patch over his eye and Jake makes fun of it. Jake forces DWB into the corner, then backs off. They exchange wristlocks and Roberts pulls him down by the hair. They do the sequence again. In a great bit of pantomime Jake shows the referee how he’s tugging the shoulder to get Boy down, but with his one eye, he thinks he sees him grabbing the hair. I would guess that Jake is drunk here. DWB turns the tables by pulling Roberts hair out of a wristlock exchange. He then mimes to the ref that he thought he had the shoulder, but missed because of the bad eye. Fantastic storytelling. Jake mockingly applauds him. Jake slaps the bad eye. We needed an extra to tell us what the deal was with the eye. Jake attacks the eye again. Jake hits the eye again, but Boy surprises with a right hand. Jake trips out of the ring, but I don’t think it was the punch that did it. Dirty White Boy works an armbar. Les Thatcher and Bob Caudle on commentary are doing a great job of talking psychology concerning the eye. Jake powers up, but eats an elbow. Back to the arm. Roberts gets a jaw breaker and hits a sloppy diving shoulder tackle. He pitches White Boy to the floor. Some samurai dude that blinded White Boy comes out and steals the eye patch. Bobby Blaze and Tracey Smothers scare him off.

White Boy is blinded and Roberts punches the eye. Jake unravels his wrist tape and jams it in the eye. Knee lift. We get the finish of the Steamboat match from disc one, but this time Roberts kicks out. Roberts with an inverted atomic drop. Cocky cover for two. Elbow to the eye in the corner. Roberts just stands over DWB and takes shots to the gut without selling. He nonchalantly jabs a thumb into the eye. Boy is tossed to the floor. Roberts follows. Jake jaws at some old ladies in the front row. This is sad. An overconfident Roberts takes a series of punches. Big boot, elbow drops. Roberts is knocked to the apron. He goes to the outside and kicks a nearby cameraman. He steals the camera and shoots the flash into White Boy’s face. DDT by Roberts. Jake just drapes an arm over him for the cover. He’s the new champ. * ѕ Great storytelling, bad match. DWB was never the best in ring worker, but he did a nice job of selling the eye. Jake was obviously messed up and was very sloppy. You let a sober Jake do this match and it’s probably an automatic three stars.

King of the Ring finals vs. Steve Austin from 6.23.96
Roberts sells a rib injury from an earlier match with Vader. Austin was busted open hardway on the mouth from his earlier match with Marc Mero. Austin attacks Jake as he enters to the start the match. Austin vigorously pounds the ribs. Austin screams at him to get up. Jake slugs back, but can’t keep it up. Austin nails him in the back and then coldly shoves Jake over when he drops to his knees. Stone Cold rips off the tape on the ribs and beats away. Commissioner Gorilla Monsoon comes out. He tries to stop the match, but Jake refuses. With new fire he punches Austin. He signals for the DDT. Austin backs him into the corner and shoulder thrusts the ribs. Stunner finishes. Steve looks to have ripped his stitches. Ѕ *. Just an extended beat down by Austin to put him over. Both men did a good job of selling the story of the busted ribs. Post match Austin is coronated by Michael Hayes as Doc Hendrix. “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”

Vs. Jerry Lawler from SummerSlam on 8.18.96
Lawler is wearing a Vinny Testeverde Ravens jersey. He brings out a bottle of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Jim Beam. He’s just missing Jose Cuervo to have the three wise men. Lawler talks smack on Mark Henry at ringside. He lays the drunk jokes on thick and heavy. Harvey Wippleman is the referee. Jake comes out and Lawler keeps running his mouth. Jerry says he’ll make him a deal. He’ll open his bag, if Jake doesn’t open his. It’s an oversized bottle of champagne inside. Wippleman tries to take the bottle and this allows Jake to whip out Revelations. King runs down the aisle. Jake puts the snake away and Lawler comes back. Jerry asks for a microphone, but it’s not working. Jake hits the outside and attacks. Face first to the ring steps and they go inside. Lawler is worked over in the corner. Jake snap mares him over and stomps the crotch. Lalwer bails and Jake follows for a body slam. Roberts posts him, shoves his face into the liquor bottles he left ringside and posts him again. Jake grinds his head into the steel post. Jerry takes a soda off of a fan and tosses it in Jake’s eyes. Henry is concerned over what the fan will drink now. King ties the blinded Snake up in the ropes. He goes for the Jack Daniels. Roberts kicks him in the gut and gets free. Lawler suplexes out of the DDT. Fist drop. Jake works the punches into the short arm clothesline. Lawler pulls the ref into the way to block the DDT. Jerry jabs him in the throat with the bottle and then pins him with a handful of tights. I can’t believe Harvey didn’t see that. DUD. Just a silly, unfunny comedy match. Lawler says the problem with Jake is that his throat is dry and he needs a drink. He dumps booze down his gullet and douses him. Lawler goes for a second bottle and Henry breaks it up to scare Jerry off. He checks on Roberts and helps him to the back. While you’re up, get that fan a new drink.

Run-in during a match between Jerry Lawler and Tommy Dreamer from ECW’s Hardcore Heaven on 8.17.97
Dreamer sets up a piledriver on Lawler when the lights go out. They come back on to find Jake in the ring. He lays out Dreamer and goes after Lawler. DDT to Dreamer. Clothesline to Lawler. The crowd is going ape shit. The previously knocked out referee recovers to count a two where Lawler fell on top of Dreamer.

With Tommy Dreamer vs. Justin Credible and Jack Victory from November 2 Remember on 11.1.98
Dreamer and Roberts throw the heels into the ring. Double Irish whip gets reversed, double telegraphed backdrops gets stereo knee lifts. Everybody is in street clothes. Dreamer whips both men to Roberts and he backdrops them to the floor. Dreamer pescados out onto both of them. He rolls Credible into the ring. Credible’s men Mr. Wright and Jason trip Dreamer, but he rolls out of the ring on an elbow drop. He punishes the flunkies while Jake works on Credible. Inverted atomic drop. Roberts clotheslines him to the floor. Dreamer picks him up, but is crotched on the guardrail. Credible and Dreamer go to the ring. Credible stomps on him and swears something that gets bleeped out. Credible lobs Dreamer out to the ramp and then smacks Jake on the apron. Jason attacks Dreamer and scoop slams him on the ramp. It’s more an elevated platform. Dreamer is tossed back in. Boot to the midsection leads to a sloppy leaping DDT. Victory is still down. Credible distracts the referee by taunting Jake so Jason can work Dreamer over more on the ramp. Back in, Credible works a facelock on the mat. Justin distracts the referee by going after Jake again. Justin goes up top while Jason looks to hoist Tommy for a double team move. Dreamer blocks and whips Jason into the corner. Credible crotches himself and Jason trips into a DDT. Superplex by Dreamer. Credible recovers and asks for a steel chair. Drop toe hold on Tommy to the chair. He lines up a baseball slide, but Dreamer moves and he slides crotch first into the steel. Chastity gets in the ring and Jake stomps her. This allows Jason to make the save. It looks like he has taken over for Victory on the apron. Credible tries to mule kick over a charge, but Dreamer catches him on his shoulder for the Dreamer Driver. Tags all around. Roberts is a house of fire. Stereo short arm clotheslines. The fans chant DDT.

One Man Gang and Rod Price run in to break it up. Mass beatings occur. Dreamer and Roberts take the 747 splash. New Jack and John Kronos then run out with a shopping cart of plunder. It looks like half off day at the Goodwill. Credible takes a 450 off the top from Kronos and covers. What? He gets up and is laid out by OMG. 747 to Kronos. New Jack flies off the top with a steel chair to Gang. Dreamer frog splashes Credible and he kicks out of the pin. The match is still going on? Spicolli Driver. Roberts is in to head off Mr. Wright. Chastity low blow him and Dreamer captures her from behind. Piledriver on Chastity. Nicole Bass runs in. Roberts low blows her and Styles calls it a shot to the nuts. Points to her for taking the DDT. Credible hits Jake low with a cane while Dreamer canes Victory. Dreamer pulls a ladder out of his ass. Rocket launcher on Credible to the ladder. DDT by Jake on the ladder. Dreamer and Roberts make the double cover for the win. I know it’s ECW, but that was just a confusing mess and not too entertaining either. ј* Jack Victory puts in the most worthless performance I’ve ever seen in a match. He sells a knee lift for twenty minutes like he has ebola.

Interviews and Promos

Vince McMahon interviews Roberts on Tuesday Night Titans from 3.14.86: TNT was a wrestling based talk show hosted by Vince McMahon. Roberts has Lucifer with him. Vince runs out into the crowd and covers by taking audience questions.

Rick Rude hits on Cheryl Roberts on Superstars from 4.23.88: After winning a match Rude would invite a woman into the ring and plant a big kiss on her. On this occasion the chosen dame refuses to come into the ring. She looks like a poor man’s Tawny Katean. Rude and his manager Bobby Heenan go out to talk to her and find out that Jake Roberts is her husband. Rude talks trash on him and her family. She slaps him. Rude grabs her arm. Jake runs in to make the save. In a really nice touch Roberts comes out in jeans, wet and holding a towel. You get the clear idea that he was in the shower and that’s why he wasn’t out there earlier.

Brother Love interviews Jake on Wrestling Challenge from 7.23.88: Brother Love is Bruce Pritchard. Lord did I love Brother Love. It’s such an awesome character. I like how his theme music plays the whole time, it’s just weird. Jake and Cheryl come out. As Jake tries to talk Brother Love hilariously makes faces and plays to the camera. Love calls Cheryl a jezebel. Roberts roughs him up.

Mean Gene interviews Jake on Wrestling Challenge for 1.27.90: Jake cuts a promo on Ted Dibiase. He reveals that he stole the Million Dollar Belt and has it in the bag with Damian.

Promo about threatening Dibiase with snakes on Superstars from 3.3.90: Jake teases that if Dibiase wants his belt back he has to go into the bag to get it. He then shows off an array of snakes that might be in the bag from a cobra to a rattler to Lucifer.

Fights with Brother Love during an interview on Superstars from 10.27.90: They totally skipped this feud in the main feature. Rick Martel sprayed his cologne, Arrogance in Jake’s eyes and he lost his sight. He was blinded by arrogance, get it. Martel is out first and has a walking cane for Jake. Roberts comes out wearing dark glasses. Martel and Love tease him, a tussle breaks out and Love takes a DDT. Jake’s glasses come off and his eyes are all messed up and discolored.

Interview on the Barber Shop on Wrestling Challenge from 5.11.91: This was Brutus Beefcake’s interview segment. This is after Earthquake squashed Damian. He cuts a promo on him and teases Lucifer.

Ultimate Warrior casket vignette on Superstars from 8.3.91: Warrior was feuding with the Undertaker. Jake promised to teach the Warrior the ways of the dark side so he could beat the Dead Man. Roberts makes Warrior lay in the casket UT locked him in in order to make peace with his fear of it.

Ultimate Warrior cemetery vignette on Superstars from 8.10.91: This is the best one. Roberts makes Warrior dig his own grave then buries him up to his neck. He sits the skull they found in the open grave in front of Warrior to stare at.

Ultimate Warrior snake filled room vignette on Superstars from 8.17.91: Jake tells Warrior the final piece of the puzzle is in a snake filled room. He opens the box in the middle of it and gets bit by the cobra inside. He hallucinates from the venom, but eventually breaks out of the room only to land at the feet of the Undertaker. Roberts reveals that he was working with UT the whole time. You should never trust a snake.

Mean Gene interviews Jake on Superstars from 3.14.92: Jake cuts a promo on Undertaker for Wrestlemania VIII. If there were an Olympic event for crushing baby seal heads on the ice, Jake would take the gold. Ok then.

The Snake Pit

With Kamala, The Wizard and Kim-Chee from Wrestling Challenge on 9.6.86: The Wizard was told by the Grand Wizard on his 15th reincarnation to go to Uganda and search for the greatest headhunter of them all. A cousin of Damian then told him to search Kamala out on the far slope of Mount Kilamanjaro hunting pygmies. They then traveled to the VIP Lounge of the Singapore Hilton where the Sultan of Brunei needed a Bengal tiger to add to his collection and it cuts off there. The baby seal comment made more sense.

With Junkyard Dog from Wrestling Challenge on 10.18.86: JYD has his chain in case Damian attacks him. Jake says he knows “you people” are superstitious, but you don’t have to worry about Damian. JYD said that if Jake’s brain were cotton there wouldn’t be enough to weave a gnat a boot. There are only two things JYD will be made to do and that is stay black and die. Check on both counts.

With Hulk Hogan from Wrestling Challenge on 11.22.86: This isn’t the Snake Pit with Hogan they were talking about on disc one, unless Jake totally remembered it wrong. Hogan comes out and they just exchange words.

Easter Eggs

Highlight the Steamboat and Roberts tag match and press left. Steamboat and Roberts talk with Bob Caudle.

Highlight the Garvin match and press right on your remote. You get Ellering and Roberts cutting a promo on Garvin.

Highlight the Earthquake match and press left. Jake is leaving the ring as Earthquake is coming out for a match. They run across each other and Earthquake is scared of the snake, so naturally Roberts taunts him with it.

The 411: The WWE could not put together a double disc set like this and not have it be good. Roberts involvement puts this above the Ultimate Warrior set. I thought Jake was fairly portrayed as they let him have his say and detailed both his ups and downs. I would have liked to have seen more of the GCW stuff, but that’s me. A Dibiase match would have been good too. The SMW and ECW matches were interesting to show what Jake was doing out of the limelight. The match quality could have been better, but they were trying to relate certain events and storylines. There are some promos and matches I would have included, but you’ll have that. Overall, very entertaining and thought provoking.

Rating: 8.5


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Leonard Hayhurst

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