wrestling / Columns

SDCC: Jake Roberts, Sgt. Slaughter, & Jeff Jarrett Talk Their Careers & WrestleQuest

July 28, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
WrestleQuest - Jake Roberts Statue Image Credit: Mega Cat Studios

Author’s Note: The following SDCC interview clips with Jake Roberts, Jeff Jarrett, and Sgt. Slaughter were taken from a WrestleQuest roundtable interview session with another reporter. This transcript has been edited for clarity and to include only 411’s questions and answers.

WWE Hall of Famers Jeff Jarrett, Jake Roberts, and Sgt. Slaughter were all on hand at San Diego Comic-Con this year to promote the new role-playing game, WrestleQuest, which will be hitting shelves next month. Jarrett, Slaughter, and Roberts are three of the legends who are all featured in the game, with digital avatars inspired by their Hall of Fame careers and characters. 411mania was on hand for a roundtable session at Comic-Con to discuss their careers and appearing in this new game project:

Jeffrey Harris: What was the germ of this idea for the game? Where did it originate?

James Deighan: You know, we knew we always wanted to make a wrestling game. And separately, we always knew we wanted to make an RPG. And we had such reverence for both. You know, we were kind of raised by those two things. And then as we were eventually deeper enough into the development and growth of Mega Cat, our company, we realized there’s actually a crossover for us to hit both of our bucket lists together. Tell some of these wrestler stories, you know, provide the depth of content that makes games so much fun in that genre.

Jeffrey Harris: Skybound is making some big moves right now. So, how have they been as partners for you guys?

James Deighan: On the record? I’m just kidding. Yeah, Skybound is great. I mean, we’re big fans of Invincible and The Walking Dead, big fans of [Skybound CEO] Arsen Nazaryan. You know, so it was easy for us to, you know, shake hands and cut promos together.

Jeffrey Harris: Jeff and Sarge, what do you think of your digital avatars for this title?

Jeff Jarrett: I’ll tell a quick story on that. So last year, was it Starrcast? So I’ve done Comic-Cons, well, you know, a lot of them. So the typical guitar shot or head shot or with the Aussie title, you know, just the different iterations throughout my career. And he had brought, James had brought down the avatar, the WrestleQuest image. So I’m like, hey, I’m gonna put these out on the table and whatever. Those sold out. I went to WrestleCade, went to Salem, went to Salem, that convention, so just kind of a brand new and how it was and the vendor. Anyway, we put out six different shots that sold out first again. So that kind of, in a lot of ways, like, okay, that’s really resonating. The art and just, it was a different look. It was, you know, larger than life, but in kind of a unique way. So I obviously love it. But it has, if I like it, it’s one thing, but I’ve always been taught, it doesn’t matter what I like, it’s what they like. And they like it.

Jefferey Harris: Sarge, do you like your avatar in the game?

Sgt. Slaughter: Well, there’s a couple things. Kind of more handsome than I’ve ever been. You’re very handsome. I’m not sure if the arms are big enough. Yeah. But overall, I’m very happy. I look like a drill instructor that should be, you know, training people to be professional wrestlers.

WrestleQuest - Jake Roberts - art

Image Credit: Mega Cat Studios, Skybound Entertainment

Jeffrey Harris: You’ve had such an iconic career and iconic life. So what’s it like, you know, even now, like, you’re still getting to appear in video games and action figures and, like, you know, like, your legacy continues to live on for decades.

Sgt. Slaughter: As Jeff just said, we’re larger than life. Plastic doesn’t, it’s always around. Plastic’s going to be here long after we’re gone. And the legacy just keeps building on. We just re-enlisted with Hasbro. We’re back in G.I. Joe, and they’ve got a multiple number of things they’re going to be coming out with that we’re not allowed to talk about, but this just accelerates the whole process because this is something brand new, and it’s an image of Sergeant Slaughter that people haven’t seen before, so it’s a whole new look of the sergeant and Jeff and Jake and all those that are in this. I’m thrilled that I just can’t believe how well it’s done. It’s not like, you know, some stick figures. They put some time and thought into this. Good artist, as I keep repeating, you know, our biggest fans through my career have been other athletes, celebrities, rock and roll singers, country singers, and they all come up and they act out your product to you. Shaq, biggest fan I have, because his father was an airman. I walked by one time, tried to get out of his way, and he stepped right in front of me. He said, I want to talk to you about it. He goes right into the character. It’s not just the wrestling fan. It’s everybody wants to be a wrestler. We all wanted to be rock and roll singers. I’m sure I did, but, you know, I had to have some talent to do that. Yeah, It’s just fantastic. I’m just thrilled.

Jeffrey Harris: Jake, do you like seeing, your character getting to take on a new life in these games?

Jake Roberts: Oh, yes. You know, it’s something to watch anybody want to mold themselves. When you’re talking about all these kids out here, man, I’m a role model. That’s awesome, bro. I find it exciting that they’re actually, you know what? When you first hear, “Oh, they’re going to make a video game.” Okay, right. You know, and then all of a sudden you start to hear things and see things, you know. Maybe they have captured, you know, lightning in a bottle, so to speak. And I think they may have.

WrestleQuest - Jake Roberts - art

Image Credit: Mega Cat Studios, Skybound Entertainment

Jeffrey Harris: Do you think Freshly Squeezed Orange Cassidy, you think he’s afraid of Lance Archer? Because I think he’s afraid. And I think he took the easy way out of that match, so he took the easy way out by winning via count out.

Jake Roberts: He knew he was going to lose. I was at ringside and hearing him say, “Oh, Jesus, what have I done?” Damn right he’s scared, so was I.

Jeffrey Harris: For Jeff, former world champion, icon, Hall of Famer, Hall of Fame career, titles in every major organization, and now you’re featured in a new video game. What is like the key to your longevity? Because you’re still mixing it up, you’re still going out there wrestling in main events and wrestling with the top guys. What’s the key to longevity in a career like this and your ability to adapt? Because I think you can adapt just with some of the all-time greats.

Jeff Jarrett: Certifiably insane, I think. Yeah, by the grace of God, luck. But I do think at the very core of it is learning the basics, like truly learning the basics of a simple wrestling match, a simple promo, and taught at an early age, accentuate the positive that you might have and negate the negative. It’s really just, I don’t ever try to get out of my lane to do what I try to do, I try to do very well. So the basics is something. And then also I just think timing is so much in our industry in a match, but also I got in at the very end of the territory days, so I got the ability to work seven days a week for seven years. So that was kind of learning my trade there. And then just going through my career, just I’ve had some good timing breaks as well. And again, luck, you know, this last little run I’m on, I’d never have dreamed it in a million years, but just kind of timing fell in and surrounded by a group that is pretty diverse. Satnam Singh, seven foot four giant, Jay Lethal, super athlete, so just the group is working.
Jake, this might be an urban legend, but I want to know if it’s true or false.

Jeffrey Harris: Jake, this might be an urban legend, but was it ever true that you were afraid of snakes:

Jake Roberts: Yes, still am. Absolutely terrified. But when that bell rings, Aurelian Smith is no longer there. Jake Roberts is, and Jake Roberts don’t give a s*** about nothing. He’s here to kick ass and take names and party. That’s what he used to do, and that’s what he did. Damn near killed me. And finally I was able to get sober, save my life, put my family back together. Things are good, man. Yeah, man, 11 years now I’ve been clean and sober,
and no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be here today. I kept going. *Whew* Seems like a million years ago. But I’m able to hook up with these guys and pass along a little information that I might have. And I enjoy it.

Jeffrey Harris: Sarge, after you spent years playing one of the greatest heroes in wrestling and were saving the world from Cobra Commander, and you came back to WWE and you became one of the most dastardly heels ever and turned on America, was it a hard sell when Vince [McMahon] pitched that idea for you, or were you on board from the beginning?

Jake Roberts: He jumped out of his pockets and ran towards him and hugged him.

Sgt. Slaughter: It made me get goosebumps as soon as he started telling me. I went to his house thinking I’m going to be the real, real, real, real American hero, as only he could do, but he had other ideas. So, yeah, I’ll go for it. My wife, to this day, told me, she’s still not too sure why I did it, but she said, “You’ve always made the decision on your characters. That’s what you want to do, but you’re dealing with danger. You’re talking about real-life stuff.”

Jeffrey Harris: But confession time, grown man, I’ve got action figures of you [Sgt. Slaughter] on my shelf right now, I’ve got your G.I. Joe Classified figure fighting Cobra Commander and everything, and then on another shelf. I have Sergeant Slaughter versus Hulk Hogan all set up. It’s the best of both worlds.

Sgt. Slaughter: That’s the art and the fun of being in our business. I could have a match with Mr. Jarrett here, and even though I can’t hardly walk anymore, I’m sure we could tell a story. Somehow we would tell that story. It’s just that I miss that part, the physical part of telling the story. I miss that part. Thank God that he can still do it. It’s something you — once you get out of it and away from it, you miss it. You miss it a lot.

Jeffrey Harris: Jeff, I think the world champion of AEW, MJF, I think he’s something really special right now. Do you think he can really tap into that kind of zeitgeist in a way that few wrestlers can, but do you still want to get in the ring and mess him up?

Jeff Jarrett: Oh, sure. We’ve had our backstage jostles verbally already, but that’s another story, another time. You know, I think in today’s era, because we live in such a much more of a snapshot, not just wrestling life. I mean, any sport is a TikTok click. We just live in such a real soundbite world, if you will. So I think the talent that come along today, I think there’s a reason he mentioned him in March. There’s moments that the Iraqi sympathizer or whatever. There’s moments that are kind of etched in time where they’re talking about everything’s blocked out. But, you know, I can remember, you know, sitting on the front row, whatever, where you watch a match and everything’s blocked out. So there’s 10 or 15 minutes of a scene that I’ll never forget. I can smell like that. Nowadays, it’s always, I mean, everything moves so quick. So to really make a lasting impression, the only thing I believe is time. He’s, you know, relatively short career. I mean, it’s a couple of years that, you know, that he’s really been on top in AEW. I just think it takes time. Time takes time. I think that nothing replaces time in our industry.

Jake Roberts: He definitely needs to put five, seven years in that position. I mean, he’s showing a lot.

Jeff Jarrett: Yeah, a ton.

Jake Roberts: But if he doesn’t kill himself first or somebody gets him in the locker room, he’ll be okay. You know, he’s just a very raw piece of talent.

Jeff Jarrett: He’s very good. Yeah. But you got to keep him–

Sgt. Slaughter: Stone Cold [Steve Austin] couldn’t stand the pressure of being on top. Made it miserable for everybody. He didn’t want to be the ringleader. But I had to do all that as the commissioner. He couldn’t handle that. Today, he’s happy. He doesn’t have to work a day in his life. But at the time, he was a hard guy. You couldn’t even look at him. There were guys that you worked with that hurt you. Really, they didn’t know any way other than what they thought was wrestling. You had to teach him. Ultimate Warrior. I had to take him. After the first time I wrestled him, I took him in the shower room. I said, “Hey, if you’re going to hit me with clotheslines like that every night, you and I are going to have problems. I’m going to kick the s*** out of you.”

Jeffrey Harris: You had to bring a potato.

Sgt. Slaughter: Oh, yeah, I brought the potato, eventually. He was completely serious. He didn’t want anybody messing with his character. How he did it was his way. And nobody is going to tell him any different. But you had to grab him sometimes, take him down, hurt him a little bit, and let him know.

Jeffrey Harris: When you do a project like this, though, do you tell your agent or your manager, when you get a new figure or you’re going to appear in a game, do you arrange, “I want my own copy and I want copies sent to my whole family over Christmas?” Can you guys get that done?

Sgt. Slaughter: I wish. It used to be a lot easier. But the reason I did the voice in G.I. Joe for Sgt. Slaughter was so I could see the skin. I created that character, and I wanted to make sure that they did my character the way I created that character. So in order to do that, I just did the voice.

Jeffrey Harris: How great is it to be at Comic-Con this year? And, to just be together and to see the fans?

Jake Roberts: Awesome, brother.

Sgt. Slaughter: Well, we live in a world of brothers and sisters. And I might not see Jake or Jeff for years. And then all of a sudden, it’s like we get to see each other. It’s like a homecoming. It’s like a family reunion. And we hug each other. How’s your family? How’s everybody? The last time I saw you, your daughter, you know, my god, she’s, you know, it’s a fraternity of, I don’t know, Not everybody can be a professional wrestler or a sports entertainer, as they say now. So you’re in a fine family that is hard to get into, you know. It should be harder to get into. But it is hard.

Jeff Jarrett: Yeah. I’ve seen Jake at work quite a bit and seen Sarge a while. We picked right up laughing. But as far as actual San Diego Comic-Con, one of the things that I was thinking about when getting here is in a great way, WrestleQuest has just kind of hit the mark timing time after time after time. And with the strike going on and all that going on, I think it shines an even brighter light on WrestleQuest just by fate, by happenstance. So I think Mega Cat is living right. I’ll just say that because the stars keep aligning. Skybound, just the partnership and the momentum behind the game is unbelievable. And it’s just getting bigger.

Thank you to Jake Roberts, Jeff Jarrett, Sgt. Slaughter, and James Deighan for taking the time to speak with us. Mega Cat Studios’ WrestleQuest, published by Skybound Entertainment, will be hitting the shelves on August 8 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC via Steam.