Jake “The Snake” Roberts as soon as had a dream aside from turning into one of many largest skilled wrestling stars ever.
Earlier than Aurelian Smith Jr. ever stepped in a hoop he hoped to be an architect, having a love of working with wooden and buildings. However at 18, he determined to offer wrestling a attempt to show his toughness to his notorious father Grizzly Smith. Roberts was anticipating a triumphant night time earlier than heading to varsity, however as an alternative was embarrassed throughout his match and scolded by his dad. It led to him “praying to the satan” to assist him at some point turn out to be an even bigger wrestling star than his father.
Being a conventional architect was out the window.
“I’ve constructed crossbows. I’ve constructed weapons, I’ve constructed all types of issues,” Roberts mentioned on Zoom name sitting in entrance of a wood china hutch he constructed at 18. “I constructed a home stuffed with furnishings for my first marriage, however I cherished working with wooden. I believe I might have been very profitable, however I’m very lucky that I did fall into the wrestling as a result of I believe I’ve been an architect in some ways as a result of I helped construct lots of people.”
After a childhood lived beneath a cloud of sexual abuse, that night time set him on a path to creating top-of-the-line personas in wrestling historical past whereas serving to construct among the firm’s high stars within the course of. There have been additionally the lows of being away from his household and drug and alcohol habit that left him eager to die earlier than getting assist in 2012. Roberts, who has been sober for 10 years, now desires to indicate others you possibly can come again from something.
“That there’s hope,” Roberts mentioned when requested what he desires individuals to remove from the documentary. “That regardless of how far down any individual is there’s hope. We went to nice lengths to indicate how far down I went and the highway to restoration.”
All of it’s lined within the newest documentary in A&E’s “Biography: WWE Legends” collection airing Sunday at 8 p.m. It offers an inside and really uncooked take a look at Roberts’ life. It’s the first time we hear a few of his youngsters’ emotions in regards to the ache his absence prompted and the therapeutic that has introduced him again into their lives. The documentary opens with Roberts, who has eight youngsters, fishing on a ship with two of his sons, Derek and Dustin. It’s a second he doesn’t take without any consideration.
“Me and the boys, we go fishing and all types of issues,” Roberts mentioned. “I attempt to become involved with the grandkids and I’ve simply really been blessed.”
Roberts, 67, mentioned there are nonetheless moments “the place I get actually down on myself once I understand how a lot I missed” as a result of he was on the highway wrestling and later in his life battling habit. At one level within the documentary, Derek says “I can’t think about as a father not doing that [everything] in your personal youngsters.” His daughter Brandy tells a narrative about how she drove her and her dad from Texas to Georgia in 1993 whereas he smoked crack all the time. She says issues have been so unhealthy in 1998 she “was grateful when he stayed away.” Roberts, who nonetheless has 4 of his youngsters who at present don’t need him again of their lives, mentioned it was a gradual course of getting accepted again by the opposite 4 – beginning with asking for forgiveness.
“You begin getting concerned, go to church with the youngsters, do that with the youngsters, and turn out to be concerned in what they’re doing and never what you’re doing,” he mentioned. “As a result of it’s not about me anymore, it’s about them.”
Roberts at all times had an advanced household actuality as a result of his father was a pedophile with younger girls. His half-sister Robin speculates within the documentary that their dad doubtless pushed Roberts’ stepmother to molest and beat him as a baby. He mentioned “you have been consistently on guard” and “attempt to learn that individual you have been afraid” was gonna harm you.
“It’s onerous to cover in a small home,” he mentioned. “So that you go to seek out issues to do. You bought to have shops and when the time comes and you already know issues are gonna occur you then simply attempt to undergo that and discover a gap to cover in inside your self whereas it’s occurring. Afterward, you simply received to know that it’s not you, it’s them that’s sick.”
In wrestling, Roberts received to be another person when he walked by way of the curtain and the documentary offers you a take a look at the journey, which didn’t embrace going to a wrestling faculty. After the ill-fated night time at 18, he realized the enterprise by way of trial and error and received his “ass handed to me” typically by veterans over his first two years. He mentioned that always as an alternative of following his associate’s lead he would strive one thing on the mistaken place and time throughout a match.
As soon as he started coming into his personal, he stumbled into his well-known DDT when “The Grappler” stepped on his left foot and he fell “flat on his ass.” The accident turned certainly one of professional wrestling’s most devastating and guarded finishers and altered Roberts’ profession.
“That first time I knew that son bitch was gold,” Roberts mentioned.
Whereas working in Mid-South in 1986 he caught the attention of Vince McMahon and WWE – then the WWF. McMahon needed so as to add a stay snake to his persona. The one drawback was Roberts was deathly afraid of them – and nonetheless is at present. By some means he overcome that when he stepped out into an enviornment.
“I don’t suppose anyone can say they ever noticed me fearful of that rattling snake,” Roberts mentioned. “As a result of one thing would simply occur as a result of once I would stroll out of that rattling locker room, it was like a change being clicked and, I used to be no lengthy Aurelian Smith, I turned Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts then and Jake ‘The Snake’ didn’t give a f—ok about something.”
It led to a persona that Roberts agreed was forward of its time within the Nineteen Eighties with the shock value of a live snake moving around in a bag and on opponents – together with the well-known scene of 1 biting a tied-up “Macho Man” Randy Savage within the ropes. Roberts’ gradual, methodical and intense promo type was the alternative of the loud and boisterous ones of that period.
“Individuals have been on the lookout for any individual who they couldn’t see by way of,” Roberts mentioned. “Being pretty much as good and nice as Hulk [Hogan] was there was some corn in that, a bit of an excessive amount of in believability. I at all times saved it very, very actual. You couldn’t see by way of my s—t.”
One of many large avenues the documentary will get into is Roberts as wrestling’s first anti-hero. It doubtless occurred earlier than the trade was prepared for one. The WWE Corridor of Famer by no means gained a singles title in WWE, partly Roberts mentioned he believes as a result of McMahon was “afraid” of counting on him due to his points outdoors the ring. The reactions he was getting within the ring didn’t assist both. Roberts does imagine he might have performed higher throughout WWE’s “Angle Period.” That well-known interval of wrestling recognition was led by the anti-hero “Stone Chilly” Steve Austin, who Roberts helped create at King of the Ring 1996.
“I most likely would have been capable of go additional with it [during the Attitude Era],” Roberts mentioned. “However on the time, every time the followers began chanting ‘DDT’ and I used to be with Hogan that was not a very good factor and it value me some huge cash. It’s fairly not possible to spend money on any individual which may not be there ultimately, that he’s a free cannon, who can’t information him, you possibly can’t management it.”
After Roberts’ second run in WWE resulted in 1997, he would pop up across the trade occasionally in ECW, WWE and TNA. Roberts tried to go to rehab, nevertheless it wasn’t till 2012 that he hit all-time low. He described it as “dwelling in a s—thole” and also you’re unsure if in case you have sufficient cash to eat for the week or pay the hire. You don’t have a automotive since you’ve already offered it and also you “don’t give a f—ok.”
“All you consider is the place you’re gonna get your subsequent hit and also you didn’t care what you probably did to do it,” Roberts mentioned. “Does that imply I received to promote some furnishings? OK, f–ok it. However while you get to the underside, brother, it’s a lonely chilly place. I stayed there for some time period. … I used to be attempting to die on the time.”
That led to him reaching out to his friend Diamond Dallas Page and dwelling with him for the following two years. Roberts lastly received sober, all of which is chronicled within the “Resurrection of Jake the Snake” documentary. He mentioned a very powerful factor was creating new habits to switch his damaging ones, one thing he didn’t really feel conventional rehab offered.
It’s allowed him to really be ok with himself for the primary time in a very long time. There’s a level within the A&E documentary the place he fortunately says, “I’m that man that’s doing the proper factor.” Having the ability to take action with out “mendacity” has been releasing.
“It’s so good,” Roberts mentioned. “That’s the factor about me now, I don’t must lie. I don’t must stroll across the nook and conceal one thing. I can get up within the morning and look within the mirror and go, ‘You realize what dude, you’re a foul son of bitch. You bought your s—t proper.’”
It’s why Roberts, who’s at present working backstage with AEW after a run as Lance Archer’s on-screen supervisor, desires his story to be an inspiration for others attempting to interrupt their very own cycle of habit and assist them rebuild their lives.
“Hopefully I’m constructing lots of people as we converse, exhibiting them a method out of their alcohol habit or your drug habit,” Roberts mentioned. “It’s exhibiting them that issues are doable.”