Jake “The Snake” Roberts has had a storied career in wrestling. From his debut in Mid South Wrestling in the mid 70s, it’d be almost a decade later when “The Snake” started to become a household name, wrestling in the WWE, where he would become one of (if not) the greatest wrestlers never to win a single’s title in the company. However, he would also threaten to become just another of wrestling’s tragedies.
After the bell rang on his full-time career, Jake’s post-wrestling days were more often than not controversial. 1999’s “Beyond The Mat” portrayed Jake as a drug addict, forced into wrestling after his better days to pay for his habit whilst making token efforts at keeping in touch with his family.
Since then, Jake’s documented struggles with drugs and alcohol had turned him into a pitiful figure, particularly whenever he ventured out into the ring. After several attempts at rehab, and a much-documented (at least in WWE) discovery of God, and it seemed like the wrestling world at large was just waiting for “the Snake” to be wrestling’s latest casualty.
Step forward Diamond Dallas Page.
The former WCW champion had also left wrestling, following a run that we’d all like to forget with WWE, and had reinvented himself. Unlike most others who leave wrestling and try to become something different, like say, an actor, Page turned himself into a yoga practitioner, releasing a successful fitness regime called YRG (later DDP Yoga, once the world at large softened on the very concept of yoga). Seeing one of his wrestling brothers struggling, Page reached out to Jake and took him under his wing, giving him one last shot at life. What happened next would not only help sell DDP’s yoga program to wrestling fans, but would also spark a re-emergence of one of the 1980s greatest wrestling heroes.
The movie starts with Jake reminiscing in his home, bemoaning how the only thing he was known for was being “Jake The Snake”. We then cut to interviews from Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Edge, Ted DiBiase, Jim Ross and many others putting over Jake’s in-ring career and how he made himself the star that he was. We see a montage that quickly shows opposite ends of the spectrum from Jake’s career – WrestleMania 3, all the way down to the all-round embarrassment that was Heroes of Wrestling. Talk quickly turns to how Jake became an addict, with everyone else on the outside helplessly watching.
Jump to September 2008, and we see Jake at an independent show, with footage of an out of shape “Snake” struggling to cut a promo as he then struggles to get into the ring. Jake quickly falls on his face and gets pinned, as we hear that he’d drunk himself silly on the flight. Things go from bad to worse as J-Rocc (Jerry Myers, one of the talking heads on the documentary) tries to save things, but Jake’s having none of it. Footage from this hit TMZ, and this was yet another case of “the Snake” hitting rock bottom.
We then go forward to August 2012, where DDP is travelling to meet Jake, and then finally arrive at a modest home that did not fit the idea of “80s star”. The interview covers Jake’s childhood abuse, and gets to how he started in wrestling, with the idea of him wanting to go into wrestling to show him up. They show DDP’s first demonstration of yoga with Jake; something which left Page shocked in the condition his mentor was in, followed by some more clips of Jake practising DDP Yoga, with the montage showing Jake having lost over 20 pounds.
After proving himself, DDP found his offer of relocating Jake to Atlanta for Page’s “Accountability Crib”. As the staff at the “Crib” go through the house rules, you can’t help but notice Page sitting in the corner, arms crossed looking stern as Jake cracked wise about “taking charge” when it came to drugs and booze. We quickly jump to a story from the web where a possible relapse of Jake gained some column inches, as internet reports claimed he was drunk in front of fans again. It quickly becomes clear that Jake “the Snake” Roberts problems started with a lack of self-confidence that turned him to self-medicate at the drop of a hat and resume a spiral that became painfully familiar. One such spiral is shown in the movie as Page picks up a drunk Roberts from the airport, resulting in an argumentative car journey back to Page’s place – none of which was remembered by Jake in the cold light of day.
They focus on some of the footage that DDP recorded for his website, and his continued progress in losing weight and doing yoga – only for Jake’s shoulder to give out on him. The resulting surgery ended up being crowdfunded, with Jake being dumbstruck after discovering that $7k was donated by fans in one day.
We then move to another former star of the WWE having problems, with Scott Hall falling on hard times. Much like Jake at the start, we’re shown clips of Hall appearing on independent shows in “no condition to perform”, as Jake and DDP call Hall with the intent of rescuing him as well. The resulting call is as tough to listen to, particularly as Hall flat-out admitted alcoholism and constant suicidal thoughts. The former Razor Ramon shows up in a wheelchair, and it’s like we’ve hit the reset button on this, with Page’s first yoga sessions with Hall being shown to us, followed by Hall needing surgery on a damaged hip.
After covering Jake’s induction into the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2013, we’re back to the Crib with Jake seemingly having had a relapse, with Jake’s drinking taking its toll on his friendship with Page. Jake vows to start afresh, and there’s more footage of him DDP Yoga, segueing into an appearance at one of Mick Foley’s comedy shows with DDP and Scott Hall. This time, we move away from Jake’s demons, and how he was filling his time with things that weren’t “demons”, including various acting projects, and podcasting.
Unfortunately, it’s not long before there’s another relapse, and again we’re shown the Accountability Crib team discussing how they’re going to tackle the issue again. This time, is results in Jake walking out, only to return the next day and seek forgiveness, with the documentary telling us that even though he kept falling off the proverbial horse, Jake was in a better place than he ever was.
The documentary enters the home straight, as Jake returns to the ring “so he could go out on his own terms”, and his dramatic appearance on WWE’s Old School Raw in 2014 (complete with Dean Ambrose smirking when Damien was dumped onto him). They tease yet another relapse with Jake, as he describes getting the call from WWE saying that his dream of entering the Royal Rumble was not going to happen… in its’ place, though, was a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
We wrap up with Jake’s induction at the 2014 Hall of Fame, with DDP’s induction speech set to clips of Jake and Scott’s path back to health and good fortune, and concluding (for now) the redemption story of one of wrestling’s greatest ever characters.
Ultimately, the story of Jake “the Snake” Roberts is fairly well known amongst wrestling fans, many of whom have chosen to take a step back and take the high horse, waiting for the next time he turned up to a show drunk, or perhaps worse. Whilst at times, “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts” did feel like a hidden plug for DDP Yoga, and almost get repetitive, this documentary is well worth your time.
Heartwarming, and heartbreaking in equal doses, this is the true story of what happens with hard work, with friends, and most importantly, when people believe. A definite must-watch!
“The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts” is available to own or rent digitally through iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, and the PlayStation and Xbox Stores. For further details, visit http://www.jakethesnakemovie.com/