Another Artvoice interview saved from Internet deletion forever. This one is to promote an event that I put together at 1811 Comics featuring WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts live comedy/spoken word show in 2015. Jake had recently come back into the public eye through his Hall of Fame selection and through the lauded Resurrection of Jake the Snake documentary.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is just now seeing the world through clear eyes. Even during his heyday touring with the WWF (now WWE) through the 1980s and 90s, if Roberts wasn’t under the influence, he was moving too fast to take in the scenery as he bounced from town to town performing before thousands of fans.
Now, touring his “Unspoken Word” live spoken word show, Roberts has the downtime and mental clarity to enjoy his travels, see the sights and chat intimately with his fans.
“It's always been a dream of mine to go back to these places and check the architecture out, check the food out, check the people out, check the fishing out, you know, just get out there and look around,” Roberts said. Roberts’ “Unspoken Word” comes to 1811 Comics in Williamsville on Aug. 1.
It’s no secret that many of pro wrestling’s biggest stars from the popular 1980s and 90s era have died young and often due to sad circumstances. And for much of the past 20 years, “The Snake” seemed destined to join their ranks. Time caught up harshly with Roberts throughout the new millennium. His long history with drugs and alcohol had left his body, professional reputation and personal life shattered. Roberts was the embodiment of the “The Wrestler”-style post wrestling stardom freefall.
“The way I was going I didn't think I'd make it to be above ground, to tell you the truth,” he said. “When you're doing an eight ball of cocaine and drinking all night long, day in and day out... because there were no off days when it comes to addiction.”
Roberts’ journey to sobriety is chronicled in the critically acclaimed “The Resurrection of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts,” documentary, which also features Roberts’ close relationship with pro wrestler turned health guru “Diamond” Dallas Page. Now looking younger than his years at age 60, Roberts has lost over 75 lbs. since turning to Page for help with his health and sobriety in 2012.
I'm really happy with the way the movie came out, and it'll be out (very) shortly. We have a few film festivals left to do, but as soon as they're done we'll be releasing it nationwide,” he said. “I can't wait to see the effect that has on people and what they get from that. I think it could be a tremendous help for people that are still struggling with that decision. I think it'll also help people who have that alcoholic to deal with in their family. It couldn’t have been written better.”
The depths Roberts’ fell to and his return to form are part of his “Unspoken Word” show, along with road stories from one of pro wrestling’s most iconic eras. Roberts describes the show as being similar to the backstage atmosphere at an old WWF event, where the wrestlers would take part in wild pranks to help pass the time. Roberts plans on sharing these pranks, along with outrageous stories involving names like Andre The Giant, “Ravishing” Rick Rude and more.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts provoked fear and emotion with a calculated approach to the ring and through psychologically deep promo interviews. The snakes Roberts brought to the ring provided a terrifying mental advantage against the cartoonishly huge competition of the era, and Jake’s rugged look and cold demeanor fit the part. Jake “The Snake” wasn’t a muscle man like Hulk Hogan or a super athlete like Ricky Steamboat -- he was a wrong side of the tracks bad ass backed up by a python.
But as it turns out, Roberts foes weren’t the only ones who feared the snake.
“That was one of the mind games I always play that was a big part of my character. You know, the funny thing is I was just as terrified as they were of that damn snake. I don't like snakes, that’s sort of the inside joke with me. I'm terrified of the damn things, but when it becomes game time, I put the game face on and went out there and did it,” Roberts said.
Through Roberts’ renaissance, which included entry into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014, an unprecedented phenomenon has emerged -- kind words from people who admire and find inspiration in the real man behind “The Snake” character. He also relishes the opportunity to interact with people facing their own struggles with addiction.
“I've been enjoying the shows a lot, man, and I do enjoy the part where I get to help people. I encourage people who are having a problem with alcohol or drugs, hey, bring (your issues) to the show, man. Let's talk about it, I'll try and do what I can (to help).”
Jake “The Snake” Roberts will perform his “Unspoken Word” show in front of the WIlliamsville Water Mill (location of 1811 Comics and Sweet Jenny’s), 56 E. Spring Street, Williamsville on Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. with VIPs starting at 1 p.m. Tickets at the door are $20, and limited VIP tickets are $40. Presale tickets are available via unspokenword.brownpapertickets.com.