In The Snake Pit With Jake Roberts
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the legendary professional wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts. As you may recall, Jake and I lived together for a week back in April of this year when I stayed at Diamond Dallas Page’s house in Smyrna. During that trip, I didn’t ask Jake about anything related to wrestling because he was resting up from life on the road. Instead, we hung out, watched TV, had dinner together, and joked around like two regular guys. For the purposes of this interview, Jake and I talked about his impressive wrestling career, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, DDP Yoga, and much more. Visit Jake’s site and follow him on social media for the latest details regarding Jake’s amazing one-man show and all of the exciting projects he has on the horizon.
You now tour the world with your one-man show. What has that experience been like for you?
It’s been phenomenal, man. Not only the reception from the fans, man, but just as a feel-good thing for Jake “The Snake,” it’s incredible. It really is. I get to hear stories from people about when they watched wrestling and what got them into it – their memories of it. What they were doing when Macho Man got bit by the snake or Earthquake killing Damian – great stories. Every time I hear them, man, I watch these people’s eyes. Their eyes start dancing, ya know? They’re on fire, and they’re having a good time remembering those moments. Back in the day, man, we were running so hard. We didn’t have a clue what was going on half the time. There were a lot of times where we doubted whether or not it was worth it – everything we invested in it. Being away from our families. Was it really worth it? Well, meeting these people and hearing them tell their stories tells me it damn well sure was worth it, man. I’m forever etched in their minds and their hearts, and that’s a really good feeling, man. To know that you’re a part of people’s lives and hearing about their good moments.
That’s what this road show is all about. Talking about crazy times on the road. The silliness that went on with the snake, and the strange places that snake wound up getting to and being involved in certain things. Whether it was going over the top of a bathroom stall while they were using the toilet or something else, it was quite entertaining. (laughs) You learn so much about people that way. There’s just so many things that happen in and out of the ring, and fans have always wanted to know what’s going on in the backstage area. They get to hear all that at my shows. I also open it up for a Q&A at the end. If there’s a question you want to ask me, man, I’ve got the answer for ya. People love that. It’s a damn good time. I’m signing autographs and taking pictures with people. They bring their memorabilia, and I hook them up there. It’s just a really good time, and it’s funnier than hell.
One of the best parts is I’ll be up on the stage talking and a fan will say a name or something, and all of a sudden I’ll remember something else from my past. There were so many things that happened over the years. My god! I’ll start telling something and then I’ll start laughing and people ask, “What’s funny?” I’ll reply, “Well, you don’t understand. I’m thinking of something else because of what you mentioned.” I have to be careful not to get lost at that moment. Lost in my own humor. It’s been a great ride, and I really enjoy doing this show.Addiction is something you talk about a lot in your show. What does it mean to you?
I encourage anyone in the audience that’s struggling with addiction to talk to me after the show, if they like. I’m available for that. After the show, get together with them and find a quiet place, and see if I can’t get them pointed in the right direction. It’s having success, man. The whole thing I try to preach at the show is that there’s a lot of addicts out there that are dying every day. All it takes is a kind hand, man. Why don’t you help? The bottom line is, why don’t we all help? We’ve got to start caring about our brothers and sisters. If we don’t, this world is going to get worse. Let’s do it with love. Strong love, but hard. Stand up, be a man, admit your sins. If your’e going to improve your life, you’re going to need a lot of support. A lot of support. Not one person can support an addict, I’m telling ya that right up front. It takes a bunch.
Back in the day, I wouldn’t go on the road by myself. I’d have to take somebody with me. I’m still doing that. The simple reason I bring somebody with me is to help me be accountable. To give me that comfort zone, man, where I don’t have to sweat it out. There’s nothing fun about sitting in a hotel room worried that you’re going to go out and use. There’s nothing fun about that. Back in the day, I had to pay people to travel with me. I used to have to pay for their airline flights, and I had to pay for their time too. It was expensive, but not nearly as expensive as losing another human being.
Years ago, when you told your Dad that you were going to become a wrestler he said, “You’re gutless, and you won’t amount to anything.” How did that affect you?
I turned that into hate, and that’s what fueled my career early on. Instead of doing it the right way and going somewhere to get training, I just went out there and did it night after night. I didn’t give a shit what happened to me. I hurt myself. I hurt other people. I got the crap beat out of me because I was hell bent on anger. I didn’t even want to be a wrestler in the beginning, man. I hated wrestling. Hated it, because I felt like wrestling had taken my father away from me. The reality was that my father just wasn’t a good man. That’s the bottom line. That wasn’t the only thing he did that was bad to us kids. He was abusive to my sister in the wrong way, man. That’s part of the book, and the book will be coming out in a few months so people can read the whole thing, man. It’ll be 600 pages of Jake. It’s a real book. I wrote every damn word of it, and I did it on my own. I’m putting it out on my own. It’s not your average book. It will be the first book that just talks about me. Everybody always talks about me in their books, but I’m just gonna’ talk about myself in mine. It’s amazing how many books I’ve wound up in.
Is that coming out this year or next year?
This year. It’ll be the end of this year.
Do you have a title for it?
Yeah. The Walls Do Talk.
Very cool. That’s awesome. I can’t wait to read it. Speaking of talking, you’re known as one of the most gifted voices in professional wrestling history. What kind of preparation goes into your interviews?
I’d like to tell you that I had to think about it for hours, but I didn’t. That process was pretty simple for me. I’d write down phrases on a napkin in a bar to remember them. Then, when the time came to get on the microphone my god-given gift to speak kicked in. I could look at one little group of words, turn it into something and just fly with it. I’ve always been able to do that. I’ll tell you one of the reasons why I believe that happened.
At a very young age I was being sexually abused. When you’re in that position, you have to learn how to talk on the fly. You have to learn how to lie on the fly, and you have to make it look believable…because your life is on the line. If I tell the right lie, I won’t get abused today. Guess what? I’m going to come up with a damn good one, and it’s going to seem real. Well, I think that’s what helped me with my interviews. I was able to communicate with people in such a real way that they believed what I said.
What does ring psychology mean to you, and why is it so important?
It’s important because it’s what makes you real. Guys go out there today and they destroy their own credibility right off the bat. You destroy your credibility by doing things that are stupid and unbelievable. These things are out of the realm of what a match should be. For instance, who’s tough in this situation? I give you five clotheslines. Who’s tough? Me or you? Neither one of you lying pieces of shit, because that’s not real. It doesn’t make sense. Hitting you with a sledgehammer, and yet you get right up and whip my ass. Excuse me, if you get up right after I hit you with a sledgehammer, brother, I’m going to run for my life. I’ll never come back ’cause I just hit that sum bitch with a sledgehammer then he got up and kicked my ass. I’m sorry. It’s not real. It’s total hogwash. It’s pissing in the face of the fans and saying, “Here, believe this crap,” if you will. The fan does not feel good about being lied to. The fan does not feel good if they’re being ripped off. It’s sort of like this. Say you and I are gonna hang out, and I take you out. I haven’t seen you in a long time. We go and next thing you know we’re in a bar, and you’ve had a few too many. And I wind up hooking you up with a midget, and you sleep with a midget. You go home and you feel really bad because you love your wife and you never cheated on her ever, ever, ever. The next day you feel so damn bad you tell her the truth. You tell her, “Last night, although I’ve never done this before, honey, because you know how much I love you. I cheated on you with a midget. But I promise you I’ll never do it again.” Does she believe you?
I don’t know. The midget part might throw her off. (laughs)
“You’re a lying piece of shit. And guess what? That wasn’t the first time you cheated on me. You cheated on me your whole damn life, and you know it!” That’s what she’s going to say. Does she forgive you? No! She might forgive you, but will she forget it? Hell no! That’s how I know god’s not a woman. God forgives and forgets. A woman may forgive you, but she’ll never forget that bullshit. Why should she? But once you destroy your credibility with somebody, you have nothing. Well, when you go out in the ring and do something that’s little off or doesn’t look quite right,, you destroy your credibility. The fans will go, “Screw you! You’re a friggin’ phony. I don’t like you anymore.” That’s what they do. That’s the reason Jake “The Snake” still sells tickets today. People bought what I gave them because I didn’t give them bullshit. And I’m damn sure not giving them bullshit in these shows. I’m having a blast doing it. It’s the best time of my life. I’m on fire. I feel so freakin’ good.
Have you seen Peanut Butter Falcon?
I have not.
Oh my god! Go see me, man. I’m so good in that movie. I kick ass, man. I do some horrible shit in that movie. You’re gonna’ love it. I do the worst thing possible. I beat up a retarded kid and I call him names while I’m doing it. I call him fucking retard and everything else while I beat him up. It’s pretty cool. I tell him, “This ain’t Make a Wish, bitch! (laugh) Then I whip his ass. In the movie, he wants to be a wrestler so I show him how. That’s great!
What other projects do you have going on?
I’m doing another movie in China. I’m also doing the Chris Jericho cruise with Dallas and the guys. There’s just so much good happening in my life right now, I can’t believe it.
In 1996, you feuded with Jerry Lawler and that was built around your substance abuse issues. What are your thoughts on that?
It was bullshit. Yeah, it pissed me off. It really pissed me off. I thought that was very personal and very rotten, but that’s Vince McMahon. Vince has a way of doing that. He wants to dig it out and exploit it. He wants to expose you and hurt you and humiliate you. That’s a part of his gimmick, man.
On a happier note, what was it liked being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?
It was super, man. It was about time. It finally happened. Going in with Ultimate Warrior was a bit tough because I wanted to kick his ass. Before I got a chance to, he caught me off guard and apologized to me for the wrongs he had done and for the money he cost me. It looked heartfelt to me, so I had to buy into it. Two days later, of course, he’s dead. I truly believe he knew he was dying and he wanted to get straight with everybody. I wasn’t the only person he got straight with at WrestleMania that year.
Wow! So, did he approach you right before you went out to give your acceptance speech? How did that happen?
He approached in the back two days before. I was going to jump him when I seen him. There was going to be a fight.
What are your thoughts on The Resurrection of Jake the Snake documentary? And did Dallas have to talk you into doing it?
He didn’t have to talk me into doing it. I was already on board with the idea because I knew it would help me stay sober. It helped hold me accountable. I had to live with Dallas for three-and-a-half years, man. It wasn’t easy. There were some ups and downs, and there were some heads knockin’. It escalated at times, but he never gave up. Finally, I had to give up because I just got tired of fighting the son of a bitch. (laughs)
I don’t think anyone would win in a fight with Dallas. He’s pretty persistent. (laughs)
He’s a pain in the ass, man. I taught him well. (laughs) Now that The Resurrection of Jake the Snake documentary is out there, I get to hear how that has helped people. that’s just unbelievable. I used to think that the best feeling ever was being in front of a crowd doing what I did in wrestling and getting that big high off of that, but that’s not even close to the real deal. The real deal is when I get a letter from some kid thanking me for helping his daddy get better. “Daddy moved back home with us. He’s not drinking anymore.” I hear these stories a lot, man. These aren’t a one-off thing. I hear it a lot. I also hear it from people who watched the documentary and now they understand addiction a little bit more.
That’s what I really want to get out there. The addict, believe it or not, is miserable. They’re not having a good time. They’re miserable. They hate their life. They hate themselves. It’s down a dead-end street and they know it but they can’t stop. Depending on how you deal with that, is if you’re going to be a help or a hindrance to it. You don’t want to take the soft approach and enable them to keep going. But what do you do? Hopefully, by doing that movie and showing that tough love that Dallas gave me…I mean, there were a lot of times I thought he was going to give up on me, but he never did. He never did, and that’s the reason I made it. When I did fall, he was still there. That’s what happens to a lot of addicts. They fall and say, “Well, I screwed it up again. Let me go ahead and get rid of this pain by getting high again or drunk again.” So, it’s really cool that the film could have that kind of a positive impact on people. I just found out that The Resurrection of Jake the Snake has been voted the second best resurrection of all time. That’s pretty cool, huh? (laughs)
I guess the number one best resurrection of all time was Jesus Christ then, right? (laughs)
You got it! (laughs) That wasn’t fair because he turned water into wine, and I’m not into that drinking thing anymore. I think I’ve got one up on him, man.
You’ve gotta turn wine into water and you’ll be all right.
Exactly! I think I walked on water a few times. I don’t remember but I’m sure I did.As shown in The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, DDP Yoga played a big part in turning your life around. How do you incorporate DDP Yoga into your life now?
I just use it, man. I do it. I’ve got to do something to keep my body going. It’s like that old saying: If you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s especially true of old wrestlers. Our bodies are so beat up. We gotta’ keep moving. It’s like putting oil on a squeaky joint. A little oil here and a little oil there. You’ve gotta’ pay attention to your body, whether you’re a wrestler or not, man. Look in the mirror and tell me what’s wrong with it. OK, what are you gonna’ do about it? You just gonna’ let it go? Well, if you do, guess what? It ain’t gonna’ get no better! So, it’s time to smarten up and do the right thing, man.