One of my favourite performers as I was growing up a massive WWE fan was Jake “The Snake” Roberts. I mean, he came into the federation at a time when I was totally blown away by what I was seeing. I mean, Randy Savage and the British Bulldogs were putting on wrestling clinics and I couldn’t wait to see who the next big star was going to be.
Then came along The Snake.
I don’t know if I remember Jake’s first appearance on WWE television, but I certainly remember his initial WrestleMania match. Good lord…I thought he was actually killing George Wells. Whether intended or not, Wells put on quite the show by making it look like he was truly dying.
And the DDT…what a maneuver. Over the years it has become more of a mid-match spot than a finisher, but when Roberts did it that meant the match was OVER. Ain’t nobody was kicking out of that.
I never got to see much footage of Roberts in his pre-WWE days, but I’ve read that this was a guy who had all the tools in spite of his fairly non-wrestling physique (i.e. tall and skinny). Honestly, if it weren’t for the snake gimmick I’m not sure Roberts would have even made it to WWE at a time when Vince was looking for huge superhero types.
But he DID have the tools and he DID have a gimmick and he was one of the greatest promos in the history of the business. During his WWE run, he and the snake were essentially one…as he became a snake during his matches. His in-ring psychology was fantastic and there will never be another like him.
I, for one, am super happy to see a childhood hero recover from a substantial drug problem. In fact, he’s scheduled to be in my area next month for an appearance and I am hoping to get a photo with the man I watched with fascination and respect as a young teenager.