Quick -- what's the first thing you think of when you hear the name Jake "The Snake" Roberts? The classic heel promos? The DDT that knocked Ricky Steamboat out cold? The angle where he forced Andre The Giant to fearfully shout "No Snakes, Bobby!"?
Yeah, all I can think of are his substance problems, too.
It's unfortunate that the legacy of a man has had a Hall of Fame career has been reduced to concerns about his ongoing struggle with sobriety.
WWE's 2005 DVD collection about Roberts was his opportunity to debunk a lot of what's been said about him, and at the same show why he was such a popular performer during his peak. Roberts, clean and sober during the documentary, pulls no punches when talking about his career, even when it doesn't benefit WWE.
For example, when Roberts was el-kabonged in the head by The Honky Tonk Man in 1987, it wasn't by a gimmicked guitar, leading to real-life neck injuries. And during his 1996 feud with Jerry Lawler, The Snake had no idea that The King would be making so much fun of his alcoholism -- let alone pouring whiskey down his throat!
One subject that I didn't expect to be tackled was Roberts's involvement in Beyond The Mat, including an infamous scene in which he was strung out on crack in his hotel room. Jake offers up his side of the story; an interesting nod to a film WWE had nothing to do with.
Beyond the substance abuse and, frankly, horrible upbringing, we look at Roberts's wrestling career, including classic feuds with Steamboat, Andre, Ravishing Rick Rude, Macho Man Randy Savage, Rick Martel, Earthquake and others. We even get a (brief) explanation on why the seemingly inevitable Roberts-Hulk Hogan feud never materialized.
As usual, a wide variety of talking heads help Roberts tell the story of his life, including Bruce Pritchard, Ted DiBiase, Jim Ross, Mean Gene Okerlund and, of course, Vince McMahon.
Beyond the documentary, there are a ton of interview clips - some from days past, some that just didn't make the final cut. And you have a handful of matches from Mid-Atlantic, Georgia, WWE, WCW, SMW and ECW, including his King of the Ring final match against Stone Cold Steve Austin that launched the "Austin 3:16" catchphrase.
Overall, this isn't a bad offering at all. A fairly complete collection, whether for fans who hadn't seen Jake compete in his prime, or for longtime wrestling fans who just want a venomous dose of nostalgia.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
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