Where Are They Now? Jake "The Snake" Roberts
With a single glance and a few dark words, Jake "The Snake" Roberts could make any Superstar believe that his career was about to come to a miserable end. To many, Roberts wrote the book on wrestling psychology, an art and skill which he displayed on a weekly basis to WWE fans throughout the '80s and early '90s. With his trademark snake companion at his side, Jake created and mastered the "DDT," a deadly maneuver used regularly today by wrestlers all over the world. Despite the fact that he never wore WWE gold, his in-ring exploits made him a champion to his fans forever.
Jake's career has spanned more than three decades, but according to the legendary performer, nothing has, or ever will, top his experience at WrestleMania III. In front of more than 93,000 people on sports-entertainment's greatest stage, Jake was accompanied to the ring by his childhood hero, rock star Alice Cooper. "The Snake" still remembers that day like it was yesterday.
"At the time I had a couple of blown discs in my neck and I was in pain 24 hours a day, but on that night, I felt no pain," said Jake. "It was an incredible feeling. I remember when Alice and I were riding to the ring in that little cart and I looked over to see him gasping for air. He told me it was too much of a rush. He couldn't handle it," Jake continued. "The adrenaline and the energy coming from that crowd was overwhelming. It was an amazing night, and I'm very proud of it. Nobody can ever take that away from me."
When Jake wasn't being accompanied to the ring by rock stars, he was accompanied by a snake. There have been several memorable snakes at Jake's side over the years, Damien and Lucifer to name a couple, but Jake remembers one snake that never saw the bright lights of a WWE arena.
"We were at the Survivor Series in 1989. I was teaming with Hulk Hogan and Demolition," said Roberts. "Vince had wanted to get a snake that was long enough for the four of us to carry to the ring."
Jake continued, laughing as he began to describe the scene backstage at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago.
"I remember calling the handler and telling him to bring something so big and so strong that nobody will want to get near it. He told me it would be no problem. So we get to the arena, and Vince asks to see the snake. The handler points over to this wood crate that is 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide," Jake recalls. "He starts to open the crate, and all of the sudden the top flies off and this 27-foot monster starts slithering out of the crate. The head is as wide as my waist, and the thing could swallow a human whole. The handler was having a hell of a time just keeping it contained. Vince took one look at it and called it off right on the spot."
Following an inspirational return to the ring in the mid-'90s which included a famous match at The King of the Ring which launched Stone Cold Steve Austin to Superstardom, Jake left WWE. Since then, Jake's life has taken him in several different directions. Today though, he lives comfortably in Gainesville, Fla., and continues to make independent wrestling appearances all over the world. Wrestling is not Jake's only passion anymore though. "The Snake" has found a new hobby.
"I'm doing some serious fishing now," said Roberts. "I've become a professional kingfisher. Last year we participated in five FLW tournaments. There was one tournament where we came in third, which made us some nice money," he continued. "It's a lot of fun for me. We had the smallest boat out there last season, so sometimes it got rough, but it's going to change this season. We're going to have a great year."
Things haven't always been going this well for Jake. His addiction to drugs and alcohol have been well- documented, and were addressed by Jake himself in the Pick Your Poison DVD. The fight against those addictions continues today, and it's a fight that Jake says will never end.
"You never stop battling addiction," said an emotional Jake. "You never become free from the monster. You might keep yourself in check, but sometimes the monster gets loose. If I do have a relapse, or whatever you want to call it, I pick my ass up and start again. It's the only way I can live and it's the only thing I can do. It's something I would never wish upon anyone."
The "demons" in Jake's life have cost him both personally and professionally. Roberts told WWE.com his only regret in life — his failure to be a proper parent to his children — was due to his addiction to drugs. Those relationships have since been repaired, but not without years of heartache and struggle. Today, Jake has devoted much of his time toward helping others overcome their addictions, and avoiding the same pitfalls that Jake experienced during his bumpy journey.
"Nobody tries to fail, but some people fail to try," said Roberts. "I'm in the process of writing a book that I hope can help people that are in the same situation as I was in. I want to give my side of the story. If anyone ever has a problem that they want to talk to me about, my door is open. Having been through the things that I went through, I can always make time to help people with a problem. After all the years of support from my fans, I feel like it's my turn to give back and help them out."