Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slithering Into the Hall of Fame

Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The WWE is two for two in its announcements of Hall of Fame inductees for the Class of 2014.  First, the Ultimate Warrior, and now Jake "The Snake" Roberts.  It's an honor that has been a long time coming for Roberts.  His career has had plenty of ups and downs, and I'm glad he appears to be in control of his life and is taking his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

My first memories of "The Snake" date back to his days in World Class Championship Wrestling.  I had heard of him before, likely from the Apter magazines of the mid-80's.  He showed up in WCCW as an evil, cold blooded figure, teaming up with Gino Hernandez and Chris Adams as that duo had been waging war with the very popular Von Erich family.  I cringed the day Jake pinned Kerry Von Erich during a six-man tag team title match to win the belts for his terrible trio.

Jake wasn't in WCCW for long, at least I don't remember him being there for a long period of time.  I watched him on Mid South and UWF programming before he headed to the WWF in early 1986.  He was the same cold and calculating man, only with a more updated look.  He wore tights with snakes on them, along with snake skin boots.  Something else new for Jake, once he finished his opponent off with the DDT, he'd wrap a large python named "Damien" over their lifeless body.  He was pure evil in that first year or so in the company.

Courtesy: WWE
Eventually, he turned good, but still used Damien after matches.  He scared the life out of top villains like Andre the Giant, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, and The Honky Tonk Man.  Jake feuded with all of those guys and plenty more including "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Bad News Brown, and Rick Martel, but he may have met his match in Earthquake. In 1991, the big man delivered his Avalanche to Damien as Jake was tied up in the ropes.  'Quake then cooked up the snake and served "Quake Burgers" the next week on Prime Time Wrestling.

That move marked the beginning of the end for Jake's days as a good guy.  He turned on the Ultimate Warrior and then unleashed a cobra during "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Elizabeth's wedding reception.  He smacked Liz later on Superstars and let that same cobra sink his teeth into Savage's arm.

We met Jake!
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Jake would eventually leave the WWF and return a few years later, a changed man.  He wasn't as fast on his feet or diabolical like he'd been before.  I think years of drugs and alcohol had finally caught up with him.  He faded away and probably nearly died on more than one occasion.  Chad and I met Jake at WrestleCon 2012 and he was in great spirits.  He has a very funny sense of humor, I picked up on that in the few minutes we talked with him.  I think he was just about to start getting his life in order at that point.

Happily, he reached out to Diamond Dallas Page, or Page reached out to him and saved the Snake's life.  I'm glad he did it, as Roberts clearly has a new lease on life.  I think getting clean and sober saved Jake's life and has given his career a fresh start.

I'm excited to see Jake "The Snake" Roberts get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this spring.  His work in the ring and on the mic are incredible and I think others in the business could learn a thing or two from him.   Trust me...

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