Jake “The Snake” Roberts Interview
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts is one of the most storied wrestlers both in and out of the squared circle.
During the 1980’s Jake ‘The Snake’ was one of the most popular wrestlers and would usually bring a snake to the ring with him, the most famous, a python named Damien. The grappler from Gainesville, Texas had many memorable matches against the likes of Andre ‘The Giant’ and Macho Man Randy Savage as well as kick-starting the whole Austin 3:16 phenomenon.
Away from the ring the 57-year-old has had his problems with drug and alcohol addiction but six months ago that began to change with the help of Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga. We caught up with Jake to talk about the life changing impact of DDP Yoga, getting into wrestling and helping create the Austin 3:16 craze plus much more.
You have been working with Diamond Dallas Page doing DDP Yoga now for the past six months, how has DDP Yoga changed your life?
It’s been life changing for me, it’s not just the movement that you do but it’s just a whole life experience I’m going through. I was in a pretty dark place six months ago, I had basically given up on life and everything else because nothing was fun anymore, I didn’t have good days, they were all just shit days, I would wake up in the mornings and be pissed off I was still alive, the only reason I didn’t commit suicide is because I didn’t want to hurt my family more than I had already hurt them.
DDP got a hold of me and I was a drunk and a drug addict at the time, he asked me what I was weighing and I told him 305lbs, he told me that was way too much. He then challenged me to look at the DVD’s and booklet and to make some changes to what I was eating, and I just agreed with everything he told me to do, just so I could get him off the phone so I could go back to my booze and my dope, and that’s where I was at and I’m not ashamed to tell you about it because I’m proud of where I am at today.
I got the package from him and I looked at it and thought this is pretty damn easy, I’m eating a lot better than I was before, I had to get off wheat and dairy, which bothered me because I love cheese, but I found out I could have goats cheese and sheep’s cheese so that was cool. In two weeks of doing the diet I had lost 10lbs, and when you are beat down like I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, any glimmer of hope, man you jump at it and three weeks later I lost another 10lbs.
I then started doing the DDP Yoga and it was pretty easy, the hardest part was keeping my balance. Diamond then called me up and told me he was coming to see me and I did not want him to see me because I was embarrassed of how I looked, ashamed of how I looked, I was embarrassed of where I was living and how I was living. He could see I couldn’t get out of a chair without any help and during that moment he’s trying to get me do these moves and I couldn’t keep my balance, I just kept falling and it was embarrassing, this was a guy that I taught how to wrestle and here he is teaching me yoga. I wouldn’t have been caught dead doing yoga but I lasted about 20 minutes in a workout with him and I had to sit down because I was huffing and puffing.
Diamond told me if I got to the point where I lost 35 to 40lbs I could move in with him and he would take care of me. This was something that I wasn’t going to give up on, it was making me a better person, I carried on with the DDP Yoga and the diet and he was true to his word. A few weeks later I was there and he takes care of all my business and I do what he says, he had one rule and that was if I failed a drugs test I was out of there. I regularly go to AA meetings and I enjoy them, I’ve started to do a lot of reading and I enjoy that now.
I’m now 63lbs down and weigh 243lbs, I haven’t weighed 243lbs since 1989 and that’s awesome and my body feels amazing. I do have to thank the fans as well because I had a problem with my shoulder because as well as doing the DDP Yoga I was going to the gym and I did what all wrestlers do when in the gym and thought I was 18-years-old again and blew my shoulder. But the fans have raised enough money for me to have an operation, which is amazing, and I’m so grateful for their love and support.
DDP Yoga has opened my life, I have a life now, I have dreams again, and I just feel good. The high I get out of life now is telling other people if Jake Roberts can go from weighing 305lbs to 243lbs and being drug and alcohol free, DDP Yoga works. I wake up, jump in the hot tub and then I’m ready to kick some butt all day long.
During the past six months DDP and yourself kept fans updated on your progress with videos and pictures via social media, what was that like?
I wanted everybody to see my progress because you can do it too. There are a lot of people out there who suffer from the same crap that I did, and I want them to know that they can turn their lives around as well, all it takes is commitment. DDP Yoga is about changing your mind and changing everything you are doing because guess what, that shit was not working. I’m now eating the right foods at the right time.
DDP would tell me not to wear certain t-shirts because they had negative messages on them and if people see you wearing a shirt with a negative message on they give you negative feedback. He then asked me to come up with some slogans and we put them on shirts like ‘Failure is not an option’ and ‘My history is not my destiny’, people are stopping me in the street and asking where they can buy the shirts.
I’m looking forward to getting healthy not only for myself but for my kids and my grandkids. I want to help other people feel better as well and I’m going to be a bigger star with DDP Yoga than I ever was being a wrestler.
A number of wrestlers including the likes of Chris Jericho and Mick Foley have used DDP Yoga before returning to the ring, do you have any plans on an in ring return?
All I’m focused on today is staying sober and keeping my mind away from dope and doing the next best thing and the next right thing. I’m living day-to-day because if I start looking way ahead I’ll get in trouble. I’ll never say never because in the past I would have said I’ll never do yoga so how can I say I’ll never do anything else.
Was wrestling something you were always going to end up doing, with your father being a wrestler?
I never actually wanted to get into wrestling. My father was a wrestler and I hated it, I went down to visit him one time because I wanted to let him know that I was going to college and he didn’t seem too bothered. All I wanted was for my father to say he was proud of me, regardless of however much of an asshole he was you still want your dad to be proud of you.
I decided the best way for my dad to be proud of me was to get in the ring and beat up a wrestler, which I attempted and failed miserably. The guy knew who I was so he didn’t cripple me but he sure as hell hurt me. I crawled back to the locker-room and my dad was standing there and he said, “you’re gutless and I’m ashamed of you and you will never amount to anything.”
I gave up my dream of being an architect and decided to become a wrestler and being better than he ever was.
How did the snake gimmick first begin?
I was Jake ‘The Snake’ before I started using the snakes in the ring. I came up with the character and wanted to use it in the ring back when I was in Mid-South but Bill Watts told me it wasn’t a freaking circus and I needed to wake up, shut up and do what he told me to do. Well he was wrong wasn’t he!
You joined the WWF in 1986 and a month after joining you were wrestling at WrestleMania, what was that like so early on?
My first WrestleMania was WrestleMania II and it was only a month after I joined the company. It was unbelievable with all the production, all of the trucks, the wiring, all of the stars from outside of wrestling that were there, it was an event like the Super Bowl and it still is.
You got to work with Andre The Giant, what was that experience like?
It was awesome, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in the ring with Andre. I did referee a match of his early in my life when I was 19-years-old, but to actually be in the ring wrestling him was something unimaginable, not only did I get to work with Andre but we got to travel on the road together as well.
To have that opportunity, to have him go out there and do the job that he did with me I am grateful. By the time I wrestled him his health was failing, he couldn’t get around easily, he had trouble moving and it was damn near impossible if he was down to get him back up. Working with all of those things I was also very proud of myself and my work with him.
You are one of the best at cutting promos, was that something you enjoyed doing?
My interviews have always been a bit different, I don’t yell or scream, I try to make a little sense, I try to cast fear and cast doubt, I use subliminal thoughts, so wherever I go in an interview you’re going to follow me because I’ve started off with the truth.
I would steal lines from music or television, whatever the situation might be I would always find something to fit into it. I had fun doing promos, I found it was a place where I could do all sorts of things, and play with people’s emotions both in the ring and on the microphone.
You also enjoyed a great feud with Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, what was it like working with those two?
It was wonderful, it was easy working with Randy, he was wired different, everyone was running on 1.10, Randy would be running on 2.20. He was a bit of a psycho at times, he would fly off the handle on your ass so you always had to be careful what you said or did, but I love Randy, god bless him.
You got to work with The Undertaker early on in his career; did you ever think that Undertaker would last so long and have an amazing WrestleMania streak?
Working with The Undertaker was great, working with him early on in his career you knew he was talented but with regards to his WrestleMania streak absolutely not, who would of?
If I said, yeah I knew that would happen I would be a liar. He has taken the bull by the horns and has had a fabulous career, nobody is going to touch that streak and I hope it goes on forever, he is a great guy and he deserves to be able to do whatever he wants.
You returned to the WWF in 1996 and were involved in a match with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the King of the Ring final when Austin 3:16 was born, what was it like working with Steve?
It was wonderful and I wanted Steve to get a break, he had been around for a while and he had never been given the break he deserved. He was a great ring technician, but he damn sure wasn’t the ‘Ring Master’ though, that’s what they called him when he first came in, Ted DiBiase talked for him and that damn sure wasn’t needed either.
Steve came to me and wanted help, I got with him because I respected his work in the ring and his dedication. Everyday he had a match he would call me and tell me what went on, and I would tell him what he should have done there or what he shouldn’t have done here and I schooled him.
Doing the 3:16 thing was just phenomenal, being the guy that went out there and made him a superstar is something that I will always hold dear to my heart because at the time everyone was saying he would never be a main event guy but guess what, they were all wrong, and Jake ‘The Snake’ said so.
What are some of your highlights from your time working in the WWF?
There are so many, getting to work with great guys like The Undertaker, Ricky Steamboat, Randy Savage all those guys. Every night I went out there I enjoyed the shit out of it, if I didn’t I would have quit.
What was Vince McMahon like as a boss?
That’s my business and nobody else’s; I respect the man immensely for what he’s done in wrestling, with wrestling and for wrestling. There are some things I don’t like but guess what there are some things I don’t like about everybody including myself.
Your name has been mentioned with being inducted into this year’s WWE Hall of Fame, is that something you’ll look forward to?
Oh absolutely, if it happens it happens and maybe it will someday and if it doesn’t my life won’t be changed by it, it could be enhanced a bit by it but it’s not going to change. I achieved a lot in wrestling and I’m proud of it, I’m not proud of a lot of my actions away from wrestling, but I’m going to stand up and take those on the chin as well because you have to take the good with the bad.
I also understand you are in the process of writing your autobiography?
That is correct, I am 600 pages in, it will be a few more months before I’m finished but it will be in depth, it’s going to be deep, it’s not going to be one of these happy, happy bullshit books that talks about everybody else but themselves. I hope this book will not only enlighten people about wrestling but it will also enlighten you to what happens in life, and the struggles of a man that goes down the wrong road and the recovery of that man.
You spent a number of years over in England, was that something you enjoyed?
I enjoyed the architecture, but I did not enjoy the food and I did not enjoy the wrestling business over there at all, I felt it was very poorly done. There is a lot of talent over there that can be exploited and it has been exploited to some extent finally but there are a lot of great guys over in the UK.
I had a school over there for a short while and there was a kid named Dan that I worked with and I was so proud of, and there were a few others and we had a great time. It could have been so much more, I feel sorry for England because they don’t get the opportunity to have what I call a real wrestling programme weekly on television and I don’t know why the hell the BBC hasn’t thought of it.