Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts: Comeback of a lifetime
Few people believed in Diamond Dallas Page when, at the age of 35, the nightclub owner-turned-pro wrestling manager decided to try his hand in the ring.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts, at that time one of the biggest names in the business, was one of the believers.
Insiders considered Page too old to begin a career as an in-ring performer. But Roberts ignored the skeptics and trained the New Jersey native. Within 10 years DDP (short for Diamond Dallas Page) was a three-time WCW world heavyweight champion and living his dream.
Two decades later, the student is returning the favor.
Roberts, whose substance abuse issues are well documented, had hit an all-time low, both physically and emotionally, when Page called him last summer.
Page was horrified to learn of Roberts’ dire situation. Roberts, suffering from decades of drug and alcohol abuse, had ballooned to well over 300 pounds. He was sinking, and sinking fast.
Until DDP threw him a life jacket.
“I didn’t want to be around anymore,” says Roberts. “Dallas called me and just checked to see how I was doing. Being an addict and a drunk, I lied a lot. So I told him I was OK. But he asked me how much I weighed and I told him. He told me I couldn’t live like that.”
Roberts, son of the late pro wrestler and booker Grizzly Smith, was regarded as one of the biggest stars in wrestling in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. With his trademark snake gimmick and strong interview ability, Roberts was a hot commodity and a top drawing card during high-profile feuds with fellow superstars Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and the late Andre The Giant.
With his ominous and menacing persona, Roberts had the ability to tap into his dark side like few other performers in the history of the business. Cunning and intimidating, his in-ring psychology was a well-versed art form.
But Roberts, who once claimed he “traveled through life like a rocket ship going to hell,” admits he was fighting his own personal demons on his way to stardom.
Those “demons” in Roberts’ life cost him both personally and professionally.
His life was in shambles. He had gone through three marriages and fathered eight children, but admittedly wasn’t a father to any of them. Family played second fiddle to wrestling and drugs. He had no hope and no dreams.
As injuries from his grueling ring schedule began to mount – including surgery in which a disc had to be removed from his neck – Roberts found it harder and harder to cope.
Roberts’ life eventually fell apart due to alcohol and drugs. The tragedy was brought to life in Barry Blaustein’s 1999 documentary “Beyond the Mat” and the 2005 WWE-produced DVD “Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts: Pick Your Poison.” He hit rock bottom at the Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view in 1999 when he tried to disrobe in the middle of the ring.
Roberts’ incoherent ramblings and intoxicated meltdowns at small-town venues on sparsely attended independent shows were in stark contrast to the masterful promos he once delivered on national television and in front of sold-out audiences in packed arenas.
“The toughest fight in Jake Roberts’ life was looking in the mirror and knowing that I hated myself,” he said in a 1997 interview.
When Page called him last year, Roberts says he had already resigned himself to a life of failure and despair. But Page challenged him to give his acclaimed DDP Yoga workout program a chance.
Page says he could hear the pain and anguish in his friend’s voice.
“It is what it is, but it is what it is just as long as you let it be,” says Roberts. “He just challenged me and sent me some stuff to check out. He wanted me to at least try the eating program.”
Roberts received Page’s DVDs and dietary plan in the mail and dutifully gave the material a once-over. He then promptly got some beer and drugs.
“The only reason I agreed to do it initially was to get him off the phone so I could go get my dope,” says Roberts. “That’s where I was at. That’s what my days consisted of ... my drugs and my alcohol just to get me through another day. That’s some existence. I look back and can’t believe where I was at. I was in deep too.”
Outside of prison or rehab, says Roberts, he had never been sober for more than 30 days. Getting his life back on track was a long shot at best.
“I didn’t start the program right off the bat,” he confides. “I began losing a little weight first just to see if I could do anything. I was pretty far down. I was very depressed, and the only thing that prevented me from suicide was the fact that I didn’t want to hurt my kids anymore. The bottom line is that I had given up on life and given up on everything.”
Just losing a few pounds, he says, was enough to pique his interest.
“Anything after 300 pounds it really doesn’t matter. Three hundred pounds for me was just brutal. But just changing my eating plan was a big step. That sort of got my interest going and the ball moving and not rolling.”
Mere baby steps were huge for a man who for decades had been one of the biggest stars in the business, but whose personal demons had derailed his career and nearly cost him his life.
“At first the steps were real small for me. I just didn’t think I could ever recover from where I was at. There was no way in hell I was going to recover from it. I was just that far down. You hang up the tights, and all of a sudden you have no purpose in life. You’re 60, 70 pounds overweight and you feel like a complete pig. You have no dreams anymore. You quit dreaming. Just to break that pattern was a big victory.”
With slight improvement on the diet end, it was time for Page to make a personal visit to Roberts’ home in Gainesville, Texas.
“I was (ticked) off at first because I really didn’t want him to see me the way I was,” says the 57-year-old Roberts. “It’s embarrassing when you get that bad off. I look at those photos of how I looked then, and I wonder how I could have let myself get like that. And then I wondered how could I get back from that to where I am today. The bottom line was DDP Yoga because I sure couldn’t do it on my own. All my great thinking just got me deeper in trouble.”
Along with the emotional issues, there were serious physical problems that Roberts had to overcome.
A series of concussions he suffered while wrestling had caused his brain functions to misfire. As a result his hands and feet were stiff and curled.
“It seems that I’ve been hit in the head too many times. My toes and hands were curly. When I would walk, my toes would catch the carpet and they’d roll under my feet, and I’d step and break toes. My hands were curled up. I couldn’t straighten them to save my life. That was something we really had to work on. He really pushed me with it. Without DDP Yoga, I really don’t think I’d be around today. I really don’t.”
Roberts successfully completed the first phase of the eating program by dropping seven pounds.
“At that point any victory for me was huge,” says Roberts. “Just losing that and a few more pounds. If you don’t think that makes a difference, just throw 20 pounds on your back, run around the block a couple of times and see how you feel.”
Roberts was encouraged by his initial success.
“I didn’t think the eating plan was that drastic. There’s no gluten, and in the first phase you don’t lose all your dairy. I was concerned about losing cheese because I’m a cheese freak. Even today I’m still allowed cheese, but it’s goat cheese or sheep cheese, which is just awesome. The flavors are very nice.”
Roberts moved in with DDP in late October. Page’s home in Smyrna, Ga., became known as the “Accountability Crib” where Roberts would be held accountable for everything he did. No more drinking. No more illegal drugs.
Page’s goal is to get Roberts back in shape for one more run in the ring. The process is being chronicled for a documentary.
“They want this to be documented. They had an idea. And that idea was that if Jake Roberts can do this, what’s your excuse? It’s well-documented what I’ve done to myself,” says Roberts.
Fast-forward several months later, and Roberts is more than 60 pounds lighter, has regained flexibility throughout his body and has been sober.
Page, 56, has been a godsend, says Roberts, and has given him a new lease on life.
“DDP Yoga to me is much more than just doing Dallas’ routine and doing his food. It’s a way of life. It’s a change in attitude. DDP to me means dedication, desire and positive thinking.”
Roberts admits the transformation was far from easy. He had to be “schooled” on a number of things by the man who was his former student.
“When I came here, the first thing Dallas said was that I couldn’t wear these clothes. He said my T-shirts had negative messages. They were like ‘Zombie Jesus’ and ‘Wasted Youth’ and just stupid stuff.”
Roberts recalls Page’s admonitions.
“Man, if you carry that message with you and you put that out there, what kind of feedback are you going to get from people? They’re either going to be laughing at you or they’re going to be shaking their heads saying that guy used to be something.”
“I didn’t really think about it like that, but it’s the truth,” says Roberts. “That’s the way it is. If you look like a slob and you wear stupid stuff on your chest, chances are you’re going to be a stupid slob. That’s what I was doing.”
Looking back, says Roberts, he still can’t believe he let himself go to that extent.
“But that’s what happens. Nobody comes into this world wanting to be a drunk and a junkie. I never met anybody in jail or rehab that wanted to be a drunk or junkie when they grew up. It’s something that happens to you along the way, and you’ve got to be real fortunate, like myself, having someone like Dallas come back into my life and throw me that life-saving rope. I had to grab a hold of it.”
It wasn’t easy. First he had to come off drugs cold turkey.
“Don’t kid yourself. I’ve had to work for it. If I wanted it, I had to do something about it. He’s been right there for me with all the encouragement in the world. But the positive attitude he throws out ... it’s just pretty damn hard to fail if you just listen.”
Roberts impressed Page by dropping 20 pounds in the first three-and-a-half weeks of training.
“The workouts themselves are not crazy. These things are obtainable,” says Roberts. “The bottom line is it works because of the dynamic resistance. It makes you stronger, more limber. I was taking meds to stop the misfirings in my brain. Dallas has had me working on it and breaking up that scar tissue and moving it out of my system. I got all of these poisons out of my body.”
Little by little, says Roberts, he is making it back into the land of the living.
“There’s been a little more each day. You can’t fly without growing some feathers first. I stuck with it.”
Now or never
Things didn’t go so smoothly for Roberts when he first entered the house.
“I went up to Rhode Island for three days to do an autograph signing. Everything was fine. I was a good little boy, doing the right thing, and sometimes someone in my position who’s had struggles with alcohol and drugs starts feeling their oats and thinking they’ve got this under control. Being a dummy, I just said what the hell, I’ll have three or four beers.”
The next thing he knew, Roberts was back in Atlanta.
“I had a blackout. It scared the hell out of me. That was really horrible because I was on an airplane. Dallas was supposed to pick me up at the airport. Here’s Dallas and his camera crew. They’re filming me making an idiot of myself. It opened my eyes that there had to be some drastic changes in my life.”
Furious and humiliated, Roberts knew that this was his last chance.
“Blackouts aren’t cool. I guess I was kicking back and not drinking and doing the dope, and all of a sudden, four or five beers on top of it, my body wasn’t ready for it and let me know. Maybe this was God’s way of saying, ‘Hey dude, you’ve got this opportunity, don’t blow it.’”
Drastic measures had to be taken if Roberts was to remain at the home. The next morning he called his doctor and requested Antabuse, a drug that makes the user violently ill if he drinks alcohol.
“Trust me. You will not drink on that stuff. In fact Dallas has encouraged me to drink on it. He dares me. It will really hurt you.”
Roberts has since refrained from alcohol. He’s also attending AA meetings about 10 minutes from the house.
“I’ve been sober for 93 days. That’s the longest I’ve been (sober) — unless you count jail — in years.”
One of the stipulations is drug testing, and DDP has a one-strike policy for the former wrestling superstar.
“It’s all about doing the right thing,” says Roberts. “Getting yourself out of old habits and starting new habits. But make sure they’re good ones.”
Plus, he jokes, “You’ve got to remember ... Dallas and I had history. I kind of used my trump card when one of my cobras got loose in his house, and he had cats. That’s been years ago. There’s not been much room for screwing up after that.”
Roberts admits he’s had many chances in the past to get straight. He also knows that there will be more than a few naysayers who won’t give him a chance to succeed this time.
“I hope they do because it’ll just give me more fuel. They have a right to think like that, but you know what? My history is not my destiny. I know I’ve made mistakes. I’ve always been up front about my mistakes. I just found out the other day that I’m not the only wrestler that ever did drugs and alcohol, but I’m the only one who stood up and admitted it.”
“Nobody wants to be an alcoholic or a drug addict,” he adds. “But if you make those wrong choices, that’s what happens to you. Instead of going right, I went left, and I went left hard. As for them doubting me, that’s OK, you go ahead and think about me not making it, because all my time is spent on me making it.”
By the time the film is done, he says, Roberts hopes people will see that he’s for real. He welcomes the scrutiny.
“You can look at me and see where I’m at. A lot of folks will comment that regardless of the weight I’ve loss, they can just look at my eyes and know, ‘Hey, that dude’s back, he’s alive in there. We see somebody.’”
Not your mama’s yoga
Dallas Page, who successfully transitioned from the wrestling business to become a high-profile yoga instructor and inspirational speaker, developed his popular fitness program out of necessity.
The New Jersey native’s rise to the top of the mat game didn’t come without a price as all the bone-shattering bumps finally caught up to him. After rupturing a pair of discs and being told by three different doctors his wrestling career was over at age 42, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Doctors suggested that Page, who had just signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar deal with WCW, undergo surgery to reduce, but not eliminate, his constant pain. Page, however, decided on an alternative route.
At the suggestion of his former wife, Page started to mix yoga with his rehab, adding old school calisthenics and then dynamic resistance. In less than three months, he was back in the ring.
Impressed with the results that yoga was doing for his body, Page went one step further and developed Yoga for Regular Guys, which eventually evolved into DDP Yoga, a fitness workout that has zero-impact on the joints, and intensive results for weight loss and for achieving maximum physical health.
It’s a hybrid yoga program that puts a “regular guy” spin on the ancient practice.
“The truth is, I would have tried anything,” he says. “I created DDP Yoga to heal my own body so I could continue to live my dream.”
“You don’t have to be Superman to do it,” says Roberts. “We’ve got this guy who comes over to the Crib and works out. He’s 79 years old.”
“If you work, it works,” adds Page. “If you don’t work, nothing works.”
WWE superstar Chris Jericho filmed a ringing endorsement of DDP Yoga last year after overcoming severe back issues in just five weeks.
“It would blow your mind how many wrestlers — past and present — are doing my workout,” says Page. Last year they said Chris Jericho was done, but he saw one of my videos, came back and within five weeks he was 85 percent pain-free, and within three months he was 100 percent pain-free, and headlining Wrestlemania. A couple of months after that, he took off and went on the road for six months with (his band) Fozzy. And he came back at the Rumble after not having wrestled for six months, and went 47 minutes and 53 seconds. And he had a helluva match Monday night on Raw. By him doing that, Kane, Santino, Zack Ryder, Wade Barrett, Ryback, there’s gotta be 40 guys that are doing the program.”
“Half the guys in the Rumble are doing it,” jokes Roberts.
“It’s all about healing your body and your mind,” says Page. “These kids today that do these extreme matches where they’re jumping off buildings ... what are they going to feel like when they hit 40?”
Page humbly downplays his importance in helping others, such as Roberts, change their lives.
“I’m merely a guide,” he says. “What’s really encouraging is that there’s not as many skeptics out there for Jake as I thought. When I became a wrestler, everybody thought I was crazy. One of the first people to believe in me was Jake. After I tore my rotator cuff, no one thought I’d ever do anything. And he told me, ‘I’ve seen you work, I’ve seen what you put into this, if you just stay with it and keep working at it, you’re going to be one of the top guys in this business.’”
Roberts, says Page, is a master evaluator of talent.
“He said the same thing about Stone Cold (Steve Austin) when he was The Ringmaster, he said the same thing about Rock when Dory Funk first brought him in before he was Rocky Maivia. He saw things in certain people. You look at Steve, you look at Rock, you look at me, where we were. I was the furthest out. The Rock looked like a million bucks when he first came in at 23 or so. Steve was a couple of years older than that, but he still had the right age and the right size. I was a manager. Within 2 1/2 years after that, that’s when Jake and I started to connect and he helped me do that.”
Coming to Jake’s aid
An old shoulder injury from Roberts’ many bumps in the ring has become increasingly painful and now prevents him from continuing his exercise routine. Without the ability to exercise, his progress has been severely handicapped.
Unable to even lift his left arm, he has become discouraged that he has come so far only to run into this stumbling block. Surgery is the only option.
There’s also good news, though, that goes along with the temporary setback. Roberts says he could have never imagined a time when not being able to work out would disappoint him.
“I get very frustrated. If somebody had told me I was going to get upset about not working out, I would have laughed at them. These days I pout like a little girl if I can’t work out. It’s been an eye-opening experience.”
Page and his film partner, Steve Yu, launched a campaign on a website to help obtain funds for Roberts’ much-needed surgery.
“I was down and out. I didn’t have insurance or money to have the surgery, but Dallas and his partner Steve told me about this website called Indiegogo.com,” says Roberts. “They put it all together because I’m not smart enough to do that stuff.”
The estimated cost of the surgery was $9,200. More than $24,000 was raised in less than two weeks.
“Everybody knows our goal was $9,2000, but they also know that Jake is going to get his teeth done, we’re going to get him insurance, we’re going to help to get him back on his feet,” says Page. “And the fans love being a part of it. There’s still 19 more days left on that thing, so it sort of blows our mind as you move forward. But people from all over — the music industry, professional sports, businessmen — are still calling in to offer donations. They want to be part of it.”
“They’re getting something back,” adds Roberts. “I told them I’d do table dancing. I just want to get this shoulder done. We’re sending out photos, phone calls. Thank goodness for Dallas, but he’s had people come into his house for a weekend. They paid a nice price for it, but I tell you what, I’ll damn sure entertain them. Because I am thankful and very grateful, and I’m humbled by all of it.”
Roberts says he has been overwhelmed by the many acts of kindness and generosity since reaching out to the public.
“There’s just been so many things happen in the short time I’ve been here. Things falling into place. There was this guy who came up to me and said, ‘Jake, I know money’s tight, but I’m a tailor and I want to build you a suit that’ll just knock their socks off.’ Are you serious? That’s some serious coin. This guy doesn’t owe me nothing, and for him to want to come up and just be a part of this.
“A poker player from Australia offered to pay for the whole thing. It’s just everybody reaching out. It just blows me away. I can’t believe that Jake Roberts is stuck for words, but it’s true.”
During the process, the computer-deficient Roberts also has picked up a few social media skills.
“They’ve got me doing tweeting now, but that’s about my limit. You really need to learn new things. Everybody needs to keep learning throughout their lives. You quit learning and you’re going to die. I reached out and asked for help.”
His success thus far has left him wanting more. He knows he’s far from the finish line, but his small taste of success has encouraged him to go the distance.
Roberts says he would gladly trade his success in wrestling for sobriety and the chance to be a man.
“I’ve got a long ways to go yet. Now that I’ve tasted a little bit of a victory, I want more. I’m getting greedy with it now. I want more. Give me more. It feels good to feel that way about yourself. I get my high today off of being able to help somebody else.
“When I go into a food store or a hardware store, somebody will recognize Jake Roberts. That gives me a door open, man, and I start talking to them and they’re more than happy to talk to me. I can hit them with DDP Yoga, and the next thing you know, we’ve got somebody else signed up. Their life is going to change too. But isn’t that what it’s all about? The world would be a lot better place if you would just reach out and help the next person.”
The real Rocky story
Roberts’ biggest supporter, of course, remains Diamond Dallas Page.
“I think there’s a different goal for Jake right now. He’s always been an incredibly inspiring wrestler,” says DDP.
It was Roberts who once inspired Page to reach heights that most thought were unobtainable.
“One of the reasons Jake and I are in this position today is because he taught me so much about getting over. I could do all the moves. I learned them pretty quickly. They were hard as hell, but that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was making people care. And he taught me that.”
To say Page was a fan of Jake “The Snake” Roberts would be a gross understatement.
“I watched hours and hours of Jake Roberts. I must have had 40 Jake Roberts tapes at one time. It was all Jake Roberts on two-hour VCR tapes. And if you really watch my matches, there’s a piece of Randy Savage, there’s a piece of Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), there’s a piece of Terry Funk, but the one that’s the most is Jake. That’s the part that really got over with the people. And he taught me how to do that. And he was very inspiring that way. And that’s where it ended. He didn’t see anything after that.”
Page hopes Roberts can be an inspiration once again.
Like a real-life Randy “The Ram” Robinson from the hit film, “The Wrestler,” Roberts’ life was out of control. And, in what seems like a cyclical theme, Roberts is trying to clean up his life.
“This is the real Rocky story. For all the people out there who loved the movie ‘The Wrestler,’ they’re going to really love this one. It’s a story of redemption. Everybody wants the comeback story.”
“It’s learning how to live with things,” says Roberts. “Dallas is really big on something he calls ‘Living Life at 90 Percent.’ It’s based on the concept that life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react.”
Roberts hopes the film will serve as a tool to help others.
“We’re able to go in depth about what causes problems, and what issues do come up that might twist you down that wrong road. I hope it’s going to be a tool that people will be able to look at and say, ‘You know, maybe this tool can help fix my life too.’ That’s what I want out of it. My desire is just to save one other poor, stupid SOB like me from doing the wrong thing, and having somebody else make that comeback, because that old devil sure as hell hates to see you win.”
“I just want to show him that people love him,” says Page. “Just by changing his life slightly, he can inspire people. He’s doing it dramatically.”
Room for more
The original title for the documentary, “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake,” has been slightly altered to reflect a possible change, says Page.
“Because so many things are happening around us, we’ve changed the title to ‘It’s Never Too Late.’ The subtitle under that is ‘The Resurrection of Jake The Snake.’ We’re hoping to add Scott Hall to that. That’s what we’re hoping.”
Hall, one of the few former wrestling stars whose level of personal destruction is on par with that of Roberts, was contacted by Page about joining the group in Atlanta.
“Right now we’re hoping that Scott joins us,” says Page. “We all talked a few weeks ago, and we definitely thought he was going to make the move. But then he got lost in the sauce, and the next thing you know he was in the hospital. His heart shut down.”
Page hopes Hall will take a cue from his best friend, Kevin Nash, and give the program a try.
“Kevin looks amazing. He still wrestles around the world at 53 years young. And he does DDP Yoga as well,” says Page. “He got to a point where his body was starting to feel it, and that’s when he added it to his repertoire. It was a long time, because he was old, old, old school like that. But when he saw how much it was helping people, he said, ‘OK, Dally, give it to me, I’m in.’”
Page says Hall may be down and out but, like Roberts, he still has a large legion of fans — and former wrestling colleagues — pulling for him.
“When Kevin goes to Japan, everyone asks him how’s Scott. Muta, Chono, they all ask him how’s Scott. So many of the boys want to see him turn this around. But I could not do it or even take this thing on without Jake,” says Page. “Scott will say to me, ‘Dally, you just don’t know ... you’re not an alcoholic or drug addict.’ Well ... Jake is.”
“That kind of shuts him up,” adds Roberts. “He’ll have to sit in the back seat when I’m driving that bus.”
“Hopefully it’s going to be strung out a little bit with Scott coming in,” says Roberts. “We’re doing the real deal. We’re not doing some scripted deal. We’ve got cameras all over at this house. You’ve got to be on your toes 24/7. And that’s a good thing because we’re getting real moments. We’re getting real experiences. So when it does go out, people can see that it’s not set up, it’s the real deal.”
“I need Scott here, to tell you the truth, because it will inspire me to keep him doing the next right thing,” says Roberts. “That’s the way you accomplish your goals. You hook up with somebody and you want to guide them down that right road too That, and it would be so much fun to (tick) everybody off. I’d love to take him out and buy him a glass of sweet tea.”
“I tell you the God’s honest truth. I could never do it by myself,” adds DDP. “If I didn’t have Jake here, I wouldn’t even try it. This is where the teacher becomes the student becomes the teacher.”
Roberts has high hopes for Hall if he decides to join them at the Crib.
“That is a dream, but it’s a dream working with Dallas and doing DDP Yoga, Scott’s going to be blown away when he’s able to get up and down again like I was. I couldn’t even get out of a chair. Give me a break. I had to be helped up. If I got on the floor, I couldn’t get up, but Dallas showed me how to get up off the floor by myself because I couldn’t do it. I’d get down and couldn’t get back up. It’s a learning experience. It just opens the door to help so many other people.”
DDP says he can relate to the underdog who disproves the doubters.
“No one believed in me either,” he says. “It’s the greatest feeling. That became my driving force. Some people get pulled down by emotional gravity. But people like me and Jake — and I know Scott’s going to be the same way — everybody wants to see them succeed.”
“Scott Hall said it best to me the other day,” relates Roberts.
“Jake, what is it about our fans, they love us so much when we don’t even love ourselves,” asked Hall.
“That’s where you get when you go down that wrong road,” says Roberts. “I’ve got my fingers crossed that Scott makes it too. I believe he will. He’s seen me go through a really wild transformation. If you can’t want this, what’s wrong with you?
“Scott isn’t in the house yet. Not yet. But I’ve got my fingers crossed and we’re praying about it. Scott’s gotta do some things before he can come in, but that’s more Dallas’ backyard. He lays it out there. We’re just following. We’re sheep right now. And I’m comfortable with that because I’m learning a lot.”
Roberts and Page both agree that there’s room for more at the Accountability Crib.
“Not only Scott, but I believe there’s going to be a lot of other guys rolling in here soon,” says Roberts, “whether they be wrestlers or policemen. And that’s something I’ve got to commend Dallas on. He’s reaching out to the community where we live. We’re going to start here in our own backyard. And we’re going to go after the policemen in the area and the firemen in the area and give back to the community. They’re watching your back, man, and you need to know them. If you can help one guy, that guy helps two guys, and it doesn’t take you long. Do the math. You’ve got a much healthier place going on.”
Last shot at redemption
Roberts, rarely at a loss for words, chokes up when putting his own personal situation into perspective.
“My daughter works with all the troops coming back from Iraq. She works out of the rehab in Leavenworth, Kan. She’s inspiring me because she’s got MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Here’s a girl that’s doing so much for our troops, and she’s been hammered with this horrible disease. How dare me keep going out there and screwing myself up? She’s fighting for her life, and I’ve got a life that I’m trying to throw away. What the hell is going on?”
Roberts’ relationships with his children, for the most part, have been repaired, but not without years of heartache and struggle.
“My goal in life now is real simple. I want to raise some grandkids. I want to be a parent. I never was before, but I want to do it now. I know this is my last chance. Are you kidding me?”
It’s emotional for Roberts to think about his children, and ponder how things could have been different had he made better choices.
One of his finer moments, he says, is when three of his children called to tell him they were proud of him.
“My oldest kids over Thanksgiving got me on the phone and said, ‘You know, Dad, we’re proud of what you’ve accomplished in the wrestling world all those years, but we’re more proud of you today than we’ve ever been.’ That was pretty awesome.”
‘New’ Jake Roberts?
Roberts is probably one of the biggest stars to not have been invited to join the WWE Hall of Fame.
At least not yet.
“If that happens, that’s great,” he says. “But I’m not bitter about anything. I made my own mess. I’m not going to argue the pros and cons. I’m going into the Cauliflower Alley, and that’s sweet because those are my guys. It’ll be great to see those guys out there. I’ve been out to one of those reunions, and it was awesome. For them to honor me is wonderful.”
Not downplaying the WWE Hall, he says, but there’s a bigger picture out there for Jake Roberts.
“What happens will happen. I certainly threw a lot of logs on that fire if I did burn my bridge. There’s no doubt about that. The most important thing to me is helping other people and raising my grandkids.”
Roberts can’t offer enough superlatives about his student/teacher DDP. He says he has never seen anyone with the level of Page’s drive and enthusiasm.
“Other than the devil himself, no,” he jokes. “If the good Lord had hired DDP to be his front man, the devil would be out of business.”
As for now, Roberts is in a good place. He was scheduled to finally get that much-needed shoulder surgery Friday, which will allow him to do things physically that he has been unable to for years.
He’s lost 60 pounds thus far, and has only 15 more to go to reach his goal of 230.
Will we finally see a “new” Jake Roberts?
“That’s scary,” he says. “What’s the world gonna do? Hell, they couldn’t handle me when I was screwed up, what are they gonna do with me when I’m straight? I’ll drive everybody nuts.”
— A big turnout is expected tonight at the Hanahan Rec Center when Old School Championship Wrestling returns from its holiday hiatus. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Bell time is at 5.
Former WWE star Gangrel will team with Dr. Creo in a three-way bout with Legit and current OSCW tag champs Vordell Walker and Callie Casanova. Also featured will be TNA star Robbie E, John Skyler, Josh Magnum, Steven Walters, Asylum, Brady Pierce and the return of Malachi.
Adult admission is $10 cash at door; kids 12 and under $5. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 843-743-4800.