Jake “The Snake”
WWE HALL OF FAMER
An American comedian, inspirational speaker, actor and professional wrestler. Roberts is best known for his two stints in the World Wrestling Federation (later called WWE); the first between 1986 and 1992, and the second between 1995 and 1997. He wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance in 1983, World Championship Wrestling in 1992, and the Mexico-based Asistencia Asesoría y Administración between 1993 and 1994 and again in 1997. He appeared in Extreme Championship Wrestling during the summer of 1997 and made appearances for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2006 through 2008.
Throughout his career, Roberts was known for his intense and cerebral promos, dark charisma, extensive use of psychology in his matches, and innovative use of the DDT finishing move (which was later named the "coolest" maneuver of all time by WWE). He often brought snakes into the ring, most famously a python. He was one of the subjects of the 1999 documentary film Beyond the Mat. In 2012, Roberts moved in with fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page to seek help in getting his life back on track following years of alcohol and drug abuse. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 5, 2014.
It all started when…
Roberts derived his nickname for being known as "snake like" and untrustworthy. Roberts also said on the Pick Your Poison DVD that he got his nickname by copying Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken "The Snake" Stabler (of whom Roberts was a huge fan). To accentuate this, he often slid ("slithered") into and out of the ring on his belly under the bottom rope. Once he reached the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in March 1986, Roberts would bring a live Burmese Python (though various snakes were used over the years, most were named "Damien") to ringside in a canvas bag. Other snakes used were a Reticulated Python named Lucifer, an unnamed (de-venomized) Cobra, and an albino Burmese Python named Revelations (during Roberts' Christian conversion gimmick in 1996). After executing a DDT for the pin, Roberts would coil the constrictor around the opponent's neck, and the snake would slither around on top of the fallen wrestler, sometimes appearing to strangle him.
Roberts has been praised by his fellow wrestlers for his psychology in the ring. Jim Ross has stated that Roberts stands out for not only his ring psychology, but also his promo work. Ted DiBiase has stated how much he enjoyed working with Roberts, while Bad News Brown rated Roberts as the second best worker he worked with. Macho Man Randy Savage said in a shoot interview that he enjoyed a good run with Roberts and that he was impressed with how he worked in the ring.
In 2007, WWE started a policy of paying all expenses for its former performers who wanted to start drug rehabilitation programs. Roberts was placed in a 14-week voluntary rehab program by WWE in December 2007. In May 2008, Jim Ross reported that Roberts "has been doing well the past few weeks, after completing a treatment program".
In October 2012, while financially distressed and having resumed abusing alcohol and drugs, Roberts moved in with former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page in Atlanta, Georgia, a time which was chronicled in the documentary The Resurrection of Jake the Snake. His weight had ballooned to over 300 lb (136 kg) and he was having trouble doing simple tasks such as walking without becoming short of breath. During filming, Roberts had shoulder surgery which was paid for through crowdfunding. After 18 months, he had lost over 50 lb (22 kg) and regained mobility.
In February 2014, TMZ reported that Roberts had muscular cancer below his knee and was scheduled to go into surgery. In a response to the article, Roberts was quoted as saying, "If the devil can't defeat me, cancer doesn't stand a chance in hell! Pray for sick children who face this horrible disease 'cause The Snake will be just fine." In July 2014, he announced that he was cancer-free after various surgeries.
In August 2014, Roberts fell ill during a flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas, where he was scheduled to attend a birthday event for fellow wrestler Nick Cvjetkovich. First reports indicated that Roberts had fallen unconscious, but his manager/lawyer, Kyle P. Magee, confirmed that Roberts was alert and awake during the flight and notified the flight attendant of his pain and shortness of breath. Magee said that Roberts was induced to a "coma-like" state in order to treat pneumonia. He was diagnosed with the flu two weeks earlier and ignored doctors' advice of rest and continued to travel to events. Upon arrival at the ICU in Las Vegas, he was diagnosed with double pneumonia. Doctors also found an abnormality on his brain which they felt could be a result of all the bumps Roberts took over his long career.