Jake 'The Snake' Roberts Discusses His First WWF Run, Hating Snakes, Changing His Physique, More

WrestlingINC: So when you went to WWF, did you pitch that idea to Vince?

Roberts: No, they had come back with it. They said, 'Have you thought about this before?' I said, 'Well, Jake 'The Snake'? Kind of fits.' [Laughs.] They said, 'Well, good. You're going to carry a snake.' I said, 'No problem.' Not thinking that I was terrified of them and hated the sons of b-----s. Next thing you know, I've got a damn snake... They supplied them. There was a guy in Stamford, Connecticut named Albert that supplied all the snakes.

WrestlingINC: Did you have to travel with it?

Roberts: Yes, I did. What a miserable damn job that was, carrying a 100 pound snake in a box and carrying my wrestling gear and clothes. Back then, we'd go on the road for a month to six weeks at a time. Carrying all that s--t was just really, really brutal, man. It really tore my ass up. You wake up in a hotel room at 5 AM -- there's no bellmen at the Red Roof. You've got to do it yourself. Then you get your rental car and you've got to turn that back in. So, you've got to take all that s--t back out and put it on the bus to the airport. Then, when you get there, you've got to carry it all the way over to the skycaps. If they are available because a lot of airports didn't have skycaps. So, what does that mean? That means I'm carrying that stupid s--t.

So, here I am carrying 150 pounds of gear, walking around with that stuff. That's not healthy to do, really. It wore my ass out.

WrestlingINC: So, you made your debut there and then a month later, you're on WrestleMania II. Did you expect to make the pay-per-view that fast?

Roberts: It kind of surprised me but they were trying to load all their guns at the time. That's where they did the three cities, so there was certainly room for me on the card somewhere.

WrestlingINC: You're debut -- though, I guess it wasn't technically your debut -- always sticks out in my mind. When you wrestled George Wells, put the snake on him and he started foaming at the mouth.

Roberts: It's funny what alka-seltzers will do for you. [Laughs.]

WrestlingINC: [Laughs.] It was effective. It was something that really stuck out in people's minds. But then, you had the feud with Ricky Steamboat. What was it like working with Ricky Steamboat?

Roberts: It was wonderful. We had actually been tag partners in the Carolinas a few times and any time around Ricky was great. Whether you were wrestling or just riding down the road.

WrestlingINC: Another thing that really stuck out back then was that you were kind of a pioneer in a sense that everyone during the era was really jacked up and had the bodybuilder physique and you became a huge star without having to do that. Do you think that held you back at all, not being the bodybuilder type?

Roberts: Well, I never really thought about it like that. But, no, I wasn't all jacked up and juiced up. The one time I did go up, it was after my neck surgery. I went up to about 275 pounds. I had gotten up juiced and jacked because I was trying to get myself over the neck surgery. I went in after the neck surgery to see Vince and he goes, 'That's not what we want.' I said, 'What are you talking about? This is not what you want?' Because I had really put on a lot of beef on my upper body.' He said, 'You know, if we wanted Hogan to carry a snake, we'd have Hogan carry a snake. We don't want you looking like that. You want you to be very sensuous, very sexual, smooth. Be different.

Well, ain't that a b---h. So, he told me that he didn't want to hear about me being in the gym. [Laughs.] So, I went home and sat by the pool for a month, snorted cocaine and drank. So, there you go. ... Well, I shouldn't have done what I did. That's for damn sure.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of our interview, where Roberts discusses his favorite opponents during that era, working with Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior being fired before their feud and much more.

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