I recently interviewed WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Roberts will be taking his "Unspoken Word Tour" to the Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, MD this Friday. You can purchase tickets at baltimoresoundstage.com. Below is the full interview, transcribed by Peter Bahi:
I remember interviewing you four years ago. You have had such a turnaround since that time. You had moved in with DDP, what has it been like?
"It's been a terrific trip. The first year I had was tough, it really was. Trying to get clean and sober was a journey I wouldn't recommend for anybody, it was really rough, but things started to get better right off the beginning, my health got better being able to move around and being able to get out of a chair by myself kind of felt good. Sobriety is a daily chore, but it's one that I find easier everyday and I don't have the need to drink or the want to, that's just great for me, not to do a drug and going on five years now that I have been now it's been awesome. Back then, I couldn't imagine myself actually succeeding, I really couldn't, but I mean, it's tough, you do something for a long period of time everyday, always doing drugs and drinking everyday, then you stop. I have tried several times, been to several rehabs, but didn't work, and then to move in with an old buddy, and something clicked in a positive way.
"I think it had a lot to do with doing the DDP Yoga, getting indoor in the morning instead of waiting around to feel good, I charged out there and made myself feel good, so when I started losing weight that was a positive thing. I couldn't believe I was actually losing weight, it made me get in shape again, so I am feeling good and whenever I started to actually like myself, which was about two years in, that was something I never felt. I always been down on myself because what happened to me in my life, and disgusted with what happened to my career and what I had done to it, and my family and what I had done to them, and you know, it was all negative, negative, negative and then to start turning it around and started having positive things come into your life with my health getting better and family situation getting better, the gifts kept coming man.
"Now, I am out here on the road with the comedy thing, which I never saw. It's really not comedy, it's telling the world stories which are hilarious, the stuff that happens in the dressing room, things that people don't know about, whether it would be in a bar or hotel room or a strip joint, I talk about all of them, it has been some crazy stuff with Andre (the Giant) and (Ted) DiBiase, Undertaker and with Terry Funk, all these stories I have. I was on the road for forty years, so I have a good catalog of them."
I did want to ask you with you and Dallas going so far back. There was a time in WCW where Dallas was on top, and him and Raven were kind of mentioning you in a promo. Was there ever talk about you being a part of that angle back then? Do you remember that?
"No..no, it sure wasn't. You know, Raven and him both have spent time with me, not so much Raven, but Dallas. I did live with him for a period of time so I lost a snake in his house and that kind of gave me an exit out, can't imagine why.
Have you been keeping up with the current product?
"Not much, I don't have time and then, I don't agree with a lot that is going on in the WWE right now so I just try to keep my nose out of it, I don't want to say anything negative, it's really hard not to these days."
I consider yourself and Randy Savage as my favorite promos of all time, and I just feel like the promos aren't even close to what they used to be. Have you ever been approached about coaching promos or helping out with that?
"No, I would love to help them in some way or another. I do have a lot to offer, but they know I am pretty much stuck in my ways, I'm pretty vocal about what I believe, and I am pretty hard on that, and maybe they just don't want the aggravation of me being too vocal. I find it hard to understand how you have people writing about television that know nothing about wrestling. I really do, and I don't agree with these guys being put out there before they are ready, and they are never going to get better. It takes time, a lot of time to make a star, a top talent. You can't do it in one or two years, and these guys are being thrust out there and saying, hey, you either do it or you're gone, and are going out and taking a bunch of shortcuts. They never learn how to do promos and never learn how to really wrestle. They are just going out there and doing a book of moves. They don't get what the move is designed for and what should be respected and what shouldn't be respected. Basically they are going out there and doing the same thing, and none of it means anything."
You were in a creative position with the WWF back in the 90's. How was that experience?
"It was good for me. Sometimes when you know too much it is not a good thing. It can get you in trouble, and it got me in trouble. There were people there that did not want me there. I don't like to kiss butt, and I won't, and there was some guys that were there, and I won't mention any names because it's just not worth lashing out again, but you know, I was a marked man, and while I was there, I was able to get a couple of guys a good push with Steve Austin being one of them. When he was brought in, he was expected to be the third and fourth match on the card, nothing more. They just didn't see him as ever being a star, and I recognized that right from the beginning and certainly endorsed him as much as I could, and it worked out for him. It truly worked out for him a big, big way. I am very proud of Steve because he had been treated pretty badly at WCW, and you know, any place he went I just seen him as a guy who would take a little longer to get over because he was more manilla, but I knew that if they ever gave him the opportunity for any period of time, his wrestling would make him a star and that is exactly what happened."
You appeared on Raw a couple of years ago and did a DDT on Dean Ambrose. I remember you telling a funny story about what Dean Ambrose was smiling when you had the snake put on him.
"Well, CM Punk told him the snake pooped on him, which that wasn't the case, he was just joking with him, but Ambrose was trying to keep it together but he blew it."
What was the reaction backstage like after your appearance because it was pretty secretive.
"It was unbelievable. It was very secretive, with about two or three people knowing I was there. It was awesome man. Unfortunately most of my guys had already went home, but Dallas was backstage and it was good to see Vince again. It was a brief handshake and that was it, but you know, it is what it is.
"I said a lot of stuff and did a lot of stuff that was uncool back when I was using. It's amazing how a drunk or drug addict would say something out of line, I can't imagine that happening but i guess I had to be forgiven at some point having been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame that summer, I never imagined that would happen in my time of rage and some , of the stuff I had done, but I really do appreciate it, it was awesome and nice to go into the Hall of Fame with my kids there, and my grandchildren there, hoisting my grandson up and was fighting a fight everyday. He is my hero man. Him and his sister both came into this world weighing just over a pound, and they are still here. It was against all odds, and they fight a fight everyday, they have a lot of things going on but they are not giving up, I wish I had that kind of fight in me still, but doing this comedy stuff I am doing, working on a book, which most of it is done and ready to go within a few months."
How many of these shows have you done so far?
"Probably about 60 or 70, so I have it down. In the beginning I struggled to come up with one show, and now that time has gone on and put my mind to it remembering stuff from different years that were crazy and had forgotten about, now I have enough to do four or five shows so I will be out here for a while doing these.
I did want to ask you one thing about the Hall of Fame. You were inducted the same year as the Ultimate Warrior. You guys were about to start a program together but then he left the company. Did you ever speak to Warrior that night?
"Yeah we did. He came to me and had a nice talk. I was avoiding him because I was afraid I was going to say what I thought, but he kind of came to me and disarmed me and apologized from the beginning and I think he wanted to get the table cleared, which I will give him a thumbs up for that because he really hurt my career at the time, you know, and things just happened."
Roberts will be taking his "Unspoken Word Tour" to the Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, MD this Friday. You can purchase tickets at baltimoresoundstage.com.