WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts was recently a guest on the Prime Time with Sean Mooney podcast. Roberts was asked about what drove him to achieve the success he attained over the course of his career.
Roberts explained that his strained relationship with his father angered him and motivated him at the same time. His father Aurelian "Grizzly" Smith was also a wrestler, and that did Roberts no favors when he began wrestling.
"It was ultimately about anger. I was upset with my father. For me, to be in a locker room where there are crude jokes being made, but are being thrown at me because of my father. That blistered me. It made me feel so empty inside, and so full of shame. Shame is such a dangerous thing to deal with," Roberts said. "I had a tough time in the locker room because sometimes wrestlers have this hard-edge to them. There were a lot of things being said and done, and as I look back I wondered how I was able to overcome all of that."
Roberts said he completely threw himself into professional wrestling and did whatever he could to ensure that he would have a great career. He said even though he sometimes ponders whether he could've done more, he is grateful for the things he was able to accomplish.
"The way I was able to was because of the wrestling. It would consume my mind, heart and soul, it was 24/7 wrestling. I couldn't trust anything else in life to be fair, because I never knew what was going to come to me next. Just to be able to focus on wrestling and have a great career, sometimes I think about how I could have accomplished so much more. Maybe I could have, but I feel that I did a hell of a lot," Roberts said. "I had a pretty good career; rang some bells, and all of that. I am just so grateful for what I did do, and so grateful to of found the right woman to have children with and that my children do not have alcohol of drug issues. I am so grateful for that. My oldest daughter heads the largest rehab in the world."
Before going to the WWE, Roberts made his name in Mid South Wrestling and caught the attention of Vince McMahon. He said he was initially hesitant to jump from the NWA to the WWE, but eventually he decided it was what was best for his career. But it wasn't an entirely smooth transition, as unforeseen circumstances had him questioning whether or not he made the right decision.
"I gave my notice to Mid-South, and they accepted it. Vince McMahon had tried to hire me before when I was in Georgia Championship Wrestling. I wanted to stay true to the NWA, so I didn't go. Few years later I gave my notice after being screwed over again by Bill Watts. I picked up the phone and called New York and asked to speak with Vince McMahon," Roberts explained. "They said that Vince McMahon wasn't going to be around for a few more weeks, and I was thinking, 'Oh my God, I just gave my notice, so what am I going to do?' I let my wife know that I couldn't get a hold of him, and of course she didn't want to hear that. As soon as I was going to head to the gym she said that Vince McMahon was on the phone, which I didn't believe her. I went to the phone and he had told me to get on the airplane and fly up there, which was what I did. I sat down with him and we had a decent conversation, and that was that."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Prime Time with Sean Mooney with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Prime Time with Sean Mooney
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.