WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts spoke to Ring Rust Radio recently about his transformation, The Resurrection of Jake The Snake, and much more. You can check out highlights below, and of course get a great deal on DDP Yoga and The Resurrection of Jake The Snake over at DDPYoga.com/WrestlingInc.
You're widely regarded as one of the best talkers in the history of the business, and deservedly so, but it seems like very few wrestlers in WWE currently have creative freedom when it comes to their promos. How much freedom did you have, and how do you feel about the notion of scripting promos?
"Nobody ever scripted a promo for me. Never. For my induction speech, they wanted to give me help with that and they sent somebody to help me with it. I wrote some notes and I was supposed to say some things here and there and they were going to put stuff up on the tron, but when I walked through the door I wadded it up and threw it away. I'm not like that. I'm not to read I'm not giving a scripted interview because that's not from your heart. That's from somebody else's mouth and mind. Nobody knows Jake like Jake. Nobody knows how to express Jake like Jake. So let Jake do it and leave him the hell alone. Nobody ever scripted anything The Snake said or any of my interviews. The only thing that happened with my interviews was that sometimes I would get the call and be told I went too far with that or we are getting calls on that one. It wasn't that I said something with bad language or anything, but it was something that really struck people's mind and made them think or scared them. So I thought it was pretty funny that I was getting called out for really getting the job done. I don't like the thought that these writers are doing this, but then again I don't like the thought that they have writers writing a wrestling show who never wrestled. There's a lot wrong with that and the business has changed so much. This young talent is not getting the chance to actually learn their trade. They come in and in two years they are on television and then they are under the gun and you better do something to keep your job. So they're going out there and they're hurting themselves doing stupid stuff, high-impact stuff and dangerous things. The reason being is they don't know what the hell they're doing, and that's the bottom line. They don't know the art of wrestling. They know the physicality of it and they know how to do these fancy damn moves, but it doesn't take a great wrestler to jump off the top of the cage. It takes an idiot; bottom line."
Your WWE Hall of Fame induction was so emotional for wrestling fans and yourself. What was that night like for you and how did it help change your life?
"Well to tell you the truth, I can't remember a damn thing about it. That's the way most of my interviews are; I don't remember them. All I'm doing is speaking from my heart. It's not something I practiced and wrote down and read and re-read. I just go out there and let it flow. The gift I was given a long time ago, just like I said in my speech, I didn't use all of it, but I did use some of it. Ya'll got a little bit of it, but there's still some left. How did it change my life? It made it easier for me to hold my head high. It gave me that stamp of approval in my mind and heart, and I needed that. I was always somebody that doubted my talent. I was very, very, very hard on myself. I always felt that I was never good enough for that ring, and I still feel that way. I guess with everything I've been through or just my attitude about the ring is to me that ring is my woman. I'm trying to make love to her, but I still can't get it right, not quite. I was trying to do better for her because she deserves a whole lot better. I think as long as you have that attitude, your product is going to be pretty damn good. When you think you know it all, it's time to take your tights off, take your boots of, and put them in a pile and burn the damn things because you don't know what you're doing."
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We routinely praise and reference the psychology of your work and how you mastered the craft of pro wrestling. Is there somebody today that you believe excels in some of the areas that you did, whether it is in the ring or on the mic?
"Bray Wyatt; he definitely gets it done. I think they're holding him down. I think he could do a lot more, and I would like to see them turn him loose, but I don't think they're going to. He would be something hard for WWE to ram something down his chute because his character is so strong. So they keep him beaten down and I think it's a shame because he is very unique."
You have expressed your appreciation for Bray Wyatt and his character. What do you think makes him so good and do you feel he has what it takes to be a world champion and a top guy?
"He will never be a top heel because people are infatuated by him. Just like the way they were with me. Whenever I wrestled Hogan they cheered me, with Savage it was split. People are funny man. When you're doing your job really well, and you're different and unique and you have this edge, that's very special. People dig that, they respect that and they want to be with that. If they are scared of your character like they were of me and Bray, they want to be on the winning team, so they will want to cheer for you regardless."
You had a ton of memorable rivalries and moments during your time in WWF, but your name always comes up when talking about the best wrestlers to never win a title in the company. Why do you think it is that you were never given a championship run? Was it a matter of being so over that they didn't think you needed one?
"I didn't need it. I didn't need that. There were a lot of guys that needed a title or the belt around their waist to call them a star, but Jake "The Snake" Roberts never needed that. I think that possibly—but I don't know for sure—they were probably a little worried with my out of the ring problems. I don't know, maybe they were, maybe they weren't, but that's just the way it is. I didn't need anything else to carry around back then; my bag was full with Damien."
The biggest news in the wrestling industry recently is the retirement of Daniel Bryan. What are your thoughts on his departure from the sport and what kind of history do you have with concussions?
"As far as Bryan goes, that's a huge loss and I hate to hear that. WWE needs him desperately. I'm very proud of him that he is smart enough to get out after being injured. Most of us weren't. As far as concussions for myself, I went and did all the tests because I am having issues. We did all the tests and stuff and it did not come out good. It come out there's some spots on my brain that don't look good and shouldn't be there. It came down to how many concussions do I think I had, and I thought I had maybe two or three year. It's a very low number when really I think it was more like eight or ten. So let's say two or three, but I wrestled for 40 years, that's 120 now. So I am going to have problems, and I'm already having problems. When you do, it is a job. I think you're smart enough to get out of the way and to get out. If you're doing it because you're truly in love with it like I was and you have the passion for it like I do, that moment in the ring is the greatest time of day, and I live for that moment. I live to perform and that's the people that really do get hurt. There are still some guys that are going out there hurt and still perform, and then there's guys that have a hangnail problem and won't go out there for three weeks. WWE has seen that too, so there you go."
Your appearance at Old School Raw a couple of years ago was an amazing moment. Are you interested in doing more appearances like that with WWE in the future and have there been any discussions about something like that in the past?
"I would love to come in for those special moments, and I would love to be an adviser; where they give me a guy and they fly him into Vegas to spend a couple of days with me to do what it takes and talk to him. I think it could turn some people like the ones that really want to learn, I can help them there. Then there are some people that just don't want it. Years ago, I was given Ahmed Johnson. That son of a b---h wouldn't even show up to get the help. Look at him now and where is he now, there you go. I would love to be a part of it, man. It was such a moment for me. I can't tell you how much it meant to go out there and get in the ring and put my hands on the mat again. The greatest part about that for me was the respect that CM Punk showed me, and I was really shocked that he did. I didn't figure him like that. When it was my time in the ring, he went over and sat down in the ropes and just turned the ring over to me. That felt pretty damn good."