The 80’s were a time of great discovery, wonder, change, and tragedy. Spending my adolescence growing up in the decade we experienced the end of the cold war, the effects of drugs on the inner city, the Challenger disaster, the rise of hip-hop into a major art form , and the explosion of professional wrestling. Not that wrestling’s rise is even as Earth shaking as some other events of the decade, but for many we became captivated by the characters and storylines that were presented to us each week. While I’m sure at some point we were all Hulkamaniacs , no one’s top five or top ten wrestlers list from that era would leave off Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Roberts was a master both inside and outside of the ring. His technical ability inside of the squared circle was equally matched by his mic skills and promo work outside of the ring. Roberts was the total package! In my mind, his feud with the late Rick Rude is a master class on how a feud should work. However with all of Jake’s promise, the sickness of addiction stopped him from ever reaching that championship caliber that many felt that he could achieve. After many years of battling his demons, Roberts has been able to turn his life around, culminating in his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2104. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching the documentary The Resurrection of Jake the Snake (currently on Netflix) which documented his road to recovery and his ongoing battle with his own inner turmoil and addiction.
The basics of the documentary by Steve Yu is that it follows Jake Roberts as he utilizes the yoga system by Diamond Dallas Page (DDP Yoga) to get his act together so to speak. However the core and heart of the documentary is a story of student (Page) who saw that his former mentor (Roberts) needed help as he was struggling with the disease of alcoholism. A disease that has alienated him from his children, his extended family and friends, and destroyed his once promising career. Along the way Roberts stumbles as much of his most inner turmoil was brought to the forefront including the relationship with his father and how it lead to an insecurity that still manifests itself today. With each stumble, Page (and crew) continuously fought through his own frustration and disappointment to show Roberts that he could beat it, that he could turn his life around.
The redemption of Jake Roberts is a heartfelt story of how the brotherhood of wrestling can bring one of its brothers back from the precipice of destruction. A brotherhood so strong that during the course of the film, Roberts and Page were able to convince Scott Hall to join them to get his life together. The ultimate resurrection of Roberts (and subsequently Hall) is a story that any wrestling fan who grew up in the 80s will forever cheer for. The Resurrection of Jake The Snake is a realistic depiction of how the disease of addiction can rule and destroy one’s life. It is also an excellent narrative of how said disease can be kept in check with the help of love, brotherhood, sweat, hard work, family, and a DDT or two thrown in for good measure.