Greetings Nation, Mark chiming in here. Before we get to Dusty’s write up both he and Paul asked me to do up a little intro. Personally I don’t think Dusty’s article needs it, it stands on its own merit and I certainly don’t want to distract or take anything away from it. But Dusty still insists. So here it is. There’s a lot I could say about meeting Jake at Niagara Falls ComicCon and why it meant so much to me. But again I don’t wish to distract from Dusty’s great article. I will say that it was an extreme pleasure to meet him, share some of my feelings with him about his struggles shown in the excellent documentary The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake, and unexpectedly strike an emotional chord with him and wound up giving him a gift.
Back in my high school years in the 1980’s wrestling was huge! Once a month the WWF would put on a show at Maple Leaf Gardens and my friends and I attended them for years. And I being an aspiring photographer took my camera every time. I got pretty good at it and eventually wound up becoming a freelance photographer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated for a time. With the idea that I’d not only be meeting Roberts but also the legendary Ricky Steamboat I remembered that I had some pictures I had taken of the two. After rummaging through some old albums in storage sure enough there they were as I remembered. I chose one of my favorite shots of them wrestling each other blew it up and packed it. I’d see about getting them to sign my photo.
Steamboat was quite taken by it and asked where it was taken, I told him the old Maple Leaf Gardens back in the mid 80’s. He seemed to get a kick out of it and made some jokes to Roberts about it. When I presented it to Jake however he was speechless. He looked at it for quite some time, clearly reminiscing about those days that seem so long ago. He too asked me about it, was it really a picture I had taken, when was it etc. He happily signed it and before sliding it back to me he again paused to once again gaze at it. He looked to me and very softly said “Man I’d really like to have a copy of this. Is there anyway…” and his voice kind of trailed off. Incredulously I asked him if he was serious. He replied that he was. I assured him I would make that happen for him and that I would happily bring it to him the following day. He then asked if it was possible to ask for two copies it. He wanted one for Steamboat. Needless to say I returned the next day with his two copies of it. He was incredibly gracious and thanked me several times.
As I was leaving I watched and smiled as both he and Steamboat signed each others copies of the picture. It was a rare moment and a very genuine one. I’m not sure if I made Jake’s day or he made mine but I am sure that if you told 17 year old me that Jake Roberts would one day ask me for a copy of my picture for his personal collection I’d have said you were crazy! With out further adieu, I’ll leave to this Dusty.
The first time I can remember seeing Jake The Snake Roberts, I was 6 years old. My dad had turned on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling and Jake was in a match with a very large man called Earthquake. Jake’s mascot, a python named Damien, was stranded in the ring while Jake was trapped with his arms tied up in the ropes. As I watched, the more he struggled the tighter the ropes became. As Jake pleaded with the 400 pound Earthquake, Quake started an earth shaking jump around the helpless snake that lay inside his protective sac. Earthquake hit the ropes and dropped a splash on the sac, but before you saw impact it cut back to Mene Gene Okerlund, who reintroduced the footage from an angle that showed the desperation of a man who was just out of reach and couldn’t grasp what was his. His raw emotion was real, the imagery displayed put the world of wrestling into another perspective for me. Forever.
Jake’s appearance at the Niagara Falls Comic Con turned out to be an eye opening one. As I prepared to go get a couple of questions from the WWE Hall of Famer, my friend and fellow Pulp Nation contributor Mark said I should watch The Resurrection of Jake The Snake documentary first. But since I had the opportunity to have a moment with Jake I took it. The questions were mainly towards his in ring opponents, and I wound up feeling they had no merit by the end of the day. As the day came to a finish, I rushed home and headed to my room to check if Netflix had the documentary of a childhood hero. It did.
For the next hour and a half my emotional state was twisted from anger to sadness to joy repeatedly. You watch a man who was known world wide as an idol but was now a defeated drunk at his end waiting to die. His levels of depravity were showcased on pariahs like TMZ. The man he had become was deflated yet overweight. He quoted at the NFCC panel “do you know how hard it was, the addict and the drunk I was, and you guys come up to me with your kids, and I’m like ‘you don’t know me’, I’m scum, I’m garbage, it’s just the drugs, and alcohol.” Former wrestler and friend turned DDPYoga guru Diamond Dallas Page reaches out to him with a loving hand and Jake takes it. The film follows his every step to recovery and onto greatness.
By the time I was finished, the pride I had in that man was overwhelming. The man went from being a childhood idol to a king. The journey through the highs and lows he took, brings you on a path that make your stomach tie into knots tighter than the ropes his arms were tied up in the early 90’s.
The next day at the Pulp Nation booth I had a great view of Mark’s interaction with Jake as well as Ricky The Dragon Steamboat and Jake. The two made jokes and jabs all day long. I beamed with adoration as I looked onto this friendship in which ten years ago the interaction would have been most likely very different.
Review On Resurrection Of Jake The Snake Roberts: five arm-bars out of five
When asked about his idols, he went with the darkly humorous side of response during the panel, Charles Manson,”not for what he did but for somebody his size, with the lack of talent he had, to convince people to do the ridiculous things he convinced them to do, the man had power.” He continues “Adolph Hitler, I mean, here is a guy who is not physically imposing but yet he had the power of the microphone and the power to reach out and grab somebody.”
Comic Con Bonus!!!!
Dusty: When you were coming up, who did you always want to wrestle but never had the chance?
Jake: “Buck Robley, he worked mostly the southern and Midwest territories”
(I later found out Buck is credited as a trainer of his.)
Dusty: Who did you want to wrestle during your career that you never had the opportunity to face?
Jake: “Me, but for some damn reason, i didn’t get the chance”
Dusty: Who would you want to wrestle now?
Jake: “Randy Orton, I have a long history with his dad and i know we could have a great match”
D: How do you compare wrestling/ appearances in Canada over the States?
Jake: He opens his arms and looks toward the convention floor and says “These are my people. They are human, and some of my favorite matches were in Canada.”
“If a man has enough power, he can speak softly and everyone will listen”
Jake The Snake Roberts