Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Snake?

Jake 'the Snake' Roberts has been wrestling professionally for over 30 years. Unfortunately, Roberts has battled personal demons for almost as long.
Despite wrestling for such a long time, Roberts hasn't held that many titles and never any major titles. Still, he has had a great career, contributing much to the industry.
Roberts is generally credited with inventing the DDT finishing move (basically a front face-lock and falling backwards so that the opponent is forced to dive forward onto his head). He is also considered a master of ring psychology (a part of wrestling which many feel is lost today).
One of his biggest contributions was semi-accidental. During one of his stints with the WWE, Roberts was shown as a Bible-preaching good guy. After beating Roberts at a pay-per-view, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin adlibbed, "...Austin 3:16 just whooped your butt." That single catchphrase (Austin 3:16) launched Austin to great heights. The WWE 'Attitude Era' was in high gear and the WWE was riding high again.
As I mentioned earlier, Roberts has battled demons on and off throughout his career. Like many athletes, perhaps this is one reason why he never attained superstardom. Roberts is apparently clean as of this writing. Hopefully he stays that way.
I was fortunate enough to meet Roberts at a Wrestling Reunion. I photographed him with his former tagteam partner and one of his greatest opponents, Ricky 'the Dragon' Steamboat

Ricky Steamboat and Jake Roberts in Tampa, FL-January 2005.

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