A mastermind of the industry and a story you absolutely have to see. The Resurrection of Jake The Snake DVD is out now, and is must see.
The tale of Jake The Snake Roberts is a well known one amongst wrestling fans. Indeed it would have been almost impossible to have missed his very public falls from grace. Knowing that his story has a Hall of Fame happy ending though doesn’t make this look at his time at Diamond Dallas Page’s “crib” any less harrowing at times. Director Steve Yu doesn’t pull any punches on the Jake the Snake DVD from the minute that we roll up to Jake’s pitifully tiny apartment and see just what a wreck he had become.
That this has been preceded by some clips from the “glory days” of the 1980’s and wrestling personalities as diverse as Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Ted DiBiase, Gene Okerlund and Edge waxing lyrical about Jake’s prowess as a performer and the fact that in terms of psychology he had one of the greatest minds for the business there had ever been makes the sight of Jake at rock bottom all the more saddening. DiBiase talks about the lonely existence that being on the road can be, and some of Jake’s children are on hand to back up just how difficult life could be for families in that situation.
After that infamous 2008 Indy show, where a drunk Roberts could barely stand in the ring and ended up exposing himself, is shown, Jake gets the invitation to live with DDP in an attempt to truly “sort himself out”. Jake is in such bad shape that even kneeling down causes immense pain. Dallas is firm with his friend. The only way to do this is to cut out the drink and drugs completely. At this point there’s the fear that this documentary will prove to be little more than an extended advert for the advantages of DDP Yoga but when, within a week, Jake declares himself “fixed” and leaves the house without warning the documentary quickly becomes much more absorbing than that.
DPP, Steve Yu and a host of supporting characters have to tread that thin line between admonishing Jake and pointing out the errors of his ways and providing the support necessary for Jake to beat his demons. To many, those might seem like mutually inclusive things, but to the mind of an addict any attempt by friends to “control” their life can be taken the wrong way. Indeed at one point Jake criticises his friends and suggests that they are trying to make another “Beyond The Mat” out of his situation.
There are ups and downs. After making a lot of progress the recurrence of an old shoulder injury sets Jake tumbling into depression and it’s only the news that in one night, a crowd funding effort online to help pay for surgery (Jake has no insurance) raises $7000 that makes him realise what a chance he still has. TWM contributed, and we were very happy to do that. In another way, Jake’s reaction shows just how difficult it can be for someone who has spent a large portion of their adult life adored by the people who pay to see him to adjust to “normal” life once that is all over.
Scott Hall visits the crib and footage is shown of some of his very public meltdowns. He looks in even worse shape than Jake did when he arrived but he too gets better with Dallas’ help.
Unlike the aforementioned Beyond The Mat, there is no footage of Jake drinking/taking drugs. There are the aftermath of his binges and the group’s attempts to return Jake to the straight and narrow path. Wrestling fans will know that the “happy ending” of Jake’s return to Old School Raw and his Hall Of Fame place is coming but it is still wonderful to see it come together. The footage of Jake, DDP and Hall jokingly sparring in a ring at the end of the piece is genuinely heart-warming, whether you are a fan of Jake and Scott or not.
This is not a “wrestling” documentary. Though facets of Jake’s career are mentioned and shown and his families history in the business is noted for the effect it had on Jake, there is little to learn here from a wrestling point of view. This is a documentary about a man facing his demons, with the help of his friends and family, walking that very bumpy road to sobriety and coming out the other side as a truly changed man.
Although the subject matter obviously means that fans of Jake, and of wrestling in general, will get the most of this, the documentary has a strong pull to non-wrestling fans too. Occasionally certain things seem a little off, but generally there is the feeling that you are getting the raw footage and the emotional pull is very strong. You’re rooting for Jake and you recognise just what a wonderful thing his friends are attempting to do for him. It’s by no means an “easy watch” but it is a rewarding one.