As a kid, I was always drawn to wrestlers with an edge. I liked “Rowdy” Roddy Piper a whole lot especially once he began feuding with Adrian Adonis over their respective “talk shows.” I also remember a fondness for George the Animal Steele and other interesting characters.
But the guy I was intrigued by the most growing up was Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was scary as a heel with that snake crawling on people after his vicious DDT, not to mention his own snake-like movements around the ring. I knew he was cool but he was “bad” so I felt guilty rooting for him.
However when he came to the aid of his wife, who was being picked on by “Ravishing” Rick Rude, he justified my support. The passion and fire he showed during that brief feud only ignited my passion for wrestling more and made me an even bigger fan of this psychological mastermind.
He never won a major title, never was thought of by most wrestling opinion column writers as a great wrestler. He gets respect for his interview, which were always engaging, and he gets credit for his use of psychology in matches. But he should get more credit for being one of the first guys in the WWF Rock and Wrestling Era to use his darkside to appeal to a section of the crowd that at the time had to cheer bubble gum babyfaces like Hogan and Steamboat and the Junkyard Dog.
Its a shame that Jake’s demons continue to haunt him and have kept him away from the business that he excelled at. So many young wrestlers could benefit from his insight and wisdom. I only hope he can one day find the recipe for sobriety and happiness that I suspect he has always longed for.