BIO: Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Signature Moves: DDT
WCCW Titles Held: WCCW Television Champion, WCCW Six Man Tag Team Championship (with Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez).
Notable WCCW Feuds: Mike Von Erich
Need to Know Facts: Born Aurelian Smith, Jr. on May 30, 1955 in Gainesville, Texas, Jake "The Snake" Roberts' interviews and in-ring psychology should be considered the essential "ABC's" to those wanting to master the craft that is pro wrestling.
Although some might dispute it, Roberts is credited with inventing the finishing maneuver known as the DDT, which is essentially a front facelock to his opponent as Roberts falls backwards, crashing the opponent's head to the canvas. Over the years, arenas all around the world have been rocked with "DDT! DDT!" chants. By merely raising a finger and staring out into the crowd, Roberts would cause crowds to erupt as they knew he was about to use the maneuver on a helpless victim.
Son of veteran wrestler and booker Grizzly Smith, and half-brother of Sam Houston and Rockin' Robin, Roberts began his pro career in 1974 in the Louisiana area as both a referee and wrestler. (He got his nickname of "Snake" due to his tall and lean build.) After a stint in Stu Hart's Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling, Roberts ventured into Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling promotion, and later into Georgia Championship Wrestling. Unbeknownst to many fans today, Roberts was a charter member of the original Legion of Doom along with King Kong Bundy and The Road Warriors, led by manager "Precious" Paul Ellering.
While in the Georgia area, Roberts feuded with future NWA World Champion Ronnie Garvin over the NWA National Television Championship (which later became simply the NWA World Television Championship). The two wrestling legends exchanged the title with each other on two separate occasions.
After his stint in Georgia had come to an end, Roberts entered World Class Championship Wrestling in September of 1984. Jake almost immediately aligned himself with Gino Hernandez, and the two formed a vastly talented partnership along with their valet, Nickla "Andrea the Lady Giant" Roberts (who later became "The Perfect 10", Baby Doll in Jim Crockett Promotions, and Jake's future sister-in-law).
On September 28, 1984, during a match where Roberts and Hernandez faced off against Kevin Von Erich and Chris Adams, Adams turned on Von Erich, igniting one of wrestling's hottest feuds of 1984-85. Adams (now managed by Gary Hart) teamed with Roberts and Hernandez to capture the WCCW Six Man Tag Team titles from Kerry and Mike Von Erich and "Fantastic" Bobby Fulton (who was a substitute for the injured Kevin Von Erich) on October 27, 1984 in the Cotton Bowl.
The trio would go on to hold the titles until losing it back to the Von Erich brothers on December 31, 1984 in Fort Worth, Texas. Roberts left the World Class territory shortly thereafter. Despite being involved in the early stages of the legendary Von Erich-Dynamic Duo feud, Roberts was sadly underutilized during his WCCW stay.
After another stint in the Mid-South promotion, Jake signed on with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in March 1986, quickly becoming one of the federation's most feared competitors. Roberts began carrying a massive Burmese python he called Damien in a canvas bag (though several snakes played the role of Damien through the years) to the ring. After finishing off his opponent with the DDT, Roberts would open his bag, and unleash Damien onto his helpless victim.
While in the WWF Roberts had an interview segment called The Snake Pit. Roberts also had legendary battles with The Honky Tonk Man, Ricky Steamboat, Rick Rude, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase and The Undertaker. Unfortunately, Roberts never got a major run with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan; many speculate that Hogan was concerned with Roberts' ever-increasing popularity, and nixed the idea of a run with "The Snake", convincing WWF management that such a match might hinder Hulk's popularity.
After a brief and unhappy run (due to the restructuring of his contract) in World Championship Wrestling, where he feuded with Sting, Roberts journeyed to Mexico's Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) promotion where he had a hot feud with Konnan, who managed to defeat Roberts in a hair vs. hair match.
Roberts would return to the WWF in January 1996, debuting at the Royal Rumble. Now a born-again Christian, Jake merged his beliefs into his wrestling persona, and even began bringing a snake named Revelations to the ring. He was pushed as something of a Cinderella story (with the WWF frequently mentioning on television the addictions that Roberts had been attempting to overcome) and faced Stone Cold Steve Austin in the final match of the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. After Austin defeated Roberts to win the event, he mocked "The Snake's" recital of the Biblical passage John 3:16, thus beginning the era of "Austin 3:16" and a T-shirt fashion trend that lasted for several years in the late 1990's.
Roberts made a brief return to AAA in 1997 after leaving the WWF. In 1999, he appeared in director Barry Blaustein's documentary Beyond the Mat. Roberts heavily criticized the film for showing him in a negative light, complaining that he was lied to about the subject of the film, as he was told that it was to focus on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Late that same year, he headlined the infamous Heroes of Wrestling PPV in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; Roberts showed up for the event in no condition to wrestle, with chaotic and embarrassing results. Relocating to the UK in 2002, Jake launched the Real Stars of Wrestling promotion; in recent years he has made brief appearances in both WWE and TNA. WWE featured Roberts in a 2005 DVD retrospective entitled Pick Your Poison, a two-disc set which featured a biography of the star and some of his greatest matches.
Happily, Jake began to overcome his substance abuse issues in 2012 with the help of Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga, a regimen Page developed after recovering from a back injury.
Despite the personal demons he has struggled with for much of his career, Jake "The Snake" Roberts will always be regarded as a master of the art of pro wrestling, and as one of the true legends of the squared circle.