It’s not up for debate: Jake “The Snake” Roberts is one of the greatest redemption stories in the history of professional wrestling. The WWE Hall Of Famer has an in-ring career spanning more than 30 years and nearly as many wrestling promotions, including short stints in WCW, ECW and TNA, but his battle with addiction has been well-documented and seemingly never ending.
However, following the release of the new documentary, The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake (which is now streaming on Netflix), Roberts appears to be clean and refocused on his craft: Though he’s too old to get back in the ring, he’s still one hell of a talker, as evidenced by his ongoing Unspoken Word Tour, which will hit more than 30 cities between mid-August and mid-November. According to Roberts, the performances are part comedic road stories, part serious, heart-to-heart discussions, plus an audience Q&A at the end, so no two shows are the same. We caught up with him to get more details, as well as find out what current Superstars he likes, what his next big project is and whether we’ll see him at the WWE Performance Center any time soon.
With Spandex: You’re currently living in Las Vegas. What brought you out there?
Jake Roberts: There was gonna be a new wrestling company out here that Roddy Piper was gonna be involved with, and Shane Douglas, too. A lot of big promises and stuff. I moved out here on that — I’d been guaranteed a pretty lofty position in it, but it never happened. Anyway, I’m out here and I love it out here. I love the dry heat. I don’t go out and party. I’ve only gone down to the strip once. You think this would be the worst place for a guy like me but you can live out here your whole life and never go to the strip.
You’ve been doing your Unspoken Word Tour off and on for a few years now, but your slate of upcoming dates from mid-August to mid-November appears to be the longest stretch you’ve done thus far. It’s a pretty heavy itinerary…
Nah, not really. Not for me. Back in the day, we were wrestling eight times a week, twice on Sunday. For me, it’s all about getting into a rhythm — you get up, you work out, you eat, you do a little radio [interview] or something, you do the show. I take my daughter with me; she runs all my bookings, does a phenomenal job. It’s a no-pressure situation for me. I just go out there and feel the crowd and I run with it.
How have you seen your show develop over the past year or so?
In the beginning, you test things to see what works and what doesn’t work. Then you work on delivery. I’ve been so blessed in that department: To me it’s like falling off a log backward. It’s no problem.
I talk about addiction and alcoholism during the show and try to get people to reach out and help someone they know is struggling. I also invite people who are having a problem to come talk to me after the show. We’ll get a quiet place to sit down and see if we can’t help somebody.
I take ’em on a roller coaster ride, brother: up, down, sideways. When I get out of there, everybody’s smiling. In the comedy arena, you don’t get many standing ovations, but I’ve gotten quite a few. It really makes me feel good.