His promo’s are considered to be some of the best the business has ever seen. He drew you in with his quiet manner and made sure that you listened carefully to every word he said. His DDT finishing move was one of the most unique in the business at the time. While he was never the best wrestler overall on the roster there is no denying that Jake Roberts is without question deserving of a place in the WWE Hall of Fame. His contributions to and impact upon the company over the years have been big and he is certainly a favourite of fans young and old spanning a career over a stunning 25 years, including 3 runs in WWE and his recently unexpected return in 2014. Roberts is considered by many fans, including myself, as one of the best talents in WWE never to have held the WWE Championship.
Rather than go over a summary of Jakes career I thought I would just go through some of my personal highlights from his career, mainly because there are too many moments for me to condense down into one article. One of his most memorable feuds that I enjoyed was when he battled Ravishing Rick Rude. Rude at the time had a gimmick where he would select a woman from the crowd to kiss after each match. In one segment, Rude chose Jake Roberts’ real-life wife Cheryl, who refused the kiss. Following this Rude began insulting Roberts which resulted in Cheryl slapped him which angered Rude before Jake ran out for the save. The feud continued throughout 1988 and saw a controversial moment when Rick Rude wore a pair of tights featuring the face of Cheryl. This of course angered Jake and saw him run out to attack Rude. This was what really made the feud feel personal for me and it felt like the whole thing was very much ahead of it’s time.
Roberts went on to feud with Earthquake in the middle of 1991. What began this feud was a memorable moment when Earthquake “squashed” Damien with a pair of Earthquake splashes during a televised match. Several weeks later Earthquake appeared on WWF Prime Time Wrestling and served “Quakeburgers” to Lord Alfred Hayes, later claiming that the meat was ground from Damien. Roberts later appeared on Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s ‘The Barbershop’ segment and stated that “You could do two things: Roll over and die, or get yourself a bigger snake”, in which he revealed that his new snake was a larger python named Lucifer who was the supposed big brother of Damien. Whilst there wasn’t exactly much to this feud overall and it was more a way of moving Jake onto bigger and better things the image of Earthquake squashing Damien is one that haunted many fans at the time and stands out as one of the most memorable segments of the year.
Following his feud with Earthquake Jake turned heel and began working with fellow 2014 Hall of Fame inductee the Ultimate Warrior. This saw WWE air a series of televised vignettes featuring the Ultimate Warrior turning to Jake for help in his feud against the Undertaker. Roberts explained to Warrior that if he passed three tests then he would have the ‘knowledge of the dark side’ to defeat Undertaker. The segments included Warrior being locked inside a coffin, being buried alive in dirt before being abandoned, and Warrior walking through a room full of live snakes to reach a chest containing ‘the answer’. During the final test Warrior opened the chest but was immediately bitten by a King Cobra. As Warrior weakened from the effects of the cobra bite Roberts was joined by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer who revealed the three were working together all along and Roberts had set up Warrior. Roberts closed the final segment by proclaiming “Never trust a snake.” This really turned the crowd on Jake and is seen as one of his finest and greatest moments. I really enjoyed the work of Roberts during all this and it showed just how cold his character could become.
Perhaps my favourite memory of Roberts early years in WWE was with Macho Man Randy Savage, a feud that immediately followed the heel turn Jake had built up with Ultimate Warrior and Undertaker. During the post-Summerslam wedding reception of Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Elizabeth opened a gift package containing a live snake. Roberts and the Undertaker then ran in and attacked Savage. Roberts began berating Randy Savage in a series of promos, aware that Savage was unable to exact revenge following his loss in a retirement match earlier that year. During an October 21 taping for WWF Superstars Roberts goaded Savage into the ring and brutally attacked him, eventually tying Savage into the ropes and getting a King cobra to bite his arm. This was one of the great moments of Roberts career to watch as again it came across so real and personal and it helped elevate Jake to the status of one of the greatest heels in WWE history.
My favourite memory is of course the recent return of Jake to WWE in 2014 during the final segment of Old School Raw. Without dwelling too much on the past Roberts spent many years battling an addiction to drink and drugs, struggling to defeat the demons that gripped him. That was until he met DDP who seems to have transformed Roberts life through his DDP Yoga program. Anyway, the final segment of Raw saw the Shield attack CM Punk and about to lay out the Straight Edge Superstar with a triple power bomb until Robert’s music hit. When I heard it I immediately began marking out, and when I saw Jake on the screen it was one of the greatest moments I can remember experiencing given everything Jake has battled throughout his life. Roberts looked better than ever and even lay a snake across Dean Ambrose of the Shield. Without a doubt this was one of the most feel good moments in WWE history and marked an achievement of Roberts finally returning to WWE television. His announcement into the Hall of Fame following this was long over due and finally bought the career of Jake Roberts full circle. I look forward to hopefully seeing more of Jake in WWE over the years and know his induction will go down as one of the most memorable and special moments in WWE history.