I remember the first time I saw him. He was different to the others. He'd disrupted the wedding of Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth and given them the gift of a snake in a box. This was a bad guy, a really bad guy. Who does that at a wedding? In my defence I was 10 at the time and at this point my child like instinct was to believe that this marriage was legally binding and I, as a wrestling fan, was privvy to access to the reception thanks to the wonders of the then WWF (Wordl Wrestling Federation).
Jake Roberts was a bad guy. Jake Roberts however was a different bad guy. While other 90's wrestlers stared down the camera and hollered at the viewer, Jake was quiet, spoke in hushed tones and made you listen. He had a look in his eye that implied he could turn on you in an instant and had all the characteristics of his moniker . Jake Roberts was also the first 'bad guy' I rooted for. I was captivated by him, bought his action figure and declared him my favourite wrestler.
When this documentary popped up on Netflix I couldn't resist taking a look. I wanted to see what had happened to the villaneous Roberts and find out where he was now.
I'd heard stories/internet rumors that Jake wasn't doing well. Battles with alcoholism and various issues had taken their toll on my onetime favourite and he was now involved in a different fight, a fight to survive outside the bizarre world of wrestling.
This documentary is not just something to be watched by wrestling fans. This is the story of recovery and restoration. Jake Roberts is at a low, overweight, battling addiction and estranged from his kids. Diamond Dallas Page, who was mentored by Jake early in his career, hears about his woes and brings him to his 'accountability crib' to turn things around.Diamond Dallas Page is without question one of the most positive people Jake could encounter and his determination to help him is inspiring. Throughout the film Roberts has to fight against his addictions and no punches are pulled in showing this to the viewer. It is clear that no easy fix exists.
As someone who is a wrestling fan this was not an easy watch. The story shows what can happen to these atheletes once the camera turns away and they are forgotten. It heightens for the viewer the impact that our consumer culture has on these stars as we move our gaze ot the next 'star attraction', and I as one of those viewers am guilty by association.
The documentary however also gives hope. When it is discovered that Roberts requires surgery for an old, untreated injury a crowd funding page is set up and it is not long until Roberts discover he is not forgotten, he was and still is loved and this brings him (and at that point me) to tears.
Don't be put off by this being a documentary about an old washed up wrestler. This is a story of hope, restoration, discovering you are still loved and ulitmately that brings resurrection.
The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is streaming now on Netflix.