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September 20, 2008

Thoughts on the Jake Roberts videos

By now, I’m sure most people have either seen or heard about the YouTube videos of a disoriented Jake Roberts stumbling his way through a match – if it can even be called a match – at an independent show last week in Cleveland, and then getting into a verbal altercation with his opponent outside the venue. There also have been reports that he exposed himself while in the ring.

I’m almost at a loss for words when it comes to this incident and Roberts, whose history of addiction to drugs and alcohol is well documented. In an interview with thesportsinterview.com, he said that he did consume alcohol the morning of the show and the last thing he remembers is eating at McDonald’s before the show. Roberts said he does not have any memory of anything else until he woke up the next morning in his hotel room.

On Roberts’ official MySpace page, his assistant claims that someone drugged his soft drink at the show. She also stated that the promoter in Cleveland said Roberts was wandering back and forth to the bar that night. I certainly have no idea whether Roberts was indeed drugged or if he simply fell off the wagon (which he admitted to in the interview), but either way, those YouTube videos are incredibly disturbing and sad.

The way the whole thing played out, it almost seemed like a “worked shoot.” Roberts’ opponent, JT Lightning, clearly called an audible and pinned Roberts against his will after Roberts tripped and fell on his face. Lightning then grabbed the mic and cut a promo on Roberts.

During the verbal altercation after the show, someone – perhaps the promoter – said, “This better end up on YouTube.” This would go down as one of the most tasteless publicity stunts of all time if it was all a work. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was staged at all.

Over the years, there have been numerous reports – as well as some videos – of a seemingly intoxicated Roberts slurring his words in public, staggering and just acting bizarrely, so this is certainly nothing new and it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

I will say, however, that Roberts did seem sober and sincere about overcoming his addictions when I interviewed him at an independent show in Parkville three months ago. Last year when Vince McMahon offered to pay for the drug rehabilitation of any performer who had ever been under contract to WWE, Roberts took him up on the offer.

“Vince McMahon saved my life,” Roberts told me, adding that his children were his motivation for seeking help.

The story that hasn’t been told is that Roberts nearly was not permitted to wrestle that night in Parkville, but it had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

Every wrestler, referee and valet/manager who performs on a show in Maryland is required to undergo a routine physical with a representative from the state athletic commission. I was backstage at the show when the news came that Roberts had failed his physical because his gait did not pass muster.

Roberts was livid that he had traveled from Florida to Maryland and would not be allowed to wrestle. Beyond being angry, however, he was worried. When I spoke to him, he said he knew if it got out that the athletic commission deemed him unfit to wrestle, everyone would assume it was because of drugs or alcohol no matter what the truth was, and it could prevent him from getting future bookings.

Roberts was adamant that he was physically able to get in the ring. To prove his point, he was out in the parking lot behind the building with myself and several wrestlers on the card, walking in a straight line and even moving laterally. It was kind of surreal to see the once-great Jake Roberts showing off his fancy footwork in a parking lot on Putty Hill Ave.

I don’t know the details of how it was resolved, but Roberts did wrestle that night. After the show, I had heard some of the boys asked Roberts if he wanted to go out and that he declined. The person who had been with him all day told me later that he drove Roberts right back to his hotel after the show.

That night in Parkville gave me reason to believe that Roberts, who said he was thinking about putting together his autobiography, just might have a happy ending to his story after all.

It will be a difficult, daily struggle, but that still is possible. Whether or not it happens is entirely up to Jake Roberts.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 5:03 PM | | Comments (11)
        

Comments

Does Jake travel with 'Damian' anymore or was that primarily a WWF gimmick?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: When he worked in Parkville, he did not bring a snake. Someone arranged to have one brought in for him.

Kevin , for the record you mentioned among others things that there were reports that Roberts may have exposed himself while in the ring . The initial video I saw was posted by " TMZ " and recorded from a completley different angle from the "You - Tube " version : no doubt Roberts exposed himself .
One can only hope that Roberts explaination is true but drawing from experiences with friends and co - workers that have suffered from various addictions and demons , most are well versed at masterfully lying to get what ever they want or want you to believe .

I'll just say what we're all thinking: he won't be alive 10 years from now.

Having watched both the WWE's documentary about Jake Roberts and "Beyond the Mat," my impression of Jake is an intelligent man with a big heart---that he's a perfect example of the lesson that a flawed man can nonetheless be a good man. I have too much respect for him to comfortably say that I "feel sorry for" him; he's capable of making conscious choices, and I think he does. But I appreciate the years of entertainment he has given us, and maybe more than with most wrestlers, I honestly and wholeheartedly wish him well.

If Roberts is serious about his sobriety, he needs to quit the independent wrestling lifestyle.

If he wants to stay in the business, he should become an agent with WWE and he at least would have a structure to fall back to instead of trying to survive out on the road by himself with nothing stopping him from showing up hammered to every show.

Its sad, but right now Roberts and Scott Hall are in a race to be the first to keel over.

Elevation : I agree with your comment regarding Roberts need to quit the indy lifestyle to obtain sobriety . Ditto for the likes of Scott Hall and Sean Waltman .

eric, it saddens me to say but I believe you are 100% correct. It seems you could make that claim for any wrestler over the age of 40, however...

Elevation, you are also spot-on.

Kevin I'm a big fan of Jake as well but at this point in his life after all that he's gone through and overcome, if he isnt smart enough to realize that the Indy lifestyle isnt whats best for him then you me or Vinny Mac himself arent gonna be able to keep him on the up and up...

Given his mastery of in-ring psychology, cutting promos and his recent insightful critiques of WWE programming, I think the perfect fit would be to ease Jake into the writing staff. He always had a flair for putting things together and telling a story from a realistic perspective. Oh, and does anyone disagree that more than half the current roster could use a lesson in cutting a meaningful promo? Jake is that man.

I just want to say Jake I am praying for you, as an recovering alcoholic, I know the struggles of battling your addiction. Anyone who comments negatively on how he is acting does not know that Jake is Sick and the disease is in control of his life. He doesnt know what he is doing most of the time and until you have walked in the mans shoes you should just keep your negative comments to yourself. I watched some Indy wrestler on YouTube comment on Jakes video and he ridiculed him and called him worthless. No man is worthless!! Jake can beat this, why do I say that, cause I did and I feel anything is possible with Jesus Christ!!!! You get up Jake, Look up and grab onto the Lord for dear life, let him take ahold of this disease and wrap your arms around him and his love for you. Jake you will be in my prayers.

I was the guy mentioned in the article that was with Jake all day and drove him to his hotel. He was offered a couple beers during the show and declined, and then refused to go out after the show. I took him right to the hotel and ordered some food, and we talked about wrestling untill 3am. It is still my feeling that Jake was drugged in Ohio. It was days after he got home before he could even eat. Jake always had total recall when he was on his drugged out binges, and he has not remebered anything.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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