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.