Jake Roberts – “How Jim Duggan and I Almost Died!”

Jake Roberts recently shared some memorable tales from his time in the wrestling business.

Jake Roberts opens up about how he and Jim Duggan came close to a tragic end on the road.
Jake Roberts opens up about how he and Jim Duggan came close to a tragic end on the road.

Jake Roberts Shares Memorable Tales From His Time on the Road

In an interview on The Beaucephus Broadcast, Jake Roberts opened up about Andre the Giant, almost dying on the road with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, a strange, intimate encounter with his snake, and an interesting confrontation he had with Donald and Ivana Trump at WrestleMania IV. Here are the highlights of his candid interview.

Jake Roberts on his greatest WrestleMania moments and his interesting confrontation with Ivana Trump:

"Wrestling [Rick] Rude [at WrestleMania IV] was very interesting. We went a twenty-minute broadway, and trying to hold on to him was near impossible! He was in such great shape.

Coming out of the ring after that match, Ivana Trump was sitting there, and she wouldn’t even look at the ring. It really pissed me off. Rude, too! We tried to get her attention.

We were working our tails off as that’s what you do at WrestleMania. You were throwing it all out there, and she wasn’t even looking our way, so when we left the ring, I ‘accidentally’ swung the snake around, and it hit her.

She was sitting in a chair, and she had her little champagne glass in hand, and everything, and she went ass up over end and lost it. Donald ran down the aisle after it happened.

A couple of years later, I found out that she actually tried to get a couple of her security guys to take me out- do away with me, you know? She was quite pissed off! And I became a favorite of Donald’s over that. I could have been a White House man if things had turned out right. You never know!"

On wrestling Andre the Giant at WrestleMania V and personal memories of him outside of the ring:

"When you get in the ring with Andre the Giant for WrestleMania, I mean, my God! Give me a break, bro. I would never have thought that in a million years! Just an incredible moment.

We’d play cards every night, Cribbage. He liked to play Cribbage, and I liked to play Cribbage. He’d always say, ‘Let’s play Cribbage!’ so that’s what I did.

I always made sure he won. I’m not stupid!

We played some good games, man. He enjoyed playing cards, and we matched up pretty good. And when we got into the ring, he did what he wanted to do. He appreciated me, and I tried to make myself available for him wherever he was at in the ring, making sure we didn’t go up and down too much because he couldn’t do all that anymore, you know? It was just such a great honor."

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Roberts on where he drew inspiration from, how much creative freedom he had with his Jake "The Snake" character, and how his traumatic childhood helped him adjust easily to life as a professional wrestler:

"I had it all. Whatever I wanted to do [when in the WWF], I did. I was never questioned about what I was doing. They just said, ‘Here, Jake, go!’ Same thing for The Snake Pit. ‘Here, Jake, here’s a microphone, now go!’ We just did it.

It’s pretty crazy, man. Life turns you upside down sometimes, and I went through a rough childhood and experienced some horrible things. Sometimes when you’re a kid, and you have to learn how to play it safe and not get hurt and not get abused, you learn to judge people.

You learn to read people. You learn to lie, you know? You learn to tell the right story at the right time because you’re constantly trying to save your a**. You don’t want to be abused, and that’s what I had to do growing up.

I had to get it down, man, so I think when it came to wrestling, it was just a natural fit because I had already experienced so much in life that learning to read people was easy for me. And learning to manipulate people was pretty simple, too. If you know what they like, you know what to do. You just do it. That’s what I tried to do."

On creating the DDT and how finishing moves are created in wrestling:

"I created it by accident! It was exactly what I wanted. I had a front face lock on a guy named [Len Denton] The Grappler, and when he went to push me into the corner, he stepped on my toe. We fell backward, and it was born. The fan reactions told us, ‘Hey, that’ll work!’

I just worked on it and got it right and did it. It tickles me that all these guys use it for a false finish now, and all these fans know who did it the best– I did! All they’re doing is telling the fans, ‘Jake Roberts is better than I am because when he did it, nobody got up!’"

On how often he was on the road and if there ever truly was a thing called "home" as a professional wrestler:

"There really isn’t, man. You might have a place where you get your mail, but Jesus Christ, man, you never saw it.

Back in the heyday, I was running about 330 days a year. I was off just a few days here and a few days there, and that was it. It is what you do, and it’s how you lived. That’s all we had to do back then, so we all jumped in and did it.

To survive that was just amazing, but we did."

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On The Resurrection of Jake "The Snake" and the physical and mental tolls of life on the road:

"It was a tough road. I wouldn’t recommend anybody do it, but it’s great to be here, and it’s great to have come through it.

From what I hear, the votes are all in. It’s the second-best resurrection of all time next to Christ!

The reason I did [the documentary] was to show hope for everybody. It wasn’t easy putting all my dirt out there. Of course, it sucked. But it was my choice. I think by doing that, I held myself accountable to everyone.

I’ve let myself down a million times, but I hate letting other people down. That’s just a wrestler’s mentality. I hate letting the fans down, so if I didn’t hold my ground and stay sober, I was letting everybody down, so I think that helped me stay sober.

At that point, I was willing to use anything to get sober.

[My sobriety] was my gift to my kids because they are the ones that suffered. The stuff I did to myself, that’s my own fault, and I put my family through it, and it sucked. It was incredible, man, to finally get there."

On his "Dirty Details: Tales from the Pit" comedy tour:

"Here I am out there doing comedy now and having a blast doing it. It’s helped me so much with my speech.

I’m 63-years-old, and I’ve been hit in the head a few times- probably a hundred or so concussions.

With this tour, I just go out there and remember things and remember these moments. Plus, it helps me with my memory, and it helps me with my speech. If you don’t use it, you lose it, man.

It’s a great time. It’s a fun time. It’s x-rated, yes, of course. Be expected to hear an F-bomb, you know? I’m not going to cut the flavor out of it by cutting a few words here and there to make it PG.

Hey, if you want PG, see Mick Foley! If you want the real deal and want to hear exactly how it was, come and see Jake "The Snake." I promise you, if you get yourself to a show, you’ll piss yourself laughing.

I call it comedy, but it’s not really comedy. I’m retelling stories. I don’t go out there with a set in mind. I just go up there, and whatever comes out of my mouth comes out of my mouth.

There have been times I went up there, and I only told one or two stories, but there was so much other stuff going on in the room after reading the crowd. I find stuff to work with, and I just go with it. I just do it, and I have a blast."

On the strangest questions fans have asked him at his shows and the most bizarre thing that has ever happened with his snake:

"The audience can ask me questions, but please don’t ask me where the snake is!

Some fans always ask the dumb stuff like, ‘Where’s the snake at, man?’

‘I’m right here, motherf***er!’

Stupid stuff. But yeah, man, I’ve been asked some pretty stupid things.

I had somebody ask me, ‘What’s one of the most bizarre things you have ever done with the snake?’ and I told them, and everybody in the place kind of freaked out.

You know, there was a girl who, um, had sex with my snake, so- that was pretty bizarre. I felt sorry for the snake! (laughs) "

On traveling down the road and almost losing his life with Hacksaw Jim Duggan driving:

"Hacksaw and I would usually ride together. We were running down the road one time and were smoking a little weed, and I was like, ‘Dude, you need to slow down!’ because he was going like 90 miles per hour.

He was like, ‘It’s not me…’ I was like, ‘We got a problem here because you’re driving! If it’s not you, who the f*** is it?’

I looked [over my shoulder], and I see that the snake had gotten out of the bag in the backseat and crawled underneath the seat, and wrapped around the brake and gas pedal. We were just frozen!

Hacksaw went to hit on the gas pedal, and the snake kind of opened its mouth and went after him! Jim just kind of bailed out and jumped into the backseat. We were doing about 70 miles-per-hour at the time, and that’s just not safe! I’m like, ‘What the f***!’, you know? It’s like, ‘Here we go!’

We wound up pulling over, untying the snake, getting it in the bag, throwing it back in the car, and we took off.

Not long later, we were pulled over by a cop. We were like, ‘Well, what did we do?’

The cop responded, ‘Well, we got a call from some people that were in a restaurant, and you guys, um, do you have a thirty-five-foot snake in the car?’

We were like, ‘God no! It’s only fifteen!’

Eventually, we had pulled over in front of a restaurant, and they were watching us fight this snake from inside the restaurant, and we just threw it in the bag and took off down the road. We had never even seen the people in the restaurant. That had to be a pretty wild sight for them."

Listen to Jake Roberts on the Beaucephus Broadcast below:

Former radio host and highly sought-after voice actor Beau Becraft offers an all-encompassing podcast with the Beaucephus Broadcast, featuring personal commentary on current happenings in pop culture and beyond. The show features interviews with friends, authors, musicians, and notable celebrities, including "Jackass" star Chris Pontius, "Saved by the Bell" actor Dustin Diamond, and yours truly! You can follow his show on Facebook and listen on your favorite podcast app. 

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.