Jake “The Snake” Roberts is the greatest professional wrestler in the modern era to never hold a title for any of the major companies in the post-territory era.
Even in his time in different territories, he has few championship wins, and mostly they're limited to one run with that companies television title.
Wrestling companies giving wrestlers a title is an investment. It's the same as a company giving an employee a fancy title, nice office and company credit card. You wouldn't give it to someone without trust and assurance that they're going to walk the company line and represent you in the highest regard.
This logic should and can be seen from WWE all the way down to a local independent organization. The locker room poison rarely has titles, much less for a lengthy time, as it's not a good investment.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts never got titles for two reasons. One a sad reason and the other a great compliment.
The first is because of his personal issues. Roberts' issues with addiction has been well documented, perhaps more so than any other professional wrestlers' problems. That's a lot of problems.
The second reason is because he was so good, a title didn't provide the same significance to him. Stop and think about that.
In a legitimate sport, a championship is everything. In the pre-determined sports entertainment genre, a championship is a proud distinguished recognition but isn't everything. It's the same as in a legitimate sport—winning is everything. In professional wrestling, going over is a great honor, but sometimes there's greater honor in taking the loss.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts never having a championship showed off how great he really was. Roberts was a unique perfect storm combination for a performer.
He didn't have the body of a god but could speak with the power of one.
Roberts perfected the art of being a character. While many guys were trying to establish their repertoire in the ring, Roberts had done that and steered his focus on other aspects such as body language.
He knew how fast to walk, where to direct his eyes, what kind of facials he should be making and how to get in the ring.
He had gotten himself over to a rare level that it didn't make sense for him to have a title.
In the '80s, Roberts worked a talent before that talent was going to move on to Hulk Hogan. He got them ready in the ring and got them over to a point of it being attractive for business.
If you're not familiar with watching Jake “The Snake” in his prime, then this fact should establish how special of a performer he was.
In the 1980s, there was no bigger draw than Hulk Hogan. In 1986, they attempted for a heel Jake Roberts to begin a feud with Hulk Hogan. Rather than the fans being solidly behind Hogan as they otherwise always were, the crowd was split between the two. This prevented the feud from being developed any further as Hogan was too big of a marketing draw to turn half the audience against him.
If you were a fan during this time period, the significance resonates you with maximum effect of just how special of a talent this situation highlights Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
A championship gave Jake Roberts something to lose. Without a title, Roberts, would lose a match, but gain another showing of how crisp of a character he performed as. In simple terms, he never walked away from an event looking weak. He would put over a face or heel opponent, but was still as valuable the next night. Easier said than done.
I remember my first live wrestling event ever. Jake Roberts lost a cage match, but for a five-year-old boy, he was still the most important guy I saw.
Jake Roberts has been the most valuable free agent at different periods in his career. Jake Roberts has also been his own worst enemy at different periods in his career.
Now, he's past the days of being able to contribute to a wrestling program with his body. However, his creative mind and understanding of the business is still there. If ever to return to WWE in capacity to help the content and talent―he would have to be able to beat himself on any battles.
While the company is held to higher standards with behavior than it once was in Jake's younger days, four days on the road still provides a situation and lifestyle where willingly starring himself in the mirror every morning would still be prevalent.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is the greatest professional wrestler in the modern era to never hold a major championship. Will Jake “The Snake” Roberts go down as the greatest professional wrestler who lived and never got to give back to the business in an authoritative position―I hope not.