Jake "The Snake" Roberts: The Best Promos of His Career
Jake Roberts deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame for his mic skills alone.
When so many wrestlers shouted angrily into the camera to get their point across, Roberts mastered the art of the quiet, menacing promo. To listen to a Jake Roberts interview is to travel to a dark place.
Roberts is a poet and an actor, a hypnotist drawing the audience in with his rough, hushed voice.
While there will never be another Jake Roberts, aspiring wrestlers and ring veterans alike should pour over these skillful promos and take plenty of notes.
"Short Ride, Bad Landing"
Before Jake Roberts fell victim to The Undertaker and his growing undefeated WrestleMania streak, he took to the mic and masterfully drew fans in.
When asked what he thought of Undertaker taking his best shots and coming back, he described it as "simple foreplay."
He promised to hit The Dead Man with a DDT and to put the final nail in Taker's coffin.
His WrestleMania VIII promo had a number of stirring lines, but didn't have the total emotional impact of some of his finest performances.
"Look Where I've Been and I'm Still Breathing."
Long after his WWE career, Roberts has made sporadic appearances for various independent promotions. Too often the later stages of his career have been marked by substance abuse and controversy, taking focus away from his verbal gifts.
In 2007, Roberts proved he still had the power to tell a great story when he recorded a promo for Champions with Attitude Wrestling.
The flashing snake images and creepy music adds an element of eeriness, but Roberts does most of the work himself. In a performance that is at times repetitive, Roberts takes a shot at WWE, pretends to give himself a pop quiz and speaks of all the hard times he's gone through.
The line, "Maybe I died, my body just doesn't want me to know" is especially powerful when you consider how much turmoil he's endured.
"I'm Fun to Play With"
During Roberts' promos, it often felt like we were getting special access, a peek behind the curtain. He seemed to be spilling his private self out.
In between WWE stints, Roberts feuded with Tony Anthony a.k.a Dirty White Boy while working for Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Roberts didn't need high-production value or a raucous live audience to deliver, just a microphone and a camera.
Using both a biblical reference and the insinuation that he'd be willing to start a nuclear holocaust, Roberts cackles and shouts his way to an emotive, engaging performance.
"I'll Be Glad to Play by Them"
This interview doesn't feature Roberts' typical poetic flair. Instead, its strength is the crackling energy he has from the opening word on.
At Survivor Series 1988, Roberts fielded a five-man team against a squad led by Andre the Giant.
Andre choked Roberts out during the match and the Frenchman's team won, but Roberts later chased him off with his snake, Damien. Roberts followed up that moment with an angry locker room speech.
He slapped himself in the face as he spouted vitriol against Rick Rude and Andre, promising to get what he wants from them.
"Wallowing in the Muck of Avarice"
Though Gene Okerlund is fully capable of providing one, Jake Roberts needs no great setup. Okerlund simply says, "The match is at hand" and puts the microphone close enough to capture Roberts' words.
The Snake delivered a near-perfect wrestling promo.
Roberts and Ted DiBiase were embroiled in a battle of good and evil, sin and purity. Strangely enough, Roberts excelled in the good guy role in spite of his dark aura.
At WrestleMania VI, Roberts amps up the fans for their match by speaking about DiBiase's greed. The interview is guttural, poetic and enthralling.
"I've Always Been the Snake You Should Be Worried About."
To build towards his match against Randy Savage, Jake Roberts radiated black-heartedness during a promo from Survivor Series 1991.
Ignore the ugly snake-themed sweater and watch a master at work.
Intertwining biblical and fairy tale references, Roberts created an atmosphere of darkness and intrigue. He smoothly went from a sinister smile to an angry sneer.
He offers Savage's wife, Elizabeth a "one-way ticket to the other side."
The line about talking to God becomes more interesting in retrospect, seeing how Roberts eventually became a born-again Christian. For that moment, though, fans only saw his ominous side, captured by his captivatingly frightening presence.