Professional wrestling is all about the stories―and what greater story can you tell than Jake “The Snake” Roberts having one final run after winning the ultimate match against his demons?
The answer is none.
Roberts was recently on video with Bill Apter saying he wants to return at the Royal Rumble. He's been sober since November while living with Diamond Dallas Page and rehabbing both his mind and body. Roberts is the most publicized wrestler to have battled addiction and still be alive to tell about it. The only other who is on his level of notoriety for personal problems is Scott Hall, who is also living with Roberts and rehabbing courtesy of DDP.
To those who think Roberts is just talking a big game and will soon relapse―let me give you this piece of information. He was booked to be part of the large cast at the annual Kevin Nash WrestleMania party. I've been involved with the party since it's creation in 2011 in Atlanta and I can tell you that it's a profitable venture for a wrestler to spend four hours mingling with fans who will pay for pictures, autographs and merchandise.
Roberts respectively backed out of his booking on the Nash party because it had a bar.
A professional wrestler opting out of a gig to make a couple grand because he would have been surrounded by a party environment is unheard of. That's Roberts giving himself a positive reality check.
Roberts should be in the 2014 Royal Rumble. It would be the best thing for all parties involved. It would be terrific PR for WWE, which always prides itself on providing rehab for current and former talents who require it.
Roberts in the Rumble would also draw.
Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are the two pay-per-views that the most casual of wrestling fans will still watch. The fact is, the most casual of wrestling fans were, at one time in the past, hardcore fans who watched regularly. They like the concept and unpredictability of the Royal Rumble, and how you can see some names from the past appear.
The trick with Roberts being in the Rumble is to advertise it. Don't use him as a surprise entrant. It's just like Kevin Nash said to me once after we filmed an interview in the Boston airport days before he would appear as Diesel in the 2011 Rumble: “I can't sell anything (tickets or pay-per-views) if they don't know I'm going to be there.”
The same would be true for Roberts. Announce a few weeks beforehand that he'll be in the Rumble. He has one of those names everyone recognizes. For weeks leading up to Rumble, show clips of his rehabilitation with DDP Yoga. Make sure everyone knows this is the real return of "The Snake."
He enters the Rumble as one of the final four participants. He doesn't win. He shouldn't, but he should have a feud that builds to WrestleMania 30. He gets a WrestleMania 30 match, and can work with a member of the roster who is only going to come out better on the other side after working with one of the greatest ever.
Roberts is one of the greatest in terms of talent. He is the Sigmund Freud of wrestling psychology. He knows how to use psychology with his body language, with his words and with how he constructs a match in the ring. You don't hear his name as much as you should in who the greats are because his many years in a fog has minimized all he has to offer.
After a WrestleMania run, Roberts should move on to where he would be most valuable at this point in time―creatively. I don't know if he could ever potentially rise to Michael Hayes' level in the creative department, but Roberts can certainly offer a lot as a creative writer or agent/producer, helping guys with their matches and promos.
It's all about stories. Stories told in the ring. Stories outside the ring from the road are the heart beat of working in the fraternity of professional wrestling.
A then 58-year-old Jake “The Snake” Roberts returning to the top wrestling company for one more run after reaching new levels of sobriety and health―that's the ultimate story.
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