I had the pleasure of going to see the new wrestling documentary “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts” on Friday night and it was everything I hoped for and more. First off, you DO NOT need to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the film, as evidenced by friends I bumped into afterwards who told me they’ve never been wrestling fans but had heard so much about the film and had to see it. Also, there is no comparison between this documentary and the 1999 film, “Beyond The Mat”, which basically exposed the bad side of wrestling and left you with the impression that Jake would be nothing more than another statistic.
It was with great anticipation I went to see this film, as I had heard about its development quite some time ago and then heard Jake on a recent episode of the “Steve Austin Show Unleashed” podcast. There’s no need to worry too much about spoilers with this review. I’m just going to touch on some of the very basic elements of this documentary, without giving too much away.
The film starts out with appearances from some of the biggest names in the business including Stone Cold, Ted DiBiase, Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Gene Okerlund, Edge and Dustin Rhodes sharing their memories of Jake in his prime. They repeat the stories we’ve heard so many times over the years of Jake’s mind for and influence on the business, his superstar status, his legendary feuds and then….. his dark side that has been so well chronicled over the years.
As the movie dips in Jake’s fall from grace, we see a 300 pound plus Roberts at the infamous incident in 2008 when he appeared at an indy show drunk and eventually exposed himself to the crowd. I’ve seen this video in the past and was just as uncomfortable seeing it seven years later as it was when it first happened. It was then that we start on the journey in which Jake’s life would be saved by his long time friend Diamond Dallas Page.
We start to see Dallas, and get introduced to the film’s director Steve Yu, as the two take us back to 2012 when they went to Jake’s home when DDP approached Jake about coming to DDP’s new accountability crib to see if Dallas could help Jake get his life back on track. While at Jake’s home for the first time, we see that Jake can barely get out of a chair and get on the floor to do any type of exercise. Page makes a deal with him that if he loses 20 pounds, he could move in with DDP himself where they can straighten out his life together. Despite his difficulties, Jake loses the 20 pounds and soon after moves in with Page at his home in Atlanta as a “last chance” to save his life.
Some of the toughest scenes the film offers are the first few days that Jake is at the accountability crib. Frustration, regret, anger, rage and depression are just some of the emotions Roberts displays in trying to overcome his demons. Jake’s internal battles are greater than any he ever faced in the ring. For every step Jake takes forward, he takes two steps back. An example of this would be after only living with DDP for a week, Roberts ends up at the Atlanta airport drunk and wearing no shoes. It was during these scenes of Jake’s struggle to reform that I was so engrossed in the film that I forgot I was in a theater with a couple of hundred people. It was only after a fade to black at one point that I became aware of my surroundings again.
As the film progresses, we begin to see the eventual transformation of the The Snake. At the beginning of the film when Jake would greet DDP, it was with a very nervous and self-conscious hug. By movies end we see a warm, appreciate and loving embrace anytime Jake greets or says goodbye to Dallas. We also see Jake slowly making progress in other areas such as losing weight, getting in shape and most importantly valuing life again.
Jake has eight children. The relationships with these children over the years became similar to the relationship Jake had with his own dad, former wrestler Grizzly Smith, which was basically nothing. However, during the course of the film Jake speaks proudly of restoring the bonds with three of his children and two of his grandchildren. Another relationship we begin to see transform is that of Jake and the fans. Like most famous personalities, Jake took the impact he had on the lives of his fans for granted. But, Jake gets hit harder than any DDT he ever gave an opponent when he sees the love from his fans when money is raised on a fundraising page in which fans from around the world donated enough money for Jake to have shoulder surgery. The pure, sincere emotion Jake displays when thanking the fans for their donations was one of the more impactful moments of the film. We also see Scott Hall get invited to the accountability crib to begin his rise from the ashes as well.
The film was amazing in many aspects. It reminded me of the grim side to the wrestling world and the long term effects it has had on some of its biggest stars. I couldn’t help but think of wrestlers who have either died prematurely, battled addictions, or had their personal lives and families destroyed as a result of their career in the squared circle. What we see is an amazing man’s dedication in helping the friends he’s seen fallen on bad times and his never say die attitude that life is always worth living.
Diamond Dallas Page proves to be the true hero in this film. Forget the yoga, forget that he was a superstar during the height of the Monday Night Wars, know that this man truly has a big heart and lives to help those who have almost lost all hope in life. DDP, on more than one occasion, mentions in the film that he never forgets those who have helped along the way. Jake helped him get his start in the wrestling business, while Hall helped him get over and achieve superstardom in WCW with his feud with the NWO.
Personally, I always appreciated the careers of both Jake Roberts and Scott Hall. They were both captivating in the ring and their impact on the business is well documented. I always found Jake intriguing because he never had the greatest physique, nor was he the biggest guy, but man could he work a match and cut a promo. Jake was able get into the minds of the viewing audience and play with their emotions, better than possibly any wrestler before or since. Meanwhile, I remember first liking Scott Hall in the AWA when he was tag team champions with Curt Hennig. And while I wasn’t overly crazy of the Razor Ramon character, I loved his work with the original NWO trio. The roller coaster rides of their lives was always heartbreaking for me to hear as it just gave more time for people with vicious agendas to show them on embarrassing YouTube videos at times when they were most vulnerable. Seeing this movie and getting to see them both getting another chance at life was something that I found moving on more than one occasion while watching this film.
The biggest treat of the night, though, was after the film as the audience was treated to a surprise impromptu Q&A with Jake, DDP, Scott Hall and the director Steven Yu. The crowd erupted as the quartet entered the theatre. Jake and Scott looked great. We even got a “Hey Yo” from Scott, which got a great pop from the crowd. All three were so very gracious to the fans for showing up at the film and for all of the support they received over the years. What was amazing to hear was that this was the first film that Yu ever directed and if this is any indication of what he can do, he has quite a future in the business. Jake did need a cane to get around, as he hurt himself recently wrestling in a match. Jake needs to have a hip replacement, but was proud to tell the crowd that he can afford the surgery himself this time.
If you get chance, SEE THIS FILM. You will not be disappointed, and you may come away with a greater appreciation for the good things you have in life. As Jake and Scott said in their closing thoughts of the Q&A, always reach out to any friends who you think may need help, as it may just help save a life. In DDP’s case it has saved two.
Click here to check out the trailer for “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts” or watch the trailer below.