Follow me on Twitter: @VqFucci19
As a legend returns, one begins. Before I start, I would like to introduce myself to the readers of Wrestling News Source. My name is Vinny Fucci and I am happy to be the newest member of the WNS machine. For the longest time that I can remember, I’ve always been a wrestling fan. It pre-dates back to childhood when I would go over my grandfather’s house and wrestling would be on TV. He was a big fan and my father was sort of into it, his favorite wrestler being Bruno Sammartino. I was too young to know who Bruno was but I did know the likes of Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Demolition, Mr. Perfect, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and so on and so forth. These larger than life characters would beat each other up on the television screen. From big boots to the face, heads smashed on the turnbuckles, and Rude Awakenings, I was hooked! The sport of “professional wrestling” was something that stuck with me until this day and as I continue to watch, I do understand what my father, and grandfather, meant when they said, “This isn’t what it was like back in my day!”
For as long as I’ve been a fan, I’ve seen many different characters and eras come and go. The Classic Era, the New Generation, and the Attitude Era were staples of my fandom and as the sport evolved, I kept along with it into Ruthless Aggression and now the Universe. I think that it’s a testament to a fan to have stuck around for as long as I have considering some of the crap we’ve seen over the years. But hey, it’s a scripted television show about grown men in tights fighting for fictional championships and pre-determined grudges… besides Bret and Shawn. With autograph signings, live events, and a once large collection of action figures, I always thought to myself that in some way, shape, or form, I could bring my fandom up a level and write within the exponentially large fan base that the circus of professional wrestling is. The dream is to make it to the big castle in Connecticut but in the mean time, sit back, relax, adjust your eyes and enjoy the musings of a fans perspective who has seen it all.
As the machine of the WWE continues to churn in 2014, the fans are generally given a treat here and there seeing as no other company matters because in the WWE, they hammer home total non-stop action. The WWE product has driven away a lot of fans from the early/late 90’s with their change of direction rested on the shoulders of one John Cena. They focus their attention on kids and teenage girls while the male population groans in displeasure and boredom. However, even those who have something to complain about seem to be tuning in every Monday anyway. It’s good for business and keeps things a float and while the WWE does cater to a much younger crowd, the one’s who groan is sometimes tossed a bone.
On January 6th, 2014, WWE kicked off their flagship show with a special “Old School” Raw theme to bring in the New Year. The purpose of this show is to scale back the production of today and reflect on the production of before. The arena is set up in a retro form from the Titantron where the wrestlers walk out down to wooden picnic tables where the commentators call the action. The “Old School” theme also pays homage to the guys who have paved the way for today’s performers and give them a nod for a night both in respect and to refresh the fans of these yester-year grapplers. I’ve come to accept that the guys appearing on this type of show, normally, won’t go further with WWE storylines. When I see a guy like the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase or “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson on-screen, I hope to see them in a managerial role at the very least. Alas, that isn’t the case 99.5% of the time. Sometimes guys who we haven’t seen in a long time such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Bret “Hitman” Hart, or more recently, a guy like Edge, not make an appearance at all. That sort of a thing can be a real bummer. As I said though, sometimes we are given a treat and it’ll stir up the fan base like no other.
The main event of Raw saw CM Punk go one-on-one; I say that loosely, with The Shield’s Roman Reigns. For over a year now, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and WWE United States Champion Dean Ambrose have been red hot with fans and downing anyone that has gotten in their way. Punk has been engaged in a feud with the trio and is slowly picking them apart at the seams with witty banter and decisive victories. Reigns was the last member of The Shield to square up with Punk and while the Hounds of Justice may have been circling the ring to watch Roman’s back, Punk had reinforcement’s of his own in the Attitude Era tag team, “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, the New Age Outlaws.
At the conclusion of the match all hell broke loose, as Punk seemed to be getting the upper hand and The Shield trying to distract Punk. The Outlaws helped control the chaos outside of the ring and Punk even crashed into Rollins with a suicide dive to take him out of the equation as Reigns was recovering in the ring. Once the Second City Saint returned to the ring however, he was cemented into the canvas by Roman Reign’s Spear and lost the match. The Shield had gotten the better of the Outlaws and made their way into the ring to surround a downed CM Punk, hovering over him like a vulture ready to pick at it’s prey. Then from here, business picked up.
A familiar theme blared over the arena, green lights flashed around the crowd, and it wasn’t long before Jake “The Snake” Roberts emerged from the entrance and made his presence again known to the WWE Universe! What a great surprise and well played by all involved. Jake, 58 years old, walked to the ring with his trademark snake bag over his shoulder as The Shield looked on in uncertainty. It was hard to gage how the live crowd was responding because I was too busy marking out on my own. Jake walked down the aisle, smiling and looking good for his age considering what he’s been and put himself through over the last decade or so. He slid the bag into the ring as The Shield tried to grasp the reality of the situation but were immediately attacked by Punk and the Outlaws. Reigns and Rollins were tossed but it was Dean Ambrose who was put to sleep by Punk with his finisher and lay out in the middle of the ring. You don’t want to be laid out cold in the middle of the ring while Jake is in there! Roberts took in the adulation of the crowd for a moment before he untied the bag and dropped a large, albino Burmese Python on the fallen Ambrose! It was such a cool moment to see Jake back in a WWE ring and even though Ambrose was out “cold”, he was obviously smiling as he laid on the mat while Jake did his trademark post-match celebration.
Famously known for his name, intense promos, and dark charisma, Jake’s return stands out as something really special not only for the fans but the man himself. The last time Jake was on WWE television had been sometime back in 2005 when Randy Orton was in the midst of his “Legend Killer” gimmick and if you watch that footage, he was a sad site to see. Over a decade and more, Jake “The Snake” Roberts has a well-documented history of substance abuse with both drugs and alcohol. In the 1999 film Beyond The Mat, he is one of three spotlighted wrestlers and his story is heart breaking, depressing, and ugly. For instance, as Jake tries to rekindle a relationship with his estranged daughter, it’s said Jake had missed a meet-up between the two to go smoke crack. Even after the film, he continued in a downward spiral, reportedly, asking promoter’s to find him “goods” or he wouldn’t do their show. He’s had uncharacteristic behavior on the independent circuit showing up drunk or cutting slurred, lifeless promos. Do you play blackjack?
As wrestling fans normally stay in the loop of things, Jake’s life became a whirlwind of jokes, head sshaking, and only a thought of the past. It wasn’t until a friend reached out to him that would turn his life around. Former WCW Champion and WWE superstar Diamond Dallas Page upon retiring got into the business of yoga and it took off like Diamond Cutter, you never saw it coming. Page transformed lives of many people with his routine, fans and beyond then reached out to an old friend who needed the help. That friend was Jake Roberts and while he was reluctant at first, Roberts took Page on his offer to come live with him with the stipulation that he would have to remain sober and participate in the program Dallas provided. With a few hiccups in the road, Jake succumbed to the program and his new situation to get out of the habit and turn his life around.
Since 2012, Jake “The Snake” Roberts began his rehabilitation process and would update fans through various shorts filmed by DDP’s camera crew showing him in training and receiving sound advice from the Master of the Diamond Cutter. Jake’s willingness and mind set on living a sober life is a true test to a guy who had one foot firmly planted in his grave. Not to forget, Jake has stated that the WWE was also very involved with helping him get rehabilitated and by dropping the booze and pipe, Jake has been on a campaign to have one more run with the WWE, even if it’s just a spot in the 2014 Royal Rumble.
As the first Raw of the year concluded with The Snake, it seems like someone is willing to accommodate the legend’s wishes by having him close out the show. It wasn't too long ago that someone asked Jake on Twitter about an update on his Royal Rumble status and he all but shot down the idea as his best efforts to get back in the door of the WWE was out of play and that he shouldn’t have dictated a future that lies in someone else’s hands. This might have been a play fake by the cunning Roberts and well played indeed. Jake has had such a horrid history, would the WWE want to chance it with this guy as they parade with a squeaky-clean image? Ask Dean Ambrose. This is a great story about overcoming addiction and rising from the ashes.
“My History is Not My Destiny”…and neither is yours…- Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake "The Snake" Roberts returns in 2005 to confront Randy Orton on The Highlight Reel:
Jake "The Snake" Roberts returns in 2014 to help CM Punk and the New Age Outlaws: