When people think about the glory days of professional wrestling, they think about guys like Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, and Andre the Giant. While those three (and others like them) may have had larger-than-life personas, there was one superstar who was better than anyone when it came to telling a story with his words and his actions: Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
On Friday, November 23, “The Snake” won’t be dropping DDTs on anyone at the Cabooze (probably), but he will be sharing some of the funniest, most unique and most bizarre tales from his Hall of Fame career with his Dirty Details Tour.
“I don’t go out there every night knowing exactly what I’m going to say. It’s like being in the ring: you have to feel out the crowd and see what they’re going to respond to,” Roberts explains with his signature soft-spoken intensity. “Some of the stories are funny, and some of them are more about the wrestling business. It all depends on what the people are feeling.”
Known for his incredible in-ring psychology and penchant for slinging snakes longer than most people’s cars, Roberts became a massive star in the 1980s and ’90s as part of the WWE. However, after his rise to stardom, The Snake became a cautionary tale of how addiction can cause even the brightest stars to burn out.
Some embarrassing public appearances, and a smear-job film (the 1999 documentary “Beyond the Mat”), didn’t help matters, and caused Roberts to nearly throw in the towel. Fortunately, with help from some of his tag team partners from the past, Jake has been clean and sober and reclaiming his legacy as a storyteller.
“It’s not quite the same adrenaline rush as getting in the ring, but I still get butterflies,” he explains of his second career. “When I first started doing these shows, it was tough because I’d taken so many shots to the head, along with all the booze and cocaine, and I had a problem speaking. Now that I’ve been clean and sober for a while, more and more stories keep coming back and they just pour out of me during these shows. It’s great.”
While Roberts says he has a pretty lengthy database of stories that he’s perfected on tour, he still has plenty of room to add local flavor to his tales from the snakepit.
“I’ve got so many memories of Minnesota and the guys who came up with me from there,” he recalls. “I had both of the Road Warriors living with me for a while, along with Missy Hyatt. That was something to see man. I also have so many stories about (Minnesota wrestling alumni) Rick Rude, Curt Hennig, all of those guys. Like I said, I feel out the crowd and figure out what they’re going to be into that night.”
While the snakes won’t be in attendance at the Cabooze, Roberts says they’ll be there both in spirit and in memory. “I’ve got a lot of snake stories man,” he says. “Some from being in the ring, but it seems like the snakes would end up everywhere. Restaurants, hotels, strip clubs.”
“You know, these things happen sometimes man,” he laughs.
When talking about his life today, now clean, sober, and reunited with his family, Roberts sounds less like the menacing superstar of the past, and more like a man filled with gratitude.
“I just don’t have any room left in my body for hate, man,” he explains. “When I started talking about my addiction and opening up about my struggles, a lot of people seemed to want to pile on. But now I’m able to talk to people and hear stories about how I helped them get sober, or why I inspired their daddy to clean himself up and move back home. That stuff blows me away. Even when I see my own kids, my daughter does all my bookings, I realize just how incredible those things are and how being able to touch those people is a lot more important than what anyone else might want to say about me.”
What: Jake the Snake Roberts “Dirty Details Tour”
Where: The Cabooze, 913 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
When: Friday, November 23 – Doors, 7pm; Show, 8:15pm
Tickets: $20–$50, 18+ show. Buy tickets here.