Monday, March 5, 2007

WCW: Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Part 4

Afterward, Roberts had an extremely intense feud with Randy Savage after he interrupted the Savages' wedding reception by putting a snake in one of the gift boxes at SummerSlam and later famously used a (devenomed) cobra to bite Savage's arm (the snake died after the incident, due to a toxic reaction). WWF president Jack Tunney reinstated Savage, who had lost a retirement match (to the Ultimate Warrior) earlier that year at WrestleMania VII, as an active wrestler to get revenge for the attack, and he and Roberts feuded for the next few months. Their first match was at the Tuesday In Texas pay-per-view, which saw the "Macho Man" earn a victory over Roberts, but it was Roberts who would have the last laugh as he attacked Savage after the match and slapped Savage's wife, Miss Elizabeth, in the middle of the ring. The feud would continue through the early part of 1992, and included Savage eliminating Roberts from that year's 1992 Royal Rumble match.

The feud would end on Saturday Night's Main Event, with Savage getting the duke. Roberts, livid at having lost to his arch-nemesis and having received two of Savage's patented flying elbow drops (one of which happened after the match; Savage was going for a third until officials intervened), was helped backstage and, enraged, grabbed a steel chair, saying that he was going to hit whoever came backstage first, whether it was Savage or Elizabeth. Just as he was about to swing the chair, someone stopped him. While Savage and Liz, seeing they had averted a potential tragedy, got out of dodge, Jake turned to confront The Undertaker, who distracted Roberts long enough so that Savage could hit Roberts with a chair instead.

In early 1992, Jake turned on The Undertaker, who had been his partner in the assault on Savage's wedding, thus completing the Undertaker's turn into a babyface. After an incident on The Funeral Parlor in which Roberts locked the Undertaker's hand in a casket and DDT'ed the show's host and Undertaker's manager Paul Bearer, the two continued to build momentum for their encounter at WrestleMania VIII. Roberts lost to his opponent at WrestleMania VIII and left the WWF soon after that, upset that WWF chairman Vince McMahon didn't offer him a position on the writing staff despite being promised previously. After Pat Patterson stepped down from his post on the writing staff, Vince decided that out of respect for Patterson, the spot would be left vacant. Jake felt he was not only being lied to, but also being betrayed. In response, Jake threatened to no-show WrestleMania VIII if he wasn't given a release from his contract.

Jake went on to work for World Championship Wrestling alongside his father, Grizzly Smith, where he aligned himself with The Barbarian and Cactus Jack to feud against Sting and Nikita Koloff. However, before he could officially join WCW, he had to wait almost 90 days. Jake had negotiated a major contract with Kip Allen Fry, who was running the company at that time, would earn him $4 million and give him 50 percent of all merchandise sold as opposed to the eight cents got per shirt sold in the WWF. Just a few days before his contract could officially go in to effect, Jake's old real-life adversary back in the NWA, Bill Watts took over for Kip Fry. Watts had promoted Roberts on his own merits in the Mid-South Wrestling, and disliked the snake-bearing gimmick the WWF had put on him. With Watts now in control, Jake went from making about $4 million to half a million.

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