Monday, March 5, 2007

WCW: Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Parts 2

After Steamboat's recovery, the feud featured Steamboat introducing a "komodo dragon" (actually a small alligator) as his "pet" to combat the psychological effects Roberts' reptilian counterpart had on most adversaries. The feud continued with Steamboat winning most of the matches, most notably a Texas Death Match at The Big Event in Toronto, and the rematch on the October 1986, edition of Saturday Night's Main Event. Since their feud ended, both men have cited tremendous respect for one another, stating that the feud was a personal favorite for both. When asked about "The Dragon" in an interview, Roberts stated, "[Steamboat] was a great wrestler, but an even better man."

Jake also began a brief feud with Hulk Hogan, but the angle was dropped when Roberts started receiving cheers from the crowd (even though Jake was initially intended to be a heel). This was seen as bad for business considering that Hogan was the top box office draw for the WWF.

One of the more memorable moments in his career was when he had Alice Cooper in his corner during WrestleMania III in 1987. Jake's WrestleMania III opponent, The Honky Tonk Man, brutally attacked Jake with a guitar on Jake's interview segment The Snake Pit, making Roberts into a babyface. In reality, The Honky Tonk Man's guitar shot legitimately injured Jake's neck, rupturing two discs. Jake admitted in interviews that the shot was prior to the use of breakaway guitars, so when Honky clubbed him, he really got hit hard. Jake started using pain killers following the injury, which led to severe opiate addictions later in his life. The Honky Tonk Man denies that he legitimately injured Jake.

Perhaps his best-known feud was against "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who was doing a gimmick where he would select a woman from the audience to kiss after each match. Rude inadvertently chose Jake's real-life wife Cheryl, who refused the kiss; Jake rescued her before Rude could attack, although Cheryl slapped him hard enough to send Rude reeling. At another event, Rude wore a pair of tights emblazoned with a visage of Mrs. Roberts, which an irate Jake tore off, sending Rude running apparently naked from the ring when shown on TV, when those at the arena saw Rude in a thong.

The feud ended due to a reportedly real-life affair between Rude and Cheryl, though Roberts has stated that, to the best of his knowledge, there was no affair.

Next, "The Snake" engaged in a feud with André the Giant. In this storyline, Roberts used his snake to gain a psychological edge over the ophidiophobic André (who as part of the angle staged a heart attack on national television), to nullify the Giant's overwhelming size and strength advantage. Jake can claim a victory via disqualification over André after André attacked special guest referee Big John Studd at WrestleMania V. In retrospect, he views his feud with André as a compliment, citing that since André usually worked with the top guys in each territory, he believes WWE management was subliminally telling him he had the potential to be a top guy.

Shortly after his feud with André had ended, Roberts entered into a feud with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. It was at this time that Roberts' disc problems were publically acknowledged, as DiBiase attacked Roberts after a victory over his bodyguard Virgil on WWF Superstars of Wrestling. In the attack, Roberts was "injured" by DiBiase, and needed time off to have surgery to repair the damage.

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