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Aurelian Smith, Jr. (born May 30, 1955), is a second-generation Americanmarker professional wrestler and the son of former wrestler Aurelian "Grizzly" Smith. He is best known by his ring name of Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

Roberts is best known for his two stints in the World Wrestling Federation—the first between 1986 and 1992, and the second between 1996 and 1997—though he also wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance in 1983, World Championship Wrestling in 1992 and the Mexico-based Asistencia Asesoría y Administración between 1993 and 1994 and again in 1997. He appeared in Extreme Championship Wrestling during the summer of 1997, and has made sporadic appearances for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2006 through 2008. Throughout his career he was known for his intense and cerebral promos, his dark charisma, his extensive use of psychology in his matches, and has been credited for inventing the DDT. Roberts was also one of the subjects of the 1999 documentary film Beyond the Mat.

Professional wrestling career

Early career

Roberts started his career in 1974 in the Louisianamarker area, as a referee and wrestler, making his name in Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling. It was in the National Wrestling Alliance during 1983 that Roberts became part of Paul Ellering's heel stable, the Legion of Doom, and began a feud with Ron Garvin over the NWA World Television Championship that lasted into 1984. In 1984, Roberts entered World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) joining up with "Gentleman" Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez in their feud against the Von Erichs, winning the WCCW Television title and 6-Man Tag Team title (with Adams and Hernandez). Roberts returned to Mid-South Wrestling for 1985, ending his run there in February 1986 after a feud with Dick Slater.

World Wrestling Federation (1986-1992)

1986–1988

Roberts' first major feud was against Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. The feud began on a nationally televised episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in May 1986. Roberts executed the DDT on Steamboat on the floor right in front of his wife, Bonnie, whom Roberts had pointed to just before delivering the blow and then proceeded to rest his snake Damien on top of a prone Steamboat. Roberts went so far as to put the snake in Steamboat's mouth. He later stated that he was initially against doing the angle for fear that he might seriously injure or kill Steamboat. While Vince McMahon and booker George Scott were adamant about wanting the DDT to take place on the floor, he refused until Steamboat told him that he would be able to adequately protect himself from injury. Steamboat was rendered unconscious and sustained a concussion. 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 (losing only one and because he threw Roberts back in the ring before the 10 count, then not beating said count himself), most notably a Snake Pit Match (obstensibly a no-DQ match) at The Big Event in Torontomarker, 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."

In November 1986, Roberts challenged Randy "Macho Man" Savage for the Intercontinental Championship in a nationally televised match. Before the match, announcer Vince McMahon stated that the fans would probably support Savage against the disliked Roberts. However, to the surprise of both McMahon and fellow broadcaster Jesse Ventura, the fans cheered loudly for Roberts throughout the fight. The match ended in double disqualification. Around this time, the WWF was trying to get a feud between Roberts and Hulk Hogan going, but after Roberts DDTed Hogan during an episode of The Snake Pit, too many people started chanting for the DDT rather than for Hogan, forcing them to step away from this like it never happened. This also may have contributed to Robert's eventual face turn.

He officially turned face when he feuded with The Honky Tonk Man, a heel with an Elvis impersonator gimmick. The Honky Tonk Man attacked Roberts with a guitar during his interview segment The Snake Pit. In reality, The Honky Tonk Man's guitar shot legitimately injured Roberts' neck. The shot was prior to the use of gimmicked breakable guitars, so it caused a legitimate injury. The Honky Tonk Man denies that he legitimately injured Roberts, although Jimmy Hart, as well as a video of the incident (seen on the Pick Your Poison DVD) suggests otherwise. The attack led to their match at Wrestlemania III in which Roberts had Alice Cooper in his corner. He would go on to unsuccessfully challenge The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship several times throughout the rest of 1987. The initial plan was for Roberts to win the Intercontinental Championship shortly after The Honky Tonk Man's win over Ricky Steamboat and begin an angle with the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, but because of the injuries he suffered from the guitar shot, the decision was made to keep the belt with The Honky Tonk Man.

Perhaps his best-known feud was against "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who used to select a woman from the audience to kiss after each match. Rude chose Roberts' real-life wife Cheryl, who refused the kiss; Roberts rescued her before Rude could attack, Cheryl slapped him rather hard. This was staged and Rude began an angle with Roberts. At another event, Rude wore a pair of tights emblazoned with a visage of Mrs. Roberts, (another act that was not sanctioned by WWF at the time and was Rude's own brainchild) which an irate Roberts tore off. Many believe this angle was far ahead of it's time, a precursor to the Attitude Era.

1989–1990

Next, Roberts engaged in a feud with André the Giant after being eliminated by André at the 1989 Royal Rumble. In this storyline, Roberts used his snake to gain a psychological edge over the snake-averse André (who as part of the angle staged a heart attack on national television), to nullify the Giant's overwhelming size and strength advantage. Roberts can claim a victory via disqualification over André after André attacked special guest referee Big John Studd at WrestleMania V.

Shortly after his feud with André had ended, Roberts entered into a feud originally scheduled to happen years before with Ted DiBiase. Instead of fighting for the Intercontinental Championship, the prize of the feud was Dibiase's Million Dollar Belt. It was at this time that Roberts' disc problems were publicly acknowledged, as DiBiase attacked Roberts after a victory over his bodyguard Virgil on WWF Superstars of Wrestling. In the attack, Roberts was (storyline) injured by DiBiase and needed time off to have surgery to repair the damage. Roberts returned and feuded with DiBiase throughout the end of 1989 into 1990, including a point where Roberts stole Dibiase's Million Dollar Belt, daring him or then-heel, Virgil to reach into the canvas sack to retrieve it. The culmination of their feud took place at WrestleMania VI, where in a match where the Million Dollar Belt was on the line, DiBiase gained a count-out victory over Roberts, thus regaining the non-sanctioned title. After the match, Roberts mounted an offensive against DiBiase and Virgil and then began giving away DiBiase's "money".

Following a brief feud with Bad News Brown in the summer of 1990, Roberts feuded with Rick "The Model" Martel throughout late 1990 into early 1991, after Martel (kayfabe) blinded Roberts by spraying cologne into his eyes. Roberts went so far as to wear white contact lenses to "prove" his blindness. After several months, the feud culminated in a match at WrestleMania VII, in which both contestants were blindfolded. The bout ended after Roberts beat Martel with a DDT.

1991–1992

In early to mid-1991, Roberts engaged in a feud with Earthquake after he "squashed" Damien (in actuality, it was hamburger stuffed in pantyhose with a small motor to make it look like a live snake was in the bag), and then used Damien's "carcass" to make "Quakeburgers", which he fed to on-air commentator Lord Alfred Hayes. Roberts appeared on Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake's interview segment The Barbershop and stated that "You could do two things: Roll over and die, or get yourself a bigger snake", in which he revealed that his new snake was a larger python, a reticulated python whom he named "Lucifer"—the supposed big brother of Damien and "the devil himself."

In mid-1991 Roberts was the one the Ultimate Warrior turned to in his feud with the heel gimmick of The Undertaker. The angle involved Roberts telling the Warrior that he would have the knowledge of the dark side necessary to defeat his adversary after passing three tests, which would be shown on WWF TV in consecutive weeks. The first was to be locked inside of a coffin, repeating an incident that occurred on The Funeral Parlor (which was hosted by the Undertaker's manager then-heel, Paul Bearer), a few months prior. The second test had Roberts "bury" the Warrior alive in dirt and walk off-screen. The third test involved Warrior entering a room full of snakes and having to walk through them to find "the answer" in a chest in the middle of the room. When the Warrior opened the chest, he was alarmed to find a King Cobra, which bit him in the face; in actuality, the snake was a rubber prop. As Warrior "weakened" from the "effects" of the cobra's strike, Roberts was joined by The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, revealing the three were working together all along with Roberts telling Warrior "Never trust a snake." The feud was quickly canceled after the Ultimate Warrior was fired by the WWF the night of SummerSlam in 1991.

Afterward, Roberts became a heel again and had a feud with "Macho Man" Randy Savage after he interrupted Savage's wedding reception by putting a snake in one of the gift boxes at SummerSlam and later used a (de-venomed) cobra to bite Savage's arm. According to Roberts' DVD Pick Your Poison, he had trouble getting the cobra to release his bite. The segment went on longer than planned, and Savage's blood was clearly visible, dripping from the puncture wounds. 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. To explain the absence of the cobra in kayfabe, Tunney "banned" Roberts from ever bringing a snake to the ring again. Savage and Roberts feuded for the next few months. Their first match was at the Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view, which saw Savage earn a victory over Roberts, but it was Roberts attacked Savage after the match and slapped his 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 Royal Rumble match. The feud ended on Saturday Night's Main Event, with Savage getting the win. Roberts, livid at having lost to him and having received two of Savage's flying elbow drops (one of which happened after the match; Savage was going for a third until officials intervened), was helped backstage. Enraged, he grabbed a steel chair and said 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 Elizabeth, seeing they had averted a potential attack, stalled, Roberts turned to confront the Undertaker, who distracted Roberts long enough so that Savage could hit him with a chair instead.

This incident turned the two partners against each other. On The Funeral Parlor, Roberts locked the Undertaker's hand in a casket and DDT'ed the show's host and Undertaker's manager Paul Bearer, before hitting the Undertaker repeatedly with a steel chair. This would also make Undertaker and Bearer turn face. At WrestleMania VIII, Roberts was defeated by the Undertaker. He left the WWF soon after that, upset that WWF chairman Vince McMahon did not offer him a position on the writing staff, despite being promised such previously. After Pat Patterson stepped down from his post on the writing staff, McMahon decided that out of respect for Patterson, the spot would be left vacant. Roberts felt he was not only being lied to, but also being betrayed. In response, he threatened to no-show WrestleMania if he was not given a release from his contract.

World Championship Wrestling (1992-1993)

Roberts went on to work for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) 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. According to the Pick Your Poison DVD, Roberts had initially signed a lucrative contract under Kip Allen Frey, who was running WCW at the time. On the 87th day, Frey stepped down and was replaced by Bill Watts, for whom Roberts had legitimate heat with back in his days at Mid-South Wrestling. Ultimately, Roberts estimates that he went from making about $3.5 million a year to approximately $200,000 a year.

His first major TV wrestling appearance for WCW was at Clash of the Champions, where his team won a 4-man elimination tag match. Roberts scored a pinfall victory over Sting, which built their feud further. His single WCW pay-per-view match was against Sting at Halloween Havoc in 1992. Their match was determined via the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal gimmick. There was a series of gimmick matches on the wheel, but because the wheel itself was not gimmicked, neither Roberts nor Sting knew the kind of match they'd be wrestling until the wheel stopped spinning. When the wheel stopped, it had landed on what many pundits believed was the worst option—the Coal Miner's Glove match. However, it was the company's top-selling PPV for several years, but Roberts soon left WCW.

Asistencia Asesoría y Administración

Roberts debuted in the Mexicanmarker promotion Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) in April 1993, causing the defeat of Konnan on the career vs. career match in the first ever, Triplemania. Jake's run-in started a feud that lasted until 1994 at Triplemania III, in which Konnan managed to defeat Roberts in a hair vs. hair match.

For some months of 1997 Roberts fought again in the AAA, teaming with Gorgeous George III, Glenn Jacobs, and Rick Bogner. This stint was not successful and Roberts left after Triplemania V.

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1997)

During the summer of 1997, Jake debuted in ECW. His introduction came towards the end of a match between Jerry "The King" Lawler and Tommy Dreamer, which was the main event of the show. As the match went on, the arena lights were turned off. Moments later when the lights came back on, Roberts was already in the ring, and had given his signature DDT on Dreamer. He then went to the camera man and screamed; "Your God... he giveth, and he can take it away. My God, he giveth... but he aint got the balls to take." He promptly clotheslined Lawler, dragging him over Dreamer for the victory in Lawlers favor before exiting the ring.

World Wrestling Federation (1996-1997)

Roberts returned to WWF at the Royal Rumble in 1996, as a Bible-preaching face. To go along with his new gimmick, his new Albino Burmese Python was named "Revelations." His gimmick also mirrored his real life, as Roberts had recently become a born-again Christian and had been preaching around the country.

During his second tenure with the company, Roberts was pushed as a "Cinderella story" and faced then-heel, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the final match of the King of the Ring tournament. Due to injuries received at the hands of Vader in their semi-final match that night, Austin easily defeated him and mocked his recital of the biblical passage John 3:16 by saying "You sit there, and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn't get you anywhere... Talk about your Psalms, talk about your John 3:16 ... Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!". The catch phrase would help propel Austin to the top of the WWF and pro wrestling throughout "The Attitude Era" of the late 1990s to early 2000s. Roberts next feuded with then-heel, Jerry "The King" Lawler, who went to great lengths to ridicule Roberts' past bouts against alcoholism. At one point, Lawler spat real whiskey at Roberts.

In November 1996, Roberts, Vader, and Brother Love appeared on the ABC sitcom Boy Meets World for one episode. In early 1997, the WWF wanted Roberts to wind down his in-ring career and to join the backstage side of the company. Since he still loved to wrestle, he did not make this transition well. This led to a relapse with drugs and alcohol. He was fired in February 1997. According to the Pick Your Poison DVD, after his firing, his long-time wife Cheryl filed for divorce.

Documentaries

In 1999, Roberts was unflatteringly featured in the wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat. Throughout the film he made numerous confessions about his tragic past, including the murder of his sister and the collapse of his marriage. Amongst the more disturbing moments was Roberts reportedly smoking crack in a hotel room after a reunion with his daughter Brandy, though the act is not shown on camera. In 2005, Roberts, along with others, heavily criticized the film for showing him in a negative light, complaining that the depiction of him was "not the real Jake Roberts." Roberts also claimed that director Barry Blaustein and Terry Funk lied to him about the aims of the film, telling him it was a television special on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

Also in 1999, at an independent PPV show entitled Heroes of Wrestling, Roberts cut a rambling, incoherent promo in which he heavily slurred his words. Minutes later, he staggered toward the ring, apparently drunk, for an awkward match with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Before the match, Roberts pulled his snake out of the bag, put it between his legs, and simulated masturbation. Because it was obvious that Roberts was unable to participate in a singles match, the match was changed to a tag team match involving Yokozuna and King Kong Bundy. The pay-per-view ended abruptly, cutting to black with the commentators in mid-sentence just as Roberts was motioning that he was about to remove his pants.

Great Britain; All Star/WAW/Hammerlock/WWE (2001–2005)

In 2001, Roberts moved to Great Britainmarker, where he began competing for Brian Dixon's All Star Wrestling. In December, he made his debut for Ricky Knight's World Association of Wrestling in Lowestoftmarker. On October 20, 2002, Roberts became the NWA UK Hammerlock Heavyweight Champion in Maidstonemarker, Kentmarker, Englandmarker by defeating "Vigilante" Johnny Moss. Moss defeated him for the title the next night in Ashford, Kentmarker, though. In November 2002, Roberts started his own wrestling promotion in the U.K., called "Real Stars of Wrestling".

Roberts made his final British appearance at WAW's October Outrage show in Canvey Island, Essex, once again teaming with Steve Quintain against the U.K. Pitbulls. However, Roberts turned up at the show "in no fit state to compete", but went ahead with his match. Roberts cut a drunken promo paying tribute to Ray Traylor, who had died a few days before, and almost got into a scuffle with several WAW wrestlers who were sent out to defuse the situation. This involved challenging Zak Zodiac, son of Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya, and who was only 13 at the time, to a fight.

Roberts made a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) appearance on March 14, 2005 on Raw, where he confronted Randy Orton, who was preparing to challenge The Undertaker at WrestleMania 21. Roberts warned Orton that facing The Undertaker, particularly at WrestleMania, could be a soul-altering experience; he then fell victim to Orton's "RKO," helping to fuel Orton's "Legend Killer" gimmick. He worked with the company to create a DVD retrospective of his career (the aforementioned Pick Your Poison DVD), which was released later that year.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2006–2008)

Roberts made an appearance on the October 19, 2006 edition of TNA Impact!. He announced he would referee the Monster's Ball match between Brother Runt, Abyss, Raven, and Samoa Joe at Bound for Glory. Roberts proceeded to cut a rambling, incoherent promo that was barely audible to the live audience. At least once he ended up on his back during the promo and had trouble getting up. The promo lasted a couple of minutes live but was so incoherent that it was edited down to about 15 seconds on the broadcast of Impact! He had a snake in a bag, which he placed on Brother Runt after Runt came out and confronted Roberts. At one point, he even stuffed the snake's head down the front of Runt's pants. The confrontation was only partially aired on Impact!. At Bound for Glory, he performed his signature DDT on Raven, giving Samoa Joe the win in the match. Roberts did his signature after match ritual by putting a snake (which resembled "Revelations") on Raven.

Roberts made a one-night return to TNA in 2008 as a guest of "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal and SoCal Val's storyline wedding at Slammiversary.

PWA; Jim Rose Circus (2008–present)

Roberts made an appearance at Booker T's Houston-based Pro Wrestling Alliance (PWA) promotion, in which he cut a promo urging those who want to enter the wrestling business to not follow along his path. At one point he stated that he loved the wrestling business more than anything else in the world. PWA wrestler "Rockstar" Robbie Gillmore then interrupted Jake and attempted to make an alliance based upon the fact that Robbie wears an 80s style shirt featuring a cobra. Jake had just stated that all he ever wanted was a little respect, and the Rockstar's interruption irritated him. Jake then attacked Gillmore.

In May 2009, Roberts joined the Jim Rose Circus for the Jim Rose Circus vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts: The Legends Collide Tour. Advertised as "a grueling 40 city campaign" containing pretty girls, wrestling, amazing circus stunts, and a fist fight, the tour features Jim Rose and wrestler Sinn Bouldi - Sinn Bowdee as "Team Jake".

Gimmick

Jake Roberts (claims to have invented the DDT) had his opponent, The Grappler, in a front facelock, but The Grappler stepped on Jake's foot forcing Jake to fall backwards. Roberts' opponent landed on his head. From that match, Roberts claimed the move as his finisher, calling it the DDT, though instead of falling back, he stepped back before falling (which, as he explained on his DVD Pick Your Poison, was the quickest way to drive his opponent's head into the mat and also gave the move a "snap" effect). When asked what the initials DDT stood for, he famously replied "The End." In the 2005 DVD documentary, World Wrestling Entertainment employee Bruce Prichard said Roberts named the move after the pesticide of the same name. Roberts has also said often that "DDT" stands for "Drop Dead Twice". Roberts has further been said to claim it stands for "Don't Do it Twice." Many Jake Roberts critics are quick to point out that he never tells a story the same way twice and that if asked the same question in two separate interviews, Jake Roberts is known for giving two completely different versions of the "honest to god truth".

Roberts derived his nickname from being snake-like. Roberts also said on the Pick Your Poison DVD that he got his nickname from Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken "The Snake" Stabler (whom Roberts was a huge fan of). To accentuate this, he would often slide ("slither") into and out of the ring on his belly under the bottom rope. Once he reached the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in March 1986, Roberts would bring a huge, live Burmese Python (though various snakes were used over the years, most were named "Damien") to ringside in a canvas bag. Other snakes used were a Reticulated Python named Lucifer, who was called Damiens' older brother after Earthquake sat on the bag that contained Damien, and the de-venomized Cobra that bit Macho Man Randy Savage. After executing a DDT, Roberts would coil the constrictor around the opponent's neck, and the snake would slither around on top of the fallen wrestler, sometimes appearing to strangle him. Besides the fact that numerous fellow wrestlers and commentators were legitimately afraid of snakes, it was a masterful show as the wrestler lay twitching and sometimes foaming at the mouth with the monstrous snake appearing to squeeze the life out of him. This display of theatricality was big with professional wrestling fans.

Personal life

Roberts is the son of wrestler Aurelian "Grizzly" Smith, with whom he has a strained relationship. He has a half-brother, Michael and a half-sister, Robin, both of whom also became wrestlers (Sam Houston and Rockin' Robin). Roberts has one daughter named Brandy, who appeared in the documentary, Beyond the Mat and a son named Dustin.

In 2007, WWE started a policy that they would pay all expenses for any former WWWF/WWF/WWE performer who needed to enter into any form of drug rehabilitation. According to various wrestling news reports, as well as his own MySpace page, Roberts was placed in a 14-week voluntary rehab program by WWE as of December 10, 2007. In May 2008, Jim Ross reported that, "Jake Roberts has been doing well the past few weeks, after completing a treatment program." Roberts' official MySpace page reported that he was back to working indy shows, and confirmed that he was doing well after rehab after returning home. However, on September 12, 2008, Jake was interviewed on Rover's Morning Glory, a Cleveland based radio show, where he opened up about his troubled childhood. This, he said, depressed him, and Roberts, an alcoholic, began to relapse. In the evening of that day, at the independent wrestling event which he went onto the radio show to promote, he was disoriented and disruptive; unable to properly work. His opponent, JT Lightning, cut the match short (telling the referee to change the finish, in the process), and proceeded to rant at Roberts following the match, in front of the fans. Roberts, obviously impaired and angry at the result, proceeded to expose himself before the crowd. Roberts' assistant, Shannon, later claimed that he "was drugged". Days later, Roberts then appeared on the Toucher and Rich radio show on WBCN in Boston, claiming he had no recollection of the prior events.

In wrestling









Championships and accomplishments



Notes

References



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