Review: The Resurrection of Jake “the Snake” Roberts (2016)


A 1980’s WWF wrestling hero struggles to overcome the demons that derailed his life and career and make a comeback as a human being with the help of a former protege turned yoga guru. We look at this new documentary & tell you whether its worthy of “The Wrestler.”


The past few years have seen a lot of interest in documenting the behind the scenes workings of professional wrestling. ESPN has done several critically acclaimed domentary pieces on wrestlers as part of its E:60 series. Last year, we also saw Shiek, the well-received documentary on 1980’s wrestling bad guy The Iron Shiek; covering his rise and fall due to drugs and tragedy and his rebirth as a social media personality.

Now, we have Stephen Yu’s The Resurrection of Jake “the Snake” Roberts, looking at the life of top WWF heel (villain) Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, before and after his greatest success in the squared circle. At one time, Jake was one of the biggest WWF stars at the height of its popularity in the 80’s. Jake, with his chilling promos and grasp of how to control the audience through his use of ring psychology, was looking to be one of the biggets names in the industry. However, his life spiraled out of control because of his addiction to crack cocaine and his alcoholism; both by-products of a troubled life. Jake’s father was abusive, he has claimed he was the product of rape; his sister was murdered and his stepfather was electrocuted in his family home as a young man. As Jake’s career went by the wayside, he did independent shows in front of small crowds to still grasp the limelight in a small way with his demons now in full control. This culminated to a small event where Jake has a breakdown in the ring and the footage is sold to TMZ, humiliating Jake and all but ending his career.

Enter Diamond Dallas Page. A former protege of Jake’s; he is now a successful entrepreneur who markets a yoga system for athletes called DDP Yoga, Yoga for regular guys. Dallas reaches out to Jake and takes him into his own home, which he dubs ‘the Accountability Crib,’ and sets about to trying to rehabiliate his friend. Along the way, Jake starts to rediscover himself and set a goal for himself; to one day have one last run in the WWE which gave him his greatest fame.

To Yu’s credit, Jake makes for a very relatable subject for a documentary. Jake’s fall was covered in the 1998 Barry Blaustein documentary Beyond the Mat. This documentary covers some of the same ground; Jake’s drug use , his alcoholism, his distant relationship with his children. It is Jake’s desire to rebuild his life and his relationship with Dallas in the Real World-esque milieu Dallas has created as a home for wayward wrestlers that are truly captivating. Jake and Page and, later, their other wrestling compatriot Scott Hall, all have suffered for their fame; seeing the 3 build each other up as people after having numerous personal pitfalls is a very satisfying journey to follow. Its not as in-depth as Shiek and Beyond the Mat in terms of production value or seeing the nadir of these men as they hit rock bottom. But it is very well done in terms of showing the struggle for sobriety and how its a life long project for Jake and Scott Hall. You also see Page and Yu’s journey from what they thought would be a simple helping hand to the herculean task of rebuilding these men from the ground up.

Ultimately, The Resurrection of Jake “the Snake” Roberts is worth a watch for the wrestling fan. It isn’t as accessible as Shiek, Beyond the Mat, or even Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows all are to the non-wrestling fan, but it is definitely on par with all three of those films as solid examinations of the world of professional wrestling.