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Welcome To The Vault! In This Edition, Harry Simon Goes Back To Yesteryear To Bring Us Jake The Snake Roberts!

Jake The Snake Roberts

Coliseum Video: 1987:JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS

 Approx running time: 80 min

Approx time period covered: 1986-1987

Released: 1987

Hosts: Craig DeGeorge & Johnny V

 

1) Jake Roberts b Scott McGee.  They said this was Jake’s debut match, so it’s a logical place to start.  Largely a squash designed to introduce WWF fans to Jake.  Jake got over his many heel spots, like trying to “tag” Damian and “slithering” in and out of the ring.  Good fast-paced finish saw Jake block a reverse rollup and hit the DDT for the pin.  Jake subsequently placed Damian on McGee’s carcass, and just like that, the WWF had a new superstar.  Good debut match.  (David)   [Note: This match also aired on “Villains Of The Squared Circle.”]

 

2) Jake vs. Rick Steamboat never got started [5/3/86 Saturday Night’s Main Event].  For a match, this was one hell of an angle.  Jake attacked Steamboat before the bell, clotheslining him off the ring apron and hitting a DDT on the concrete floor.  This is one of the things I loved about the 80s: WRESTLERS SOLD MOVES.  Jake placed Damian on “The Dragon” while frantic officials stormed the ring.  Steamer continued to sell the beating huge with a stretcher job.  This was the angle that kicked off the awesome 1986 Jake-Steamboat feud.  (Lance)

 

Special Feature: TNT segment, featuring Jake and his many snakes.  Several snake cages were placed on the set of the WWF talk show.  Jake gave Mean Gene a tour of his pets while Lord Alfred Hayes cowered in the background.  Kind of a hokey idea, but Jake played the role of a sadistic freak so well, this actually worked.  Jake poked and prodded the snakes with a stick to get them to jump around and make noise while Okerlund panicked.  Jake talked about the hiss of a Diamondback Rattler being something of an “early warning system.”  Jake’s best line was when discussing a Black Mamba; “They call them ‘Three-Step Mambas’ because that’s how long you’re gonna live (if they bite you).”  But the best bit was Jake pointing to two snakes in the biggest cage, likening the “fattest” one to Hogan and the “dumbest” one to Steamboat.  Good, unique segment.

 

3) Steamboat b Jake.  Awesome match.  Steamboat may have been the single greatest worker in the world at this time.  Add that to Jake’s best-in-the-biz-psychology, and it clicked for something special.  Steamboat played the lionheart, Jake played the Machiavellian sadist.  This was as good as it got for the mid-80s WWF.  Strange spot at the end as the ref bumped and missed two occasions when Jake had Steamboat down for the pin.  As Jake revived the ref, Steamboat rolled him up from behind for the pin.  I think this was officially the end of Jake’s WWF undefeated streak, but I’m not 100% sure.  Jake was a sore loser, attacking Steamboat after the bell and laying him out with a DDT.  This was easily the best match on the tape and a great follow-up to the previous Jake-Steamboat angle.  Sadly, the video was all downhill from here.  (Kerry)

 

Mean Gene interviews Jake.  Nothing of interest here.  Gene glosses over Jake’s career and talks to him about his babyface turn.  Which just makes the next match all the more head-scratching…

 

4) Junkyard Dog b Jake via CO.  An old match with Jake as his old heelish self.  You’re probably asking why they showed this after an interview that discussed Jake’s face turn.  I have no answer for you, kind reader.  JYD was over (as in, “the hill”).  While Jake did everything he could to carry JYD to a passable outing, this match stunk.  The most annoying spot was when Jake ran into JYD’s arms so JYD could bodyslam him.  The first time wasn’t that bad, but they repeated this spot to a total of six times.  Just as bad and cred-killing as when the Horsemen would line up single-file so Dusty could hand out elbowsmashes to them all.  Weak finish saw Jake get frustrated and unfurl Damian from outside the ring…while getting counted out in the process.  Love them 80s cop-out finishes.  (Chris)

 

5) Jake b King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby Heenan) via CO.  In Tom Billington’s excellent book, “Pure Dynamite,” he lamented how Bundy headlined Wrestlemania in 1986, then was reduced to wrestling midgets on the Mania undercard in 1987.  “That was how fast you could go up and down,” Tom wrote.  He sure called that one right.  This was Bundy on the downswing, but he still played the bully while the whole match revolved around Jake trying to DDT KKB.  Typical WWF 80s match in that while it wasn’t a good technical outing, it got over both characters and the fans were into it.  This weak finish saw the two brawl at ringside, and Bundy heaved Jake back into the ring…so Jake beat the count, and Bundy effectively beat himself.  Sigh.  (Mike)

 

6) Bundy (w/ Heenan) b Jake by DQ [Saturday Night’s Main Event, 3/14/87].  Pretty much the same match as above, but with better production values and better commentary.  This time, Jake kneed the referee out of nowhere for the DQ.  Jake then gave Bundy a sloppy DDT for a monster pop to get his heat back.  You’d think they could have had at least one pinfall out of two Jake-Bundy matches.  But you’ll be pleased to know that this feud continued 12 years into the future when Bundy finally pinned Jake in the main event of the 10/99 Heroes Of Wrestling PPV.  (Mike)

 

The Snake Pit [JIP].  Jake cuts an “eleventh hour” promo on The Honky Tonk Man to hype their match at WM3.  Great promo, aired over the clip of HTM kabonging Jake to kick off their 1987 feud and cement Jake’s babyface turn.


7) The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart) b Jake (w/ Alice Cooper) [Wrestlemania 3].  As with Jake-Bundy, this match was average, but it got over both characters to many first-time customers.  HTM was already one of the best heels in the company, and Jake was on fire as a sinister badass.  Finish saw Jimmy Hart interfere to prevent the DDT, allowing HTM to schoolboy Jake and get the pin while holding the ropes for leverage.  For some reason, they cut away before Jake got his heat back by torturing Jimmy Hart with Damian after the bell.  At this point in the tape, I’m thinking this tape was produced by someone who really, really hates the Snakeman. 
(David)

 

8) Kamala (w/ Mr. Fuji & “Kim Chee”) b Jake [Saturday Night’s Main Event, 5/2/87].  I love those old SNME shows.  About 90% of SNME matches were terrible, but they’re a still blast to watch because the shows were so slickly-produced and had such great enthusiasm from the announcers and the fans (the latter usually being dubbed-in crowd heat, but it’s the thought that counts).  This is another Jake vs. the big bully match, built around Jake alternately getting pummeled and going for the DDT.  Not a good match, but a brilliant angle, as “Kim Chee” attacked Jake, allowing Kamala to splash Jake for the pin.  After the match, “Kim Chee” unmasked revealing himself to be The Honky Tonk Man.  The “heel-disguised-as-Kim-Chee” thing was a recurring spot in the 80s.  Paul Orndorff once donned the safari outfit to ambush Hulk Hogan after a Hogan-Kamala match at the Philly Spectrum in 1986.  (Mike)

 

Overall over-analysis:  If you’re a Jake fan, your guy wins TWO of the seven matches on his own tape, and that’s something I just can’t comprehend.  Imagine them pulling that crap on one of Hogan’s “Hulkamania” videos.  Yet the biggest disappointment, IMO, was the lack of time given to the DDT.  Most Jake matches centered around the finisher, and with good reason.  Jake’s DDT was arguably the best and most-over finisher in the 80s WWF, and yet he hits the move a grand total of four times throughout the whole tape (PLUS, the only guy he actually beat with the DDT was a no-name jobber who was never heard from again).  For my money, they could have yanked both Bundy matches and put in the music montage of Jake DDTing a series of victims (which aired on WWF TV in 1987).  Failing that, they should have at least recapped the clever angle where Jimmy Hart and Honky Tonk ran a “Ban The DDT” campaign.  In the final analysis, this tape was a letdown because Jake was easily one of the most intriguing, innovative characters of the 80s, yet this video barely scratched the surface of the man, the myth, the guy who would go on to immortality as the drug-addicted degenerate on “Beyond The Mat.”  That said, the Steamboat stuff was fantastic and the TNT segment was a guilty pleasure, saving it from being a total waste.  One last question: Why the hell did Lord Alfred always call him simply “Snake Roberts?”

 

Grade: C-

 

-HS-

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).