“The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” is the documentary wrestling fans need to see – REVIEW
Wrestling fans might remember “Beyond the Mat”, a documentary produced during the Attitude era of WWF that featured Mick Foley showing the barbaric side of wrestling and putting your body on the line, and legendary wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts working independent shows loaded with drugs and booze, hoping to die. Viewers were left seeing a very dark side of life after wrestling, with Roberts wallowing in the misery of a vicious cycle that refused to let him go, one where the audience wondered if death was the only thing that could truly save Roberts from suffering any longer. Thank goodness that they were all wrong.
Directed by Steve Yu, “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” follows another famous wrestler, former WCW world heavyweight champ Diamond Dallas Page, as he goes in search of Jake to help him not only save his legacy, but his life. Starting in August 2012, DDP and Steve roll up to Texas to find Roberts an absolute mess. Overweight, injured, and unable to stay clean, DDP invites him back to his home, “the accountability crib”, to put him on the straight and narrow. Through hard work, sobriety programs, and a healthy dose of DDP’s brand of Yoga, the film chronicles the victories and nearfalls of Roberts as he struggles to attain a clean lifestyle.
Roberts falls off the wagon a few times, but it was truly inspiring to not only see him get back on his feet, but keep fighting. His mistakes are ugly to watch, both as a fan of him as a performer and as a bystander seeing a human suffer, but when he succeeds and turns his life around, it’s hard not to smile. For me, the turning point of this was when Roberts and DDP call up Scott Hall, another wrestling legend who fell into hard times with substance abuse, and Roberts uses the same tactics that DDP had used on him to convince Hall to join them in the house and get clean.
There is a docu-reality feel to this that makes it easily accessible to viewers that might not care to watch a documentary under normal circumstances. The story is easy to get immersed into because it’s so real, and rightfully so. This is no-holds-barred guerrilla filmmaking, no pretty set-up shots to glamorize anything – just a rugged documentary that gets in the face of this challenge that Roberts, DDP, and Hall are contending with, and is there for every second of the ride. For around 90 minutes, you get snippets of what it was like over the course of 18 months or so for DDP to coach Jake and confront him in ways that clearly no one else had dared to do before. If you have heard all of the success stories on the internet about what DDP has done for Jake (and others) already, seeing it in person will make you understand why.
The feels are strong in this movie, and it is hard not to have your heart strings tugged on at any point because of how charismatic Jake Roberts is. Whether he is angry at himself for not working hard enough during a Yoga session, or yelling at his friends while having a bad day where he falls off the wagon, Jake is so persuasive that you want to believe and support everything he says and does, even when it hurts him. Seeing the rollercoaster that was his life for a few years as he worked on himself to finally earn his place into the WWE Hall of Fame is nothing short of miraculous and amazing, and I will always be rooting for him to stay this way. In a business where living past 60 was abnormal for other men of his era, Jake has proved that it is never too late to turn things around, put life in a rear chin-lock to say, “Not today,” and live on for another day.
While it is not a sequel to “Beyond the Mat”, it is a direct continuation of the story presented of Jake in that film, and this is the happy ending that Roberts deserves to have. “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” is a must-watch documentary for every wrestling fan, whether you watch the current product or grew up watching it as a kid, as well as for anyone that wants to be inspired by a feel-good tale of what happens when you quiet the demons that have controlled your life for far too long. Jake may have never won a single championship belt in WWF, but he has earned a clean pinfall against his greatest enemy and that is the sweetest title to hold and be proud of.
The film is currently touring around the US and is not available for sale just yet. There are plans for VOD & DVD releases later this year, so this post will be updated once they become available, but in the meantime you can join the mailing list on their official website to find out when you can grab this for yourself.