If you were a wrestling fan back in the 80s and 90’s (or as a new fan have gone back to watch those eras) you would have no doubt heard of Jake The Snake Roberts and seen him perform in the ring. Jake is perhaps best known for being the quiet and soft spoken guy, but hard hitting, having a real understanding of ring psychology and scaring his opponents with his pet snake. He was one of the best to ever step foot in a wrestling ring, the innovator of the DDT and someone whose work can be studied for years to come.
Unfortunately Jake has suffered a life with demons, demons that have eaten him up for many years and he had became an alcoholic. Some of this was chronicled in the 1998 documentary BEYOND THE MAT, where Jake spoke about his horrendous relationship with his father. Back then Jake was suffering, and many years later with THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE we see nothing much had changed. The man was still battling his demons, still drinking constantly and was pretty much well on his way to the grave. So what changed to give Jake a second chance at life and to clean up? A phone call from a long time friend, a man who credited Jake with giving him a chance in his 30’s to get into the business – Diamond Dallas Page.
Our film begins by introducing us to who Jake The Snake is, as a wrestler and whom people may recognise him as. But it soon shows us how bad things have become for Jake, and it isn’t long before we see Dallas reach out to him. This is where director Steve Yu really kicks off this journey, to document if and how an almost life long alcoholic can be rehabilitated and get that extra chance to live a full life. Things are not easy, not only does Jake have to stop drinking, he needs to get himself in shape, both mentally and physically. Dallas brings Jake home with him, and the healing begins there with DDPYoga, the Yoga regime that Dallas invented.
The early going for Jake is difficult to watch, it is an uphill battle and he’s suffering from nagging injuries and whilst starting the DDPYoga he hurts his shoulder. Things aren’t looking good, but when a fundraiser is set up to help fund surgery, the out pouring of support is overwhelming and in this Jake finally starts to see the light. As things move forward there are natural set backs, it is frustrating for all involved but they never give up. So focused on what they are doing, Dallas and Jake decide they want to reach out and help another friend Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon. Scott too suffers from demons and alcoholism, and when they bring him in he’s ready to die. With the help of Jake and Dallas, Scott too starts to detox from the alcohol and get himself back into shape.
There are so many ups and downs, and this ride is incredibly emotional, perhaps more so if you know someone or have suffered your own addictions and demons. To see someone come from the lowest of lows to actually making their way back into life is extraordinary, and inspiring to see. No matter how difficult a watch some scenes may be, there is an upside that truly will bring in the tears. For those who are up to date with wrestling know that Jake and Scott were both inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, almost an incredible reward for their hard work in the business but the hard work to get their lives back. Dallas himself is a strong person, someone who has a huge will to help people and what he does just by saying to these guys they have a reason to go on and he can help them, this should encourage people to do the same.
THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE is not just a wrestling documentary or a WWE film, or even an advertisement for DDPYoga, it is a film that aims to show anything is possible. It shows that you should not give up even when things are at their worst, there are people who care and you should fight back. Whether or not you know wrestling or who Jake is, this film needs to be seen and embraced by the masses. Do not be put off with the wrestling angle if you aren’t a fan, this is for everyone, much like the feature THE WRESTLER was for everyone. Bring the tissues and prepare for an emotional and hard hitting ride. Well done to Jake and Scott for their amazing progress and to Dallas for what he has done for them, as well as the masses who follow his DDPYoga. Truly inspiring!