Jake the Snake Roberts, Was one of the big wrestling stars of my childhood. Unfortunately like most, he has had to suffer many personal demons and addictions. The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake Roberts, is the personal documentary of the efforts made by Dallas Page to clean Jake up and ultimately save his life. It is a difficult but ultimately uplifting watch.
We start with a few talking heads telling their memories of Jake. These barely do the man justice. He is part of a select few, who were good enough to be a legend without holding the biggest titles in the business. Him, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Roddy Piper and others were good enough to become legends because of their in-ring persona, work, and interviews. The trend with this list is that Jake Roberts is the only one still alive.
When we meet Jake, he is at his lowest ebb. He is extremely overweight and suffering from a number of aches and pains. To put into context how bad things are, we see a clip of an independent wrestling show where Jake is clearly intoxicated and makes a fool of himself and the other wrestlers he is performing with. Diamond Dallas Page and is filmmaking team arrive at the house to be greeted by Jake. Page feels he owes it to Jake to try and help him after Jake helped him during his career. Page has reinvented himself from a successful wrestler to a health and well-being coach under his DDP Yoga brand. Despite this nothing prepares Page for the challenges he faces with Jake.
What comes across as the film progresses, is the ability of Page to see the good in people where many would have given up. Jake is a difficult character. Much like his in-ring persona he is a slippy character, Jake is used to covering his tracks and lying about his alcoholism and despite rapid early progress , us as the audience are left exasperated when he falls down. Dallas starts with taking him through workouts designed to see the range of is mobility. Jake has little movement and it is truly heartbreaking to see someone who was once so strong, unable to bend his knee without excruciating pain in his toe. As they try to get the process moving Jake moves in with Dallas and sets himself the goal of competing at the Royal Rumble once more. In his current state, this is not so much a pipe dream as a miracle. Jake is no doubt months from joining the list mentioned earlier.
Cleverly the filmmakers do not let us dwell too long in the depressing state Jake is in. Soon we see him weighing himself and losing pound after pound. We focus on the mental rather than the physical side of addiction and the sheer belief and support network needed to bring someone back from the brink. All is going well until Jake suffers a damaged rotator cuff doing some yoga. To most this would be a disappointment but to Jake, who literally is living for this process, to get well and to reconnect with his family, it is a major hurdle. He is reduced to tears and as a viewer, it is here that you begin to emphasize with him in a big way. Before this, there may be some who blamed him for the state he found himself in. After seeing how much getting better means to him no one will fail to be moved.
The injury actually does Jake good in the long run. He needs an operation but obviously cannot afford this in his current condition so Dallas decides to crowdfund it. The target is met within hours and this really helps Jake to show how revered he is by fans of pro wrestling. From this point out he has this fact to fall back on. As his therapy continues , Jake quickly begins to resemble the man we all knew. He dyes is hair and shares good time with Dallas and his family. It begins to go wrong when fellow wrestler Scott Hall also comes in for therapy. In the beginning, it goes well as Jake feels e is helping Scott like he was helped. Unfortunately, Dallas leaves to go on a trip and friendly jokes between the other two are felt deeply by Jake. It leads to a relapse and you feel that the whole journey as been for nothing. Luckily when Dallas returns he is able to help Jake reconnect with the feelings that started him off on this journey and gets him back on track. Rather than ruin any more of the revelations ,I will leave it there for viewers to get to the good parts.
This is a very well made film that appeals to me because of the character and subject matter but also should appeal to anyone with addiction problems, or people who enjoy a feel good story of redemption. Unlike other documentaries, there is no acting or dramatisation involved here. Jake is s low as a human can possibly get and rises higher than you can imagine. There are bumps along the way that thankfully are overcome. It really gives you an insight to the sacrifices that pro wrestlers make to entertain us. Jake had nothing to replace the high of being in the ring during his heyday and it shows when he sets himself the target of getting back in the ring to give him a goal to focus on. It may be a predetermined sport but the shocking mortality rate of wrestlers from that era shows that something is very wrong. I am just glad that thanks to the incredible efforts of Dallas Page and his support team, the wrestler whose action figure I owned first is still with us and on the road to recovery. Never has a title been apter. This truly is the resurrection of an individual and a powerful watch for anyone, wrestling fan or not, so check it out now on Netflix UK.