Jake The Snake Roberts lifted the lid on life backstage with WWE and a particularly harsh prank he and good friend Macho Man Randy Savage once played on a referee.
In the ring, The Macho Man and Jake The Snake were rivals, but away from the cameras backstage they struck up quite the bond and earned a reputation for their off-colour antics.
Savage passed away aged 58 back in May 2011, after suffering a sudden heart attack while
driving. Roberts lives on though and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2014, after getting his life back on track following years of drug and alcohol abuse.
Speaking on WWE Story Time on the WWE Network, Roberts recalled arguably the most extreme prank the pair ever pulled involving his cobra – the snake he often brought to the ring for matches as part of his character’s gimmick.
“I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff with the snake,” he said. “There was this referee out on the west coast and he was terrified of the snake – like brutally terrified … But one time in the locker room he came in and said it was his birthday.”
All of a sudden, a light bulb went off in Roberts’ head and he hit upon the idea of doing something extra special for the referee – he wanted to rid him of his fear of snakes. Roberts recalls telling him: “I should secure you from your snake cure tonight – that would be an awesome thing for me to get you over that hump.”
Things would have ended there, with the official wanting no part of Roberts’ plans – but then Savage walked in and things escalated quickly. “He [Savage] grabbed hold of him [the referee] from behind, fighting and going all over the room,” Roberts said.
“My god, this guy was not big or anything but he was fighting for his life. And then Savage tells me to hurry up and get the snake out … So I grab that snake and come at him and all of a sudden I hear ‘oh he bit me!’”
At first, Roberts tried to convince the stricken ref he was wrong, but it soon became apparent that wasn’t the case.The referee began writhing around in agony shouting “’Oh my god he bit me in the eye’”
“The guy moves his hand there’s two fang marks on his eye and two on his cheek,” Roberts recalls. “And I’m just thinking ‘holy s**t.’” Soon enough the gathering crowd of wrestlers, watching the whole thing play out, began to disperse, leaving a worried looking Roberts and Savage.
“The guy [ref] just crawls out of the locker-room and Macho Man comes in saying how he can’t believe it happened,” Roberts said. “And then he starts saying how I shouldn’t have let it happen – and I’m like you are the one that came up with the idea …Then he is like ‘but I wouldn’t have let him get bit man.’”
Incredibly, Savage managed to save the day, with Roberts later finding the referee on the corridor crying his eyes out and full of remorse. “I find him and he’s like ‘Savage told me. Please tell Vince that I didn’t mean to mess the snake’s psyche up.’”
Amazingly Savage had somehow convinced him his job was at risk as a result of the snake bite, which would force owner Vince McMahon to retrain another snake not to bite people. “I’m biting my lip and then I nearly p**s myself laughing…This guy thinks it was like a hundred-thousand-dollar snake and Vince had to have its psyche straightened out,” Roberts said.
“And this guy is apologising to me and begging me to get him fired. Good work Randy.”It’s more than five years since Randy Savage left us but, like Jake The Snake Roberts, his name and legend lives on in the world of wrestling.
Though there aren’t many rivalries to match this classic clash, reports suggestion to more recent legends – The Rock and Triple H – are on course for a match-up in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, Dwayne Johnson will be teaming up with Jason Statham for a Fast & Furious spin-off you are definitely going to want to see.