Bounce-back for Jake the Snake
JEFF BOLICHOWSKI - St. Catharines Standard
|Houston Marano poses for a photo with Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
The Snake has slithered out of the shadows and back into the squared circle.
For former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestling star Jake "The Snake" Roberts, a Saturday swing through St. Catharines was a chance to catch up on lost time.
The superstar of the 1980s and '90s, known for cutting cryptic interviews and laying huge snakes on his vanquished foes, grappled with substance abuse in recent years. But he said those problems are behind him as he prepared to wrestle at the Merritton Community Centre to benefit the Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre.
"I think it's great, man," he said. "It's great for me. I've sobered up. I've cleaned up. I'm getting around, seeing the things I've missed.
"It's just getting to see the fans. It just tickles me that they remember me."
Roberts was set to take part in an eight-man match as part of Crossfire Wrestling's Jingle Bell Brawl II event.
But he said he's got plans for the future, among them releasing an autobiography. And he said he's hoping to appear in WWE's annual Royal Rumble battle royale.
Promoter and wrestler "Go Time" Chris LaPlante said he hoped to raise $1,500 for the children's centre. Bringing in Roberts, whom he met in Las Vegas, would help immensely, he said.
"I'll be honest with you. This is the biggest show I've probably ever done," he said.
He said Roberts looked to be in great shape when they met, so he asked him to St. Catharines.
"I figured having him here would add so much more to the show," said LaPlante, who was set to team with Roberts Saturday night.
"He was one of my all-time favourite wrestlers growing up."
Sam Marano, 44, and his family were among dozens who paid extra to attend a meet-and-greet with Roberts ahead of the show.
"Wow. It's unbelievable that I can meet a guy I used to follow as a teenager, and I get to meet him now at my age. Unbelievable," he said.
He said he vividly remembers watching Roberts as a youth, including his placing his snake — typically dubbed Damien — on his opponents. "I thought the guy he was wrestling would just be terrified."
As for Roberts, 58, he said he planned to keep wrestling "until I ain't having fun."
Jake "The Snake" Roberts story archive
Jeff Bolichowski is a reporter covering St. Catharines city hall, Niagara Region government and provincial and national affairs for The St. Catharines Standard.