NETFLIX — What is a living legend to do when he looks in the mirror and sees a man he despises? Alcoholic. Drug addict. Absentee father. Physically broken. One option would be to roll over and die, and to be honest, most people probably wouldn’t blame him. The other: To look himself square in the eye and decide that no man is beyond saving… and that every man has the potential to rise again. Such is the story of THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE.It’s very difficult to review RESURRECTION and be completely impartial. You see, I am a HUGE Jake “The Snake” Roberts fan. I grew up a professional wrestling fan, and while my childhood hero was Hulk Hogan, there lived a darker side within my tiny frame that related to the soft-spoken mustachioed snake charmer. I hung on every word that fell from his lips, and got chills every time he’d peer his cold dead eyes into the camera, often time while offering a faint smile. He didn’t look like, talk like, or behave like anyone else on the (then) WWF roster, and I loved him for it.
Fast forward to 1999. A little documentary called BEYOND THE MAT started making the rounds, featuring in depth interviews with some of my favorite professional personalities past and present. It offered an inside look into what it was like to be a wrestler, and sadly, in the face of Jake Roberts, some of the consequences that awaited them after the limelight had faded. Here I saw a man I once saw as larger than life be reduced to little more than a lonely drug addict, estranged from his family, the business, and no real prospects sans scoring enough money for his next fix.
I was heart broken.
It seemed that was the end of Jake’s story. At a time when wrestlers had begun dropping like flies from heart attacks and overdoses, it seemed only a matter of time before The Snake was added to the long list of icons gone way to early.
Fast forward to 2014. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announces that Jake “The Snake” Roberts is going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame: Class of 2014 at Wrestlemania that year. To think, I had all but written him off as a junkie nearly 15 years earlier… here he is, still standing, and looking almost as good as he did when he was in his prime! I listened and cried as Jake gave an incredible speech that felt like an apology for his past, yet a hopeful statement on his future. I’ve never met the man, but I was still extremely proud of the work he’d clearly done to get back to this point in his life. He defied the odds. He survived.
RESURRECTION tells the story of how he did it. It’s not glamorous. It’s not glorifying. It doesn’t blow smoke up your ass and call it Febreeze. RESURRECTION is a raw document showing Diamond Dallas Page (DDP) and a few of his friends, were able to charm the snake charmer, and afford him the space and support to finally stop running from his demons, and face them head on.
Jake’s journey in this film is both moving and frustrating. As a viewer I celebrated every milestone he hit on his way to success. I also wanted to spit venom every time he’d do something stupid and relapse. There are very real and humbling moments where DDP and friends are forced to sort of go to war with Jake on behalf of Jake, and it gets fairly awkward. To have to constantly convince this near 60 year old man that he’s worthy of the attention and the praise… that he deserves to live and that it’s not too late to change — it really is a testament to Page and his Accountability Crew that he could stick to their end of the deal.
Fan boy perspective aside, let’s not get anything twisted here: RESURRECTION is as much a redemption tale for Jake Roberts as it is a high quality infomercial for DDP, DDP Yoga, and Page’s brand of aggressive positivity. You’ll walk away from this film wishing you had DDP in your life, keeping you on the straight and narrow–and yet he never overdoes it on the shilling. It’s also hard to hold this against the man, because if you’re familiar with him at all, you know that DDP loves him some DDP, and in a way, we kind of love him for that, too.
If you thought Jake and DDP weren’t enough, you’ve also got Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall thrown in for good measure. Midway through the film Hall is invited to the Accountability Crib to rehab and workout with Jake under Page’s tutelage. When this former titan of the squared circle arrives a busted up wheel chair bound addict, I was speechless. And yet, through DDP’s personal method of aggressive positivity, and flat refusal to accept anything less than their best, you see him transform as well.
THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE is really the slickest, classiest, most effective form of advertisement for DDP being your Life Coach, period. Some the film does get a bit heavy handed with the emotional score at key moments, the reality of these men’s situation is enough to overcome any overt schmaltz. It doesn’t matter if the film is one big glorified advert for DDP — the results speak for themselves, and the world gets to hold onto guys like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall a bit longer because of it.
Addiction isn’t funny. It isn’t pleasant. It also isn’t fair. RESURRECTION does a great job of illustrating that if you want to overcome any obstacle in your life, big or small, you’re going to have to put in the work… and be honest with yourself about the work your actually putting in.
I loved this film. And if you give a chance, I think you will, too.