I first watched a wrestling show in 1992. I was nine years old at the time and the first couple of matches I saw were Roddy Piper against Bret Hart, and The Undertaker against a man named Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was a guy who, unlike many wrestlers of his era, didn’t look like he was carved out of stone. He was a normal guy in stature but made up for it in his psychology, the way he moved and carried himself, and the overall feel you got, as a fan, when he walked to the ring, span his hand in the air, and issued a DDT on his opponent. Jake was a favourite of mine from the moment I stepped foot into the world of being a fan of pro-wrestling.
Director, Steve Yu, takes us on a journey that is both spiritual and harrowing, dark and hopeful. Here, we see a man battling demons and struggling with life and the dark patches that he found himself in, and with the help of friends, and a deep desire to be a better “him”, we see his resurrection, on camera, in front of our very eyes. This is more than a documentary for a wrestling fan, more than just a look at a man who once wrestled in front of tens of thousands of people, this is a look at life and hardship and fighting to be better and live again.
The opening moments of the documentary show Jake Roberts at his low points, inebriated and depressed, unable to deal with many of the things causing him pain, both physical and mental. These moments are tough to watch, it was sad, as a fan, to see Jake suffering and struggling to such a degree. It’s here that we’re introduced to a man named “Diamond” Dallas Page.
Fans of wrestling will know Dallas, or DDP if you prefer, from his runs in WCW and WWE. He was a big star in the world of pro-wrestling, but has made an even bigger name for himself, and left an all new legacy, with his creation of DDP Yoga, a yoga program that has been used and implemented by many people and used to truly change their lives. As someone with a severe back injury, and a user of DDP Yoga, I can tell you that it works, and it was doubly intriguing to see DDP and his passion for helping others as it was to see Jake and his rebounding from darkness.
We witness DDP getting in touch with Jake and go about bringing him to his “crib” and beginning to make the changes to Jake’s life in order to improve each element of his existence. It is nothing short of awesome to see “The Snake” fighting through the pain to become healthier, and though there are stumbles along the way, he shows himself to be a strong and impassioned individual who wants not only to improve his life for himself, but for his family and those who believe in him.
We follow Jake and DDP further as they assist Scott Hall, another pro-wrestling great who found himself in a tough spot. It was very inspiring to see Jake Roberts reaching out to help someone else just a matter of months after he had been in a similar position to Hall.
I had a rather personal reaction to this documentary. It could be said that my relation to the Yoga/Injury aspect caused it, or perhaps that I was watching a childhood hero find his way back onto the right path. Either way, I thought this was a great film and provided the grey areas that are often brushed under the carpet. It presents an honest and raw look at things, and I appreciated the directors, as well as the people involved elsewhere with the film, reluctance to make everything seem like it was all perfect and flawless. Life isn’t perfect, but dusting off and trying again is important, and that is one of the messages that this documentary offers.
If you’re a fan of wrestling then it’s a no-brainier, you should see this film, but if you’re not a fan of wrestling, then look deeper and check this out anyway. It would be a real shame for people to miss the deeper message here and avoid this because of that. I, personally, loved it and would love to see a follow-up piece at some point.
4.5 out of 5