The Wacky Comedy Stylings Of
Jake The Snake
This particular story begins the way most stories about Jake "The Snake" Roberts and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan do -- by me talking about how absolutely awesome my new wife is.
Not only does Mrs. Bulldog indulge my weird wrestling obsession by watching Raw on Monday nights and the odd PPV, but she actually takes an active interest, cheering John Cena and Lana and jeering Rusev and Kevin Owens. So when I asked her to accompany me to see Jake "The Snake" Roberts perform at some dingy comedy club in downtown Toronto, I fell in love with her all over again when she said "yes".
We arrived an hour before showtime (technically an hour and a half, but that's because there was a 30 minute delay) and were immediately given the closest seats to the stage humanly possible. The photo here shows just how close our table was; literally, you could stretch your legs out and have tripped The Snake, if one was so inclined.
After the half-hour delay and a few local comedians (Toronto's own Trixx was the only one worth watching, doing a hilarious wrestling-themed set), we were ready for our first WWE Hall of Famer of the night - Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Hooooooooooooo!
Duggan did his shtick for about a minute, and seemed genuinely happy to be chatting with the crowd and shaking hands, before The Snake's music began playing to cut him off. According to Roberts, he didn't want Duggan to get all the glory from the crowd and take away from his pop.
Before things got underway, Duggan asked the crowd to stand for a moment of silence to honor the recent passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The two then swapped some of their favorite Piper stories and explained what an impact he had on both their careers. While it wasn't as extravagant as the tribute happening at the exact same time on Monday Night Raw, it was definitely a classy move that I'm sure Hot Rod himself would have appreciated.
The Unspoken Word tour, which ran roughly an hour, featured a lot of back and forth between the two friends as they shared the small-ish stage and talked about their lives in wrestling. Certainly, their careers intersected; Roberts was even an usher at Duggan's wedding some 25 years ago. They laughed about a bachelor party The Snake threw Hacksaw in Detroit and just happened to procure strippers, beer and an eight-ball for everyone. Duggan joked that all of the Polaroid pictures taken that night were torn up and flushed down the toilet the next morning.
Beyond that precious memory, Roberts and Duggan also spent some time in the WWF together during wrestling's boom period (in fact, I vividly remember them teaming in the main event at Toronto's famed Maple Leaf Gardens circa 1988 against the Bobby Heenan-managed team of Andre The Giant and "Ravishing" Rick Rude.
Speaking of Andre.... both men shared some stories of The Eighth Wonder Of The World, including his distinct "aroma" after going long periods of time without showering, and how he liked to pull wrestlers by their long hair, which both Duggan and Roberts had at the time.
Speaking of hair.... Roberts didn't appear to have much of it on the back of his head, at least compared to normal. As he explained, the back and sides of his head had been shaved as part of a hair replacement surgery, while his hairline on top looked as robust as it did during the peak of his career.
In fact, compared to how we found The Snake before DDP Yoga changed his life, Roberts looked to be in decent shape, three years sober and only a bit of a gut, compared to how he even looked in Beyond The Mat. He didn't talk a ton about his recent sobriety, but what he did say was truly inspiring.
Back to the road stories - Roberts and Duggan held nothing back, whether it was climbing over thorny hedges to get into the strip club or driving into the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel while trying to untangle Damien from around their respective necks.
One great story involved a baseball game that took place in the 1980's in Quebec between WWF superstars and a group of baseball all-stars. Obviously, the wrestlers weren't going to measure up to the pros and instead stayed up the night before drinking at the hotel (I know, I'm shocked too).
The day of the game, baseball was rained out, so the wrestlers went back to drinking - until the game was deemed back on. Completely hammered, Roberts ran through the rain-covered grass to catch a ball; slipped; fell on his back - and amazingly, still caught the ball!
I may not have believed the story had I not watched the catch on YouTube the very next morning:
For the last few minutes of the show, Roberts and Duggan entertained questions from the fans (I honestly drew a blank and couldn't think of anything to ask).
One interesting story was about how Randy "Macho Man" Savage dealt with the famous angle in 1991 where Roberts had a king cobra bite his arm. Savage, understandably, was less than enthused about having a possibly poisonous cobra bite him and he demanded that Jake take the same punishment backstage to make sure everything worked out. Doing a pitch-perfect Savage impression, Roberts said Savage had accused him of purposely trying to get rid of the Macho Man so that Roberts would be in a position to get the WWF Title and his wife Miss Elizabeth!
After the show, we had the opportunity to meet both wrestlers. Roberts posed for the first ever Snake meets Bulldog pic (with my secret identity protected as per usual). I know what you're going to ask, but no, Jake didn't get a chance to DDT me on the concrete.
As for my awesome wife? Mrs. Bulldog made sure to track down Hacksaw before we left for the evening. Not to buy any of his merch at the gimmick table, mind you -- she wanted to show him a picture of our daughter and remind Duggan of the time last year when he sang the song from Frozen for her.
I seriously doubt ol' Hacksaw remembered the incident (he's such a good-natured guy, he probably has all kinds of great interactions with fans), but to his credit, Duggan lit up and was moved by the story. "That's fantastic," he said. "Tell your daughter I said hi."
He didn't finish the sentence by shouting "Hoooooooooooooo!", but you can almost picture that, can't you?