Jake Roberts On How Bad The Wrestling Drug Culture Was, Being Set Up To Get Fired

On the latest episode of the DDP Snake Pit podcast, wrestling legend Jake Roberts delved deep into his past struggles with alcohol and drug addiction. The WWE Hall of Famer discussed the drug culture in WWE during the 1980s as mindboggling, even taking co-host Conrad Thompson through the process of how talent would get a hold of drugs. Roberts also went through how talents such as himself figured out how to use the pills throughout their day-to-day lives to get by.

“The number of pills that were being handed out at the WWE, at the time, was mind-boggling,” Roberts said. “There was a doctor that would meet us in Hershey Park and he walked in with six or seven suitcases full of pills and steroids. That was a big foul-up because you could go in there and ask him for Valium, Halcion, steroids, pain pills, whatever your heart desired. And then what you do is you would try to find out what would get you from day-to-day. Because it was hard from day to day. When you’re only getting five or six hours of sleep a night, you can’t go from the ring to a hotel room, lay down, and go to sleep. I don’t give a d-mn who you are. Nobody in the world can do that, because you’ve got such an adrenaline high going.

“So if you go to your hotel at say midnight, you need to eat something. Okay, there is another hour. It’s 1:00 AM. ‘Okay. I need to lay down.’ You still can’t lay down. So, what do you do? You take a pill. The pill, you gotta get up at seven. That’s six hours. You were lucky you got six hours. Most of us had this down to where we would break Halcions up and just take bits and pieces because we knew if we took a half of one, we would sleep for three hours. And the good thing about Halcion was there was no after effect. If you took a Valium, you’re like ‘blah blah blah’ and it was horrible. But you could take a Halcion and three hours later you wake up and you’re ready to go.”

Roberts continued, stating that pill use then turned into something other wrestlers would use to pull pranks on talent or even women at bars. He described instances where wrestlers would knock out fellow wrestlers on planes with pills, take advantage of women at bars by dropping pills in drinks, and so on. Roberts himself claimed that he never did such things, wanting to hog all his pills for himself.

“But what happened was people started taking too many of them and then you had some clowns that thought it was really funny if they snuck a couple of Halcion on you,” Roberts said. “And you’d be knocked out on a plane and they can’t wake you up. Well, something is wrong with this guy. Next thing you know, they’re putting you on a gurney, taking you to the hospital to find out what the hell is wrong with you. Or they do it to him in a bar and God knows what will happen. There were so many incidents in bars where guys will throw them in somebody’s beer and people would drop them.

“There were guys taking advantage of girls by throwing them in their beers. They would pass out and when they woke up, if they were lucky, the only thing that happened to them was sex. But usually, somebody wanted to be funny and they’d cut off all their hair or they’d paint their face with a magic marker or they’d do some horrible sh-t to them, pass them around guy to guy to guy. I was never a part of that. Never. I’ve never doped anybody, I guess because I was just too d-mn selfish. I wanted to save it all for myself. That’s what I think. I just couldn’t see that. But some guys were so bad and they are so lucky they didn’t kill anybody.”

These incidents got out of control and according to Jake Roberts, even resulted in some talents getting fired or dying. It got to the point that he would avoid certain talents as an act of self-preservation, fearing they would do something that would cost Roberts his job.

“They called it a rib instead of attempted murder, you know?” Roberts said. “It’s what it was. I mean, Outback Jack, it cost him his job. It got so out of control. I don’t know how WWE got through it without people, well, people did die on the road. There were a few that died, in hotel rooms. And you wonder, did anyone help them die or did they do it themselves? I don’t know. I don’t know. I just know that it was out of control. Usually, there were a couple of guys, especially bad, if I see them at a bar, I went to a different bar. I didn’t want to take that chance. Because I knew I was a marked man. The further up the ladder you were, the more marked you were. Their thinking was ‘if I can take that guy out, then maybe there’s a spot for me.’”

Asked whether the wrestlers were intentionally trying to get others fired, Jake Roberts stated he believed that to be the case. Without naming the wrestler, he told a story of a co-worker convincing him and luchador Chavo Guerrero Sr. to do cocaine, claiming they could then beat the test. Said wrestler ultimately got out of taking the test, while Roberts and Guerrero were then fired.

“Oh, it was intentional. Sure it was,” Roberts said. “They were trying to cost you your job. I was set up with cocaine. A guy set me up with cocaine and told me that there was a way to beat the test, and here’s what I had to do. I said ‘man, I don’t know about that.’ He said ‘dude, I’m telling you. I’m going to do some. Watch and see.’ So he did some. ‘Ah man, I don’t know.’ He did some more. Goddamn. Now got this sh-t out in front of me and I’m, oh my God, I want to do it and he said ‘I’ve got the thing that beats the test.’

“So he did some more and I finally said ‘to the hell with it’ and I did it. The next day, there was a drug test. Isn’t that weird? And I’ll be damned if he kept putting off taking his drug test, putting it off, and then he went out and wrestled and he had an eye injury that he had to be rushed to the hospital with. And he didn’t take the test. I lost my job. I got popped. And so did Chavo Guerrero at the time. But that guy, the one that got us to do it? He skated free.”

To quote this article, please credit DDP Snake Pit and provide an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

Have a news tip or correction? Send it to [email protected]

Sign up for Wrestling Inc. Breaking News Alerts

Leave a Comment