Jake Roberts is one of the most influential wrestlers of the past forty years. He has been lauded for his mastery of ring psychology, promo skills, and innovation. His skills made him a hot commodity wherever he wrestled.
But during his extensive travels around the world and from promotion to promotion, he was bound to cross paths with some less-than-savory characters.
But one particular person was allegedly so vile that Jake Roberts struggled to separate this man’s contributions to the wrestling business with his personal attitudes.
“He was ugly, racist, bully bastard.” – Jake Roberts
Jake Roberts crossed paths with “Cowboy” Bill Watts in 1992 when both men worked for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Watts was brought in as the company’s new booker and immediately began making highly controversial changes to rules affecting the wrestlers, both inside the ring and out.
Some of these rules included banning top-rope moves, banning babyfaces and heels from traveling together, and in general doing whatever possible to return WCW’s product to a more 1970s look and feel.
But more controversial than these decisions were Watts’ alleged attitudes towards race. He defended a restaurant owner who chose to close his restaurant down rather than serve Black customers.
“Don’t get me wrong, I respect the man for what he can teach you about wrestling, but as far as a human being, he was ugly, racist, bully bastard.”
“He disrespected Ernie Ladd, called Ernie Ladd words I won’t say – you know what word I’m talking about. Because he knew Ernie couldn’t do anything about it because he needed the job.”
Jake Roberts also alleged that he had to keep his head down and his mouth shut about this and other backstage issues out of fear of being demoted.
“If you started moving your way up to card, then you don’t want to go back down the card. All it takes is a pencil and an eraser and you can go from making 1,500 a week to making 700 a week. That was good money then.”
h/t WrestlingInc for the transcription