Philadelphia Eagles football fans may have been first to boo and throw snowballs at Santa, but Central Florida wrestling fans were ready to do even more to Jolly Ole Saint Nick.
All thanks to the Prince of Darkness Kevin Sullivan and Jake the Snake Roberts.
Circa Christmas Day (Dec. 25) 1982 at the Bayfront Arena in St. Petersburg, near Tampa. Championship Wrestling from Florida featured a hot feud between The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and the evil Kevin Sullivan. What better way to celebrate the holiday night than with a lights out steel cage match where the loser must leave the state for 60 days.
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The place packed and their hero set to enact revenge on this hated rival. An unwrapped present for wrestling fans as Roberts, part of Sullivan’s brainwashed stable, could not interfere - barred from the arena.
As if a light shined on good this special holiday evening....Until....Santa actually got involved in one of the sneakiest, upsetting and classic moments in CWF history..
During a phone interview on Thursday night, April 13, Roberts remembered and explained: “I was supposed to be banned from the building...So I traipsed around the whole building that night, dressed as Santa, handing out candy to everybody.”
Fans did not know it was him.
Roberts continued: “Then at the right time I maneuvered myself into position and handed Kevin something [it wasn’t candy] so we could beat Dusty and get rid of him.”
Video clip of that not so silent night at 1:12:40.
It happened so fast, but rabid fans quickly assessed and processed the situation.
Santa just did what to The American Dream?
A Santa swerve?
Roberts remarked: “Then all hell broke loose...I’ve never heard so many people say so many horrible things about Santa in my life...but it was a lot of fun.”
Mission accomplished by the heels...well...so they thought.
That incident also birthed Dusty’s famous masked Midnight Rider persona as the black masked, black Cowboy hat wearing, black horse riding Rider appeared to pursue Sullivan and Roberts.
Another highlight for Roberts in a career of many highlights.
Championship Wrestling from Florida is where Jake received his big break in the early stages of his illustrious career, and the rest is wrestling history, a great wrestling history.
Roberts said: “That was a blast [in CWF]. I was wrestling Barry Wyndham nearly every night. He was an unbelievable talent, and just being a part of the Dusty Rhodes experience at a young age for me was a great learning experience.”
Roberts, a WWE Hall of Famer, will share those stories and more during Supercon Retro from April 14-16 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Ave., Miami 33126.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” he said, “and memories are a great thing to have later in life, and I’m certainly enjoying it. I know that it gives me a chance to reconnect with people, who have supported me for years and share a few moments. Sometimes they remind me of stuff I’ve forgotten, and I sure appreciate that.”
Even though his father, Grizzly Smith; his brother, Sam Houston; and his sister, Rockin Robin; ventured into the pro wrestling business, Roberts had other plans, literally.
“I wanted to be an architect,” he noted. “I was never around wrestling or never around my dad. My brother and sister were, but I wasn’t. So I planned on other things happening in my life, but fate is funny. You wind up saying something, doing something, and the next thing you know you’re taking a completely different trip, and I don’t regret it all. I had one hell of a career.”
Roberts’ career took off in CWF and then Georgia Championship Wrestling, leading to a call from WWE (then WWF). He had memorable feuds with Macho Man Randy Savage, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Honky Tonk Man, Ravishing Rick Rude, Rick The Model Martel, Junkyard Dog, the Von Erichs, Ron Garvin, Dick Slater, Sting, Nikita Koloff, and more.
The master of the DDT also worked ECW, TNA Impact Wrestling, WCW. He helped blossom the Stone Cold Steve Austin persona, which led to the historic Attitude Era. He even brought pythons to the ring in a bag to scare and drape onto his opponents. Andre the Giant and Kamala feared no man. Snakes are another story, and the crowd loved it.
Roberts said: “So many memories and now that I’ve cleaned myself up and dusted myself off, I’m enjoying life. I’m enjoying grand children, and it just keeps going on and on and on.”
Florida holds a special place in his heart.
“Because I was clicking down here, man,” he said, “This is the first place [wrestling career] that I really clicked. It was awesome. This place and then Georgia Championship Wrestling was a big thing for me, and then of course when I went to WWE.”
Roberts, 61, struggled away from the ring. He battled his own personal demons and health issues, until Diamond Dallas Page helped his mentor through positivity and DDP Yoga. Roberts attended the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, March 31 at the Amway Center during WrestleMania Week in Orlando to proudly watch DDP be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
“It was a great honor for him,” Roberts said. “He certainly deserved it, and nobody deserved it more than him. He’s done so much...not just wrestling but for all human kind with his DDP Yoga program, which has helped so many people.”
Giving back, DDP admires Roberts, someone who helped DDP during his wrestling career. Now, thanks to DDP, a mentally and physically healthier Roberts is keeping busy with appearances and other forms of entertainment.
“I’m doing comedy shows all over the world,” he said. “Basically it’s me talking about road stories and stuff that happened behind the scenes.”
Good stuff for sure from a legend who is loved by many.
Pro wrestling at Supercon Retro
Pro wrestling will be in full force during Supercon Retro, which is April 14-16 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Ave., Miami 33126.
WWE Hall of Famers Booker T, Teddy Long and Jake The Snake Roberts and WWE alum Gangrel along with NXT’s Blue Pants Leva Bates, who was trained by The Dudley Boyz at the Team 3D Academy in Kissimmee, will be signing autographs, posing for photos and sharing stories throughout the weekend.
Also indie wrestling stars Alex Chamberlain and Su Yung and legendary Florida referee Bruce Owens will be appearing as well as Guy Hutchinson, an authority on lucha libre/masked wrestlers, and Michael Kingston, creator of Headlocked, the wrestling comic book. Kingston will bring copies of “Headlocked: The Hard Way“ with cover art by Jerry The King Lawler and additional content and stories from Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Tugboat/Shockmaster, and Lince Dorado.
Also returning on this retro occasion is Florida Super Championship Wrestling, the premier combat spectacle with combatants from all over the Multiverse. Basically, it’s trained indie wrestlers portraying a comic book or video game character for in-ring battle. See Green Arrow vs. Deadpool; Skeletor & Evilyn vs. The Mario Brothers; Mr. Satan vs. Yoko Littner, and more. Intergalactic card subject to change.
The Voice Heather Kid Cadet Reicher, who is a ring announcer for Shine and Florida indie groups, will serve as ring announcer for FSCW. She will also moderate a panel discussion with WWE legends Booker T, Teddy Long, Gangrel and Jake The Snake Roberts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.
From the creators of Florida Supecon, Supercon Retro is a throwback event to relive the vibe of Florida Supercon before it exploded onto the South Florida scene. Under the direction of Mike Broder and Sandy Martin, the 3-day retro type spectacular returns to the MACC (Miami Airport Convention Center). Guests were handpicked from TV, movies, pro wrestling, anime, cartoons, comics, cosplay, and video games who are super fun to hang with.
Exhibition Room / Convention Hours:
Friday, April 14: 1:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. / 1:30 p.m.- 1 a.m.
Saturday, April 15: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. / 10:30 a.m.- 2 a.m.
Sunday, April 16: 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. / 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Supercon Retro Schedule
SUPERCON PHONE: 954-399-1330
SUPERCON EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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