Jake Roberts harbored bitterness towards Vince McMahon for putting an end to the area-based wrestling leagues.

Jake Roberts harbored bitterness towards Vince McMahon for putting an end to the area-based wrestling leagues.
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WWE Hall of Famer Jake Roberts shared his insights on the controversial episode of “Black Saturday” (July 14, 1984) on a recent episode of his podcast, “The Snake Pit”. This was the day when Vince McMahon, in a bold business move, took over the TBS timeslot previously belonging to Georgia Championship Wrestling, replacing it with WWE content.

This sudden switch in programming brought on backlash from fans, resulting in the quick termination of WWE’s timeslot within a couple of weeks. Highlights from this podcast discussion are as follows:

Roberts revealed that not everyone had knowledge about Vince McMahon’s deal to purchase TV airtime on local networks. “No one really had a clue. It seemed like everyone thought their territory was going to be safe. We were just taking after the leader blindly, I guess. The promoter, on his end, was trying to salvage his team. He spoke of new opportunities and kept reassuring us. But it all turned out to be hogwash.”

In regard to local promoters not sharing the WWE’s vision of transitioning to a national platform, Roberts said, “Nobody saw the big picture. Today, it’s not just about television viewership but about the amount of product being sold. Nobody understood this. None had the foresight to milk merchandising avenues like wrestling figures or dolls. It was all small-minded, honestly.”

Talking about McMahon’s actions that ended the territories, Roberts stated, “I resented it hugely. It lead to job losses for many people, even though it did create jobs as well. Furthermore, in the territories, one acquired experience and learned the ropes. Today, newbies are tossed into high-level performances after mere months of training. It just doesn’t seem right, it’s like taking shortcuts.”

Roberts additionally commented on how The Briscoes’ decision to sell their stake of the promotion to the WWE was perceived by the locker room members, suggesting, “There wasn’t much animosity about this, at least not from me. It was understood, that if one’s making a profit, they’d want to explore other opportunities. It all boiled down to business.”

He vaguely recollects the locker room’s reaction to the shocking move since he was outraged himself. “I can’t recall any specifics as I was seething with anger. I marched out almost instantaneously.”