Zim's Blog: Dallas Page, Scott Hall, and Jake Roberts on HBO's "Real Sports"

Posted in: Blogs, MUST-READ LISTING
Aug 20, 2013 - 07:25 PM

By Zack Zimmerman 

HBO's "Real Sports" featuring the segment with Dallas Page, Scott Hall, and Jake Roberts premieres tonight at 8:00 p.m. CT.

The 'Real Sports with Bryan Gumbel' segment with Diamond Dallas Page, Jake Roberts, and Scott Hall, delivered a competent, abbreviated-but-fair rendition of the familiar story of  DDP Yoga. Many wrestling fans may view it as a contrived fluff piece for DDP and his gimmicks, but there is no denying the fact that what he’s doing is changing lives and this was a good account of his brand and a mainstream boost in exposure and image. The show did a good job of not stepping too far into the unfamiliar world of wrestling, and legendary sports writer and Real Sports correspondent Frank Deford managed to handle himself well when the unfamiliar world of wrestling started stepping into Deford’s world. Knowledge of the subject matter will allow inside fans to look past the story being told and focus more on the truly intriguing dichotomies between Roberts and Hall as well as DDP and Frank Deford.

Jake Roberts and Scott Hall are shown in two very contrasting lights; one, a happy man with a newfound enjoyment of life, the other, a scared, deeply-troubled shell of a former star with the disposition of an abused child. Jake Roberts (the latter) reflects on his decay and how he begged for death before he got the phone call from DDP. In a hard-to-read moment, Roberts broke down crying and told Deford that he's constantly working people, out of fear of being hurt. "I'm afraid you're gonna hurt me right now," Roberts confesses. Deford handled the situation well, with a guarded sensitivity that showed awareness to avoid being worked, but that kept him personable as the interviewer. Roberts is shown to have made great improvements in his lifestyle and habits, doing daily yoga and staying full-time in Atlanta with DDP. When Deford asks how long Roberts plans to stay at DDP's accountability crib, Roberts jokes "Try to make me leave, brother."

In rather stark contrast to the desperation and unpredictability exuded by Jake the Snake, Scott Hall is shown to be as healthy and happy  as he's appeared in years (likely decades). He speaks briefly but honestly about his descent into the darkness of pills and alcohol, unable to define a purpose to life. The footage of DDP and Jake picking up Scott from the airport in a wheelchair was a sobering "before" image which gave a powerful impression of revitalization during the "after" image of Scott's interview with Deford. Hall appears to be in a stable place, finding new motivation and passion working and bonding with his son Cody, who is described as "the next big thing" in pro wrestling. As of now, Hall is living with Cody near DDP's house, still making regular yoga classes and visits to the accountability crib.

The most intriguing aspect of the piece may have been the interactions between Dallas Page and Frank Deford. Most wrestling fans know what DDP is all about; an over-the-top, happy-go-lucky, self-promotional machine. Of course, he gets in his obligatory plugs and catchphrases, but not without Deford catching on to who DDP is. Deford asked if his wrestling career affected his life, making him a character all the time. In a hilariously-ironic and seemingly-unaware moment, Page responds "I'm always real." Deford even cracked that Page resembles a televangelist, with the claims he makes and the attitude he portrays. The dichotomy between the two, as Deford looks for insight and tries prevent his piece from becoming an infomercial while DDP is in full promotional mode, is the most entertaining and captivating angle on the segment. Deford managed the interview(s) well, keeping them straight-forward and focused, but there is no doubt that the DDP Yoga machine is rolling strong under guru DDP's control.

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.

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