Justin Roberts had achieved his dream when he became a ring announcer for WWE in 2002.
Roberts grew up in Chicago a die-hard wrestling fan and began ring announcing for independent wrestling promotions at 16 years old.
But as the years went by, Roberts’ dream job turned into something much different, and by the time WWE released him from his contract in 2014, he was more than ready to put his time with the company firmly in the rearview mirror and move on.
“It was my dream job and it got to a point after a while where I couldn’t be there anymore,” Roberts said during an interview with philly.com. “There are just a lot of different incidents that happened that were just weighing on me mentally.”
“It was really, really hard being there and when I got released, the instant they told me the weight was off my shoulders,” he added. “That moment was nothing but relief.”
So what happened during Roberts’ time with WWE that made him change his tune? Roberts has taken it upon himself to tell the world about the emotional roller coaster that was time with WWE in his new book titled Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass Through My WWE Journey.
Roberts was released from WWE three years ago, but the idea of the book popped into his head while he was still with the company. Once he got the idea, he began noting any interesting stories and anecdotes during his time with the company in case he wanted to write a book.
Despite all of the notes Roberts took, he rarely used any of them when he actually began putting the book together and wrote it mostly from memory. Roberts’ initial drafts were honest, but a little too honest for someone that was under a WWE contract at the time.
After WWE let Roberts go, he felt free to publish the book without receiving any repercussions from his employer. The only problem at that point was making it a coherent book that people could actually read and understand.
The process of making the book presentable was a long and arduous task for Roberts that took years to come to fruition.
But with the help of former WWE developmental wrestler, published author and Dolph Ziggler’s real-life brother Ryan Nemeth, Roberts finally churned out a book that was ready for public consumption.
“I think I have a cool story that wrestling fans will appreciate,” Roberts said. “Not just wrestling fans, but anybody that had a dream or goal that they want and thinks that this is inspiring to them. I think it’s a pretty inspiring story.”
As inspirational as Roberts’ story may be, there were some parts of it that were difficult for him to recount.
That is because Roberts is admittedly a private person. He is not one to live his personal life or express his personal feelings in the public sphere, but in the book, he delves deep into some of the times in his WWE career that deeply affected him in various ways.
“It gets very personal and there were a couple different topics that were hard to write about because you’re playing them back in your ahead,” he said. “You’re basically reliving them to tell the story and for the first time you’re putting these thoughts and experiences that you had into writing.”
“That was hard and I did an audio version of the book, too, so not only was it hard to write about, but when I was narrating the audio version it was hard to actually say out loud,” he added. “There were a couple different topics where I had to stop for a minute and just kind of catch myself and get back to it.”
Among the things Roberts touches on his book is how easy it was to draw the ire of the powers that be in WWE or as it is called within the wrestling business, “get heat.”
“When I was on Smackdown in the early, early days, I used to get heat for waking up and breathing,” Roberts said.
“It’s a really silly nonexistent thing that exists and it’s more of a threat than anything,” he added. “The idea of heat is a giant threat, but at the same time it’s an excuse for if they want to put you in place if you did something that they’re not happy with. It’s a very real thing and it’s very easy to get heat. They’re always looking for reasons.”
Roberts also touches on the atmosphere behind the scenes in WWE, which he said was one of constant fear, as the higher ups were constantly reinforcing that they were in fact in charge in an effort to keep everyone in line.
“I was in fear of losing my job on a daily basis since I started there,” he added. “You never felt comfortable. They didn’t want you to feel comfortable. Anytime you started feeling comfortable they would give you a reason to not feel comfortable.”
Roberts was made to feel so uncomfortable during his WWE tenure that he does not have any desire to return to the company if he was offered a chance to do so.
“They really did a number on me,” he said. “They did not treat me well when I was there and I wouldn’t want to get treated like that again.”
Roberts maintains that he still has an undying love for professional wrestling, but apparently not enough to work for WWE again.
The book is not all about the tough times Roberts faced during his time with WWE, as with all of the lows he encountered, he experienced a lot of highs, too.
His WWE journey may have been nightmarish at times, but he still accomplished what he had only dreamed of doing while growing up in Chicago.
“I had a dream that was pretty impossible to get and I got it,” Roberts said. “In the book I talk about what I wanted to do and how I set off to doing it and actually getting it.”
The hardcover version of Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass Through My WWE Journey is available on Barnes & Noble now, and the e-book and audio book versions will be available April 1.