The old saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words, and for the most part that is correct. It’s weird how a single picture can encapsulate a moment of time so well, considering that it is only a snapshot of a single second in time. In sports, this is especially true, as most legendary athletes have their famous picture that most people know them by. For the NBA the picture of Michael Jordan crying with the Larry O’Brien Trophy is prominently featured in their content, and the same is true of Muhammad Ali’s knockout of Sonny Liston. Though it’s not on the same level competitively as other sports, wrestling falls into this same category, as we all have seen a picture of Stone Cold flipping the bird, or The Rock holding his arm up while perched on the turnbuckle during wrestling’s most popular years. But what about behind the scenes in wrestling?
Today we will be looking at some rare photos that you may have never seen before. These pictures while not famous still define an era – the Attitude Era. Most of the photos gathered here today come thanks to an old article on WWE.com, as well as Stacy “The Kat” Carter’s personal collection from her Facebook page.
Hopefully, this article is filled with pictures that you have never seen before, and if you have seen a few keep on scrolling until you find some you don’t recognize. As always feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
20. What’s He Doing Here? Part I
Wait a second, I know that guy. Is that “THE” Brian Kendrick? Well kinda, but he was better known as Spanky back during the Attitude Era. Kendrick was signed to the WWE in 2000 and was an active part of Memphis Championship Wrestling, which was a feeder territory for the main roster at the time. As part of the deal between the two companies, some of the MCW talents would participate in dark matches for the WWE. Kendrick was no exception and is a far cry from the man who currently resides on Monday Night RAW as part of the cruiserweight division.
This picture features a very young Kendrick (the SpongeBob shirt doesn’t help) playing cards waiting for his match backstage. It’s hard to think 16 years later, there he is, still with the company.
19. Taker And Trips
If the ending of WrestleMania XXVIII was supposed to be the end of a chapter for Triple H and The Undertaker, then this picture would be the beginning. The photo is more of a screengrab from Beyond The Mat, a documentary that most notably followed around Mick Foley during the height of his popularity. This film crew had an unprecedented amount of access to the WWE locker room at the time, and in the process caught some of their biggest stars out of character.
The photo above shows a much less influential Triple H with a then locker room general Undertaker. The two are seated at the Gorilla position watching Mick Foley and The Rock’s I Quit Match from 1999’s Royal Rumble. There’s no doubt they’re thinking ‘what the hell if Foley thinking?’.
18. Better Days For Chyna
This photo features a very healthy looking Chyna backstage at an event using her cell phone to make a call. Chyna was at the height of her career during this picture, transitioning from masculine looking bodyguard, into a Playboy model and symbol for positive body image. The picture appears to be taken before Chyna was ousted as a member of the WWE roster, but what we don’t know is whether or not this was during the affair between Stephanie McMahon and Triple H (Chyna’s boyfriend at the time).
In either case, when compared to her pictures prior to her untimely death earlier this year, the woman shown above looks nothing like the version of Chyna who became mocked in pop culture in recent years. It’s sad to think how much potential Chyna had ahead of her at the time of this picture.
17. WCW Bound
Though technically not taken during the official Attitude Era, this photo was taken right before Bret Hart’s tumultuous exit from the WWE in 1997. You could even argue that there wouldn’t have been an Attitude Era if not for the Montreal Screwjob – an event that has become synonymous with Hart’s legacy. That event helped create the Mr. McMahon character. But back to the picture which features Hart with real life brother in law Jim Neidhart backstage following an in-ring segment.
If the crutches look familiar it’s because Hart used his “injury” as an excuse to cancel matches with Shawn Michaels prior to Survivor Series. During his final few months in the company, Hart had turned from a full-fledged wrestling superhero, into a tweener hated by most Americans.
16. What’s He Doing Here? Part II
While this photo wasn’t taken backstage, it was taken when the cameras were off.
So casual fans of wrestling know that Brock Lesnar debuted in the WWE as The Next Big Thing in 2002. Super fans know that the former NCAA Amateur Wrestling Champion wrestled several dark matches as part of a tag team with Shelton Benjamin as the The Minnesota Stretching Crew. Hardcore fans may have seen the picture above. The photo features a young Lesnar wearing purple and gold trunks, being accompanied by Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
Now this was most certainly during the Attitude Era, meaning that Jesse was still the sitting Governor of Minnesota when the picture was taken. This means that the conspiracy theory of him being the original manager of Lesnar couldn’t be true, but for many this photo creates a “what if” scenario that could have changed the direction of professional wrestling.
15. Just Another Day At The Office
You don’t have to be a detective to realize what is happening in this picture. Stone Cold Steve Austin is heading towards the ram with a sledgehammer slung over his right shoulder. Either Austin is about to do some demolition on the stage, or face off against the biggest heel of the Attitude Era (Triple H) with his signature weapon in hand. While we can’t confirm nor deny that this is what was happening as Austin made his way to the ramp, it’s safe to say that professional wrestling and construction are the only two professions where someone can freely walk around carrying a tool of destruction without someone even batting an eye.
It’s funny how routine this seems to be for Austin. He looks like a guy who is casually strolling down the block.
14. Heated Discussion
Steve Austin and Mick Foley have been friends for a long time, stemming from their time shared in WCW during the early 90s. Austin has talked multiple times on his podcast about how he considers Foley one of his best friends in the business of professional wrestling, which is ironic considering the both men ended up being two of the biggest names in the Attitude Era.
This photo features the two former WWE Champions having a discussion backstage with crew members present. If I had to guess, I’d say this picture was taken before or after a backstage segment on an episode of RAW. Although they are friends, this looks like a heated conversation between the two, as Foley looks to be on the defensive. We all know Austin was a bit of a hothead at this time, so what they’re talking about is anybody’s guess.
13. Bye Bye Sable
This is an interesting picture because it’s reflective of the real life career of the person shown in it. The photo features former WWE Women’s Champion Sable exiting the arena, with her back facing the camera. The photo is reminiscent of Sable’s relationship with the WWE, as she would turn her back on the WWE in 1999 filing a $110 million lawsuit on the company that made her famous.
If you were being artsy, I guess you could also say that the bags she is carrying are representing the baggage that she left the WWE with. If you are being more literal, the bags may be filled with feces left by X-Pac…look it up if you don’t believe me.
Thirdly, you can kind of wonder, why is Sable leaving the arena in her full ring attire?
12. Backstage Calamity
There is so much happening in this picture taken in the middle of an episode of RAW. Obviously, we have Shaquille O’Neal front and center, surrounded by onscreen friends/enemies D’Lo Brown and Mark Henry. We can tell that this is during Henry and Brown’s feud, as D’Lo is wearing his European Champion tights. If you look closer in the back, you will notice that WWE writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara are floating around in the craziness backstage. If you look even closer, you will see a younger Pat Patterson staring intently at something in the distance. This photo just sums up what the backstage area looked like during the hustle and bustle of a Monday Night RAW taping in the late 90s. The WWE was definitely in its busiest state at this time.
11. What’s He Doing Here? Part III
Does that young guy look familiar? How about you imagine him about 12 years older and sporting a goat like beard… How about now? Yes this is a photo of a very young Daniel Bryan sitting in a WWE locker room during the Attitude Era. You may be wondering how I know for sure that this is a photo of Bryan. Well as mentioned in the intro of this article, many of these photos were taken by Stacy “The Kat” Carter during her run in the WWE; this is one of them.
Many fans were well aware that Bryan had matches on Velocity, but his initial contract with the company took place right in the middle of the Attitude Era. I’m sure no one backstage felt they were looking at a future WrestleMania main eventer.
Remember when people were actually wearing XFL shirts? Well now that I think about it, I don’t think I remember anyone ever wearing one except for WWE employees. Jerry Lawler is happily wearing one in this photo, probably just getting to the building following a weekend commentating for the failed football league. Both he and Jim Ross were calling games during the XFL’s one and only season. Beside Lawler are two of the few people still with the WWE today; Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho. This is of course during Malenko’s days actually competing for the WWE, retiring from competition shortly after. We can’t forget about Chris Jericho though, who obviously doesn’t know that he is about to become the first Undisputed Champion in the picture.
9. Odd Assortment
This picture reminds me of what happens in high school when a bunch of random people are photographed for the yearbook. This was the case in many arena hallways throughout the country when the WWE was in full swing. I mean look at this assortment of people, we have a single pre-broken Hardy Boy, pre-banishment Chyna, pre-power Triple H, pre-talking Kane, pre-released Kat, and a Bob Holly in the back who may or may not be hardcore at this point. It’s just a funny thought to think that if you saw this group of people anywhere else in the world you would turn away and never look back, but in the world of wrestling this was considered normal.
This picture definitely makes the company look like a fun place to work.
8. Blackman Killing Chinese Food
I knew that when I decided to look up a bunch of pictures from the Attitude Era that this one was going to make the cut no matter what. Steve Blackman is generally regarded as one of the baddest men to ever step foot into the WWE. Stories have been told around wrestling circles about how Blackman almost beat up Vader and took The Big Show to the ground from a lying position.
That is why this picture of The Lethal Weapon eating Chinese food is hilarious. It’s just a rare vulnerable moment from a guy who as D’Lo Brown once said, ‘could kill you with anything’. It makes us wonder if he killed the person taking the picture with the spoon he was using.
7. Before The Love Triangle
This is an ironic picture considering what was soon to come between these two long time friends. The picture features Matt Hardy looking into the camera while Edge smiles over his shoulder. We can only assume that Hardy is sitting next to Lita, his then girlfriend on this trip to the arena and in the process also getting to know Edge better. For the uninformed, Edge and Lita had a real-life affair while Matt was out for an injury in 2005. The two began riding together behind the scenes and eventually fell in love. The WWE eventually translated this love triangle into a storyline on screen, which culminated in what was arguably one of the best feuds of the mid-2000s. It’s a life lesson on how much can change in a few years.
6. Silly Big Show
For a man who was billed as the son of Andre The Giant initially, The Big Show surely doesn’t resemble him in this picture. Show, who has always had a pretty good sense of humor, stands as a seven-foot effeminate version of himself in this photo. One thing that you will notice however, is that The World’s Largest Athlete is in peak shape in this snapshot. Younger fans may forget, or not know, that during his prime The Big Show was able to do kip ups, and is rumored to even have been able to do a moonsault during his training days. You may not be able to tell all that by looking at this picture, but you can’t judge a book by its cover, right?
5. Rocky and his mentor
Staring at this picture is the closest thing that we could ever do to being a fly on the wall during the Attitude Era. The photo features a young Rock talking to Pat Patterson about an upcoming match. These two men have always had a close relationship since Patterson helped The Rock get into the business in the mid 1990s. The Rock has praised Patterson as one of his greatest mentors in the WWE, and this picture shows exactly why. The two are one-on-one just talking about an upcoming match, and judging by The Rock’s attire it looks as if it is in the middle of his feud with Mankind. The quality of the photo isn’t great by any means, but the story behind it makes it worth putting on this list.
4. Owen’s Heart
Though this doesn’t technically count as a “backstage photo”, I felt the need to feature Owen Hart in at least one picture on this list. For someone regarded as the biggest joker in the history of professional wrestling, what many people fail to realize is the size of Owen’s heart. Excuse the pun. But in reality there are tons of pictures of Owen interacting with fans, like the one featured above. This one shows a much more serious Hart signing autographs for a group of disabled children following his brother’s exit of the company. With all of these memorable people featured in the pictures on this list, it would be a travesty not to include a guy who has inspired dozens of wrestlers currently on the WWE roster.
3. Interviewing Austin
So what does a Texas Rattlesnake do before an episode of Monday Night RAW is taped? Well apparently he does sit down interviews with reporters in the arena. Austin in his trademarked black shirt talks to a man who appears to be a writer in this photo, with their conversation being recorded for later. If you didn’t live through it, then you would never understand how in demand wrestlers were during the Attitude Era.
Steve Austin’s face was plastered over everything that pop culture had to offer, and that includes news publications and television shows. During that time, the only person you would find in more media than Austin was The Rock, taking their rivalry to another place besides the ring. What a magical time it was.
2. Bitter Enemies?
This picture of Stephanie McMahon chumming up to Trish Stratus is the definition of breaking kayfabe in the world of professional wrestling. Fans may remember that during the Attitude Era Trish Stratus and Stephanie were in a bitter rivalry due to Trish’s relationship with Vince McMahon. The two had a rivalry that culminated in Stephanie dumping raw sewage over Trish’s body while she laid on the mat. If you don’t remember this time period, it was one week before Vince McMahon forced Trish to strip down to her black underwear and bark like a dog.
Needless to say that the two smiling happy for the camera is a far cry from what we saw on television every week between these two women. Obviously their relationship backstage was the furthest thing from their relationship on screen.
1. It’s Still Real To Me
Haven’t we all had this line of thinking while watching wrestling during the Attitude Era; “wrestling isn’t fake. Well it’s not real fighting, but it’s not scripted. Welllll it’s not completely planned out”. The picture above shatters the reality that many of us knew prior to the advent of the internet. The photo features The Rock and Mick Foley literally practicing their match. It’s kind of heart breaking to realize that one of the greatest rivalries of the Attitude Era was completely thought out ahead of time.
Especially when you consider the fact that The Rock is considered one of the most spontaneous wrestlers who ever laced up a pair of boots. If you look on the right of Foley you can see another person who is obstructed, my guess is that it’s the agent helping them put the match together.