The article is all about the Myths of the Attitude Era. It’s appropriate because that time in wrestling was a mythological time, not just for WWE, not for the wrestling industry, but for the world in general. The hair bands and glam rock of the decadent eighties had given way to grunge rock and gangster rap. Our president seemed cool, not like old and stuffy leaders of yesteryear. Sitcoms were going from the traditional someone puts their foot in their mouth and spends the next 20 minutes or so trying to make up for it to shows like Seinfeld and Friends. Superheroes like The Crow were dark saviors, not the glitz and glamour of Superman or even Batman, who for some strange reason sprouted nipples during this time.
With the new century and millennium rapidly approaching, it was a period of brash creativity in all corners of pop culture. Wrestling was no different. Once Vince McMahon cut the on-air promo about not insulting fans’ intelligence anymore, the Attitude Era was officially on. No more good guys, no more bad guys - just shades of grey and as edgy as possible (no pun intended to the Hall Of Famer). While there are plenty of myths about the time, one thing is for sure - in the WWE, several top stars all began to fire on all cylinders at the same time - Austin, Rock, Foley, HHH, Taker, and to a lesser extent even the Big Show and Kane were peaking as well. In a lot of ways - that fact alone is what got WWE over the ratings hump. Here are 10 Myths About WWE’s Attitude Era That Wrestling Fans Still Believe.
10 Montreal Was A Work
Thankfully, no one died here but Montreal is wrestling’s equivalent of the JFK Assassination. Fans, supposed wrestling pundits, and even the people who were present during the 1997 Survivor Series have all kinds of theories and have projected them over the years. The only thing for sure is that no matter how far removed we are from the incident, no matter how many bridges HBK, Bret, and Vince have rebuilt over the years, someone will always believe that Montreal was a total work. While Bret Hart wasn’t above working the boys (ie WrestleMania XII), watch Wrestling With Shadows and listen to just about anyone’s account who was there to dispel this rumor.
9 Vince Sent Vince To WCW
While the ridiculous storylines and seemingly never-ending amount of (insert object or person here) On A Pole Matches, Vince Russo alone did not bring WCW to a crashing end. According to both Russo and several others, he and writing partner, Ed Ferrara were tasked with writing more content for Smackdown and asked to be compensated in kind.
When they were turned down, almost in the middle of the night and cover of darkness, they were gone and off to WCW. Considering the scramble that WWE had to do for the next few weeks of story and ever since there has been a team of writers instead of just two or three and McMahon, there’s no way that Russo was sent as a double agent.
8 Fake Razor And Diesel Were Here To Stay
With the nWo firing on all cylinders, the WWE, through a now heel Jim Ross has announced that Diesel and Razor Ramon we’re going to be coming back to company. They were very careful to not say Hall or Nash; even though WCW would pay those two a lot more money to make sure that didn’t happen. No one had accounted for WWE’s super lawyer, Jerry McDevitt suggesting that since WWE owns the gimmicks, they can recast the characters. Rick Titan and Kane would be the second Razor and Diesel. But they weren’t going to be staying. The idea for the gimmick was short term.
7 The Storylines Were Amazing
As evident by the above mentioned Fake Razor and Diesel storyline, not every storyline during the Attitude Era, or any other time for that matter, were all top notch. But while there were plenty of memorable storylines from the Attitude Era, the “Crash TV” style also led to plenty of cruddy characters and storylines. To name a few - the Brawl For All, PMS mistreating men, Vince mistreating Trish, and characters like Beaver Cleavage should all be left way in the past, where they didn’t even belong in the first place.
6 The WWE Put WCW Out Of Business
Just because they had run away with the ratings and reclaimed the top spot in the industry, WWE did not put WCW out of business. Poor decision making within the Booking Committee didn’t do it either. Nor did big names leaving or bad ratings. The company was always a passion project of Ted Turner’s and he would always have wrestling on his networks. Then the AOL-Time Warner merger happened. The brass at the new company didn’t want wrestling and Ted was in no position to save it anymore. WCW, has Vince not bought it was going to be cancelled out of existence no matter what.
5 The Ratings Were Off The Charts
The Nielsen company is a ratings aggregate that takes a select amount of homes and uses the information from those homes’ usage of Nielsen Boxes to determine TV ratings, amongst other trends in how we watch TV. According to these reports, the ratings were off of the charts during the Monday Night War. Fans couldn’t wait to see what WCW and WWE would next to one up each other. In recent years though, members of that war on both sides have surmised that more likely than the constant 5s and 6s both shows were achieving, it was probably the constant flipping back and forth that caused the ratings to spike.
4 Austin Started The Attitude Era
While Stone Cole is undoubtedly the biggest the star the business ever knew, he didn’t start the Attitude Era. The WWE was shifting in this direction long before the Ringmaster became the Rattlesnake.
Characters like Goldust pushing the envelope and more colorful language and antics from HBK and Bret is what pushed the WWE into and edgier product that allowed the emergence of Stone Cold.
3 WWE On The Verge Of Bankruptcy
For 83 weeks, Nitro was defeating Raw in the ratings. Wrestlers were jumping ship to WCW faster than you could say “Titanic.” Bret Hart was told the company couldn’t afford him, and the company was downsizing and taking the water coolers out of the offices. But the company was not on the verge of bankruptcy as some would believe. Actually, despite getting thumped in ratings, the WWE’s House Show and international presence was not only keeping the company afloat but helping them turn it around from an economic standpoint.
2 “Butts In Seats”
The infamous “Butts in seats,” comment that Tony Schiavone made in an effort to spoil Mick Foley winning the big one, backfired in a huge way. Plenty of remotes instantly flipped from TNT to USA to see Cactus Jack ascend to the mountaintop.
The WWE spin is that after this moment the remotes never changed back to Nitro and the WWE ride off into the sunset as the victors. While some of that happened, the statistics indicate the plenty of people flipped right back to Nitro to catch the Fingerpoke Of Doom after seeing Foley have his Rocky Balboa moment.
1 Russo Wrote Everything
Vince Russo likes to rewrite history and he’s not alone in that. It’s just that a lot of his stories are less believable than other’s revisions. The whole notion that he wrote everything without any help however is completely ridiculous. Russo likes to call out people who talk about having Vince McMahon as “The great filter.” But the fact remains that it’s McMahon’s company and he’s not putting anything on TV that he doesn’t want to put on TV.