WWE's Attitude Era was arguably the most important period in the company's history. The dawning of the era came in 1997, when WCW was dominating the ratings war. WCW had gotten to where they were at the time by purchasing the contracts of many of the top wrestlers of the day. Vince couldn't compete with Ted Turner's cheque book, but he could take his product to a raunchier level than anything airing on TBS. Vince used the example of Howard Stern's radio show to illustrate where they were going to take the product. Much of this can be attributed to the influence of Vince Russo, as well. Because the Turner-owned WCW had to abide by the company's standards and practices, certain hyper-sexualized or raunchy storylines that WWE could do WCW couldn't. Russo would eventually find this out when he went to go work for WCW himself.
Eventually the Parents Television Council (PTC) would come after WWE, and they would be forced to tone things down. But by that time they had turned the tide of the war, and WCW had already begun to sink.
Despite only lasting 5 years, it was this period in WWE's history that not only saved the company, but took it to new heights.
Here are 15 shocking things you didn't know about the Attitude Era.
21 Goldust Wanted To Get Breast Implants
In Goldust's defence, lots of people on the WWE roster have gotten breast enhancement surgery over the years. But evidently when Goldust pitched the idea to Vince McMahon it was met with more trepidation than normal.
The story goes that Dustin Runnels was looking for a way to make his character even more outrageous. After all, Goldust was an Attitude-era character before there was an Attitude era. Now that the product around him had gotten raunchier, Goldust needed to go even more extreme to get noticed. So he pitched the idea of getting breast implants as a way to get people talking about the character again. It certainly would have worked in the regard.
In the end the company decided not to go with the angle. You can now see the fair-chested Goldust teaming up with R-Truth in pre-show matches.
20 Mick Foley Quit WWE After The Montreal Screwjob (Sort Of)
The night after the Montreal Screwjob, it is believed that several wrestlers were considering breaching their contract and boycotting the next night's Monday Night Raw tapings. Undertaker was said to be the most furious, and prevented Vince from hiding in his office that night instead of facing Bret in person.
It is believed by some that Bret Hart specifically told many of them not to risk breaching their contract. Mick Foley, however, did skip the next night's Monday Night Raw.
In interviews he would give later, Foley would state that he intended on fully quitting the company at the time. What changed his mind was when his wife read him his contract over the phone. Foley realized that if he breached his contract he wouldn't be allowed to wrestle anywhere else for a period of 5 years. Once he discovered this bit of information he wasn't so enthusiastic about quitting the company. He made it back in time for the next Raw tapings.
19 Sunny Was Never A "Diva"
When Sunny was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, she was referred to as "the First Diva". While Sunny's character may have been the first that fits such a description, she was never referred to by that name. The term "Diva" being used in reference to female WWE performers was not used until 1999, after Sunny had already left the company. The first female performer to be referred to in that way was actually "Sable".
Despite not actually being referred to as a Diva, it was Sunny's attitude and character which helped open doors for other women in the company. Sunny brought a very hyper-sexualized attitude to the WWE, in a way that the Miss Elizabeth's that came before her never did. You could make the argument that had Sunny not first broken down that barrier, it would have been more difficult for someone like Sable to be successful.
Sunny also brought something to the Attitude Era in WWE that wasn't being presented in WCW at the time. WCW women performers were few an far between, aside from an occasional appearance by Madusa.
17 The Mean Street Posse Vs. The Stooges: Most Watched Segment?
On any documentary focussed on The Rock or Mick Foley, you will hear mention of their famous "This is Your Life" segment. The segment, in which Foley brought back people from The Rock's childhood, became the highest rated of all time. Little importance is given to the segment it beat out to earn that spot, however. The segment in question was a match between the Mean Street Posse vs. Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe.
It was the epic tandem of Joey Abs, Pete Gas and Rodney against the veteran duo of Vince McMahon's stooges. The match took place on the May 10th, 1999 edition of Raw, and garnered over 8 million viewers.
If it matters to you, the Stooges beat the Posse via double-submission. Briscoe made Gas tap to the Figure-Four and Patterson did the same to Rodney with a Boston Crab.
16 Big Bossman Recovered From "Murder" In 3 Weeks
Triple H loves to brag about how quickly he came back from his torn quad injury. Hunter has nothing on the Big Bossman, however.
At WrestleMania XV, The Undertaker defeated the Big Bossman in a Hell in a Cell match. Undertaker was deep into his "Ministry of Darkness" phase, and recently members of the Brood had joined his faction as well.
Undertaker and his minions attached Bossman to a noose after the match, then attached the noose to the top of the cage. As the cage raised so did Bossman, with the noose still wrapped around his neck. It appeared to all the world that Undertaker had just murdered a man at WrestleMania.
The angle was so poorly received however, that the WWE just put Bossman on television again a few weeks later without explaining how he was still alive. He wrestled Ken Shamrock on the April 19th, 1999 Raw. At the next PPV, he wrestled Kane in a match taped for Sunday Night Heat. He didn't even need a month to recover from his own "murder".
15 Steve Austin Credits Vince Russo With The Attitude Era's Success
When wrestling fans think of Vince Russo (which hopefully is not too often) they usually think of late-stage WCW, or the 15-year joke that has been TNA Wrestling. Even though Vince Russo was the head writer for WWE during the Attitude era, few give him credit for the company's success during that period. Steve Austin does though, he has said so on several occasions.
Austin has mentioned on his podcast that Vince Russo deserves much a lot of credit for the WWE's success during this period. He has said that Russo was at his best when he had someone like Vince McMahon filtering which ideas get run with and which do not.
Despite how poorly-reviewed his time in TNA and WCW was, Steve Austin believes Russo deserves credit for being a guy that could get Vince McMahon to think outside of the box. The problem is that Russo has also had plenty of bad ideas, and without a Vince McMahon around to help him determine which are which, madness usually ensued.
13 Bret Hart Refused To Beat Rocky Maivia
Survivor Series 1997 was not the first time Bret Hart refused to go along with the finish of a match. According to his autobiography, Bret Hart also refused to WIN a match earlier in 1997.
It was the March 31st, 1997 edition of Raw, and according to Bret, he recommended changing the finish of his match with Rocky to a DQ (instead of beating him) so as not to hurt the up-and-coming prospect's chances of getting over. Also according to Bret, Shawn and Triple H were trying to pressure him into agreeing to beat Rocky.
Perhaps Shawn and Hunter, who may have been a little protective of their spots at the time, might have preferred if an up-and-coming star like The Rock was jobbed out on TV. Bret stood his ground and the match ended with a DQ finish.
The Rock's family has strong ties with the Harts. For decades, the Anoa'i family would send wrestlers through Stu Hart's territory in Calgary. Bret was probably looking to help out a family friend by refusing to lose to Rocky.
12 Conor McGregor = "Brawl For All" Champion
For reasons only they can fully explain, some MMA aficionados have been keeping track of the "Brawl for All" lineal title (i.e who would hold the title now if the champion defended it in every bout they have). As luck may have it, the most popular mixed martial artist on the planet now holds the title originally won by Bart Gunn.
The Brawl for All, if you remember, was an exhibition boxing/grappling tournament the WWE organized with members of their roster in 1998. While it left an impression in the minds of fans, it was poorly received at the time.
After Bart Gunn won the Brawl for All, he competed against Butterbean at WrestleMania XV. Butterbean knocked him out in the 1st round to take the lineal Brawl for All title.
He would remain undefeated until losing to Genki Sudo in an MMA bout. From there the figurative title would travel through multiple promotions and weight classes before finally landing in the UFC. Dustin Poirier was the champion heading into his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 178, but lost to the Irish sensation in under 2 minutes. Nate Diaz briefly took the title from McGregor at UFC 196, but lost it back to him at UFC 202.
Your Brawl for All Champion: Conor McGregor!
10 Steve Austin's Theme Music Is Based On "Bulls on Parade"
The band Rage Against the Machine had a surprisingly large influence on the music of the Attitude Era. It was the band's song "Bulls on Parade" that Steve Austin took to company music director, Jim Johnston, and asked him to make a song similar to. The result was one of the most recognizable theme songs in wrestling history.
The sound of glass shattering was added after the rest of the song had already been recorded. The idea was that the sound of glass shattering is a universal alarm that indicates something bad is about to happen.
Rage Against the Machine would continue to influence WWE's musical tastes during this period. The rap-metal genre was seen as a good fit for more of the roster, most notably Degeneration X. As a result, the company hired the D-X band, with punk-metal vocalist Christopher Warren to record similar tracks.
8 Leader Of The D-X Band Died Recently
Chris Warren, the vocalist for "the D-X Band," died in June this year at the age of 49.
The band made an unfortunate live debut in the WWE at WrestleMania XIV. Before playing the DX theme song live at the event for Shawn Michaels, the band also played the national anthem. They gave a screeching, loud and despised version of the anthem. The band was booed unmercifully from the live crowd. WWE would later edit out their performance from the home video release, as well as on the WWE network.
It was revealed in June of this year that Warren had died suddenly, but no cause of death has been revealed.
In addition to being the vocalist for the D-X Band, Warren also performed with his band "Bro-Kin". They released an album in 2009 that is currently available on iTunes.
6 The Brood Is Based On A Role-Playing Game
The Brood wasn't around for long, but they have left a lasting memory in the minds of many fans from the Attitude Era. With a unique entrance that saw the trio rising up out of a circle of flames, the Brood was an appealing act for the goth and vampire-loving wrestling fan.
WWE writers Bruce Pritchard and Vince Russo were interested in doing a vampire gimmick and drew inspiration from the table-top RPG, "Vampire: Masquerade". The game involves troops of vampires, one of which goes by the name "Clan Gangrel". WWE actually landed in some legal trouble as a result of the similarities between the game, the Brood and most notably the character of Gangrel. Eventually the WWE and White Wolf Publishing reached a deal that allowed WWE to use the name for 5 years. Once the lease on the name Gangrel was up the performer David Heath was let go (according to an interview he would later give anyway).
Gangrel also noted that in the WWE Encyclopedia he is not listed as "Gangrel" but rather by his real name "David Heath", most likely because WWE no longer owns the name.
4 Gillberg Is The Longest Reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Of All Time
In 1997, WCW's cruiserweight division was gaining in popularity. On Nitro, wrestling fans could watch Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Chris Jericho having stellar matches over the cruiserweight title, and WWE wanted to counter.
The WWE version of a smaller weight division was not met with the same praise that WCW's cruiserweight division was however. While the company did bring in talented international stars such as Taka Michinoku and Essa Rios, the division felt like an after-thought.
Eventually the division descended into something of a joke. Taka held the title for almost a year until Christian defeated him in his in-ring debut. Duane Gill defeated Christian for the title in a dark match at Raw tapings in November 1998. He would go on to hold the title for 448 days, largely because the company completely forgot about the belt.
With the title now defunct, this record should stand forever in history.
3 Austin Never Went Into WrestleMania As Champion
Despite being arguably the most important wrestler of the era, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin never went into WrestleMania as WWE Champion. He won the title at the event 3 times, but not once did he head into the event with a title around his waist.
Austin's WrestleMania record:
An impressive 5W-2L record at WrestleMania for Austin, including winning the WWE Championship on 3 occasions.
Possibly the reason why Austin never entered WrestleMania as champion was because the writers always wanted to give him an obstacle to overcome. With WrestleMania being traditionally where storylines close, the hero needs to accomplish a goal. Winning a title is always more exciting than defending it.
2 WrestleMania Buyrate Tripled In 1 Year
WWE's Attitude Era began to take shape throughout 1997, but the results weren't really shown until the following year. In '97, Nitro was still winning the ratings war, but with Steve Austin and a new edgier product WWE re-took momentum in 1998.
WrestleMania buyrates had been falling fast throughout the 90s. In 1997, WrestleMania 13 did the lowest butyrate for the event ever, with just 237, 000 buys. But as WWE garnered more fan interest, PPV buys started to increase. The 98 Royal Rumble did the second best buy rate in its history, and topped the previous 3 WrestleManias with a butyrate of 351,000. But then WrestleMania XIV blew everything out of the water with 730,000 buys. With Steve Austin's rise to the championship, and of course an appearance by Mike Tyson, it was the biggest and most successful event the company had produced to date.
Many credit WrestleMania XIV's success with turning the tide in the company's war with WCW.
1 The Rock Has Never Won A Championship At WrestleMania
The Rock is arguably the best-drawing babyface in WWE history, let alone just the Attitude Era. He broke new ground in terms of television ratings, PPV buyrates, merchandise sales and overall popularity. The Rock not only continued the success of the Attitude Era when Austin took time off to deal with injuries, he took it to a new level.
While "Stone Cold" Steve Austin never entered WrestleMania as the WWE Champion, The Rock never left the event with the belt. Considering that WrestleMania is where the heroes in the company overcome all obstacles and defeat the bad guys, the fact that the company's biggest babyface of all time never won the title at the event is astonishing.
The Rock's record at WrestleMania:
He's lost the world championship on 3 occasions, and challenged for it unsuccessfully once, making him 0-4 in WrestleMania world title matches.
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