The WWE has not always been the world's greatest professional wrestling promotion. Vince McMahon has had to deal with several changes over the years that can be broken down into the different Era's of the WWE, dating back to 1979, when Mr.McMahon purchased the company from his father.
The first Era of the WWE dates back to the beginning and was known as the Transition Era and lasted from 1979 to 1982. It was followed by the Golden Age, which ran for 11 years from 1982 until 1993, making it the longest Era in WWE's history.
Then came the New Generation Era that ended up lasting until 1997. The New Generation Era came after a very dark time in the WWE. They dealt with the infamous steroid scandal and trial in 1992 which ended up hurting the companies reputation. The WWE needed a new approach and they found it with this Era.
The New Generation Era lead right into one of the most popular Era's in professional wrestling, the Attitude Era. The Attitude Era started in 1997 and lasted through 2002, giving us some of the best professional wrestling of all time. The Monday Night War between the WWE and WCW were a huge part of the success of the Era because it gave us some of the most memorable moments in professional wrestling history.
After the Attitude Era, we got the Ruthless Aggression Era, PG Era, Reality Era, and finally, the most recent Era, the New Era.
But we wanted to talk about the Attitude Era and see how much you can recall about those years by giving you the 8 wrestlers you probably don't remember even existed and 7 of the ones you will never forget.
15 Don't Remember: Nicole Bass
Let's just say that Nicole Bass' time in the WWE was extremely short because no one really wanted to see her battle Debra McMichaels in a bikini contest, or be Sable's bodyguard. For starters, she has massive size and strength over Debra making their feud less than believable. She also struggled with the acting portion and selling the moves. It was just a bad experience for the fans and she was not one of their favorites.
The moment she was put with Val Venis in a mixed tag team match against Jeff Jarrett and Debra during the 1999 Over the Edge pay-per-view, fans knew it was time for her to leave. The entire storyline was failing and the longer it went on, the worse it would get.
14 Never Forget: Mankind
After spending about ten years wrestling with various independent promotions and ECW, Mick Foley finally got his shot in the WWE and he officially signed with them in 1996 and ended up wrestling under the Mankind gimmick. The psychology behind the Mankind character was brilliant and tough for some people to understand at first. But he grew on the WWE fans until they eventually fell in love with this average looking crazy guy that loves pain.
The Attitude Era is all about raising the bar in all facets of the business. It meant more violence, more vulgarity, more chairs, and storylines with more shock value than fans were prepared to handle. Mankind was the epitome of the Attitude Era and was part in some amazing matches including his Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker, which should be considered one of the greatest ever.
13 Don't Remember: Marc Mero
Marc Mero is the first professional wrestler to almost get over that ended up falling off the map because of his real-life wife, Sable. She upstaged him every single time she entered the arena, slowly killing his career in the process albeit unintentionally. He actually arrived at WrestleMania XII as a very popular WCW star that already had a ton of fans. That was in March of 1996. By the end of the year, he was almost a forgotten face on the WWE roster thanks to Sable's insane overnight popularity.
He stuck around for a few more years but ended up becoming Sable's husband instead of the other way around. As he lost his fans and watched his wife become a mega superstar, he got less and less time on television until eventually, he would leave the WWE and head back to the WCW.
12 Never Forget: Kurt Angle
During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Kurt Angle won the gold medal for freestyle wrestling in the heavyweight division. He would then change career paths and turn to the WWE. It marked the first time an Olympic gold medalist became a professional wrestling superstar.
And what made him such a great wrestler was how he used that Olympic gold medal as part of his gimmick with the WWE. Within a year of his debut, April of 1999, Kurt Angle was wrestling Rikishi for the WWF Intercontinental belt in Madison Square Garden. By July of 2000, he ended up defeating The Rock to claim the WWE Championship. It was truly one of the more memorable moments in Smackdown history.
11 Don't Remember: Blue Meanie
When the Blue Meanie was created, he was nothing more than a joke, a parody, that made fun of the nWo. He was a member of ECW's version of the WCW stable, called the bWo, or Blue World Order. He was fat, gross, and looked to be in the worst shape as any professional wrestler in the business at the time. By the time he got to the WWE, after his time with the ECW ended, he was nothing more than an out of shape fat guy that could kind of wrestle.
Things got truly out of hand when he started feuding with Goldust, who ended up casting a spell on him, controlling him. The Blue Meanie became known as Bluedust during that time and he started serving as Goldust's manager, a terrible idea from all angles.
10 Never Forget: Sunny
Sunny, also known as Tammy Lynn Sytch, was one of the first Divas of professional wrestling. From the moment she showed up on Smoky Mountain Wrestling, wrestling fans knew she was something special. Her beauty stood out and she quickly became every fanboys favorite woman, eventually being dubbed the 1996 most downloaded woman of the year by AOL. She was also named Pro Wrestling Illustrated's 1996 Manager of the Year.
But Sunny was more than just a pretty face, she was something completely new to professional wrestling fans. She was the hottest woman that had ever been a part of professional wrestling and she was being used perfectly by the WWE. She became the face of the company and helped grow an entirely new audience that year. But she was not alone and in a few spots, you will meet the other lady that really defined what the Attitude Era was about.
9 Don't Remember: Babu
Maybe it was the turban, or maybe it was the fact that the fans of the WWE from 1997 to 1999 were just not ready for someone such as Babu. He was a cheap version of Aladdin's pet monkey, Abu. He was even named Abu at first but it was later changed to Babu. His main role was to be Tiger Ali Singh's manservant, doing things that only the WWE could get away with on cable television in the '90s. He lasted maybe a year before leaving the WWE, or being let go, no one knows exactly what happened but they do know he was there one day, gone the next.
The thing that bugged fans the most was that he was not even from the Middle East. He was from Ecuador and was Spanish. His real name was Pablo Marquez and it is hard to pretend that he is anything but the man he was born to be. The entire gimmick was going to fail anyways but using someone that was not even from the area the character was supposed to be from is just plain lazy.
8 Never Forget: Sable
The WWE's Attitude Era was more than just cursing on live television and flipping off Vince McMahon to the amusement of thousands of screaming fans, it was a revolution that completely changed pro wrestling, forever. Part of that revolution was the start of the revamped woman's division and it all began with the appearance of Marc Mero's wife, at the time, Sable.
Sable was a rare talent in the WWE because she was so over with the fans that they did not notice how terrible she was at wrestling, or even acting. The one thing she did do better than any other woman was pose. She could work a crowd over without saying a single word because her body was nearly perfect, from top to bottom. She was always pushing the envelope of what was allowed on live television and her time in the WWE is a big part of the Attitude Era.
7 Don't Remember: Meat
Everything that could have gone wrong for a pro wrestler's career, did go wrong for Meat, whose birth name was Shawn Stasiak. From the start, he had bad luck and was lined up with Jerry Lawler's real-life wife at the time, Stacy "The Kat" Carter. The feud between Meat and Jerry Lawler involving Stacy Carter, Mae Young, and even Meat's sister was as bad as it could get in the late '90s.
Since we all know that Stacy "The Kat" Carter did not last very long in the WWE, the entire feud happened at the Power Pro Wrestling promotion. When he reached the WWF, his first match was against another disappointing wrestler, Tiger Ali Singh. But then there were the Pretty Mean Sisters and some terrible matches until the entire gimmick was eventually dropped.
6 Never Forget: Degeneration-X
Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Degeneration-X are the three main reasons the WWE even had an Attitude Era. It was the perfect combination of talent, at the exact right time in the industry. So when DX formed, they went over like gravy on biscuits.
Shawn Michaels was already loved by millions of wrestling fans, Triple H was quickly becoming a household name, X-Pac was a great wrestler that had a cult following, and Chyna was somehow a fan-favorite too. It was not planned out, but when it happened, it helped the WWE compete with the WCW during that infamous Monday Night War.
Degeneration-X was unpredictable, crass, raunchy, and did things no one had seen on live cable television before. They made people tune in just to see what they were going to do each week, or what trouble they had gotten into since we last saw them.
5 Don't Remember: Naked Mideon
Dennis Knight should best be remembered for his role in the WWE Tag Team, The Godwinns, where he was known as Phineas I. Godwinn. However, and this seems to happen to most of the once successful wrestlers that end up changing into a terrible gimmick, he would only be remembered as the Naked Mideon by the diehard WWE fans.
In 2000, he was trying to find a role he could perfect and eventually got caught up on the wrong side of a feud with The Ministry of Darkness. That led to him wearing only a fanny pack, boots, and a thong as he ran around the arena every week. No one, and we mean no one, wanted to see this man in nothing but a thong and a very small piece of cloth covering up his junk. Nothing about that is appealing today and it was not appealing then either.
4 Never Forget: The Rock
Of all the pro wrestlers who attempted to become movie stars, The Rock has easily become the most successful in the history of wrestling. No other Superstar has been able to switch between Hollywood and wrestling like he has for the past 15 years.
But it all started in the late '90s when he went from being Rocky Maivia to simply, The Rock. His charisma and lovable personality came across every time he grabbed the microphone and dropped a promo on Raw. He took over the crowd, used them to do his bidding, and the fans loved every second of it. He was almost the most popular Attitude Era wrestler but he could never reach the level of that butt-kickin' redneck from Texas.
3 Don't Remember: Brakkus
Achim Albrecht was the 1989 International German Bodybuilding Champion and the 1990 Mr. Universe in the 90 kg and over category. He was a world-renowned bodybuilder that was one of the most respected in the business so it was a complete shock to see him appear in the WWE in 1996 under the ring name, "Argo." He would eventually become known as Brakkus but even with a new name, it just never worked out and his professional wrestling career was very short-lived.
Not only was the gimmick terrible, with the German vignette's, but his wrestling abilities were worse and the idea that a bodybuilder turning into a wrestler to run through the roster's biggest stars and beat them up simply failed this time.
2 Never Forget: Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Attitude Era would not be complete without the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Everything that happened to him, happened because he worked harder than anyone else and, most importantly, he could cut one hell of a promo. He came up with the Austin 3:16 phrase during a live promo, on the fly. That was the type of things Steve Austin did during the '90s that turned him into an enormous star.
His beer-drinking, foul-mouthed, anti-establishment, blue-collar attitude turned him into a fan favorite because he was fighting against the system and standing up to Vince McMahon, which was apparently something everyone was able to relate to. There was nothing he could do that would not be celebrated by the fans. He was so over, that he was, at the time, considered to be the biggest superstar in wrestling since Hulk Hogan.
1 Don't Remember: Beaver Cleavage
First off, when it comes to professional wrestling, every gimmick is definitely not a winner. As you have seen already, there have been plenty of failed gimmicks and/or wrestlers that just did not have that special "It" factor.
Beaver Cleavage takes the cake as the worst Attitude Era wrestler that we soon all forget because of its' horrible attempt at humor and sexual innuendos between Beaver and his valet and "mother" Mrs. Cleavage. The entire routine was awkward to say the least and what made it even worse was that it was portrayed by Mosh, the better half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, The Headbangers. When Thraser went down with a knee injury, it left Mosh searching for something to do and Beaver Cleavage is the best that the WWE could do?
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