Citizens of the WWE Universe have heard the phrase all too often but it’s a story that must be told. The Attitude Era may seem over-hyped by those who never witnessed it but they should understand the circumstances surrounding it. Picture this, a wrestling promotion on the brink of destruction due to an overwhelming opponent that has access to a massive amount of cash. That wrestling promotion is a wounded animal, fighting tooth and nail to survive. Those survival instincts would become the Attitude Era.
Reality based storylines would push the WWE to the top of the Universe. By the end of the era, the WWE destroyed their competition, cherry picked the greatest talents in free agency, and became the ultimate destination of the industry. This wasn’t by chance, it was because of our overlord, Vince McMahon, and his vision to create content never seen before in a squared circle.
The Attitude Era just has too many memorable moments and it’s easy to forget some of them. We decided to share with you pictures from that era. If you witnessed these events, then you’re in a very special club, and if you haven’t then we’re glad we tell you about them. Don’t forget, you’re one or two clicks away from watching these images plays out on video. Enjoy.
20 The Most Under-Appreciated Entrance Ever
Do you know who this man is? He arguably had the greatest theme music and entrance ever in the industry. Gangrel would burst onto the WWE scene with vampire gimmick in 1998. Before HBO’s True Blood or Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, the vampire genre was held down by Count Dracula and Wesley Snipes’ Blade. Gangrel did well bringing the vampire genre into wrestling but his in-ring ability was limited.
That’s why it was awesome when he teamed up with Edge and Christian and the trio became The Brood. Their blood baths were awesome, there look was superb, and quite frankly, that stable deserves more recognition than what it gets these days. If you didn’t know, Gangrel would come out to a ring of fire during his introduction and sometimes put his opponents through it.
19 Two Legends, One Motorcycle
When it comes to the Attitude Era, everyone talks about Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and The Rock, however, there were two guys that consistently stayed in the company and carried it until their bodies broke down. Triple H and The Undertaker’s careers took off in the WWE Universe and in 2018, both are still performing at WrestleMania.
The two would be involved in many feuds with hundreds of wrestlers during their careers but when both met each other, it was fireworks. During the end of the Attitude Era, Trips and Taker would be involved in a heated feud. Undertaker was already one of the legends of the industry, however, Triple H was only a few years in as a top Superstar. Triple H had to bring The Undertaker down a notch, what better way to do it by smashing his ride.
18 Shawn Michaels Making Fun Of Bret Hart
Bret Hart versus Shawn Michaels was an epic feud that ended in a real emotional moment at the 1997 Survivor Series. Throughout the entire feud, there were some nasty things said by both guys. Hart would accuse HBK of his identity as Chippendale type dancer, while Michaels would make fun of Hart’s Canadian roots and family.
There are so many segments between the two but did you guys forget Hart’s impersonator? WWE wasn’t shy on hiring little people and it was pretty common in the 1990s. Of course, during the birth of D-Generation X, Michaels and the crew took thinks to the extreme. This image is one of those extreme moments when the little person plays Hart. Both Hart and Michaels didn’t come out looking great during the entire ordeal but have patched things up thankfully.
17 Before The Shield
Everyone that watched the Attitude Era remembers the Nation of Domination. It was a risk by Vince McMahon to have such a group and the move paid off when The Rock would be elevated to the top dog in the company. You may remember the NOA putting up their fist in unison or swarming their opponents but does anyone remember them coming out through the stands?
That’s right, before The Shield came out through the stands, the Nation of Domination was doing it. The Rock isn’t in the picture but it’s still a talented group of men featuring Ron Simmons, D-Lo Brown, The Godfather, and that guy that failed to reach for the brass ring, Ahmed Johnson. The stable would last for two years but maybe a resurgence wouldn’t be a bad thing after all.
16 Changing An Entire Division
Get the tables! Get the chairs! Get the ladders! Where would the tag team division be in the Attitude Era if it wasn’t for Edge and Christian, Dudley Boys, and the Hardy Boyz? Before all three became very popular, the division was a mixed bag of teams with really corny gimmicks and Superstars that would hold the Tag Titles for a couple of months before going back to singles competition.
No offense to the teams but the Headbangers and The Godwins weren’t selling out events in any shape or form. This image was taken at the mecca of wrestling, Madison Square Garden, and obviously it’s one of the most memorable matches in WWE history. Also, Ranch 1 was an awesome choice to get some chicken fingers while watching the match.
15 The Rock-n-Sock Nintendo Connection
Do you smell what the Rock is playing? It's Nintendo 64 silly goose and they are most likely playing a wrestling game. Mick Foley and the Rock have a very long history together. Maybe the two most charismatic wrestlers of their era, it was absolutely fireworks every time these two guys got together.
From “This is your life,” to the empty arena match, these two guys put on a great performance for the fans. If you had to have a Mount Rushmore of the Attitude Era, it would be hard to exclude either of these guys. We don’t know the specific date of this image but we do know Mankind and The Rock were either going to smash each other off the head with a chair or win a tag match once their done gaming.
14 The Lion's Den
The Attitude Era will always been known for its wild content and this match is just another during that time period. If you forgot, Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock were in a major feud. It went from in the ring to Stu Hart’s dungeon (training facility) to this weird steel cage. Mixed martial arts were still a rare visual to many in the 1990s so Vince McMahon decided to come up with his own cage.
Thus, the Lion’s Den was born. At SummerSlam 1998, Hart and Shamrock would participate in the MMA influenced gimmick match and it wasn’t half bad either. The feud came to an end during that match and the Lions Den would never be used again, however, never say never. Can anyone picture Stephanie McMahon and Ronda Rousey in one of these? We didn’t think so.
13 RockaBilly Bay! Bay!
Billy Gunn was in a state of change during the image you see here. He stopped being part of the Smoking Guns because his partner, Bart Gunn, was blasted into outer space by Butterbean, and was testing the singles division for the first time during his WWE career. Known as RockaBilly, he would come out as a country boy music lover but we all know that’s not really Gunn’s thing.
To make the transition and gimmick easier on him, Vince McMahon would pair Gunn with the Honky Tonk Man, a legit southern rocker. The pairing didn’t last long but it did lead to Billy tagging with the Road Dogg. If you aren’t down with the New Age Outlaws, then we got two words for you.
12 The Fabulous Moolah & Harvey Wippleman
The WWE got a lot of criticism for naming the women’s battle royal at WrestleMania after Faboulous Moolah and understandably took her off the title. She had a checkered past and has been reported to do things that wouldn’t seem fair today. We’re not defending her actions, however, you have to understand she was in a male dominated industry and maybe doing what she did was the only way she could remain on top.
With that said, Moolah has passed away for a while and she can’t defend herself when people bring up her past these days. So with all the flak she has been getting, we figured to lighten up the mood and show this awesome photo of her and Harvey Wippleman. Moolah worked a lot of events during the Attitude Era, and her working with Harvey was a treat at the time.
11 Superstar Hotline
Today, fans are encouraged to use social media to reach their favorite wrestlers, however, back in the 1990s you couldn’t do that. Unless you grabbed Val Venis’ actual cellphone numbered when Al Snow blasted it on live television, there was no way for fans to contact wrestlers except for the Superstar hotlines.
Every pay-per-view wrestlers would be waiting on the line to talk to you before or after their match. What was actually talked about, who knows, but McMahon once again was tapping into something that is not common today. Fan interaction is a huge part of wrestling so even though the Superstar hotline is corny; it made sense during that time period. We’re pretty sure both fans and wrestlers rather tweet each other today than actually have a phone conversation.
10 The Governor
Jesse Ventura may be looking for aliens today but back in the Altitude Era he was the Governor of Minnesota. Ventura and Vince McMahon had a bit of a rocky relationship when Ventura tried to start a wrestler union in the 1980s and then jumped ship to the competition (WCW), however, McMahon would bring him back several times since he first left the company.
In 1999, Ventura would appear in the WWE and played a major role in a feud between Mankind and Triple H. If you forgot, Ventura was not only an announcer for the WWE but also wrestled. He also appeared in several films and has his own reality shows based on conspiracy theories. The WWE Hall of Famer probably won’t come back anytime soon but stranger things have happened.
9 ECW Invasion
Believe it or not, Paul Heyman used to be a lot slimmer at one point in his career. Back in the ECW days, Paul was giving wrestling fans a product you can only find in Japan. It was hardcore and extreme - the fans wanted more of it. It wasn’t just the hardcore style that was on display but also Heyman’s skills.
Vince McMahon recognized what ECW was doing and wanted to bring them into the fold. Heyman obliged him and the next thing you knew there was a cross-promotion war going on. This image was when Heyman still owned ECW and was trying to put his guys over. The Sandman, Taz, RVD, and Tommy Dreamer all benefited from the move and many of us still wish there was an ECW brand today.
8 Goldust No More
Goldust or Dustin Rhodes, it doesn’t matter what you call him so as long as you recognize his legendary status. Only the Undertaker and Vince McMahon have been in front of a WWE camera longer than Goldust. After a career in the WCW as Dustin, McMahon wanted to make a strange and unique character.
Goldust would be born and his weird style was a hit with the crowd. During the Attitude Era, you may have forgotten that Dustin decided to burn his attire due to McMahon’s “sick” imagination. He went on to talk about his family’s legacy and how he wasn’t going to take it anymore. Fast forward to 2018 and Goldust is still doing Goldust things. We doubt he ever retires, and if he does, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer.
7 Brawl For All
If you ever own a wrestling promotion, never have a real-life fight in the squared circle. Just read up on WWE’s Brawl for All, where real wrestlers would actually box in 1998. Apparently, former writer Vince Russo would come up with the idea as a way to shut up John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who claimed he could beat anyone on the roster.
It was a 16-man tournament that involved guys like Bart Gunn, Marc Mero, Dr. Death, and Bradshaw. Long story short, Gunn would destroy Bradshaw in the finals and he would go on to get devoured by Butterbean at WrestleMania XV. It was real boxing and real blows, making it one of the worse moves Vince McMahon ever did as an owner of the WWE.
6 Chainsaw Charlie
Are you a fan of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and wrestling? The you should definitely check out Terry Funk as his alter personality, Chainsaw Charlie. The Attitude Era was about raw, physical, and dangerous content. If you want to show dangerous content in wrestling, you need to find wrestlers who will go the extra mile.
Terry Funk is one of the pioneers of hardcore wrestling. His style along with his brother, Dory, would influence the Japanese death matches featuring barbwire, glass, and explosives. Vince McMahon knew very well bringing Funk back during the Attitude Era would be best for business. When he did come back, he would show up as the crazy guy you see in this image. For just $9.99 on the WWE Network, you can watch Funk act crazy all you want.
5 The Lasted One Picked
Pick Me Steve - Mick Foley was never the most athletic, strongest, or fastest wrestler in the industry. That’s why he was always looking for partners during his time as a wrestler. After WWE’s King of the Ring 1997, Shawn Michaels had to let go of his half of the Tag Titles. His partner, Steve Austin, didn’t mind it and would go on to defend the tag belts himself. However, there was one man that really wanted to be his partner.
That man was Mankind and after wearing 3:16 shirts and sucking up to Austin for weeks, Austin would deliver a Stunner as a response. When Austin was defending the titles against Owen Hart and British Bulldog, he would find himself in trouble. Dude Love would appear and help Austin retain the titles.
4 The Original MMA Star
Before there was Ronda Rousey, before there was Brock Lesnar, there was Ken Shamrock in the WWE. Mixed Martial Arts and the WWE have a relationship longer than some younger fans may think. When UFC began in the early 1990s, Shamrock was one of the athletes to bring the sport to a mainstream level. WWE jumped all over him and would sign him to a deal in 1997.
Most people don’t know this, but Shamrock actually trained to be a professional wrestler in the 1988, under legends such as Buzz Sawyer and Gene Anderson. It was natural for Shamrock to be in a squared circle, similar to Kurt Angle, and before you knew it, Shamrock was involved in top story lines. Although he had just a few years in the WWE, Shamrock did help legitimatize the physicality of the company.
3 Women's Arm Wrestling Match
Before there was a women’s revolution, there was arm wrestling. If you didn’t know, during the Attitude Era there was a lot of titillating segments involving beautiful women. The WWE did have matches, however, they also put on a ton of spectacles, such as the one in this image. You can see The Kat in an arm wrestling match with Marlena while The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young look on.
Let’s not leave out who else is in that picture. Is anyone surprised to see The King of puppies holding a mic during this segment? We think not. It’s crazy how much has changed in twenty years in the WWE. Can any of us imagine seeing Bayley doing this with Sasha Banks while wearing those outfits?
2 Shout Out To Todd Pettengill
What did you forget in this image, former kayfabe journalist and personality talent Todd Pettengill or the fact that steel cage matches had those thick blue bars? Maybe you forgot both, but don’t worry, were here to jog your memory. After replacing Sean Mooney in the early 1990s, Pettengill would work for the company up until his final appearance at SummerSlam 1997.
Ever wonder how Michael Cole got hired, well, after Pettengill declined an extension on his contract, he referred Cole to Vince McMahon and the rest is history. In regards to the steel cage, it used to be blue bars until a change to black and then to the steel fence we all know today. Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy would make the blue cage famous during their match at WrestleMania II.
1 The Kindness Of Owen Hart
The late Owen Hart gave it all to the industry. We’ve seen countless wrestlers explain that the fans are one huge factor as to why they do what they do and we believe them. Hart was one of the most likable men in the WWE and the industry. As you can see in the image, before an event Owen is signing autographs to several of fans. Do any of you think Vince McMahon made him do this?
Most likely not and that’s the character of Owen. He cared about the fans and went out of his way to make as many people happy as he can. He may have been an awesome heel in the squared circle but the guy was a lovable prankster backstage. One day, he will be in the Hall of Fame and we wouldn’t have it any other way.