The argument could be made that no World Wrestling Entertainment period in history is as beloved or revered decades after the fact as is what became known as The Attitude Era. It was at this point in the 1990s when the WWE moved away from what would be considered today to be “PG” television and went to an edgier and more controversial product. Conventional storylines of “good guys” versus “bad guys,” as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon once referenced in a famous promo, were cast aside and the fans were instead given more mature wrestling programming similar to what had been delivered by Extreme Championship Wrestling during the 1990s.
Regardless of when the WWE has tried to suggest that The Attitude Era began, fans have debated the topic for years. The truth of the matter is that the actual birth of The Attitude Era can be linked to storylines that were occurring on WWE programming in early 1997. It was at this point when it was being teased that Bret “The Hitman” Hart, the ultimate babyface of the WWE for years, was going to turn heel, and it was also when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin started to become an anti-hero among fans who loved that Austin cursed and was a different character than anything else being presented by the WWE at the time.
As great and as revolutionary as The Attitude Era was for its time, there were plenty of poor and even bad pay-per-view events that were featured from early 1997 up through the spring of 2002. As it pertains to shows being “unwatchable,” however, there is one WWE show that will forever stand out among the rest. That show, as some diehard fans of the business may have guessed, is remembered for the tragedy that occurred involving Owen Hart. There is no reason, not even curiosity, why any WWE should go back and watch that show from its beginning to its awful end.
15 2001 SummerSlam
Any hope one might have had that the WWE was going to save the “Invasion” angle of 2001 went away for good at that year's SummerSlam. Chris Jericho beat Rhyno clean. The Undertaker and Kane made short work of Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon, and those two former WCW wrestlers were never again seen as anything resembling stars in the WWE. Kurt Angle and Steve Austin fought to a DQ finish that made it clear it would be only a matter of time before Angle got the better of Austin. The Rock shook off all of Booker T's finishing moves before winning the main event and the WCW Championship. The Invasion angle would be finished three months later, but the storyline's death began on this night.
14 2002 Royal Rumble
The Attitude Era was nearly over in January 2002 and the future did not look all that bright during that year's Royal Rumble show. Ric Flair and Vince McMahon had a terrible street fight. Chris Jericho and The Rock put on an underwhelming contest that did zero favors to Jericho during what remains one of the weakest title reigns in the history of the company. The actual Royal Rumble match was nothing special, as it had been made clear beforehand that Triple H, returning from injury, was going to be the last man standing. The Attitude Era would come to an end not long after this pay-per-view.
13 In Your House: St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1999)
The WWE and St. Valentine's Day have never mixed and that was the case in 1999. 1999, in general, was a year filled with terrible WWE main events, with In Your House: St. Valentine's Day Massacre being a contender for worst of all. A Last Man Standing match involving The Rock and Mankind ended in a draw, which defeated the purpose of the match stipulation. Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon fought in a steel cage match in the main event, and Austin defeated his rival after Big Show made his debut and threw Austin into the cage with such force that a panel of the cage broke. Austin was able to escape and win and Show looked like an idiot on his first night in the WWE.
12 WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 2000 was a two-match thriller. Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz took part in a classic triangle ladder match that was a preview of things to come for those three teams. Later on in the show, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho had a two-fall triple threat match for the Intercontinal Championship and European Championship. The reason WrestleMania 2000 makes the list is largely because of the four-way main event. Triple H, The Rock, Big Show and Mick Foley competed while there was a “McMahon in every corner,” and it was the McMahon family members who were made to be the most important figures of the night. Not much has changed in 16 years.
11 1997 SummerSlam
It just has to be said: The Undertaker and Bret Hart did not have great chemistry when working together. Worst of all about the main event of SummerSlam 1997 was that everybody watching knew that the match would only begin to matter when Shawn Michaels, serving as the special guest referee, became involved. Other than a lackluster match involving Undertaker and Bret Hart, this show is remembered for Owen Hart unintentionally spiking Steve Austin when performing a sitdown piledriver. That piledriver, little did we know, would ultimately shorten Austin's career.
10 1999 Survivor Series
The harsh truth of the matter is that Big Show was not ready to carry the ball for the WWE at this time and it showed in the main event that featured Show, Triple H and The Rock competing for the WWE Championship. Outside of the main event, the 1999 Survivor Series had four “traditional” Survivor Series matches, none of which were any good. Those of you who want the WWE to turn the clock back and treat Survivor Series as the company did in the 1990s should go back and watch this show. You should then hope that the WWE does not pay attention to such wishes.
9 In Your House: Rock Bottom (1998)
Those of you who are eager to re-live the 1998 pay-per-view In Your House: Rock Bottom should go and watch The Rock and Mankind battle over the WWF Championship. Spoiler alert: Be ready for a “Dusty Finish.” Other than that, though, the show as a whole was rather lame. The Headbangers took on The Human Oddities, The Brood wrestled the J.O.B. Squad, and Steve Austin faced off with Undertaker in a Buried Alive match. This In Your House, as a whole, felt like a filler pay-per-view and a waste of time and money during a down time on the WWE calendar.
8 2001 Vengeance
2001 sucked for the wrestling industry. World Championship Wrestling died. WCW was swallowed up by the WWE. The WWE gave us the awful “Invasion” storyline which ended at Survivor Series of that year. Vengeance immediately followed Survivor Series and what was hoped to be the beginning of a new era for the WWE was instead very disappointing. Chris Jericho became the first ever Undisputed WWE Champion on that night, but the company went out of the way to make Jericho look weak. Fans were thus told, intentionally or not, that Y2J was not at the same level of The Rock or Steve Austin, and also that Jericho was merely holding the title until Triple H was able to return from injury in 2002.
7 1999 Unforgiven
Unforgiven 1999 serves as a reminder that not everything about The Attitude Era was all that special. This show was gimmicks on gimmicks, beginning with Ivory and Luna Vachon having a hardcore match for the WWE Women's Championship. The main event was a “six-pack challenge,” in which six different wrestlers competed for the WWE Championship. Worst of all was the “Kennel from Hell” match featuring Al Snow and The Big Boss Man. The dogs that were placed around ringside decided to “get busy” rather than care about the action between the competitors. Looking back, they were probably the smartest living creatures in the room at the time.
6 1999 Royal Rumble
Everything leading up to the final two matches of the 1999 Royal Rumble made for one big “meh.” The last two matches on the card are downright unwatchable. This was the year when a “bounty” was to be awarded to anybody who eliminated Steve Austin from the Rumble. Nobody did until the very end, when Vince McMahon, who entered the Rumble at No. 2 and who had slid underneath the bottom rope early on in the match, sneaked in from behind to eliminate a distracted Austin at the very end. Before that was the “I Quit” match involving The Rock and Mankind. Rock hit Mankind with far more unprotected chair shots to the head that anybody should want to count during that encounter. Knowing what we know in 2016, that “I Quit” match is sickening.
5 WrestleMania XV
If not for a main event of Steve Austin versus The Rock, WrestleMania XV would be a candidate for the worst overall WrestleMania of the past 20 years at least. Other than that match involving the two icons of the industry, WrestleMania XV featured an awful Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Big Boss Man. The match was terrible and Undertaker literally hanging Big Boss Man in front of a live audience made for quite the ridiculous moment. Oh yeah: Butterbean also legitimately knocked Bart Gunn out cold. Bart was the lucky one that night, because he at least didn't have to watch the rest of this terrible WrestleMania.
4 D-Generation X: In Your House (1997)
Yes, this is the first time that Steve Austin and The Rock had a pay-per-view match. No, there is no reason you should rush to the WWE Network to watch the contest. That about sums up In Your House: D-Generation X, the first WWE pay-per-view to occur following the events of the famous “Montreal Screwjob.” Among other forgettable matches, this show featured Butterbean taking on Marc Mero, Sgt. Slaughter wrestling Triple H and a main event of Shawn Michaels defending the WWE Championship against Ken Shamrock. Shamrock, try as he did, was not ready for prime time, which was fitting because this show wasn't ready to be seen by anybody.
3 1999 King of the Ring
Billy Gunn won the 1999 King of the Ring tournament. Yes, that would be “Mr. Ass” Billy Gunn. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, awarding Gunn with the King of the Ring award did not, in fact, get him all that over among crowds. The tournament as a whole was rather lackluster, as was the WWE Championship match involving The Undertaker and The Rock. The main event of the show was Vince and Shane McMahon taking on Steve Austin for control of the WWE in a hardcore ladder match. It was at this time when the best parts of the heart of The Attitude Era were winding down, and this show is one that can be skipped 17 years later.
2 WrestleMania 13
Some may point out that they believe The Attitude Era began at WrestleMania 13 when Bret Hart and Steve Austin flipped places. Austin refused to give up while in Hart's “Sharpshooter” submission hold, turning babyface in the process. Hart, meanwhile, beat on Austin after the match, which turned Hart heel. This match was tremendous and lives up to this day, but it is also the only redeemable part of the show. The main event featuring The Undertaker facing off with Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship has to be one of the worst WrestleMania main events in company history.
1 1999 Over the Edge
What the 1999 edition of Over the Edge could have been will never be known. It was on this fateful night when Owen Hart plummeted from high above the ring to his death after a stunt went horribly wrong. Vince McMahon and others running the WWE decided to continue the show, a decision that will be criticized by wrestling fans and journalists whenever the topic is mentioned at any point in the future. As bad as every other show on this list may have been, none is more unwatchable than Over the Edge. This show could disappear from the WWE Network entirely, and nobody would be worse off for it.