We often look back at good times with rose–colored nostalgia glasses and the WWE’s Attitude Era is no exception to this fact. As wrestling fans, we look back on the Attitude Era and think of greats like The Rock, Stone Cold, The Undertaker, and Triple H. We think of good workers like the late Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock, and of course red–blooded male’s hearts skip a beat or three when thinking of Sable, Sunny, Lita, or Trish.
Here’s a history lesson for anyone who wasn’t around to watch the Attitude Era unfold or just doesn’t remember–for every great memorable moment of the Attitude Era, there’s a moment or a character that just didn’t cut the mustard. WCW had these same types of issues, but it always seemed like the WWE was able to cover up and/or change these flaws a lot quicker than WCW.
One of the best parts of these times was Vince and company’s ability to sift through all of the trash in order to get to the diamonds. However, the following items continue to leave a sour taste in fan’s mouths.
17 “Real Man’s Man” Steven Regal
Shortly after his debut match against Droz, Regal was sent to Dory Funk’s Dojo to lose some weight, where he’d wind up injuring his ankle. He would return with a ridiculous gimmick for any person to try and pull off, but for the decidedly British Regal, pulling off the gimmick of an All–American Man’s Man who operates forklifts and shaves with a straight razor was destined to fail from minute one, especially when you see Regal in denim shorts, flannel, a hard hat, and still doing his trademark royal British strut. This gimmick could have worked with anyone else, but by this point in his career, Regal was so established as British royalty that anything else was just plain wrong.
16 Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon
This was just a bad move, regardless of the era. Two of your top stars leave for the rival organization and your response is to simply cast two more guys in their role? When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left for WCW, they left the names of Diesel and Razor Ramon behind, and in an attempt to become a heel commentator, J.R. brought them back, now played by Glen Jacobs (Diesel) and Rick Bognar (Razor). The move was one of the worst of the Attitude Era and possibly of the entire Monday Night War, but unlike WCW beating a dead horse, WWE dropped the idea fairly quickly. Jacobs went on to become Kane and Bognar headed back home to be a motivational speaker.
15 Beaver Cleavage
Vince McMahon loves the idea of elicit love angle. Besides trying to sell his own daughter on an incest gimmick in which he fathered her baby, he was successful in getting Charles Warrington (Chaz) and Marianna Komlos to partake in incestuous Beaver Cleavage vignettes, where the character of Beaver would ask for some “Mother’s Milk.” It got worse as Chaz would walk out on the gimmick in a worked shoot and the pair would be repackaged as a couple. This bit didn’t work out either, as Marianna lied about being abused by the former Headbanger. Thankfully, Chaz’s tag partner, Thrasher, had proof that Komlos was lying and the Headbangers were reunited.
Anyone remember the “Pierced Pals?” It was a team of Droz and Albert who had a thing for getting parts of their anatomies pierced. Anyway, before that, Droz had hired a drug dealer to get Road Warrior Hawk addicted to drugs in order to take his spot in the Legion of Doom. Key (short for kilogram, as in kilogram of coke), was that drug dealer. He appeared in so little matches in the WWE that fans actually debate if the guy ever was actually on WWE television before heading to ECW as Vic Grimes and engaging in a memorable feud with New Jack.
13 Tiger Ali Singh
john, son of Japanese legend Tiger Jeet Singh, would win the second ever Kuwait Cup Tournament but didn’t debut on Raw until the WWE was in full Attitude mode. Now Singh was a rich Middle Eastern man who offered up cash to any fan in the audience that would subjugate themselves to disgusting things such as disrobing on national television or kissing Singh’s manservant Babu, who had been eating sardines for days. Singh was nothing more than a complete rip off of Ted DiBiase, who pulled the gimmick off years earlier and worlds better. Not to mention, DiBiase could actually wrestle.
12 Ryan Shamrock
For someone who took part in two pretty big angles, not to mention played the sister of Ken Shamrock, there’s not a whole lot to remember about Alicia Webb, aka Ryan Shamrock. First, as one of Val Venis’ co–stars, then as one of his jilted lovers, Shamrock would also be held captive by The Undertaker’s Ministry and needed to be saved by her brother. Other than that, she barely spoke a word and was the literal definition of eye and arm candy. On top of that, compared to some of the other Divas, her looks were average.
X–Pac earns the distinction of being both one of the most underrated Attitude Era stars, as well as one of its worst. As talented as Sean Waltman was, it was clear that he would never be main event material and be stuck at mid–card status. Between that fact and several nagging injuries, Pac was never quite the same performer that the 1–2–3 Kid or even Syxx was. On TV, however, this came across as a lack of effort. When tied with Waltman’s whiny voice, backstage stroke, and overexposure, this brought about the term "X-Pac Heat," which means the fans dislike the performer, not the character. If a wrestler garners X-Pac Heat, their career is in big trouble.
10 Just Joe
Joe E. Legend was trained by Ron Hutchinson and Sweet Daddy Siki, in the same class that featured Christian, Rhyno, and some guy named Edge. You would think that pedigree was enough to give Joe E. Legend a shot at WWE greatness. However, Joe E. Legend was given the gimmick of Just Joe, a guy who hung around the back and spread gossip amongst the superstars. Seeing as how there were already GTV spots stirring the pot between wrestlers, there was little need for Just Joe and he quickly found himself out of the company
9 Tom Brandi / Salvatore Sincere
Tom Brandi looks like an extra on a movie that is a bad rip off of a good Scorcese movie. So, of course, that meant that WWE would attempt to capitalize and brand Brandi as Salvatore Sincere, a mafiaso who was anything but truthful when declaring his love for the fans. You know you’re pretty bad when our #1 worst Attitude star calls you out as a jobber and outs your real name on live TV. After being eliminated by Cactus Jack and Terry Funk at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Brandi would head to the indy scene as The Patriot, claiming to have bought the rights to the gimmick from Del Wilkes. He was so bad he had to buy another wrestler’s gimmick...
Vince McMahon loves musclebound meatheads. Vince McMahon thinks that their mesomorph physiques instantly get them over. In order to keep their jobs, WWE talent scouts consistently find huge wrestlers to sign and train in order to keep Vince McMahon happy. Good thing for uncoordinated freaks like Brakkus, bad thing for fans who have to suffer through his fetish for brawny men. Brought to the roster in 1996, Brakkus would wrestle dark matches before being sent to ECW, where he would rock a “Property of WWE” shirt in an attempt to gain some experience. He returned to the WWE, wearing chainmail, proving that not only do meatheads not equal ratings, but Vince McMahon's fetish clearly needs quality control.
7 Naked Mideon
Dennis Knight, who was performing under his own name, was taken, beaten, and tortured into servitude of The Undertaker and became the Ministry’s Mideon, back in 1998. Still not offended by seeing a man tortured and brainwashed by a satanic cult on live TV? Alright, how about seeing that same man, no longer evil but now streaking through the crowds, wearing nothing but a fanny pack. Well, now you have Naked Mideon – WWE Attitude, when the workrate isn't good, we’ll offend you into watching.
6 The Oddities
In what had to be a rib on the Dungeon of Doom, The Oddities actually started as the Jackyl’s Parade of Human Oddities and featured Howard Stern’s own parade of freaks, Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf and Crackhead Bob. The crew was the 7 foot Kurrgan, the 7’2 Giant Silva, and Golga (Earthquake in a mask). Once the Jackyl left the group, The Oddities decided they wanted to be a fun loving group of circus freaks and partnered up with Detroit’s least favorite sons, The Insane Clown Posse. The group also teamed with Luna, Sable, and even George the Animal Steele (as “the original Oddity”). All this stable needed was the Gobbedly Gooker to make them the absolute worst.
5 T3. The New Blackjacks
In a craptacular three way tie, we have three tag teams that utilized old tag team names and slapped the word ”new” in front of it. First we have Blackjack Windham (the son of Blackjack Mulligan) and Blackjack Bradshaw (nephew of Blackjack Lanza), forming the New Blackjacks. One would assume that the silky smooth Barry Windham and the brutal JBL would have made more of an impact, but instead Windham would turn on Bradshaw and join the NWA stable.
4 T3. The New Rockers
The New Rockers were composed of old rocker Marty Janetty and stuck-in-the-60s Leif Cassidy (who became Al Snow). In the book, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams, Janetty claims that the New Rockers were supposed to be like the original Rockers, until it was decided they’d be more comical. Original rocker, HBK had suggested the change. Clearly, no fan accepted a newer/dumber version of a legendary tag team and the New Rockers were short lived.
3 T3. The New Midnight Express
The only “new” team to be quasi–successful was Bombastic Bob (Holly) and Bodacious Bart (Gunn), the New Midnight Express, who won the NWA Tag Team titles. Where the New Blackjacks were at least related to the old ones and the New Rockers had an old Rocker on the team, the New Midnight Express, despite being managed by Jim Cornette was just two glorified journeyman tossed together to form a tag team that bared no resemblance at all to Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, or Stan Lane.
Thankfully, there was never a tag team called the Day, otherwise the New Day might be in trouble.
When you’re cast as a sex slave to three of the hottest divas of the Attitude Era, you should probably do your best to keep your spot. However, for Meat (Shawn Stasiak), the son of former WWWF Champion Stan Stasiak, he lacked the “it” factor needed to be a superstar. Regulated to jobber status, Meat would blame his losses on constantly having to please Terri, but the truth is that the guy just stunk in the ring, another product of Vince McMahon’s meathead love. It would take several years for Stasiak to be remotely entertaining as Planet Stasiak, but the bad taste of Meat would remain in fan's mouths forever.
1 Marvelous Marc Mero
Worst and not overrated is where Marc Mero belongs. With a decent look and a well-above decent looking Sable by his side, Mero first tried his hand at being the jungle inspired "Wildman." When that stopped working, Mero would tap into his amateur boxing roots and become the Marvelous One. Neither gimmick worked all that well, but still Mero was allowed to have a job. However, considering he introduced the world to the future Mrs. Lesnar and the future F5 (then called the TKO), there's at least one person whose happy the WWE kept him around.