The WWE has undoubtedly changed drastically since the 90s, and if you had stopped watching the product in the late 90s/early 2000s, you wouldn't even recognize the current "New Era" WWE. Now it's clear that many fans are displeased with the current WWE product, but that's not to say that things are all bad. The locker room is filled with top class talent, and there are still plenty of Superstars who leave fans on the edge of their seats with great in-ring performances. However, today's article is going to be focusing on 15 things fans miss badly about the WWE (stuff only 90's fans will remember).
To all those who have just started watching pro-wrestling within the last decade, you may be unaware that things used to be so much better (and more entertaining) in the good old days. That said, I'm sure a bulk majority of you newer fans binge watch WWE's older programming on the Network because of how highly rated it is by WWE's older fanbase. There will never be another Attitude Era, simply because of the company's strict PG guidelines that are enforced today, but there's no doubt the overall show could be improved by going back to certain methods or things from the past that worked well. With that little intro out of the way, let's get right into these 15 things us older fans miss badly about WWE!
15 The Old WWE Championship Belt Designs
Now I'm not trying to insinuate that the current WWE Championship belt designs are all bad, but in my opinion, they don't compare to the good old classic "Winged Eagle" or Attitude Era belt designs (even WCW's World Heavyweight Championship). Considering we have a children's toy-like bright red Universal Championship, it really makes you miss the old days.
The design was very well received by fans, and it just looked like a great World Championship belt. The WWE logo has changed a few times over the years, and I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of the newest "W" logo. If you think this specific winged eagle design wouldn't work with today's product, just search for an image with Roman Reigns posing with the winged eagle belt - it looks phenomenal.
Considering kayfabe's been dead for quite some time, I'll refresh your memory on what kayfabe is, and why us older fans miss it. The definition of "kayfabe" is attempting to present the staged wrestling performances within the industry as real or authentic and having the on-screen characters stay in character off-screen.
As you can imagine, in today's world, it's much harder for wrestlers with gimmicks similar to say Kane or The Undertaker (relatively outlandish characters) to go over well with modern day fans because kayfabe isn't what it used to be (social media is a huge factor behind this). That's definitely a reason why we have much blander cookie-cutter type wrestlers in WWE now a days unlike the 90's which presented many intriguing characters. Fans know the ins and outs of WWE now, so many of the potentially interesting characters wouldn't work in our modern day and age which sucks.
13 Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Vince McMahon
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon was one of the greatest WWE storylines of the 90's, without question. It was a very simple yet effective story, as Stone Cold portrayed the disgruntled employee who was sick to death of his boss, and unlike most normal folk, Austin would literally open up cans of "whoop ass" on Vince regularly much to the WWE Universes excitement.
This story is what helped Stone Cold become such a megastar in the WWE fans eyes, and the storyline made Raw must-see television on a weekly basis. I'd say the Vince McMahon versus Steve Austin saga was the best storyline of the entire Attitude Era, and it had an effect on so many other wrestlers careers during the same period of time (The Rock and Mankind for example). We don't have storylines like this anymore unfortunately, and most of us miss it dearly!
12 When Raw Was Must-See Weekly Television
During the "Monday Night Wars" between WCW and the WWE in the mid-late 90s, the WWE's weekly Monday Night Raw episode was must see television unlike today, where the shows seem thrown together with little effort in making the product interesting or engaging. I suppose Vince McMahon was trying much harder back then because it was a succeed or go under type of situation, and this made for very entertaining TV.
The WWE pushed the boundaries to the extreme, created intriguing characters to draw in fans, and made every match/storyline meaningful because if they didn't, fans would tune into WCW's product instead. Today without any competition, the WWE's weekly television shows usually lack any form of excitement, and they rather seem like filler shows leading up to the pay-per-views.
11 A Clear Midcard And Main Event Scene
Something that the WWE had throughout the 1990s was a clear mid-card and main event scene which is an important aspect lacking in the modern day WWE. Of course some of the WWE's mid-carders of the 90s would move between the mid-card and main event scene (move up from Intercontinental Championship contention to WWE Title contention), but for the most part, there were the mid-carders and then there were the perennial main event talent.
Now with the WWE's 50/50 terrible booking, you could be WWE Champion one week, and then be vying for the US Championship two weeks later. No one besides the select few guys (Reigns, Lesnar et cetera) are bonafide main event stars, as the rest of the alleged" top stars" like Rollins, Owens Ambrose are really just glorified mid-carders.
10 When Wrestlers Could Be Vulgar
Although I don't like total vulgarity, I certainly loved the WWE in the 90s when Superstars could use cuss words without it being made a huge deal and an "oh crap, did he just say that?" moment. When fans are getting excited when a star such as Roman Reigns says "ass", then you know things have fallen pretty hard from grace.
I doubt anyone wants to hear a wrestler cuss every two words, but having the freedom to use profanity every now and then to add some emotion and feeling into promos is very important, and it's something many of us older fans miss badly about WWE. However, I suppose it's good for the younger audience and the WWE as a whole, because in today's touchy world, too much swearing wouldn't go over well with their networks et cetera.
9 When WWE Wasn't PG
I highly doubt I'm the only one who hates WWE's overly PG product, and the 90s was a time in the company's history when PG was an unknown word to the fans and Superstars alike. Women dressed skimpily and put on "shows" for the WWE Universe, wrestlers could cuss and beat up their boss, and Superstars were allowed to bleed during matches.
An overly PG product is not conducive to keeping fans engaged in the WWE, and you can clearly see the difference between the ratings of the 90's WWE versus the ratings of today's WWE. The viewership was pretty equal give or take compared to today, but fans were way more invested in the product back then - I wonder why that was? Probably because the shows were a heck of a lot more entertaining.
8 When WWE Stars Had Creative Freedom
Remember when WWE Superstars had the freedom to cut unique and unscripted promos that were actually entertaining? Well I for one certainly can. The Attitude Era's edginess allowed most stars to have way more control over their characters back in the 90s, hence why it was more interesting for fans - it was organic unlike today's WWE wrestlers who are controlled to the smallest detail by WWE.
Any mistake (however minor they may seem on the surface) can kill careers now a days, and this doesn't lead to a very creative environment. Sure, sometimes the wrestlers made a few bloopers back in the day with their extra bit of control, but when you look at the bigger picture, the WWE allowing their performers to be unique was beneficial to not only the company, but it also expanded their fanbase and created interest in the product.
7 Booking That Actually Made Sense
The days of solid logical booking seem to be well behind us now, as the WWE continues to utilize what we fans love to hate, 50/50 booking (and just overall terrible booking). Back in the Attitude Era, if let's say Finn Balor was a top Superstar vying for the WWE Title, do you think he would've suffered an unnecessary loss to a much older wrestler well beyond his prime such as Sgt. Slaughter? (Referencing Finn's loss to Kane). Probably not, otherwise it would've pissed fans off to the point of tuning into WCW.
Every booking decision was crucially important in the mid-late 90's, so it made the product way more enjoyable knowing that the company was booking its talent with thought. The top stars were booked as top tier talent, and the mid-carders were booked like mid-carders - none of the wrestlers were booked well one week, and then suffering a debilitating loss the next week. Just imagine if Stone Cold Steve Austin was given the booking of someone such as Bray Wyatt who we consider to be a "top guy". That would have been disastrous.
6 Championship Reigns That Were Actually Earned
In this day and age when we're calling the likes of Jinder Mahal WWE Champion, it really makes you miss the 90s badly considering title reigns weren't just handed out for shady marketing ploys and were instead earned. Back in the 90s, Superstars had to earn their position, and unlike today, many wrestlers were actually given a solid chance to succeed (Vince was all for creating new stars then).
Those who did succeed were often rewarded with a top spot and perhaps even a WWE Championship run (just look at a well deserving star such as Mankind who finally became the top champ in '99 - just a real feel-good moment). In my opinion, the value and prestige of the WWE's top championships has drastically decreased in recent memory, and the title which is supposed to be the most "elite" in the company resembles a children's toy, so that certainly doesn't help matters either.
5 Interesting (And Meaningful) Storylines/Feuds
One of the biggest gripes fans have with modern day WWE is the overall lack of depth and intrigue in a bulk majority of the storylines that play out on screen. They are so basic, as every feud revolves around the notion that "I need to beat you", and there is very little substance behind the feud to get fans invested into it. During the 90s, the WWE was fantastic at telling story's, and often the angles had personal elements incorporated into them which made the feuds far more entertaining then the storylines of today.
It's really the introduction of the "PG Era" that's hindered great storylines and feuds, because without being able to go deeper than the surface of "I need to beat you", it's really not that interesting for most fans. Sure, we'll care if a WWE Title is on the line (to some extent), but most midcard non-title feuds? We couldn't care less. The meaningful storylines is something many of us miss badly.
4 Wrestlers Who Could Actually Cut A Promo
One of the most basic aspects of professional wrestling seems to be such a challenge for the current crop of WWE Superstars - the dreaded promo. Of course the company still has a few bright stars who are great on the microphone (Enzo Amore, The Miz and Bray Wyatt etc), but for the vast majority of them, promos aren't their area of specialization. Considering the WWE is Sports "Entertainment", promo work is very important hence why most of the top guys from the past all were pretty decent on the mic.
Back in the 90s, the WWE was blessed with many great talkers, and many of the promos from these select individuals made the shows way more entertaining. However, we can't put all the blame on the WWE's current roster for their lack of promo ability, as everything's beyond over-scripted which is why very few promos seem natural and authentic now a days. The wrestlers of the 90s had way more creative freedom hence why promo work was a heck of a lot better - something we truly miss.
3 Ring Psychology/Storytelling
Before some of you blast me over this one, I'm not saying that none of the WWE's current Superstars have ring psychology or are good storytellers, but it was way more common back in the 90s when a simpler, yet intriguing story was told during many matches.
Selling the moves properly at the right times, a wrestlers facial expressions, and most importantly, to look like you're trying to win the match (whether it be for a championship or not). In today's WWE world, wrestlers seem to be more focused on their work rate and their athleticism over telling a good story, and this isn't a model for exciting fans past a certain point. Sure, we can all enjoy a few good spots, but the WWE Superstars (most anyways) lack that storytelling ability that many 90s stars had.
2 Unique And Memorable Superstars
One of the most significant things fans miss badly about the WWE is the vast amount of unique and memorable Superstars the company had to offer throughout the 90s. Some of the best (and most unique) stars were The Undertaker, Kane, Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, DX, The Hardy Boyz among so many others that helped contribute to making the WWE so fun to watch each and every week. When you look at that list of WWE stars compared to the stars of today, the first thing most older fans will be feeling is sad that the good old days are well and gone.
With the creative freedom wrestlers had back then, there was no shortage of interesting characters (even the midcard talent were far more intriguing than much of the current roster). The WWE doesn't have anywhere near the same number of interesting character wrestlers they used to, and even though some of today's Superstars have fantastic work rates, many are rather cookie-cutter and are pretty boring in all honesty.
1 The Attitude Era Crowd
Finishing up this list of 15 things fans miss badly about WWE, we proudly bring to you one of the Attitude Era's highlights, quite simply, the crowd. The crowd of the 90s was beyond incredible, and the fans who gathered into arenas every week helped make the show that much cooler. You couldn't have had an awesome Stone Cold Steve Austin moment without the intense roar from the crowd, and that's exactly what the crowd did back then - they popped and made things so much more memorable and entertaining.
Even mid-carders got fantastic reactions (on par with today's top Superstars), so the intrigue from fans in all of the matches on the card was definitely there. A bulk majority of the "biggest pops" of all time come from the 90s, and the crowds back then were responsible for that. Now a days, fans aren't nearly as invested or vocal during matches or entrances unless they're the main event segments which sucks.