The Attitude Era was a time of great transformation within WWE. The vision had changed and the new direction for the company was to be wicked, wild, and unapologetic as WWE strayed away from their kid-friendly programming and began to incorporate more adult-oriented content.
Gone were the days of wholesome role models as the new era would bring forth a more reality-based set of WWE superstars. No longer was Hulkamania running wild. The new face of WWE was drinking a cold beer and flipping off the boss. Times had changed.
During the Attitude Era, wrestling had reached a peak in popularity; it wasn't such a bad thing to be a wrestling fan anymore, it was actually considered cool as men and women alike flocked into arenas to catch a glimpse of their favorite WWE superstars.
The goofy characters produced by WWE just few years prior had been replaced with edgier ones; darker and more disturbed than anything that had ever been seen on WWE television preceding the Attitude Era. The boundaries had been pushed.
This is a time considered to be the most creative in WWE as the bar was risen so high that you had no choice but to adapt or die. Morality was seemingly nonexistent as nothing appeared to be off limits. Controversy followed the WWE around like a shadow.
The little children were put to bed as wrestling was now for Mom and Dad, the college crowd, and angst-ridden teenagers who lived vicariously through these new found characters. The “Golden Age” of professional wrestling came during the 1980s. Well, aside from a sexually ambiguous Dustin Runnels, there was nothing golden about the Attitude Era; if anything, this was the “Blackened Age” of professional wrestling.
This article will take a nostalgic nosedive back to this all-important time in professional wrestling as we take a look at the top 10 things we miss about the Attitude Era:
When Randy Orton flipped-off Seth Rollins in the build to their WrestleMania match, the camera was conveniently positioned so his fingers where not in view. During the Attitude Era, middle fingers were displayed frequently on television and in plain sight.
The language used by superstars has definitely been turned down as well. While the world “ass” is still tossed into promos; that is nothing compared to the vulgar speech that was once spewed out by Attitude Era superstars. Foul-mouths are now a thing of the past; cleaned out by the company soap.
Ever since the WWE has gone PG, sexual content within the product has been virtually eliminated. No longer are characters overtly sexual, Jerry “The King” Lawler is not freaking out about “puppies,” and angles have been devoid of anything considered raunchy.
The Attitude Era was sexuality personified; in some cases, bordering on soft-core porn. The old saying that “sex sells” still holds true and Vince McMahon is well aware of this. However, today the product is more about the children and the merchandise sales and the network and keeping everything family-friendly.
Wrestling is always going to be violent, no mater how hard any group of protesters complain. Sure, it can be tamed but at the end of the day, the concept remains that a fight is supposed to be taking place between two or more individuals.
The Attitude Era provided some of the most gratuitous violence in WWE history with its incorporation of hardcore matches and over-the-top spots. These days, competitors are more protected by the company – which is understandable – but that doesn't take away from missing the gross and gory violence of the past.
7 Must Watch Television
During the Attitude Era, the ability to watch Monday Night Raw on your smart-phone or computer was not an available option. If you were going to miss the show, the best you could do was record with an old VCR and watch it later.
However, this was a period of must watch wrestling; a time where you had to be home and in front of a television by 9:00pm on Monday night. Today, that feeling is gone. Missing an episode of Raw doesn't bother anybody that much anymore. The Attitude Era made fans feel as though if they even missed a minute of the action, they would be missing a lifetime.
6 Great Matches All Night
The Attitude Era helped to eliminated unnecessary and uneventful matches as the entire card on any given night was stacked to the fullest degree. The jobber/squash matches disappeared for a while as the night was now action-packed.
The mid-card felt like it mattered, the girls were displayed properly, and the main event picture was phenomenal. Of course, these circumstances have since changed, as we are now back to a time where nonsensical gimmick matches take place on a regular basis.
5 Shoot Promos
In wrestling, a “shoot” promo is a unscripted, real-life happening while a “worked shoot” is meant to take on the same meaning only with the participants aware of the occurrence. Either way, these promos always generate buzz.
During the Attitude Era, superstars were “shooting” all the time. Promos with a real-life feel have always excited and shocked the fans and during this very real time in professional wrestling; the “shoots” where an incredible way to blur the lines.
The entire surprise element in professional wrestling (any promotion) has been damaged by the internet as returns and results are constantly leaked and the factor of unpredictability has been tossed out the window.
With the Attitude Era, there was no telling what would happen next, who would show up from the rival company, or how a match would turn out. That feeling of not knowing all night long would keep fans on the edge of their seats, wondering how it will all turn out.
3 Great Stables
D-Generation X, The Nation of Domination, The Hart Foundation, The Corporation, The Ministry of Darkness; all stables that were present at one point during the Attitude Era, and aside form The Hart Foundation, all unconventional stables.
The stable has long been a part of professional wrestling but never had it been so different, so far left of center than during the Attitude Era. Since then, a number of groups have emerged on the scene in WWE but none – except for Evolution – have made a lasting impression.
2 Monday Night War
World Championship Wrestling – while unintentional – played a pivotal role in the Attitude Era. The competition and dominance in the ratings helped WWE push their limits and create their transcending new era.
The Monday Night War was unquestionably the most exciting time in professional wrestling and without the war and WCW, there is no telling where the WWE would have gone. Perhaps remaining on the stale path they were on prior to the switch over.
1 Innovative Characters
The greatest thing the Attitude Era provided to the fans was the creation of new and innovative characters. The cartoon-style-performer was put aside and replaced with more contemporary characters; wrestlers with a real-world feeling.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, a revamped Undertaker; all of this was a byproduct of the Attitude Era and its creative direction. Of course now, we look back fondly and reminisce about those times, long gone days of unwavering rebellion.
Long live the Attitude Era.