Despite the complaints from predominantly post-pubescent teenagers and adults, since 2008 WWE has been under a PG rating. Love it or loath it, it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon, so we're going to have to make the most of it.
In terms of business, it was probably a very smart move. Widening the audience to children has most certainly helped the company to grow financially with merchandise sales and growing family audiences. But for many people, including myself, we've come to miss the contemporary content which we loved in the most successful in the period in the company's history 'The Attitude Era'.
Many argue that the PG rating has held the WWE back with 2015 being a great example of that with the falling ratings, falling viewing figures and negative comments on social media. So if this trend continues and we begin to see depleting viewings figures, then you never know as we might see the PG-era removed in the distant future (we can hope...). In gaining a new type of fan (the family), they seem to be losing another (16+), but you can’t please everyone.
Since 2008 we've become a custom to a blood free, sex reference free and explicit language free WWE - but we know that the superstars and divas (despite Vince McMahons best efforts) don't always stick to this family friendly rating.
Here's 10 moments where we got a very small taste of the pre-PG content. Don't get me wrong these are nowhere near the crazy things we saw in the attitude era, but it’s the closest we’re going to get...
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10 Chris Jericho Punches Shawn Michaels' Wife
Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels formed one of the best feuds in the PG Era throughout 2008. Outstanding matches and captivating story telling made WWE must-see TV at the time. In the midst of this unbelievable feud at Summerslam 2008, Shawn Michaels announced his ‘retirement’ due to an eye injury suffered by Jericho in previous weeks (hey, it was a better excuse than "losing his smile"). Jericho proceeded to swing a punch at Shawn Michaels, hitting his wife who stood beside him as Michaels ducked out of the way.
Gone were the days of male athletes striking female until this captivating moment in 2008. Despite breaking PG boundaries, this WTF moment made this feud a whole lot better. For the record, Jericho mistimed the punch and legitimately clocked her.
9 Mark Henry Whips Sheamus
A common theme here is that WWE seems more than willing to break the PG rating in terms of intense violence, but are strict on the language and raunchy side of things.
On the May 6th 2013 episode of Raw - during Mark Henry's 'Hall of Pain' heel run, he initiated a literal whipping on Sheamus with a belt. The crowd just looked on in silence, in shock at what they were seeing. To show the legitimate pain this inflicted, check the picture above. Ouch.
This is a strangely harsh beatdown, which in any other place would be completely condemned - so in a PG 'sports entertainment' company - it's conspicuous to say the least.
8 Debut Of The Nexus
Labelled by many as the biggest missed booking opportunity in the PG Era – the Nexus never really fulfilled their potential as a group, not necessarily through any fault of their own. However, their debut was certainly a shocking one, and a memorable one at that.
They incapacitated Cena, tore up the ring like you’ve never seen before and beat up timekeepers, announcers, cameramen, and referees. Daniel Bryan of all people even spat at Cena, shouting “you’re not better than me!!” The Nexus (perhaps due to the way they were booked) never really rallied any momentum after their feud with John Cena and his buddies culminating in Team WWE vs Team Nexus match at Summerslam 2010.
After they for some reason lost this bout, their hype began to slow and after partially splitting into mini-factions such as ‘The Corre’ – the Nexus slowly disappeared into the abyss. None the less – a great debut, but not very PG.
7 Triple H Crotch Chop At Royal Rumble 2016
Just a few of weeks after the fantastic Royal Rumble PPV, we find ourselves very much on the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ and it looks like The Game is going to be that champ at this year’s ‘Mania. Despite being the CEO of the company, Triple H dropped some extremely deranged trademark DX crotch chops after he threw Roman Reigns out of the rumble. The amount of force and passion he put in to the ‘taunt’ made it one of the stand out moments in this year’s rumble – it was great.
You’d think that the CEO of the company wouldn’t be breaking barriers in terms of the PG rating, but it’s definitely not something that we should complain about!
6 Brock Vs Taker III – Hell In A Cell 2015
After the most shocking moment in Wrestlemania history being performed by these two in 2014, and a fairly disappointing rematch the following year at Summerslam ending in strange circumstances – these two ‘heavyweights’ of wrestling were due for a rubber match...
The Beast and The Phenom squared off for the last time inside Hell in a Cell in one of the most brutal matches of the PG Era. Blood everywhere, countless suplexes and some barbaric spots like the tombstone onto the exposed ring. I certainly wouldn’t show this match to my kids
5 Big E In General
Now you may be thinking “this isn’t a specific moment”, but I’m sure it will be fine. If not, that's what the comments section is for.
Since 2014, Big E has been a part of the current tag team champs, The New Day. Despite being heels, these guys have been really over with the fans and have propelled their careers to the next level. However, although a massive part of their character is their loud outgoing nature – for months Big E has been shaking his ‘booty’ and thrusting his hips like there’s no tomorrow. I mean, it’s not that bad but it seems a little bit more sexual that a dance move – making it not very PG.
4 Randy Orton Handcuffs John Cena To The ring – Breaking Point 2009
In one of the great feuds in recent years – John Cena and the superbly played heel Randy Orton faced off at a one-time only PPV – Breaking Point in an “I Quit” match in 2009.
A thrilling match saw a ruthless spot where John Cena was handcuffed to the ring post, being beaten with a kendo stick (among other things) by the villainous Orton.
As the commentary team quite rightly put it - it was "torture" which certainly doesn't fit the PG rating. The horrified kid’s faces in the front row just meters from the action summed up the savage nature of this brilliant moment
3 Triple H Assaults Daniel Bryan
7 days after the revolutionary 'Yes movement' invasion of Raw in March 2014, the authority decided to get revenge. Sounds pretty normal right? But no - this was an uncharacteristically vicious beat down from 'The Game'. Bryan was left defenseless, handcuffed by 'security' before Triple H went berserk. Bryan was punched repeatedly, power slammed on the announce table followed by a savage chair shot to the head while he was slumped against the ring post. This was seriously a vintage "Attitude Era" attack by The Game, flaring nostrils and all.
An unprecedented attack which, if you've seen it, wasn't very PG at all.
2 The Rock Shaming Lana
On the 25th January RAW 2016 in Miami – the WWE announced the return of a “HUGE” superstar. And damn they were right as ‘The Great One’ The Rock showed up in a pickup truck (some fans were hoping that the pickup truck would signify the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin). As he proceeded through the backstage area, mocking every superstar in his path.
As he approached the smoking hot Lana – he mentioned how she came back to his hotel room after Monday Night Raw in Brooklyn a few months previously and they conducted some “special exercises”. After a little bit more slut-shaming and Lana getting a bit flustered – her fiancé Rusev miraculously appeared next to The Rock.
A great segment – not very PG, but definitely worth a watch on YouTube.
1 “Suplex City B*tch”
WrestleMania 31, Levis Stadium, Lesnar vs Reigns where Brock delivered his most brutal beat down since John Cena at Summerslam 2014. Suplex after suplex, knee after knee, F5 after F5 Reigns looked down for the count.
Midway through the match the match, Kevin Dunn and his wonderful cameras managed to get a close up of Brocks face just as he exclaims “Suplex City bitch” for the world to hear. Unlucky timing from the producers, but what can you do. As saliva flew out of Lesnar’s mouth, I’m sure old Vinnie Mac was not happy backstage. The internet went to work on this line, making GIFs, memes, and remixes in the following weeks.
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