Like no other period in WWE history, the Attitude Era created a generation of fans who became fiercely loyal to what they believe was professional wrestling’s heyday. Speak to a wrestling fan who grew up during the Attitude Era and they’ll all tell you the same thing. These were wrestling’s finest days, the roster was full of genuine superstars, the storylines were brilliant, and the modern day wrestlers are utter garbage and ruining the industry. Well that’s probably a bit extreme, but you get the picture.
Strip back the layers, and the Attitude Era isn’t quite as good as you might believe; particularly the roster. At the top end were legends like Stone Cold and The Rock, but it was propped up by some glorified jobbers at the bottom of the ladder. The thing about the Attitude Era was that most superstars were involved every week in some kind of colorful storyline. Strong fan bases were created, ridiculous gimmicks thrived and wrestlers without a great deal of talent were heavily promoted in the ring; many of these were severely overrated.
There’s more to being a good wrestler than being a good worker in the ring. Your gimmick is important, you have to be able to work the crowd as a face and a heel, and you need to be strong when cutting a promo. Unfortunately there were plenty of wrestlers on the roster during the Attitude Era who failed miserably at one or more of these key elements. Perhaps they were brilliant on the microphone but absolutely stunk in the ring. Maybe the had a decent finisher but couldn’t string two words together. Or maybe they just didn’t excel in any area at all, they just happened to be in the right company at the right time and just rode the gravy train as far as they could.
Here are the top 12 overrated wrestlers of the Attitude Era.
12. D-Von Dudley
There is no doubt that D-Von Dudley played an important role in one of wrestling’s best tag teams over the last two decades. But you always had the feeling that Bubba Ray was carrying D-Von in the ring for a lot of that time. The best part of The Dudley Boyz gimmick has always been the tables, and they do a good job of that. When it came to wrestling one on one with an opponent though, D-Von struggled. He just didn’t have the depth of move set, or the explosiveness of Bubba Ray. Plus Bubba was always funnier to listen to on the mic, whereas D-Von was just given time to “testify”.
11. Val Venis
Val Venis rose to the not overly dizzying heights of Intercontinental Championship fame during the Attitude Era; even that was probably a bit much for Val Venis though. In a perfect example of the Attitude Era’s ridiculous gimmicks, Val Venis was supposedly a porn star, and used to come to the ring wearing a white towel at his waist. As a wrestler he wasn’t too exciting, and his finishing move was very average, if not humorously named (remember the Money Shot?). In reality Val Venis was barely even a mid carder, despite holding the mid-card title.
Sable was one of the original WWE divas and always quite pleasing on the eyes, but let’s be frank. She was pretty uninspiring on the microphone, and nowhere near as talented in the ring as some of the divas to have come along since her. All told she only had a few years with the company, due to a lawsuit she filed against the WWE for sexual harassment, which was then counter-sued. She helped pave the way for many future divas, and was quickly overshadowed by the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita who took the women’s division to a new level during the Attitude Era.
Viscera was part of The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness until it broke up, then drifted around the mid-card before leaving the company. He was always a useful option for the creative writing team whenever the Ministry needed some muscle, given Viscera’s near 500 pound frame.
He received a big push in the mid 1990s and won the King of the Ring in 1995, but it never quite amounted to anything major. The problem was Viscera was notorious for injuring other wrestlers in the ring. As a fan you don’t really pick up on this, and obviously it’s not a great way to endear yourself to your colleagues. That being said, he was still frequently used in the Attitude Era.
8. Grandmaster Sexay
Grandmaster Sexay was the son of Jerry “The King” Lawler, which probably helped him get as far as he did in the WWE. He was one half of Too Cool, a babyface tag team alongside Scotty 2 Hotty, and the pair were also good pals with Rikishi. The crowd loved all three wrestlers, and Too Cool even enjoyed a run as Tag Team Champions. It was really just a case of all show and no substance though, especially with Grandmaster Sexay who was a much better dancer than he was a wrestler. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t last too long with the company.
7. Mark Henry
You always had the impression Mark Henry was knocking on the door to bigger things during the Attitude Era. He’s a huge athlete, and was billed as the World’s Strongest Man for a time before moving into the horrible Sexual Chocolate gimmick which included, among other things, a fling with Mae Young.
If it wasn’t for his previous life as a weightlifter though, Henry wouldn’t have gone quite as far as he did in professional wrestling. He’s perfectly adequate in the ring and on the microphone, but there are many better than him on both fronts.
Gangrel got his break in the Attitude Era as part of The Brood with Edge and Christian. He came across as the main man in The Brood, and his gimmick was that of a vampire with the ultra cool entrance, who would drink a chalice of blood before every match. But Edge and Christian were substantially better wrestlers than Gangrel, and it didn’t take too long for the company to figure this out. Those reasons are why Edge and Christian both went on to enjoy successful singles careers, while Gangrel ended up floating around the independent circuit.
5. The Godfather
Another very questionable Intercontinental champion, The Godfather used to walk out to the ring surrounded by his “hoes”, often scantly clad girls who he struck all sorts of suggestive poses. I guess he was a pimp of sorts, and as a pimp he made a pretty ordinary wrestler.
The Ho Train was one of the most uninspiring finishers we’ve ever seen, with the soon to be Hall of Famer running into a cornered opponent. In the middle of the Attitude Era, The Godfather became The Goodfather as part of Right To Censor, and that was even worse than his pimp gimmick.
4. Vince McMahon
During 1999, Mr McMahon won the Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; he was 53 when he won the Royal Rumble, and 54 when he won the world title. Keep in mind that even at that age, McMahon boasted a pretty decent physique, but a talented wrestler he was not. Frankly to have his name on the honor roll of winners of the Heavyweight Title and the Royal Rumble kind of devalues both crowns. But then again he’s the boss and can do what he wants, and that seems to include the odd injection of posterity.
3. Road Dogg
The Road Dogg was always good fun on the microphone, but definitely the lesser half of the New Age Outlaws. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn enjoyed immense popularity as a tag team, thanks largely to their association with D-Generation X. While Billy Gunn had some ripping moves, Road Dogg’s set was lacking any real depth. The Shake Rattle and Roll was kind of cool, but it became pretty silly pretty quickly. Without Billy Gunn it’s hard to imagine that Road Dogg would’ve made nearly as much impact in the WWE. It’s pretty ironic considering the fact that now Road Dogg is the head writer for Smackdown, which features pretty good matches.
2. Triple H
Let’s get one thing clear from the outset – Triple H is not overrated. He’s a 14 time World Champion for a reason and he’s won everything else available in a magnificent career spanning two decades; but he warrants a place in this list. Triple H’s career was still in its junior days when the Attitude Era took hold of the wrestling industry. He was good and had an excellent finisher, but he wasn’t quite main event material. Even with that, he received multiple strong pushes up the chain, eventually married the boss’s daughter, and now he’s looking at one heck of an inheritance.
Here’s why Triple H as an Attitude Era wrestler was overrated. The likes of Stone Cold, The Rock, and The Undertaker were above him both in and out of the ring. Heck you could even make a case that wrestlers at the level of Mankind and Kane offered more to the company at that point. But even back then Triple H often hogged the main event limelight. The Game learned fairly early on just who to make friends with backstage, which certainly helped his career.
In fairness to The Game, he took himself to another level and became one of the greatest of all time. No one realized just how much they loved him until he missed so much screen time with that quad injury suffered in 2001.
1. The Hardy Boyz
Before I go on, let me say I was just as entertained by The Hardy Boyz as the rest of you. Jeff in particular took the high flying thing to a new level, and some of the stuff they did on the tables, ladders, and chairs front was brilliant. But one of the greatest tag teams of all time they were not.
There was too much reliance on the high flying, or the other objects coming into the ring. Good old fashioned wrestling wasn’t one of their strengths, and as characters alone, wrestling aside, neither of them were overly strong. As the post Attitude Era would show, they both had their issues with drugs and the law. Overall enjoyable but somewhat overrated.
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