Without a doubt, the most beloved era in WWE history is the Attitude Era. It's no shock as to why this particular time period remains so well regarded among wrestling fans. From it's initial inception in 1997 all the way up until it ended in 2001, the Attitude Era provided some of the biggest moments in WWE history. Whether it's the rise of Austin 3:16, Mick Foley winning his first World Title, or even Sable powerbombing Marc Mero, there was always something to enjoy out of the Attitude Era that would go on to leave a major impact in the company and be fondly remembered for years to come. However, there are also a plethora of moments from the Attitude Era that have remained largely forgotten by most of the wrestling community.
On a weekly basis, "shocking" was the word of the day on WWE television during the Attitude Era. In order to compete with their rivals over at WCW, WWE had to bring in ratings by shocking their audiences. But when every moment is a shocking moment, it's easy to forget a few of the jaw dropping moments that took place every week. There are several reasons why a moment may be forgotten. As we just said, it's hard to keep up with every shocking moment when every moment is a shocking moment. In other cases, some moments just don't hold up as well when being rewatched today as they did when originally aired. Some of WWE's crudest moments are so shocking that they company may want their fans to forget them. Even in a time where risque wrestling segments were the norm, it was still possible to go too far. Whatever the reason may be, here are a few moments that even the biggest Attitude Era enthusiasts seem to have forgotten.
11 15. The "Death" Of Goldust
For as long as his career in WWE has lasted, Dustin Rhodes has always been associated with his Goldust character. For some, it's hard to imagine the man without his facepaint so it must come as a shock to people who didn't know that he tried to drop the gimmick on the May 11th, 1998 edition of Raw. He cut a promo about how he wanted to live out a legacy worthy of the Rhodes family name, not be known for this freak of a character. He started spouting himself as a newly devout born again Christian who wanted to continue his career without the Goldust moniker. So on this day, he took his wig and costume, put it in a barrel, and burned it. The repackaging didn't last long as some months later, Dustin Rhodes started walking around with signs reading "He's coming back!" While the signs alluded to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Dustin was actually referring to the return of his Goldust character, which he reprised in October 1998.
With WWE being amid their current Women's Revolution, two legendary pioneers that gave fans hope that such a Revolution would be possible were Trish Stratus and Lita. During the Attitude Era, both were considered tough as nails compared to most female wrestlers. While most (if not all) of the women in the Divas Division were hyper-sexualized and put in short bathroom break matches, Lita and Trish were two of the few women that were taking big bumps from the male wrestlers. While female wrestlers still had a long way to go before being respected by both fans and backstage brass alike, one of the earliest moments that earned everyone's respect was on the July 17th, 2000 episode of Raw is War. During a chaotic segment involving the Dudleys, the Hardys, and T & A (Test and Albert), it was just a typical tag team brawl until the end where the ladies of the latter groups started to duke it out. Things culminated when they found themselves atop a ladder until Trish pushed Lita off through a table. It was the first time that women on WWE TV were given a chance to show the world they could dish out some heavy-duty action to each other, proving that their division deserved some serious attention.
On the June 22nd, 1998 episode of Raw, Paul Bearer gave an interview via satellite from the comfort of his own home. As Bearer berated The Undertaker for attacking him the week prior, the lights in his home started to flicker. Ignoring the warning as merely bad lighting, Bearer continued until The Deadman himself showed up. He immediately started wailing on his former manager and ransacking the place, throwing and destroying everything in sight until the titantron feed cut out. In an era riddled with home invasion segments (i.e. Stone Cold invades Brian Pillman's home; Pillman's got a gun), this turned out to be one of the more forgotten ones. More memorably, Undertaker would go on to shove Mankind of the top of the Hell in a Cell structure just 6 days after this segment. The fact that a match so jaw-dropping occurred just a few days later might have contributed to people forgetting this Raw segment from the week before.
We all remember the ridiculous segments Mark Henry would get himself into under his Sexual Chocolate gimmick (*cough* Mae Young gives birth to a hand *cough*) but few remember what started the gimmick to begin with. Every wrestling fan can recall the gimmick, but not many can pinpoint when Henry decided to go from the muscle of The Nation of Domination to a passionate lover. Well, Henry started to call himself Sexual Chocolate in late 1998 when he started gaining affections for Chyna. Yes, what even less people may remember is how Henry had a big ole crush on the 9th Wonder of the World. Chyna would repeatedly reject Henry's sexual advances until Henry filed a false sexual harassment charge against Chyna. He only agreed to drop it if she agreed to go on a date with him. She begrudgingly accepted and hilarity ensued. From D'Lo Brown being their limo driver to Chyna and Henry tag teaming some jerks at a restaurant, the two proved to have entertaining chemistry. It can be considered as the first instance where WWE booked Chyna like a woman and it paved the way for her later angle with Eddie Guerrero, one of her career highlights.
10 11. Beaver Cleavage
For whatever reason, Vince McMahon has always been rather keen on adding an incest storyline to his programming. All of his attempts either never fell through or flopped completely. Just a few years ago, he tried to push Katie Lee and Paul Burchill as an incestual sibling pair, but they never really got over with the gimmick. Some years beforehand, Vince tried to book himself as the father of Stephanie McMahon's real life child, but his daughter was too grossed out to go along with it. Vince's earliest attempt at bringing incest to his company was with Beaver Cleavage. Played by Mosh of the Headbangers, Cleavage drew parallels with the popular Leave it to Beaver star, only with an added hint of innuendo. Thankfully, it only went as far as vignettes where Cleavage begged Mrs. Cleavage to let him drink "Mother's Milk." And even that went farther than it should've...
9 10. Chaz Domestic Abuse Angle
Realizing that Beaver Cleavage was a flop before he even had his first match, Mosh was once again repackaged as Chaz. Fans have long forgotten how Chaz debuted by ridiculing his former Cleavage gimmick and revealing Mrs. Cleavage as his real life girlfriend, Marianna Komlos, in a shoot promo. Equally forgotten is the domestic abuse storyline that surrounded the pair. After the two had a falling out and apparent breakup, Komlos arrived to the September 13th episode of Raw is War with a black eye. Komlos heavily implied that Chaz had been beating her. For the coming weeks, various members of the locker room banded together to beat down Chaz for hitting a woman. Chaz denied the allegations until Komlos tried to have Chaz arrested. Just in the knick of time, in came Chaz's former Headbanger pal, Thrasher, who revealed hidden footage of Komlos putting black eye makeup on backstage. Komlos had been lying about the abuse as revenge against Chaz. Komlos was arrested and The Headbangers reformed as if Mosh's last two awful angles never happened.
Chyna and Mark Henry's segments together weren't always fun and games. Well, they were, especially for 1998, but maybe not so funny by politically correct standards. After the two had their date, Henry started falsely going around saying he got it on with Chyna. An outraged Chyna decided that the best way to get back at Henry was to hook him up with her "friend," Sammi. One night on Raw, Chyna left the two alone (with a hidden camera) and things quickly started to heat up between Sexual Chocolate and Chyna's friend. Suddenly, things cooled down when Henry felt something erect below Sammi's waist. Sammi took off her wig to reveal herself as a man in drag. Chyna's revenge was complete the following week when she not only coerced Henry to admit he lied about sleeping with her, but Chyna played the footage in front of the crowd with his mother in attendance. One reason why WWE are keen on letting this moment stay forgotten is because the segment actually attracted some controversy at the time for appearing trans-phobic.
8 8. Kane Saves The Undertaker
Botchamania fans will recognize this clip as the opener for the show's weekly "Everyone Talks Too Much" segment, but even they may have forgotten the segment where the clip came from. On the January 12th, 1998 edition of Raw, a week after Kane seemingly split away from Paul Bearer, Shawn Michaels took the mic on behalf of DX to invite Kane to become the group's new muscle. To everyone's surprise, Undertaker came out instead and told The Heartbreak Kid to leave his family alone and worry more about the two's upcoming Casket Match at the Royal Rumble. He then proceeded to grab Michaels by his throat (as seen above) only for the numbers game between HBK, Chyna, and Triple H to get the better of him.
That is until Kane ran in to help his older brother clean house. Not only is this moment significant for spawning a wrestling meme, but it also was the first time we saw The Brothers of Destruction working together side by side, even though they did continue their feud shortly afterwards all the way up to WrestleMania XIV.
7 7. NWA Invasion
Like just about every other wrestling promotion in the world, WWE is no stranger to invasion angles. Whether you immediately recall the 1997 ECW invasion or the 2001 WCW invasion or even the 2010 Nexus invasion, you know that WWE has played host to a plethora of invasion angles. However, one angle that goes unmentioned in invasion conversations is the NWA invasion. On the January 5th, 1998 Raw broadcast, Jim Cornette appeared with NWA promoters Howard Brody and Dennis Coralluzzo and booked a NWA Title match between Jeff Jarrett and Barry Windham, which Jarrett won thanks to interference from Cornette. From there, the NWA would become a bonafide stable in WWE where members (like Windham, Dan Severn, and The Rock n' Roll Express) would enter and NWA matches would be sanctioned on WWE television. Unfortunately, these NWA segments got no reaction from WWE fans and the angle died a quick death by August. Looking at how badly the NWA invasion flopped, one has to wonder whether it's actually been forgotten or if it's been deliberately left out of invasion discussions on account of how lackluster it was.
6 6. Too Much
Brian "Too Sexy" Christopher and Scott "Too Hot" Taylor became quick fan favorites upon forming their Too Cool tag team, but their alliance started off as a long road to popularity. Before they were Too Cool, they were Too Much. Initially, the two wore vibrant colors while acting flamboyantly chummy with each other. Imagine an even less subtle version of Saturday Night Live's Ambigiously Gay Duo. It seemed like the heel team's obvious homosexual mannerisms and antics were done as an attempt to garner heat. Considering the crowd would chant "F*****s!" at the team on a weekly basis, it was working. Seeing as both the team's presentation and fan response isn't exactly PC (or for that matter, PG) by today's standards, it's no wonder why WWE try to keep the team's early beginnings as a secret. The company must've received backlash from the angle at the time as well given how quickly the team were re-packaged as the hip hop group, Too Cool. In any case, the careers of Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty certainly benefited from the change.
5 5. Chris Jericho Kidnaps And Tortures Chyna
The pinnacle of Chyna's career came during her feud with Chris Jericho, but this is one moment you probably won't see in her eventual Hall of Fame highlight reel. During the November 15th, 1999 edition of Raw, Chris Jericho grabbed a cameraman and ordered him to follow him backstage. Y2J guided the camera to a darkly lit room where Chyna was being held captive strapped to a chair. Still reeling from his Intercontinental Championship loss to Chyna the night before at Survivor Series, Jericho spoke in psychotic, incoherent ramblings about how embarrassed he was. He demanded Chyna to admit the previous night was a fluke or else he would smash her hand with a hammer. Calling his bluff, Chyna refused. The shocked awe of the crowd and Chyna's shrieking both echoed across the arena as Jericho brought his hammer down. While Jericho spent much of the 2000s being the cocky rockstar character most people associate him with, he showcased in this segment a more insecure, vile side to him we hadn't seen before. It was one of the more disturbing performances ever given by Jericho and made the segment a spine-chilling one to watch live.
4 4. Terri Runnels’ Miscarriage
One of the most disturbing moments to ever come out of the Ruthless Aggression Era was when Lita had a miscarriage while pregnant with Kane's baby. As appalled as fans were to see the angle in 2004, some don't remember or know that WWE tried out a similar angle during the Attitude Era in 1998. Fresh off her run as Marlena, Terri Runnels returned to WWE under her real name and with her on-screen relationship with Goldust over. This gave her the opportunity to find a new on-screen lover in Val Venis, who she began managing. Venis would later cruelly dump Runnels after she claimed to be pregnant with his child. After acquiring the services of Mark Henry and D'Lo Brown, she started regularly accompanying them to matches. During one January match, Brown accidentally bumped a pregnant Runnels off the apron, where Runnels would have a miscarriage. Or so we thought. Runnels would later admit that she was never pregnant to begin with. The quick retcon may have been because of just how uncomfortable the scene made audiences. Or possibly because everyone involved with the angle hated it. To quote Jim Cornette, "It was just bad taste done in bad taste." Even Runnels has said in interviews how much she hated the angle.
3 3. Vince Goes Rattlesnake Hunting
One of the most well remembered moments in the iconic Vince McMahon vs Stone Cold Steve Austin feud was their Steel Cage match from St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which also saw the WWE debut of Paul Wight. What isn't as well remembered is the build up to the big show. On the February 1st, 1999 edition of Raw, with St. Valentine's Day Massacre just around the corner, Vince thought that he could weasel his way out of his match with Stone Cold if he was provoked to fire The Rattlesnake. So he, along with his stooges, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, traveled all the way down to Austin's home state of Texas to hunt him down. The trio looked everywhere for him until Vince's troubles led him to a bar. He found Stone Cold and demanded him to hit Vince. Stone Cold told Vince he'd save his energy for the PPV, but he would let all of the Texans at the bar who Vince managed to tick off have a go at him. Austin would walk away and let those Texans have their way with the Chairman.
2 2. Brian Pillman/Goldust/Marlena Angle
Everyone remembers that when Dustin Runnels first picked up his Goldust gimmick, Terri Runnels played the sultry manager by his side, Marlena, but what many seem to forget is that beforehand, Marlena dated Brian Pillman in WCW. When Pillman finally made his way to WWE, his real life history with Marlena would form the basis of his feud with Goldust. At one point, Pillman won a match against Goldust at Ground Zero: In Your House where the stipulation was that if Pillman won, Marlena would become Pillman's sex slave for 30 days. That's exactly what happened as Pillman spent weeks dressing Marlena in provocative clothes and shooting scenes of the two in bed together as Goldust helplessly watched on fuming mad. While the angle did provide some interesting television, it unfortunately never found its conclusion before Pillman's tragic death. According to Terri Runnels herself, the angle would have ended with her reuniting with Goldust and having a wedding once the 30-day period was up. There, Pillman would object to the union, beat Goldust to a pulp, and with her fiancé’s blood all over her, Marlena would proclaim her love to Pillman. What a crazy twist that would've been! It's a shame that since the angle ended abruptly without a proper resolution, it's gone largely forgotten over the years.
1 1. DX Assault Stephanie McMahon
On the November 8th, 1999 edition of Monday Night Raw, Triple H defended the WWE Championship against Test (with Vince and Shane McMahon in his corner). Just as Test was on the verge of becoming World Champion, Road Dogg gleefully appeared on the titantron to guide the camera to the backstage dressing room. He opened the door to reveal Billy Gunn and X-Pac stripping a woman of her clothes. Though we couldn't see her face, the implication was that she was Stephanie McMahon. With Test and The McMahons running to the back—because, obviously, stopping the assault is more important than a wrestling match—Triple H was proud to retain his title by countout. Remember when DX just used to be goofy pranksters? Here, they made a hard turn into despicable villains. Either the company came to their senses or they balked out after receiving some backlash, but later in the week on Smackdown, DX revealed they only tricked the McMahons. The assault still went down backstage, but everyone could rest assured it wasn't Stephanie. There's a reason why you won't see this segment on a DX Greatest Hits DVD anytime soon.
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