When people think about the golden generation of wrestling, the likelihood is that most fans will point to the late 90s where wrestling was undoubtedly at its peak. With WCW and their nWo storyline pushing WCW to global fame, the WWE was being left behind especially with their cartoony outlook in wrestling. And so, Vince McMahon adapted to his competition and introduced the Attitude Era, the cure for the common show. The WWE opened the creative envelope with mature content, in depth storylines and an adult oriented product - gone were the days of superhero-like wrestlers who urged their fans to say their prayers and take their vitamins.
This initiated the Monday Night War as things were heating up between the two promotions with each company trying to outperform the other while wrestling fans were the true victors, being treated to great television week in, week out. While at one point, WCW outperformed the WWE 84 weeks in a row, eventually, the WWE prevailed as fans couldn't get enough of the Attitude Era with stars like Stone Cold, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, The Undertaker and simply being more entertaining than their WCW counterparts. WCW went out of business as the Attitude Era continued to flourish until WrestleMania 17 where most fans agree that it officially ended with Austin siding with McMahon.
It's been 14 years since the Attitude Era ended and yet, fans are still reminiscing about what was a golden period in the company's history, especially with today's more child oriented PG product. Luckily for those fans, they can relive all the best moments with the the new book, WWE: The Attitude Era, released in May 2015. With pictures, stories and anecdotes, the book is a must read for any Attitude Era fan and we've chosen 15 of the biggest revelations from the book.
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15 Chris Jericho on WCW and WWE
Chris Jericho seemed destined to become a WWE legend. Having wrestled in ECW and Smoky Mountain, even when he was signing a contract with WCW, his main goal was to use it as a springboard to eventually join the WWE. If the WWE didn't want Jericho, then Jericho would still be happy at WCW as they gave him his first break in the United States. But things didn't go as planned.
"I was the lowest of the food chain guys [at WCW], but pretty soon I started to see how it was and that the guys on top pretty much ran the show. There was no one guy. There was no Vince McMahon. There was Bischoff who listened to Hogan, Nash, Hall, Savage and Sting."
Y2J eventually got frustrated and left, only to fulfill his dream of joining the WWE where he went on to become a decorated superstar. Even today, Bischoff talks about how he should have listened to superstars like Jericho more at WCW.
14 Kane Had Doubts About His Attire
Glenn Jacobs is a true WWE legend, still wrestling even today 18 years after making his debut as Kane. What made Kane such a success was not only his pyro or his character being The Undertaker's brother, but also his attire. One of the most unique attires in all of wrestling, it set Kane apart and made him look cool. However, at first, the Big Red Machine had doubts about the proposed attire:
"I remember seeing pictures of Kane and the proposed outfit, and it wasn't anything that I envisioned. I envisioned Kane as this raving lunatic who escaped from a mental asylum or something like that. But when I saw the pictures, it looked more like a superhero costume."
Kane eventually voiced his concerns to Vince McMahon who assured him it would be great and more importantly, cool. And the boss turned out to be correct as Kane became a can't-miss proposition.
13 Stone Cold On What Turned The Tide
There are many factors that eventually caused the WWE to get the upper hand over WCW. From WWE's pushing of the envelope to the nWo's creative control causing WCW to become stale to many others, there isn't just the one main reason why WWE prevailed over WCW. Stone Cold Steve Austin however, believes it was Mike Tyson's introduction which swung things WWE's way.
"Man, I'll tell you what, when he [Vince McMahon] brought Mike Tyson to the mix, a mainstream guy who's one of the greatest boxers of all time, this tough guy that was this walking disaster, the baddest man on two feet, it brought so many outside eyeballs to our product, and it crossed us over. I mean, everybody was talking about that, and Vince hit a grand slam with that idea. We were on Sportscenter, we were on every news show across the world."
12 Signing Mick Foley Wasn't Taken Seriously
When Mick Foley was signed in 1996 and was to be transformed into the gimmick of Mankind, the creative team didn't really regard him as a top recruit and certainly not as a future World Champion. As Jim Ross states:
"Mick Foley was not a 5-star, highly regarded recruit. I thought he had untapped talent and would match up very well working with Undertaker."
While others didn't agree with JR, he was reluctantly given the blessing to hire Foley and it turned out to be a masterstroke as Mankind became a worthy opponent for The Undertaker (and many others). Putting his body on the line, Foley was entertaining and became the beloved underdog. He is undoubtedly an underrated reason for the Attitude Era being such a successful period and has become a WWE legend since.
Good call, JR.
11 Big Show's Thoughts on His Bosses
Whenever you see Big Show talk about his time in WCW and the nWo, he doesn't seem to be fond of those memories as you get that impression, particularly in the "nWo: The Revolution" documentary. And Eric Bischoff is probably one reason for that who Big Show thought was a "really weird cat."
"I didn't like him much at all in WCW. He was like a kid that got his dad's pistol and was threatening everyone else in the neighborhood or a kid that got his dad's AMEX. He threw money at the problem and had a limitless bank account, so they were able to do great things as far as the amount of money they would spend on talent."
Big Show went on to call Bischoff a d*** and while he agreed that Vince McMahon could be an a**hole too, Show said Vince at least treated people with a lot more respect.
10 The First Divas Revolution
While there's a Divas revolution going on right now, Trish Stratus believes the first one started in the Attitude Era. While many associate that era with bra and panties and pretty much, Divas just exposing themselves, Stratus believes men and women were equal at the time.
"As a Diva, I got a chance to tag team with The Rock and go against Vince McMahon and Kurt Angle. That type of thing doesn't happen today. I even tag teamed with Triple H to go against Lita and The Rock. When have you ever seen women in these types of matches?"
"In the Attitude Era, women were considered equal to the guys. We were all just characters, and every character was given the opportunity to compete. I was power bombed through a table by Bubba Ray Dudley, I was choke slammed over the top rope by Big Show, I was choke slammed by Kane. All of these things did wonders to not only build up my credibility as a character, but as a performer, proving to everyone backstage that I was willing to take these types of chances."
While there is certainly more "wrestling" with Divas today, Stratus has a point about Divas being characters at the time, who all had stories that audiences were invested in. Something for Triple H to think about as he slowly takes over the company.
9 Jim Ross' Favorite Match To Call
Jim Ross is the greatest commentator in WWE history. While Vince McMahon never admired his acting skills, he did trust his instinct as Ross' commentary could automatically make a match or moment that much more epic. But what was his favorite match to call? There are so many legendary moments that JR has called from "Stone Cold, Stone Cold!" to "Aw, son of a b***!" but his favorite was undoubtedly the Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Mankind.
"The reason it's the most memorable is because people refuse to forget it. This match gets brought up all the time, not just by fans but by sites lifting the commentary and putting it over video of everything from NBA dunks to UFC knockouts."
What got JR even more worked up during the incident was the fact that he had an emotional investment in Foley as he brought him into the WWE. Regardless, it was an epic moment indeed and JR's commentary will forever be immortalized.
8 The Many Risks WWE Took With The Rock
While The Rock is arguably the most successful WWE superstar when you think about his overall career, it's easy to forget about the many risks that WWE took with The Great One. The Rock had the attitude required for the WWE but by debuting as Rocky Maivia, the WWE nearly drained all of that attitude with that gimmick by, as JR called it, sanitizing it.
By trying to build the next babyface, the creative team accidentally built up someone the crowd hated. A heel turn brought the best out of The Rock as we all know and he soon started following the direction that was planned as the next babyface. However, the WWE decided to take another risk and that was make The Rock heel again in late 1998 but this time, aligning himself with the company's top heel, Vince McMahon.
The risk was that Rocky was slowly catching fire and becoming a top babyface alongside Austin. The creative team then bucked tradition and decided to make him heel and becoming World Champion. This time however, the risk worked out as it turned out to be a phenomenal success.
7 Trish Stratus Lost Her Title Because She Refused To Kiss Torrie Wilson
There are many crazy stories as to how certain WWE superstars have lost their title but Trish Stratus had a very unique one - the kiss of death. Stephanie McMahon wanted Trish to crawl on Torrie Wilson in a Smackdown segment and kiss her. Trish was fine with this except for the fact that she felt it didn't make sense for her character at the time. She insisted she'd kiss Wilson on the cheek but that wasn't enough as Stacy Keibler was eventually chosen for the role. The next week on RAW, Stratus found herself losing her title to Jazz in a clean defeat.
"So, was I being punished? Who knows? I was never told that's why I lost, but it was a little strange that WrestleMania in my hometown of Toronto was coming up, and all of a sudden, I wasn't going in as champion."
Trish eventually got the title back but still stands by her decision even today.
6 Shawn Michaels' Fear of Getting Beaten Up
Shawn Michaels was in on the Montreal Screwjob but he knew that it was necessary especially after Vince McMahon asked him to be a part of it. His reputation backstage however, was already volatile and he knew that he was going to be hated for it. And so, after the event, HBK feared getting beaten up by other talent who may have found out about it but his fears eased when one superstar found out.
And that was The Undertaker.
"I've always told people that I was only concerned about one guy, and that was Taker. I knew if he was cool with it or understood what went down, then that was really all that mattered to me. I just know he came out, shook my hand, said we're cool and that was that."
Another example of how big of a locker room leader Taker was.
5 How The Curtain Call Caused Austin 3:16
Triple H, with one booking decision, could have altered the entire future of the WWE. The King of Kings was supposed to win King of the Ring in 1996 and go into a huge program with Shawn Michaels for the World Title. However, because of the infamous "Curtain Call" incident, it was scrapped and Stone Cold ended up winning it.
Imagine that - Triple H winning the tournament would mean Austin wouldn't have beaten Jake "The Snake" Roberts and delivered his infamous Austin 3:16 promo which many believe was the catalyst for the Attitude Era.
Triple H however, thinks it was fate and that he wasn't ready anyway for a push at the time.
4 Sting vs. Stone Cold?
We all know how the WWE botched the WCW Invasion angle which had such potential. After all, the main WCW stars like the nWo, Goldberg and Sting were all missing so it didn't really feel like an invasion at all. While they've all appeared now with Sting fighting his first WWE match against Triple H at WrestleMania earlier this year, there was a chance of Sting appearing in a WWE ring all the way back to 2003. And not just that, but by confronting Stone Cold Steve Austin!
The idea was for Sting to debut at the end of WrestleMania XIX where The Rock had just beaten Austin and Sting would show up, confronting him. Sting says negotiations fell apart but believed it would have been an incredible night which would have translated into major rivalries and match-ups for years to come. Additionally, Austin's injuries were forcing him intro retirement.
As for Austin, he too thinks it would have been interesting for Sting to have shown up that night and get a four or five-year run in the WWE when he was younger. Oh what could have been.
3 Kevin Nash Thinks 'Montreal' Was A Work
The Montreal Screwjob went down in history as one of wrestling's most important moments for many reasons but the simplest one was that it was real. Vince McMahon (along with Shawn Michaels and Earl Hebner) screwed Bret Hart out of the title via his own submission move in front of his Canadian fans. However, Kevin Nash doesn't seem to believe it was real.
Big Sexy thinks the whole thing was a work and that Hart was in on the plot:
"To this day, I still have to raise a Rock eyebrow on it. When I watched it back, and they show the clip of Vince after he got socked, disheveled - knowing Vince at that time - I don't know. It just had that little bit of taste of work to it."
Nash's thinking was that no matter what was happening, Vince would never let on that something was bothering him, whether it was a broken neck or a trial and yet, he took a punch from Bret and sold that he was hurt which was out of character. Definitely an interesting viewpoint.
2 Stone Cold's Favorite Rivalry
Stone Cold is arguably the biggest babyface in WWE history and has had a number of rivalries with many big superstars from The Rock to Bret Hart to Triple H to Kurt Angle and more. However, the Texas Rattlesnake claims his favorite rivalry was with a non-superstar, Vince McMahon, a rivalry which Austin believes was the best of all time.
"It really was the most important one that I was in. It took our action, our level, higher and brought in even more eyeballs, and just made people want to tune into Monday Night Raw to see what the hell these guys were going to do to each other next."
Hard to argue with that as it was one heck of a rivalry which ultimately put WCW out of business.
1 The Undertaker Gave Triple H Advice Regarding Stephanie McMahon
As much as Triple H is respected by millions, there are some who still believe that he 'slept' his way to the top of the WWE by marrying Vince McMahon's daughter, Stephanie. While that's not true as Triple H was already a top heel and a WWE champion before he fell in love with Stephanie, even The Game had his doubts before he and Stephanie went public with their relationship.
So what did Triple H do? He sought advice from The Undertaker who was a "constant in the locker room." The Deadman told him that he was playing with a little bit of fire and that if it doesn't go well, his career could be on the line. But after thinking about it for a long time, Undertaker replied with this:
"You know what? F*** it. F*** all of them. It's nobody's business but yours and hers. You know who you are; you know what you do; you know how you work with everybody. The day everybody finds out about this, you will become the piece of s*** that only got to where he got to because he was banging the boss's daughter. And there will always be an asterisk next to your career and everything you do going forward and that it was all given to you for no reason. But you know who you are and how hard you work. You have nothing to prove to anybody - to me, Vince, to anybody - about your passion and all the other things for the business. Go for it."
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