Change is a necessary part of life; it's inevitable. The very idea of change can cause great disturbance to some while others embrace change and welcome new beginnings. The old saying of “nothing lasts forever” is the absolute truth. Nothing can survive the test of time. Everything expires, eventually.
Change can bring about a tremendous amount of excitement, fear, hope, and uncertainty. The thought of “what happens next?” can become overwhelming but what's the point of anything if we cannot feel something?
During the first half of the 1990s, the WWE were lost amid a sea of cartoon-like characters and bad storylines. The company hit its “boom” in the 1980s and had become more popular than ever but suddenly the formula wasn't working. The culture had changed.
Long gone were the days of the glamorous mullet and colorful attires. The new generation of youth were sullen and disheveled. Those who watched wrestling no longer wanted Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, they wanted something different.
That “something different” was first provided to the audience by way of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. However, these Superstars were still too flashy for the kids of Generation X. WWE failed to capture the mood of the time. They failed to “smell the teen spirit.”
Thankfully, WCW would launch its own Monday night program direct opposite of the flagship WWE program This would lead to the next change within the company and a time that would prove to be the most controversial years in the history of professional wrestling: the Attitude Era.
Wrestling fans were introduced to a brand new concept; one with edge and chaotic circumstance. Shawn Michaels no longer played the role of “boy toy” but would instead lead a ground-breaking faction known as D-Generation X.
The company would allow their Superstars to flourish as amped-up versions of their real life personalities. In the process, they would unleash upon the wrestling world the two biggest stars of the Attitude Era in The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Of course that was then and this is now where the antics of the Attitude Era are no longer acceptable in WWE. Change has come once again and that's fine but the past cannot be overlooked; which is the general feeling one gets when watching the PG product. Therefore, let's inspect the situation.
These are the top 15 things WWE wants you to forget about the Attitude Era:
15 Austin 3:16
These days, when discussing the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin on WWE programming, "The Texas Rattlesnake" is often cited during a promo when a Superstar is discussing the all-time greats or simply known as "the biggest star of the Attitude Era."
While the latter is the absolute truth, the details are usually left untold as Stone Cold Steve Austin is not suitable for the current kid-friendly product. "Austin 3:16 says I just whoop your ass?" Yeah, on the Network or a video game but not on any main programming.
And that's just the bottom line of PG entertainment.
14 The Rock Prior to Hollywood
If you are unfamiliar with the Attitude Era then you are more accustom to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; Hollywood mega star, action hero, box office draw, and part-time WWE performer.
However, The Rock was once so much more and played such an integral part in the making of the Attitude Era. Of course, whenever The Rock does decide to grace WWE with his presence, the circumstances are different.
When The Rock reappears there is usually a hidden agenda of Hollywood promotion.
13 The Terrible Side of Shawn Michaels
Once a man finds the Lord, he "sets himself free" from all his past indiscretion and indecency, right? Well, if that's what that man must tell himself in order to face the rest of his life then go ahead.
Shawn Michaels found the Lord and is the better man for his life-altering epiphany. The second-coming (no pun intended) of Shawn Michaels in WWE was great as "The Show Stopper" clearly did not miss a beat.
What WWE fails to mention when discussing HBK is his troubled past and years of instigation and agitation - years that coincided with the Attitude Era.
12 Jerry Lawler, the Heel Commentator
Jerry "The King" Lawler is now the most beloved announcer in all of WWE but that wasn't always the case. There was once a time when Lawler served as the ruthless, heel-loving, color commentator alongside Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Michael Cole.
During the Attitude Era, Jerry Lawler was quick to belittle the top faces within the company while maintaining a certain edge to his character. Lawler felt like a hard-hitting personality and now borders the line of Grandpa.
Chances are Jerry Lawler will spend the remainder of his WWE career as a babyface color commentator.
11 Vince Russo
There has been so much said about Vince Russo over the years; some good but mainly bad. Russo has been blamed for a number of things throughout his professional wrestling career and the Attitude Era - depending who you ask - could qualify as a Russo revelation.
While the validity of many backstage claims are difficult to navigate, there is a common belief among many Superstars and personnel that Vince Russo first came up with the concept of the Attitude Era.
Therefore, was the Attitude Era really the brainchild of Vince Russo? That will probably remain debatable but one thing remains certain when it pertains to Russo: WWE wants you to forget that he was around during that pivotal time.
10 The Influence of ECW
Prior to anybody hanging on a cross of being slammed through a ring in WWE, such events were taking place in Extreme Championship Wrestling, where WWE obviously turned for inspiration.
This again would be denied by those at the top of the WWE food chain but the evidence is all there and surely Paul Heyman would support any argument that WWE "borrowed" ideas and storyline from ECW.
Of course, any new-age fan is expected to forget about the influence of ECW.
9 The Competition
Everybody knows something about The Monday Night War. Some know the entire story, others know bits and pieces, even the young fan of the modern era will know something, even if all they know are the three letters: N-W-O.
During this time, the WWE was often weakened by the competition and pushed to the brink of what many would call extinction. WCW came for a fight, threw the first punch, and fought their way to the bitter end.
If it wasn't for WCW, the Attitude Era would not have happened and the cartoon world of WWE would have continued to roll along.
8 The Battle of the Border
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart is considered one of the greatest professional wrestling rivalries of all time - a story that was told on national television and Pay-Per-View and ended in great controversy.
During this long-standing feud, the Shawn Michaels led stable of D-Generation X (American) would clash with the Bret Hart led stable of The Hart Foundation (Canadian) in an sports entertainment border war.
This friction of faction would see Shawn Michaels desecrate the Canadian flag on more than one occasion which as well know and have already discussed, should be overlooked in the eyes of the Lord and forgotten by WWE fans.
7 Satanic Situations
The darkest group on the current WWE roster would be The Wyatt Family - a cult-like crew of Doomsday preppers who look and act like wild men while not quite pushing the envelop that far.
During the Attitude Era, the darker side of WWE was very present. Especially with The Undertaker whose character once again evolved. This time, to its disturbing incarnation. The Undertaker would also introduce The Ministry of Darkness who were essentially portrayed as a group of Satanists.
The Undertaker took this new version of his character to extreme lengths including embalming sessions, kidnappings, and crucifixion.
6 Free Use of Profanity
These days the language in WWE has been drastically toned down. The occasional use of the words "ass" and "bitch" are about as far as WWE are willing to go in terms of vulgar language; and these words are not used frequently.
The Attitude Era was a time of more freewheeling promo work where Superstars were allowed to say things they would never get away with in this day and age. The language was dirty and it kept things interesting, even if the use of profanity is sometimes the cheap way out.
Do not expect this language freedom to return any time soon.
The Attitude Era began nearly twenty years ago and while hard to believe, so much has changed in the world of sports and entertainment in these twenty short years, especially in terms of homosexuality.
The gay marriage movement and rational debate have thankfully made tolerance of alternative lifestyles a more acceptable and normal part of society. In WWE, slanderous humor towards homosexuality has been abolished.
However, there was a time when the "gay joke" was a common aspect of WWE programming.
WWE fans still ogle over the Divas and Superstars. That will never change. It's human nature to find these nearly naked competitors attractive. However, sexuality is no longer a primary focus on camera.
The women of WWE has finally been placed in a favorable position and given some well-deserved respect and ring time. While they are still beautiful women they are also fierce performers who have moved past the days of the Bra and Panties match.
With the recent surge of women in WWE, it is clear that (at least Triple H and Stephanie) the company wants these women represented in a more positive light. Thus, they also want you to forget about the days of the sex-driven Diva.
3 Excessive Violence
"Blading" in professional wrestling is the act of one's self in order to draw blood. This adds to the dramatics of a match while also intensifying the situation. "Blading" had been accepted for some time in WWE but has since been outlawed.
The excessive violence that came along with the Attitude Era would result in much bloodshed throughout those defiant years. Matches were more brutal and Superstars were pushed to their psychical breaking point.
No longer are Superstars "blading," taking chairs to the head, or performing crazy high spots. The action has been toned down to increase the in-ring longevity of these Superstars as well as their general well-being.
2 Abuse of Women
In recent years, AJ Lee was once accidentally "ran over" by Big Show who was chasing Daniel Bryan around the ring. This isolated situation was used to add realism to the angle and help enhance the storyline.
However, these are no longer the days of Attitude and the men purposely abusing the women is a long gone thing of the past. The female performers now fight the female performers while the men no longer strike the women of the roster in any manner.
Naturally, WWE would like for you to forget about women getting put through tables, hit over the head with guitars, and catching finishing maneuvers (Good call on this one).
1 The Nation of Domination
There has been an ugly theme of racist-related issues in WWE as of late. Hulk Hogan and his anti-black recording. Zahra Schreiber and her Nazi-theme Instagram posts. Both of whom were fired from the company.
It is understandable how a major company like WWE does not want to be associated with anybody deemed racist but the WWE has a long history with grotesque racism; from backstage stories to on-screen angles.
The Attitude Era really played the race-card, especially with the original version of The Nation of Domination. The group of militant black men seemed like a solid idea until they ended up at the receiving end of bad jokes.
Eventually, the faction was tweaked and simply known as The Nation, taking on a cooler demeanor and less focused on race.