An era of blood, sex and violence brought some of the best moments in professional wrestling history. One day, Vince McMahon decided to bring some edge to the spotlight of wrestling of WWE.
It didn't stop at singles competition as teams such as the Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian, the Dudley Boyz and the New Age Outlaws brought relevance to the tag team division in some of the most iconic matches in history.
Degeneration-X highlighted the Monday Night Wars in the tail end of the era in which we saw the most blood, gore, profanity, violence and sex.
Undertaker threw Mick Foley off of the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We saw the Big Show, the Radicalz and Chris Jericho enter WWE and make a synonymous name for themselves.
Just as I mentioned above, the Brothers of Destruction became one of the most popular teams of all-time and the Ministry of Darkness intruded our television screens. Most of the Ministry's actions were controversial just like the crucifixion of Steve Austin.
It was said to start when McMahon used Vince Russo and his "crash-style" booking to change the product from a fan-friendly product into an adult-centered presentation.
Bret Hart shoved McMahon after his loss of a chance for the WWE belt in March of 1997 and the rest soon followed. Hart and Michaels began their legendary feud, which culminated into the Hitman leaving the company due to the "Montreal Screwjob".
"Austin 3:16 says I can kick your a**!" The Attitude Era brought 3:16 and Austin became WWE's first true megastar. With a great hero comes an even better foil as McMahon took it upon himself to ruin Austin's stardom. The feud between McMahon/Austin is said to be the best of all-time.
HBK and Taker feuded for a short time, but it was a very important part to the timeline of events to come, so the wheel could keep turning.
Mike Tyson brought a wealth of popularity to WWE when he was the special guest enforcer at WrestleMania XIV. He turned on HBK after the victory and celebrated with Austin. The mainstream was more involved with WWE due to Tyson's participation.
However, as the times changed, the imminent demise of the Attitude Era had come. It was 2002 and the world was changing. No more were the ideas of swearing and blood on TV as acceptable as they once were. Blood has been lesser since 2006-07 and the use of blading is prohibited.
It's 2013 and people are wanting the Attitude Era to return. I'm here to tell you that it is not possible. In this article, I'll get into five categories that will prove as to why it cannot return.
- Acceptance of Blood
- Foul Language
- WWE's New Image
- Political Correctness
- WWE and the Real World
First, let's dive into the aide that helped matches become more vicious and sentimental... blood.
Blood is a natural part of the human body and life itself. WWE used the internal liquid to aide in match quality, emotion and sell the crowd to how vicious the wrestlers were being and the dramatic feel to a five-star match.
In today's society however, blood is not as accepted as it once was. I can count on my hand the amount of matches that included blood and most of them are bouts that included Triple H.
The outlawing of blading had a huge effect on the dispute about blood in wrestling. You can look at an interview with Nigel McGuinness as he talks about the issues of blading. Just speaking from my outlook on professional wrestling, blading is stupid and dangerous.
A likeliness of Hepatitis are in effect and as a person just trying to do a job inside a wrestling ring, it's not worth the risk.
I was always concerned, ever since I used to go and wrestle for Ian Rotten, for IWA-Mid South. A lot of times there were so many hardcore matches on his shows that the ring would just be filled with bodily fluids, like blood, sweat, and shards of glass, and all this horrible stuff, and I remember thinking then, like God, I’m scared to death of getting in that ring - Nigel McGuinness ROH Wrestler
There is more of a safe feeling in WWE because of the no-blading policy and the lack of blood. USA Network is a family network, which helped cause WWE to go PG. More factors were involved, but the network Raw was shown had a lot to do with it.
Blatant usage of blood is not accepted in society which came with the Attitude Era. Also, blood is not necessary to have a great match or segment.
Another big reason why Attitude will not return is due to the use of someone's mouth.
With the evolution of modern television the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has tightened up the variable use of language and gestures on live TV. The use of certain words and expressions are allowed, but they have been slowly restricting it since Attitude Era.
Remember the apology speech by DX?
That would have been outlawed heavily by the FCC if it were to happen on this past week's edition of Raw. The usage of those words are prohibited and suggested as "obscene" and "profane language that just isn't necessary.
It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours. Congress has given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the responsibility for administratively enforcing these laws. The FCC may revoke a station license, impose a monetary forfeiture or issue a warning if a station airs obscene, indecent or profane material. - http://www.fcc.gov/guides/obscenity-indecency-and-profanity
You can read more at the link above, but it's a different time. As with any rule, there are exceptions such as Triple H's usage of b**** on Raw two days ago. The word is never used and Vince McMahon knows that in a script, it is not suggested to use profanity all throughout the show.
It's a family program that should be treated like one on-screen. CM Punk can cut a crafty promo without swearing and isn't that what TV is about?
The Attitude Era had intense moments and during the late 90's, it was accepted. In the last slide, I'll compare WWE to real-life briefly and explain why they change the way they do.
Up next will be a short, but already known fact about WWE today—it's new image.
WWE is living in the PG-era right now. It has been for a few years. Since that time, many members of the IWC and many people who will comment on this article will say that it sucks, the Attitude Era was much better and so were the wrestling and storylines.
Steve Austin and the Rock were the poster children of Attitude and John Cena is the man behind the PG boom.
Jokes about fruity pebbles and somebody's clothing are the new standard. Wrestling squash matches and having a guy like Zack Ryder on screen is the norm, which causes the uproar to begin.
It enticed me to write this article in the first place.
Wrestling has been exceptional since 2002 ended and will always continue to grow. There won't be anymore chairs to heads, ladders to faces and barbed wire, but the technical wrestling remains stagnant and a huge piece to World Wrestling Entertainment.
Vince McMahon is making money off of the product. His genius by using social media is creating great ratings in a day where he competes with Monday Night Football, playoff hockey and basketball as well as other programs like Dancing with the Stars.
Kayfabe is another invisible aspect, but it all comes with the territory. Today's fans are smarter, and that brings a new reality component to wrestling. Undertaker is the last of the breed, but it's a new product... a new era.
If someone mentions WWE, they still immediately mention how it's fake, but now the mainstream media can use it as a great collector of fan-friendly reactions. John Cena is still spearheading this era and it only brought more fans.
The next topic is by far the most controversial and more relevant to today's society. That is political correctness.
politically correctadj. Abbr. PC1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.2. Being or perceived as being overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters. - the Free Dictionary
We just saw an instance of this last Thursday and it is changing the way people act, speak, look and perceive each other on a daily basis.
Austin Aries just pulled off a very bad move on TNA Impact against Christy Hemme. She announced the wrong name as Aries and his teammate Bobby Roode came out. He insisted on yelling at her in the corner and he got on the top rope and put his crotch in her face.
Just to refrain from criticism, the following are all observations from me and not my personal opinions.
The definition said that is a complicated way of saying you cannot say or imply anything that will offend a certain race, gender, institution or group of people.
Just to enforce the idea, it is a limitation on what WWE writers can say, do and write. Remember a few years ago when John Cena and Jerry Lawler were making fat jokes to Vickie Guerrero?
A Bleacher Report writer, Ben Gartland, wrote an article explaining why they need to stop. I'm in no way disagreeing with him, but 10 years ago in the Attitude Era, that wouldn't have happened.
Sure the jokes were funny, but in a day and age where the image of a woman is protected, sensitive and intricate, there is no place for fat jokes to a woman that in Vickie's case, worked her butt off to lose the weight and found the search for happiness.
The crucifixion of Steve Austin was heavily debated back in the late 1990's, but the Christian and religious groups would have been very offended in the year 2013.
I urge all of you to find the memes that compare the Attitude Era and PG Era. It is quite astonishing at the fact all are very true. Vince McMahon once made Trish get on the mat and bark like a dog. Due to PC, there is no way that would happen in this day and age.
I'm in no way complaining about the PC world we live in, but in 2013, people's emotions are at stake and it's not worth hurting people to get a reaction.
In this next slide will be the comparison of the real world to the WWE. Ironically enough, the two are one in the same.
Although the image suggests all of the eras will be talked about, I'm only going to focus on the Attitude era and the PG era.
In the late 90's, it was easier to get away with things, the moods and emotions were different from household to household and it was acceptable to be violent, swear, get tattoos and piercings at a younger age.
Stone Cold and the Rock were role models for a reason. They used their mouths and did it with a lot of vulgarity to get with the crowd who supported such language.
All you need to do is Google images of PG era kids and compare them to Attitude era children and it's very different. I found a picture earlier that had a side-by-side image of children in each eras. The kid from 2013 was wearing a John Cena t-shirt and being held by his mother.
The kid in Attitude picture is flipping off the camera.
Attitudes have changed, people have changed and so has society. Throughout this article, I've tried to convince all of you why the era of Attitude will never change. Characters like Triple H, the Rock, Stone Cold and DX will never happen again.
It's uncanny how WWE evolves with the world and we have to attribute that stroke of genius to Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
With his television experience and promoting abilities, he is able to track and sustain the ebb and flow of professional wrestling. Great wrestling in 2013 doesn't need blood or foul language to carry a promo, but the creativity of the writing team and the man delivering words or physical matches is also responsible.
As fans of the product, we are now 11 years removed from the WWE's most successful and popular era. Is the Attitude era needed? No. Do people still want it? Absolutely and that will never change.
One thing is for sure: as the world grows and evolves, so will World Wrestling Entertainment. All we can do is sit down, relax and enjoy the ride.
Thank you all for enduring my journey throughout WWE and it's transition from the Attitude Era to today's pro wrestling environment.
I urge all of you to give me feedback on the article and share your opinions as to why or why not the Attitude Era could survive in 2013 and beyond.
Have a wonderful afternoon and evening everyone. I'll see you soon.
"The only thing you deserve is what you earn" Tom Brands