WWE: 25 Things We Loved About the Attitude Era
To many WWE enthusiasts, no era will ever surpass the Attitude Era, which ran from 1998-2002. It is common knowledge that Stone Cold Steve Austin was the genesis and commencement of the WWE's Golden Era, which started on March 29, 1998, one night after Austin dethroned Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV. By May 2002, the Attitude Era was over and its biggest star, Austin, had walked out of the company due to a supposed feeling of being "burnt out."
The Attitude Era was far different than Hulk Hogan's Rock and Wrestling Era of the mid-to-late-1980s and Bret Hart's family-oriented early-to-mid-1990s. Without the Attitude Era, Stone Cold wouldn't have been able to flip his boss Vince McMahon the bird. Maybe we wouldn't have seen Sable's voluptuous body scantily clad. Nor would we have seen Mae Young give birth to a hand or Mark Henry kiss a man.
If Austin was the focal point of the Attitude Era, then Sable was certainly its sex symbol. Additionally, Sable was the top female competitor in WWE at this point as she won several Women's Championships. Sable personified both brawn and beauty in the ring and was key to the Attitude Era.
Austin wasn't the limits of the Attitude Era, as other superstars like the Rock, Kane, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and HHH (DX) were near the top of the food chain. Though Austin was the main champion over this four-year period, many others rose to the top as the Attitude Era kick-started countless young careers.
Perhaps the only thing missing from the Attitude Era was "the superstar of the '90s," Shawn Michaels.
Without further ado, here are 25 things we loved about the Attitude Era.
Al Snow with Head
The idea of Al Snow's Head derived from a mannequin that he could talk to about his problems, since it seemed as if no one else listened.
A little known fact is that Head became a small-time phenomenon in South Philadelphia-based ECW. In the old Bingo Hall at the intersections of Front and Ritner Sts., Paul Heyman used to hand out fake heads to fans during Snow's matches.
The Head was often used as a weapon and accompanied Snow to the ring throughout his reign as WWE Hardcore Champion.
The 24/7 Hardcore Title Rule
Fans mostly enjoyed the outrageous television and unpredictability of the WWE during the Attitude Era. The concept of the "24/7 Hardcore Title" helped pique interest in the company.
It's hard to argue that the Hardcore Title (and even the Attitude Era) is a direct descendant of the ECW brand. There were more holders of the Hardcore Title than any other in WWE history, as the title kept changing hands constantly.
Al Snow, Crash Holly and Hardcore Holly were the most notable titleholders, with many others coming in between.
Blood was a staple in the Attitude Era and is something we haven't seen in ages in WWE. If you want to see blood, purchase a UFC or Boxing pay-per-view. There's a better chance of seeing blood on Lifetime than on WWE TV.
The WWE previously used blood not only for shock value but to tell stories in their matches. The effect was popular, gruesome and added to the integrity of the product. Since it has been obsolete in recent years, wrestling hasn't been the same.
I see that with the current PG era it's not feasible nor necessary, but it did add value to the programming of the Attitude Era.
The Tag Team Division
Since the WWE has forgotten about the tag team division in recent years, I will take you back to a time where it was quite deep. Pictured above is the greatest tag team ever, the Road Warriors. Who else would've possibly fit the bill?
There were consistently about six to eight teams that contended for the tag titles in those days. From the Legion of Doom to the New Age Outlaws, Headbangers, Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart and countless others. Tag teams weren't downgraded as they are currently in the WWE.
Having stock in this division really completed the product as it solidified the mid-card as well.
The Rock's Promos
The Rock is without a doubt the greatest WWE superstar to ever work the microphone. Maybe his promos in the Attitude Era foreshadowed his acting skills that he put on display down the line.
No one in the business since or prior could deliver a promo and absolutely be so loved/hated by the crowd quite like The Rock. He was a representative of the freedom that came with the Attitude Era and that "anything goes" on the mic.
His recent feud with John Cena that will be continued come WrestleMania 28 in 2012 has rekindled those epic promos.
The Corporate Ministry
The Corporate Ministry was a mega-stable consisting of the Ministry of Darkness and the Corporation. All in all, it had about 15 members and although it was short-lived, their antics were vile and led to another Undertaker title run.
In one of the most surprising swerves of the Attitude Era, Mr. McMahon was revealed as "the greater power" and had his own daughter, Stephanie, abducted by the Ministry. This event led to the formation of the Corporate Ministry.
The Promos& Build-Up Surrounding Pay-Per-Views
The pre-match build makes or breaks a match. The suspense leading up to a main event can be critical to the product and its appearance. Too many WWE pay-per-views today feel like they are just slopped together instead of mapped out and clean.
The videos and build certainly aren't what they used to be. Then again, on a weekly basis, neither are the rivalries nor the parts they played in the show.
The McMahon-Austin Rivalry
This rivalry between the top employee who never could win an "employee of the month" award and his devilish boss may have been the greatest feud in WWE history. We all wish we could douse our boss in beer and trample over him or her in chase of our own personal goals. Stone Cold Steve Austin, the hottest thing that wrestling had since Hulk Hogan, did that on a weekly basis on live television in 1999.
Their feud transcended to new heights as Austin and McMahon grew a mutual on-screen hate for one another with very little, if any, respect whatsoever. Perhaps Austin's greatest triumph over McMahon came at WrestleMania XV when he defeated the face of the Corporation, the Rock for the WWE Title.
D-Generation X and Their Crudeness
D-Generation X underwent many phases during the late 1990s and early 2000s, yet they always remained lewd and racy. Their invasion of WCW at the Norfolk Scope finally gave the WWE the upper hand in the infamous Monday Night Wars.
DX was originated by HHH, Shawn Michaels and Chyna and grew into a major source entertainment for fans across the world. In those days, it wasn't rare to see DX take over Monday Night Raw by eating up the first 25 minutes of airtime playing strip poker in the middle of the ring or doing just about anything else.
The Rock N' Sock Connection
The Rock N' Sock Connection consisted of previous rivals Mankind and The Rock. The duo became a popular tag team and three-time tag champions. These were two of the best superstars of the Attitude Era and even had some epic bouts between themselves.
They formed a bond through their great respect for one another and were a fixture in WWE programming during the Attitude Era. Mick Foley (Mankind) carried around Mr. Socko and even made a Mr. Rocko for The Rock, which included the People's Eyebrow on it.
Kurt Angle dethroned the Alliance by dousing them in milk in a September 2001 episode of Monday Night Raw. Two short months later at Survivor Series, they would be eliminated for good and their members would be forced to work for the WWE.
Along with the Undertaker and The Rock, Angle was one of the WWE's shining stars in their battle for supremacy against the Alliance. The milk bath, reminiscent of Stone Cold's beer truck antics of 1999, put the American Hero on top of the wrestling world.
Belts Actually Meant Something
During the Attitude Era there were fewer titles, meaning they actually meant a whole lot more to the product. In addition, oftentimes, depending on who was holding the titles, the Intercontinental Championship meant nearly as much as, if not more than the WWE Title.
There were no split brands so the titles were defended and honored on both shows. This added to the competitive aspect of the WWE.
Can anyone even take any champions seriously today besides the WWE and World Heavyweight Champions?
For consecutive years at WrestleManias 16 and 17, we were treated to two fabulous TLC matches. These bouts featured the Hardyz, E&C (Edge and Christian) and the Dudley Boyz.
These were some of the best and most intense matches in wrestling history and created a great feud. Since then, the TLC match has still been worked for pay-per-views but never in the way it was back in the early 2000s between these three tag teams.
Superb Technical Wrestling
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Even after the "Excellence of Execution" Bret Hart bolted WWE for the now-defunct WCW, McMahon brought in some amazing technical wrestlers. The likes of Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho were instrumental to the turn of the century in WWE, and they left their audiences in utter amazement.
Angle, the former 1996 Olympic gold medalist, was at the top of his game for many years in WWE, winning many titles.
Jericho, best known for his defeating Stone Cold and The Rock in the same night, was one of the best wrestlers in WWE history.
Chris Benoit might have possibly been the best technical wrestler of them all. He was trained in the infamous Hart Dungeon.
Another aspect of pro wrestling that is non-existent today, besides Cougar Vickie Guerrero, are the managers. Sunny was the first true diva of WWE and was namely a manager of the Bodydonnas and Road Warriors, among other groups.
Managers played intricate roles in the outcomes of numerous matches as they were keys to their respective superstars' successes. Chyna, for instance, helped guide DX to fruitful times, while also entering in the ring herself on occasion.
The art of the manager is certainly a lost one, much like tag teams.
Whether it was being DX's personal bodyguard and muscle or taking on the men while winning the Intercontinental Championship, Chyna was a dominant force.
To be quite blunt, Chyna was built like a man and competed with them as well. In addition, one of her major accomplishments was competing in the 1999 Royal Rumble. She was the first woman to ever compete in the event, and she even eliminated Mark Henry.
Ken Shamrock Being in the Zone
The UFC's Ken Shamrock wrestled briefly for Vince McMahon's WWE during the Attitude Era. Shamrock made a smooth conversion from the octagon to the squared circle and quickly garnered the attention of fight fans.
Shamrock was known as "The World's Most Dangerous Man" and could snap almost instantaneously. When Ken Shamrock was "in the zone" no one was safe; he was unstoppable. His warpaths often led to injuries to fellow superstars and even referees.
Road Dogg's Epic Introductions
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES, D-GENERATION X PROUDLY BRINGS TO YOU, THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS OF THE WORLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!! THE ROAD DOGG JESSE JAMES, THE BADASS BILLY GUNN, THE NEW AGE OUTLAWSSSSSSSSSS!!!!"
"AND IF YOU'RE NOT DOWN WITH THAT WE GOT TWO WORDS FOR YAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! SUCKKKKKK ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The Big Valboski
Val Venis was a typical raunchy Attitude Era character who helped provide spice to Monday Night Raw. As a mid-carder, Val won several championships and was entertaining in and out of the ring.
His finishing move, "The Money Shot," was a comical name for such a move to say the least. With his trademark terry cloth towel, Venis fired all of the ladies in the crowd up and certainly turned them on.
Stone Cold's Beer Truck
I recall this moment vividly because I was attending WrestleMania XV the following Sunday here in Philadelphia. This was perhaps the most shocking of all Attitude Era moments and left its mark on WWE history forever.
Seeing then-champion The Rock and Vince/Shane McMahon swimming around in beer at the expense of an ecstatic Stone Cold was a moment I'll never forget. Austin put to end a lot of misery in that sequence, then won his title back on Sunday night in an epic showdown against The Rock, first in their WM trilogy.
Commissioner Shawn Michaels
Although the company's greatest in-ring competitor didn't perform during this Golden Era of wrestling, Shawn Michaels had an impact as commissioner. Among his most memorable moments was his sitting in his home bar with Stone Cold announcing that McMahon had to face Austin at St. Valentine's Day Massacre with a spot in the main event at 'Mania XV on the line.
Though Michaels' departure, along with Austin's winning of the title at WM XIV, kick-started the Attitude Era, Michaels still played a part. Whoa, it would have been something to see him in the ring for those four years instead of taking leave due to back problems. Michaels eventually came back in late 2002 and solidified his position as the best ever and is now a WWE Hall of Famer.
The Unpredictability of the Storylines
One aspect of WWE that has been critically torn apart is its Creative team. Creative hasn't necessarily come up with the best of storylines, and it's hurting the product almost on a weekly basis.
People tuned in in record numbers during the Attitude Era due to its uniqueness and unpredictability. You truly never knew what was going to happen on any give night of Monday Night Raw in 1999.
"D'Von!!!! Get the Tables!!!!!!"
When the Dudley Boyz came over from ECW they brought with them a pedigree of being one of the best tag teams in the world. They immediately made an impact in WWE and won numerous tag titles. Their violent antics and teamwork helped them gain adoration of rabid wrestling fans, yet also they were very hated at times.
Bubba Ray's signature call of "D'VON!!!!!! GET THE TABLES!!!!!!" was what the Dudleys were known for, to an extent. They had invented flaming tables in ECW and perfected table usage during the Attitude Era in WWE.
When was the last time you remember a regular table (non-media) used in WWE besides at TLC?
The McMahon-Helmsley Era
The McMahon-Helmsley Era was intertwined with the Attitude Era as HHH and Stephanie McMahon practically ran the company on-screen. Their dominance as the premier power couple of this time even saw them hold both the men's and women's heavyweight championships simultaneously.
Ironically, although at the time their marriage was an on-screen one, about three years later, they were married in real life. This storyline was groundbreaking and a bit dangerous, as you saw the boss's daughter involved, albeit on-screen, with a superstar. Maybe it's just bad business that turned genius as Stephanie and HHH will carry on the company in the future.
The Scorching Hot Divas
Though the divas of today are still very beautiful, in the Attitude Era, though they might not have been necessarily hotter, they were raunchier. Again, the idea of "anything goes" paved the way for the talent to do as they pleased during this time.
Sable was the sex symbol of the group, along with many others later on including Trish Stratus, Stacy Keibler and Lita. They were valets and wrestlers alike, and divas have since excluded their talents primarily to wrestling.