5 Ways WWE Has Improved Since the Attitude Era
PG programming can't be all bad.
Over the years, the WWE has gone through several drastic shifts in tone and content with their TV shows.
To the dismay of many fans, the current product has been tamer than anything seen since the early 90s.
Because of these changes, many longtime fans can’t help but compare it to the times that WWE was an edgier product.
Namely, the Attitude Era is often brought up as the company’s crowning achievement from a pure entertainment standpoint.
This era though, is generally agreed to have ended around 2002.
We’re now 10 years removed from that time, and many fans still can’t help but compare the two eras.
Even WWE seems to remind us often, especially with THQ's WWE 13's marketing heavily focusing on the older product in favor of the new.
While there have definitely been a few ways that the WWE has changed for the worse since the Attitude years, they have moved in a positive direction in others.
Here are the top five ways that the WWE has improved since the Attitude Era.
#5: Better Production Values
Simply put, the production ability of the WWE is amazing.
The music, the lighting, the recap videos, it’s all done incredibly well.
Yes, with better technology, it's easy for WWE's programming to look better aesthetically, but they've gone above and beyond in every area.
TNA is the other major, national company right now. They have a lot of money behind it, but they're still years away from matching WWE on any sort of production level.
The overall stellar look of WWE probably prevents some fans from giving smaller promotions a second chance (ROH, DGUSA), as comparing the two makes the smaller company look minor league at best.
WWE has changed the way we look at wrestling.
Yes, they have a lot more money than other promotions, but they use it well. The product just looks slick.
The switch to HD was also a welcome sight, and it makes a lot of their older footage look archaic.
WWE has also put out some great DVDs over the past couple years like Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, along with the Steve Austin and CM Punk’s biographies.
These productions have come a long way from the WWF VHS tapes of the Attitude Era (just check out The Three Faces of Foley or Best of Raw collections for comparison).
As much as fans can argue about the stories or in-ring action on the current product, there's no denying how good it all looks.
#4: Less Sexism
Gone are the days of bra and panties matches, evening gown matches, lingerie pillow fights and mud wrestling pits.
Women managers no longer jump up on the apron, and remove their tops to distract their man's opponent.
Even the women's in-ring attire appears to cover up a bit more than it used to.
As bad as the division is now from an in-ring standpoint, at least it's not incredibly sexist like it was for years.
Take AJ for example.
Sure, she’s hot, but WWE doesn’t treat her as just a sex symbol. She was involved in a swimsuit battle royale over the summer, but nothing overly sexual or degrading.
When she wrestles, her main goal isn’t to rip off her opponents clothes, but to actually pin them.
What a novel concept!
When she was let go as GM, she didn’t have to strip and bark like a dog like Trish once did. She’s never had a kiss forced on her by a male wrestler like Stacy Keibler did, and has never been put through a table for a guy's sexual pleasure (like half the women on the roster did in the Attitude era).
While WWE is still a long, long way from being politically correct and current with the times, (and they do have a lot of work yet to do with the women's division), they've at least made some progress.
#3: Better Athleticism
Right now, WWE has some amazing in-ring performers.
CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, and, Daniel Bryan are among the best wrestlers in the world.
Even guys that a lot of fans are down on, like John Cena and Alberto Del Rio, are actually pretty good in the ring.
Throw in Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, The Rhodes Scholars, and Randy Orton and nearly every night is capable of some solid matches.
The Attitude era had a lot of great wrestling, but I'd argue that today's mid-card is better in the ring.
Guys like D'Lo Brown, Val Venis, Meat, The Headbangers, Viscera, Midion, Steve Blackman and The Godfather just aren't as athletic as a lot of today's talent.
Even the last remaining Attitude era wrestlers like Christian, Tensai (Albert), Kane, Mark Henry and The Big Show are as good, if not better, than they were years ago (well… maybe not Big Show).
Sure, there’s Brodus Clay, Ryback and The Great Khali stinking up the joint, but overall, the roster from a pure wrestling standpoint is maybe as good as it's ever been.
#2: No More Crash TV
There are some benefits to a tamer WWE product.
Sometimes, McMahon (along with Vince Russo) went a little crazy when they could do whatever they wanted.
The past few years, we haven’t had any aborted hands, Beaver Cleavages, incest angles or transvestites on TV.
Sure, acts like Hornswoggle and Santino have been embarrassing in their own ways, but a man simulating sex with a dead body in a funeral home is horrifying on a completely different level.
Yes, we miss out on the edginess of DX and Steve Austin, but we also don’t have to groan over the cheap, sleazy attention getting tactics.
The shows have become more predictable these days, but they also aren’t at risk of offending a portion of their audience for a desperate attempt at publicity.
It wasn't just the disgusting or offensive stories that made some episodes bad. Crash TV just threw so many things at you, that it was often hard to remember anything by the end of the show.
While it was often entertaining, sometimes it was a chaotic mess that needed to slow down.
#1: Longer World Title Reigns
From 1997 to 2002, the longest WWF title reign was 175 days.
That’s not even six months.
Sheamus just ended a six month title reign, and CM Punk is quickly closing in on a year.
As great as the Attitude era was, it was also notorious for some hot-shot title changes that did damage to the title.
Here are a few examples of some forgettable, short reigns: Vince McMahon (six days), Triple H (22 days), Mankind (one, 20, and 26 day reigns), Kurt Angle (15 days) The Rock (two, 21, 35, and 41 day reigns), Kane (one day), Bret Hart (one day).
During the Attitude era, the WWF changed their philosophy from having only a very, very select few ever holding the title, to essentially letting every top act have their turn.
In fact, only five different guys held the WWF title in the entire decade of the 1980s, (four if you don’t count Andre the Giant), while seven different guys held the WWF title in 1999 alone.
It went from an incredibly prestigious event, to a never ending game of hot potato.
When Punk loses, it’s going to mean something.
It's refreshing to see WWE go back to the past for something that works.
Now only if they'd go back and fix a few more things.
Is there anything else you think WWE does better today than they did in the Attitude Era? Sound off below.