Are WWE Fans Better off Today Than During the Attitude Era?

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2020

Are WWE Fans Better off Today Than During the Attitude Era?

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    For many fans, the Attitude Era is widely considered to be the best era in WWE history. It was a wild time filled with memorable moments and even more memorable Superstars.

    WWE had to make a drastic change when WCW began winning the Monday Night War, so Vince McMahon took his company and completely revamped it.

    Superstars like The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley and The Hardy Boyz became huge stars at the time because they were given the freedom to do almost anything they wanted. 

    But were fans better off then than they are now? Comparing today's WWE to the one we had during the Attitude Era is almost like comparing two totally different promotions. We went from Stone Cold drinking beer and flipping the bird to The New Day dancing with kids and throwing out pancakes.

    Whether one is better than the other is a matter of opinion, but we can look at a few key factors in determining which era's fans had it the best. 

Access to Content

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    The Attitude Era took place at the turn of the century, so technology was much different, and so was the way we consume media.

    All we had to rely on back then was cable or satellite, video rentals and print media, such as magazines. If you wanted to see a specific pay-per-view match from the past, you had to hope your local Blockbuster had a copy of the event on VHS.

    These days, access to content has never been easier to obtain. Not only do we have thousands of hours of product available to us on WWE Network, but WWE also has a lot of videos on YouTube and posts tons of content to other social media platforms.

    If you want to see Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog from SummerSlam 1992, all you have to do is hit a few buttons and it's playing in high definition.

    We also have to remember that things like DVR and digital recording did not exist during the Attitude Era. If you missed an episode of Raw, you had to hope a friend recorded it on the VCR if you wanted to see a single second.

    When it comes to the availability of content, there is no argument. Today's fans have it better because they can see whatever they want with the click of a button. 

Price of PPVs

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    When WWE launched its streaming service in February of 2014, it changed the way we watch WWE in a fundamental way.

    The price of pay-per-views used to mean if you wanted to see every event WWE put on in a given year, you would have to pay roughly $500 or more.

    Smaller events like In Your House were priced around $40, while bigger shows like WrestleMania and SummerSlam would cost an additional $10. As time went on, those prices only got higher. 

    The launch of WWE Network meant no matter how many shows WWE did, you were guaranteed to see all of them for $9.99 every month.

    This one move saved fans hundreds of dollars per year and gave those who could not afford to watch every PPV a more affordable way to do it. 

    While some could argue that PPVs have lost a lot of what made them special before WWE Network existed, there is no denying how much better it is in terms of value.

    Even if you are one of the fans who does not have the subscription, you can still log in on a free account to see thousands of hours of shows from the past, or you can just watch clips and highlights on WWE's YouTube channel. 

    In a way, we are spoiled now because we no longer have to choose whether a show is worth purchasing based on the match card.

Quality of Wrestling

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    This is where things get a little trickier because different people like different kinds of wrestling. The Superstars of today work a much different style than the stars of the Attitude Era, and whether you enjoy one or the other is a matter of opinion.

    However, if you look at the wrestlers and matches from both eras, there is one thing the current generation has over its elders, and that is versatility.

    If you were a powerhouse during the Attitude Era, then you worked a specific style. Other than a few small exceptions like Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow, you did not see heavyweights hitting moonsaults on a regular basis.

    Nowadays, you have giants like Dominik Dijakovic and powerhouses like Keith Lee diving over the top rope. Even John Cena has used a hurricanrana a few times. Could you imagine The Rock doing that?

    The level of talent during the Attitude Era was off the charts. If you wanted technical prowess, Kurt Angle could give it to you. If you wanted high-flying action, The Hardy Boyz were there to provide it. If you wanted a brawl, Austin would give you one.

    While it would be easy to argue that today's Superstar are more well-rounded and can work multiple styles, saying they put on better matches than the previous generation all comes down to preference. 

Quality of Storylines

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    Today's generation of fans has it good. The internet makes seeing anything you want easy, PPVs are more affordable and WWE has every kind of Superstar you could think of.

    One area where the current product falls a bit short in comparison to the Attitude Era is the quality of storylines. A great match is one thing, but fans will care more if the story leading up to it was engaging.

    Because today's product is more family-friendly, WWE has limits on what it can do on television. You can't have a bloody hardcore match or have sexually charged content and still be rated TV-PG. You're not going to see The Undertaker try to crucify anyone these days.

    For a lot of fans, the restrictions of a PG product have led to WWE becoming stale and watered down. Every feud feels repetitive because the pool of ideas the creative team can draw from is smaller than it used to be.

    WWE used to be edgy and controversial, and that drew people in—especially when it came to young people. There was a time during the Attitude Era when pro wrestling was not only cool, it was both mainstream and counterculture at the same time. 


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    What we need to remember is we are asking if fans have it better today than they did during the Attitude Era, not whether the in-ring product is better as a whole.

    While the Attitude Era had a greater variety of storylines and more shocking moments, fans have it better today in almost every other way.

    All of WWE's content is easily accessible in a number of different ways, watching PPVs is both easier and cheaper, and today's generation of Superstars is more talented than ever between the ropes.

    We also have more variety in WWE than ever before. Raw and SmackDown feel different from NXT, and all of them feel different from NXT UK. If you don't like one, the others will probably make you happy. If you want to revisit the past, WWE has thousands of hours of old shows from various promotions available to watch. 

    Today's product may not be as exciting as it used to be, but there is no denying how many ways we have it better now than we did 20 years ago.