Over the past couple of years WWE have tried to capitalise on the Attitude Era following, sometimes comprising its current product to the period in Wrestling.Two compilations DVD have been released, the WWE Network is geared around this era and WWE 2K13 had an attitude era mode. The huge TV ratings, PPV box office smashes, cool merchandise, the Monday Night War, for the WWE two huge stars in Austin and The Rock aligned at once. These were the main reasons to why the Attitude Era was so successful, but was the era as good as everyone remembers? Current WWE superstar Dean Ambrose claims there was alot of c**p and not alot of wrestling during the era.
It’s easy to blame the PG rating for today’s state of wrestling and that TV-14 is what made the attitude era, in March I wrote an article on how TV-14 wasn’t the main factor for the success.Speaking to Justin LaBar on his Pittsburg Triblive show Dean Ambrose spoke some harsh realities about the Attitude Era.
“A lot of people talk about the attitude era being so great but a lot of it was terrible crap, sex jokes and over-the-top terrible bad comedy. It was Jerry Springer-like. They made a joke about a woman’s breasts. Hilarious, but where’s the wrestling? I look back on a lot of stuff now, and I’m like where’s the wrestling? It’s just a lot of crappy jokes.”
Dean isn’t the only current superstar who feels the same. In March 2014, WWE superstar Fandango also spoke of how he prefers the challenge of getting a reaction of a crowd than cheap pops.
“I think it’s more rewarding to know that we can go out and put on a good show without going lowbrow and taking the easy road. Whether it’s the middle finger, or cursing, because that’s going to get a reaction no matter what. It’s harder to get a reaction the honest way and that’s just pure entertainment. That’s from an 8-year-old kid to an 80-year-old woman. I think chair shots and middle fingers and swearing and girls with their tops off is an easy reaction. I think the way we do it now is a lot more rewarding, for sure.”
I grew up watching the Attitude Era, yes it had plenty of memorable moments, the Austin vs McMahon rivalry was pure gold. The characters and very in-depth roster helped the show throughout. Who would have thought the former Leif Cassidy would be over as Al Snow, but most people in the mid-card were massively over. WWE appeared to have the we have no lose attitude and creatively tried anything to get an advantage over their rivals WCW. Hence why sex appeal, swearing and alot of the massive over the top storylines happened. Despite that looking back, other than 1996, WWF provided a superior show overall.
In terms of wrestling 1998 through to early 2000 lacked any quality matches. The majority of the roster were brawlers, gimmick matches were king and hardcore wrestling took preference. It’s easy to think of great matches during the time, Mankind vs The Rock, Austin vs Undertaker at Summerslam, Mankind vs Undertaker inside Hell In A Cell. None of these were pure technical classics that we have seen over the last decade.
It wasn’t until 2000, when WWE had full momentum over WCW, when the over the top dramatic storylines slowed down and wrestling emerged. Sure stars like Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero all helped change this, with Austin injured new stars emerged. Another factor was the fact WWE went public on the New York stock exchange. WWE’s actions were now publicly accountable, however by this point WWE gained enough of a following that any risk of the company going under were slim.
Jim Ross has quoted various times on his Ross Report show that wrestling fans turn on wrestling to watch wrestling, not comedy, bad acting or childish based antics. Television is more complex than that now in today’s era. The Attitude Era boomed because it was an era in time that generally the lines of television were being crossed. South Park took cartoons to a new level and mirrored WWF in several ways. Wrestling was the cool thing to watch because it crossed boundaries not seen before.
Wrestling throughout the noughties became over exposed, the aggression era took wrestling far beyond what was needed. Most PPV matches ended up in blood bathes and as a result we became accustomed to this style. Today’s product appears completely watered down and “lame” in some circumstances. This doesn’t mean that it is a lackluster product, it is simply different.
The overall influence of that era has been felt across the board. Without the attitude era the state of the wrestling industry would be very different. It is easy as a fan to complain about WWE, that it is nowhere near as good as it once was. Yes I could write many articles on how to improve the current product, but the main reason is the next star hasn’t shone yet. Roman Reign’s has been shoved down our throats but is ready to carry the company.
It is easy to remember the glory times of the past but we live in the present. Enjoy everything for what it is, WWE has the promise of an impressive couple of years aheLead of it, lets enjoy the ride.