06th Sep2019

Ten Best: Things WWE did in The Attitude Era!

by Chris Cummings

If you’ve read my Top 10: Terrible Things that WWE Did During The Attitude Era article you’ll probably know that this article was coming. I couldn’t do a list of bad things without following it up with a list of the best things that WWE did back in the infamous Attitude Era. So, here we go…

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10. PPVs Felt Different

If you watch WWE PPVs now, which I do, you’ll likely notice that they pretty much all look the same. Sure, the logos are different, but the set-up is all the same. It’s not really the biggest deal, but I did always get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing the unique sets that WWE would implement on their shows back in this era. If it was WWF Armageddom the stage would be littered with chain link, tanks, barrels, scaffolding. If it was WWF Backlash, we might see huge swinging steel contraptions. WrestleMania looked different. SummerSlam did. Every event just had a cool look and felt new and different. I’d love to see WWE do this again. It was a fun element of programming that I personally miss today.

9. Promos

One of the big things I truly miss in WWE today is the off-the-cuff promo work we saw come into a bigger prominence in The Attitude Era. There are moments today where we’ll get a cool promo that isn’t as scripted as others but mostly the current-day product featured promos that don’t feel authentic enough. Back then we had some of the best talkers of all time. Austin. The Rock. Foley. McMahon. Triple H. It was an era of talking, and man could they talk. Today, we don’t get that chance, because many guys are handed the words they have to say, and they say them. It can be entertaining enough from time to time, sure, but it’s rarely something we’ll remember for years. It was here.

8. The Era of the Top Guys

Just how good was the top of the WWF roster during this time. “Stone Cold”, The Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Foley, Kurt Angle, Benoit, Jericho, Triple H… it was a huge deal, and because of how packed that main event scene was during this time, we rarely got bored of the main event feuds. We didn’t get the same match month after month after month like we do now, and the guys on top were shining the brightest. Today, we have some incredible talent across the board, but the sheer superstar aura of the main event scene of this era speaks for itself. It was something truly special.

7. One Giant Leap For All Mankind

I have two guys from the past who are “my guys”. Two guys who were my favourite wrestlers. There’s “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and there’s Mick Foley (today, Kevin Owens is that dude). So, seeing Mick Foley’s rise to the top of the WWF in the 90s was awesome. His rise from the lunatic heel, Mankind, to Dude Love, to Cactus Jack, back to the more human babyface Mankind, and eventually to his first WWF Championship reign, was done beautifully. I always looked forward to Foley being on television. His promos were fantastic, his matches were unique and exciting, and his feuds, with guys like The Undertaker, Austin, The Rock and others are legendary. I can’t talk about the best things from The Attitude Era without talking about my favourite wrestler from the era itself. Bang, bang.

6. Tag Team Triumph

Tag teams have always been something I’ve loved in wrestling. Tag matches can be awesome. Nowadays, it can be hit and miss, and it could back in the Attitude Era too, but hey… it also featured one of the most incredible tag-team feuds we’ve ever seen. The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boys reinvented the tag-team format in this era and they used tables, ladders and chairs to do so. Going back to see some of the weapon-shots is hard-going, but the feud itself and the matches these guys had, were fantastic. The scene back then was on fire, with these three teams and others like APA, Too Cool and loads more, and the fans ate it up. It’s a shame tag wrestling, on main roster WWE TV, isn’t given the same chance that it was given back in the day.

5. The Rise (and Rise) of The People’s Champ

Ever heard of The Rock? Highest paid actor? Legendary wrestler? Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment? The People’s Champion? The Great One? The Brahma Bull? If you haven’t… google him, he’s quite good. Man, seeing the rise of Duane Johnson back then was incredible. Joining The Nation of Domination and taking control of the faction showed us just how charismatic he could be. He would go on to Intercontinental Title reigns and it wasn’t long before Rocky was on the top of the mountain, headlining PPVs and selling more t-shirts than Hot Topic. His rise from bland babyface to one of the biggest stars WWE ever saw didn’t take long at all. Debuting at the end of 1996, The Rock was headlining WrestleMania just over two years later. He’s done pretty well since, too… kind of.

4. D-Generation X

When people refer to the “edginess” of The Attitude Era, they’re talking mostly about Steve Austin and, of course, DX. The faction began with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna and Rick Rude, but the incarnation featuring Triple H, X-Pac, Chyna and The New Age Outlaws was the most entertaining and popular time for the group. As heels or babyfaces they got huge reactions from the crowds. They invaded WCW, they fired water-guns into the crowd as they screamed “suck it”, they crotch-chopped their way to the top. Feuding with The Nation of Domination, DX became beloved, and their run in 1998 was terrific. Triple H went on to be one of the biggest stars of all time. Chyna had a hugely successful singles run of her own, becoming the first woman to ever do what she did in WWE. The Outlaws held tag gold numerous times. X-Pac was one of the best in-ring workers of this era. It was a hell of a group, and man were they fun to watch.

3. Must-see TV

I’ve always found wrestling to be “must-see” because I’m a fan. I love pro-wrestling. This era, however, made everyone feel like it was must-see. Each TV program ended in a way that made you need to watch the week after, and the long-term storytelling that WWE did back here helped to create this can’t-miss programming that is somewhat missing from WWE today. If you missed a week of WWF back in the Attitude Era, you’d be lost. There’s good and bad to that, but… it was bloody exciting, that’s for sure.

2. Everyone Had Something.

Austin and The Rock had storylines and characters. We know that. Back in The Attitude Era, though, everybody had storylines and characters, and I loved that. Lower card guys still had gimmicks, characters and feuds going on. Al Snow might be jerking the curtain with his J.O.B SQUAD shirt on, but we knew he was a wacky mannequin-head carrying lunatic who was in a feud with Bob Holly. We had a reason to care about them, it didn’t matter if they were lower on the card or not. I strongly feel like there’s a lot to be said for every man and woman on the roster being given creative, being involved in angles and feuds, and having characters. Sure, some of the characters might fall flat on their faces (Beaver Cleavage, anyone) but sometimes they would take-off and the person would end up claiming up the card in the process. It was effective, and with the amount of writers WWE has now, there’s even less of an excuse not to do this.

1. Austin – McMahon

I mean, could the number one spot be anything else? If you have one image to represent The Attitude Era, it would be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin face-to-face with his evil tyrannical boss, Mr. McMahon. Their feud was the heart and soul of this era and launched Steve Austin into the stratosphere of wrestling. He was a star before the feud began, but when he found McMahon and the two had a chance to explore their insane chemistry, he became the most popular superstar in WWE history. The angles, sequences and even matches between these two men were a hoot. McMahon was the perfect villain. Austin was the everyman, blue-collar redneck who was able to do what many of the fans in the arenas wanted to do. He was able to go out on TV each week, kick his boss in the gut, and drop him with a Stone Cold Stunner, before spilling beer on him. It was an iconic feud, a feud packed with some of the most memorable moments in WWE’s vast history, and easily the best thing that WWE did in The Attitude Era. Wow.

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