19th Mar2020

Opinionated: The Ruthless Aggression Era Wasn’t That Good!

by Chris Cummings

opinion-ruthless

So, WWE have been releasing content about the beloved Attitude Era for years. Hell, they’ve been releasing stuff about it since that era ended in around 2001. Now, in 2020, we’re seeing a change in focus with WWE releasing content about the Ruthless Aggression Era, an era that occurred in around 2003 and would last a few years. Now… the title of this article is a bit of a strange one because I don’t want you to misunderstand, there was a lot to love about this era, but… there was also a hell of a lot of bad going on too.

This, for me, was the period of wrestling that I found it the hardest to sit through. I’ve been watching pro-wrestling now for over 28 years, but never have I found it more difficult to enjoy than during this time. Sure, we had amazing performers like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, The Hardy Boyz and Rob Van Dam, but we also had guys who weren’t so enjoyable to watch, like Heidenreich, Snitsky, The Great Khali (who might have come a little later in this period, but still) and Matt Morgan. This was also a time when guys who COULD work, like Triple H, were struggling with injury and weren’t entering the best matches of their careers. Batista wasn’t quite as good as he’d become, and neither was Randy Orton. John Cena began as a bland babyface and was never a guy I enjoyed as an in-ring performer. The women’s division was mostly treated as a joke. The big men ruled, and many of them weren’t capable, and it became a bit of a cluster.

I am aware that we had some stellar moments in the mid 2000s, but I think it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t a rough time for WWE and going back to watch the shows now…. it stands out just how slow and plodding everything was. Brock Lesnar was being shoved to the top of the card, and this was fine. I remember, at the time, being pleased that a new guy who was unique was being given a shot. For every good decision, such as Kurt Angle being given the chance to shine every week, there was a bad one, such as bringing in Goldberg… who was booked badly and worked poorly too. He didn’t care, and it showed. He didn’t have a match worth remembering in this era. We saw the return of Shawn Michaels, another wonderful thing to happen at this time, but we also saw storylines involving miscarriage, murder and necrophilia.

I think there are people who remember this period fondly, but I’m not one of them. I have some matches that I like to go back and watch, sure… but I rarely go back and watch a full show. It’s a difficult job to do. A roster packed with talent who went nowhere, from Maven, Rico, Rob Conway, Rodney Mack, Chris Nowinski and the aforementioned Heidenreich and Snitsky, there was so much blank and uninteresting stuff going on. I think, perhaps, it was the later 00s that were a little worse, but it all began here, and after such a scintillating and exciting time with The Attitude Era, this was a real step down.

WWE are going to present this as a strong period of their history. Evolution. Cena. Batista. Lesnar. Orton. The Smackdown written by Paul Heyman. Yes… there was some great stuff to be found, but week-to-week, whether it was mediocre in-ring work, offensive or diluted creative, or an influx of big men who weren’t as entertaining as guys who preceded them, it just wasn’t as good as WWE are saying, in my view. I may be alone in this, but I’d rather jump in to shows from 1995 and 1996 than shows from 2004. Maybe I’m in the minority.

What do you think? Are you a Ruthless Aggression Era fan? Let us know!

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