Television ratings were at an all-time high. Interest was at an all-time high. Live attendance was at an all-time. WWE couldn’t do any wrong. Their business was booming, and WCW (and ECW) were falling behind in the wrestling war. Vince McMahon and his team had found the right formula and made a fortune during the late 1990’s. It is an era that will never (ever!) happen again and looked back on with many fond memories.
However, let’s be honest. There was plenty of garbage sprinkled in as well. Fans can reminisce now with rose-tinted glasses on, and that is understandable. For lots, it was their childhood. Of course, only the good moments will stand out. The bad? Who cared, right? WWE was on fire, and the top stars made you instantly forget about the previous 15 minutes of terrible television. Well, lucky for all of you, I do not wear rose-tinted glasses. For all the of the amazing moments, I also seem to recall plenty of not-so-amazing moments. Here are just a few…
5. Wrestling – If you think a 2014 edition of Raw features little in-ring action, go watch a 1998 or 1999 edition of Raw. Oh my! You will appreciate the action you see today A LOT more real quick. Outside of big pay-per-views, the actual ‘wrestling’ during the Attitude Era was non-existent until the year 2000 when guys were brought over from WCW and ECW such as Taz, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero , Chris Benoit, Raven and more. Nearly every match featured Hardcore rules or just broke down into an all out brawl. Very entertaining, just not any kind of mat classic some expect.
4. Risks – It is just cringe worthy to watch some of the stunts from the Attitude Era back now. The obvious culprits came from ECW, but Mick Foley brought that type of thing to WWE. He knows it. This is not some sort of knock on him. He is one of my all-time favorites. However, he just rose the bar so high. Everybody remembers his falls off the cage, but there was just so much more. Not just Foley but everyone! The unprotected chairs. The excessive blood. The ladder matches. The table bumps. The piledriver spots. Absolutely amazing to think that was ‘normal’ back then but now 90% of those Attitude Era stars regret even doing those things in the first place now looking back at it.
3. Stories – Where to begin? The ‘Higher Power’ was Vince McMahon the same man who won the Royal Rumble and WWE Championship in 1999. Yay! I think Jim Ross’ instant reaction after the reveal summed up that story line. A “Vince Russo swerve” took place every week. The WWE Title changed hands over ten times in 1999. If that happened today, the uproar would be unreal. A Hardcore title that just gets passed around? The WrestleMania XV scenario with Triple H and Chyna made zero sense. That brings us to the actual story lines. Mae Young gave birth to a hand. Road Warrior Hawk fell off the stage. Val Venis and his ‘Choppy Choppy’ moment? Big Bossman was ‘hung’ after a match?!?! Come on folks, I could go on forever here. People can smile back on Stone Cold and The Rock feuding, but don’t just forget about THAT programming either folks!
2. WrestleMania 2000 – As noted before, WWE was on FIRE during the Attitude Era. They could do NO wrong. Fans ate up anything given to them and accepted it. That is fine. Sadly, that was the complete opposite of WrestleMania 2000. There were about 800 million problems with this event. I won’t go through every single one of them, but this whole show just never clicked with me. In 2000 and even now! Outside of the triangle ladder match, this event was not Mania worthy at all. There was not even one single’s match. On top of that, the entire main event scene was a mess. The OFFICIAL WWE Title match for WrestleMania was not even announced until less than two weeks before the show. Think about that. Under 14 days, and there was no WrestleMania main event! To this day, the show ranks as one of my least favorite pay-per-views ever put on. Too bad it was smack dab in the middle of the Attitude Era…
1. Stone Cold Turns Heel – It is fitting that many remark WrestleMania X-7 as the final Attitude Era show. The WCW crew was watching from a luxury suite. ECW was about to be bought out. WWE delivered an epic event with tons of great main event matches. A jam packed stadium and tons of rabid fans? Yet, it fell into the same trap as before. A No DQ brawl as a min event with Vince McMahaon getting involved! To make matters worse, Stone Cold turned heel…in his home state…to get back the WWE title…after returning from serious neck surgery! We were supposed to boo that?!?! Sorry, the whole thing was doomed to fail from the beginning. I’m not big on ‘fantasy booking’ at all, but everyone had to know better. They just had to. Sadly, it happened. Vince McMahon shaking hands to ‘end’ the Attitude Era? Perfect on so many levels.
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