WWE Lacks Attitude
June 2, 2005 by James Norbury
I have been a fan of the WWF/WWE for over fifteen years. I have seen many changes occur and I have seen many different wrestlers come and go. I have witnessed the WWF of Hulk Hogan and Bret 'Hitman' Hart transform into the WWE of Triple H, Batista and John Cena. But the WWE era that sticks in my mind as being the most prominent and most enjoyable to watch has got to be the 'Attitude' era. We all remember it; it began in 1996/1997 and lasted through to 2000/2001.
'Attitude' was the era of Hell in a Cell. 'Attitude' was the era of the first major hardcore wrestling seen in the WWF. 'Attitude' was the era of the stable. The Corporation, D-Generation X, The Ministry of Darkness, the Disciples of Apocalypse and the Nation of Domination were all born during the 'Attitude Era' and resulted in some of the most exciting television that pro-wrestling had or has ever accomplished. Each week on Monday Night RAW teams would feud (notably DX, the Corporation and the Ministry) to gain the upper hand and to gain power and control. I think you would agree that recent factions such as Evolution and the Cabinet, whilst having some interesting characteristics, could not match any of the three above stables in terms of entertainment. Never again have we seen teams feud as they did during the 'Attitude' era. What this allowed was for individuals from each faction to contest for different titles such as the New Age Outlaws and the Acolytes for the tag titles and X-Pac and Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental title. Instead of them being standard title matches, they were transformed into power struggles, where victory was essential if a stable was to survive. Individual wrestlers who did not belong to any stable were also mixed into these matches and this created the fans love for underdogs such as Mick Foley and Steve Austin who, despite having a seemingly impossible task before them, could always pull off an unlikely victory.
The 'Attitude' era created legends of wrestling. I am talking about the likes of Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Kane, Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. I think you would struggle to name a wrestler who has matched the calibre of these individuals since the 'Attitude' era ended. You can see why Triple H gets so much time at the top these days. Mick Foley has retired (prematurely in my opinion), The Rock is in Hollywood, Steve Austin is injured and is unlikely to ever wrestle the same again, and with Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker aging and Kurt Angle and Kane being used in ridiculous storylines, Triple H is the only man left that the WWE can continually push as a main eventer.
You may have noticed that the hardcore side of the WWE that was prominent during the Attitude era has suffered following the departure of a certain Mick Foley. The problem is that there is not a wrestler that is willing or indeed capable of taking a beating like the ones Mick Foley used to take. Triple H versus Cactus Jack at No Way Out was arguably one of the best Hell in the Cell matches I have ever seen, but can you really imagine a wrestler from the current WWE roster allowing himself to be thrown either off or through a cell" I know I can't. Whilst the elimination chambers are good, they have not provided us with too many memorable moments. Since the departure of Jeff Hardy the tag team division has suffered. How I would love to see a TLC match once again, but who would fight in it" It is important to point out that the WWE does have many wrestlers who know all about hardcore wrestling. Those such as RVD who learned their trade at ECW are more than capable of putting on a hardcore match of the highest order.
If you look at the WWE since 'Attitude' ended, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg both had the potential to be adequate replacements for the departed superstars but did not last very long. You the have the likes of Edge, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Eddie Guerrero who are repeatedly pushed between main event matches and mid-card matches. There never used to be this kind of confusion. There was an elite group of wrestlers at the top who could challenge for the title and only the very best such as Kurt Angle could join them. Kane has lost his gimmick of the 'terrifying monster' since he removed the mask. It remains to be seen whether or not he can be turned into a realistic candidate for the World Championship or remain in the upper mid card wilderness where he currently finds himself. There is some considerable talent in the WWE however and with the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista and the increasingly impressive Shelton Benjamin, there is still every chance that the WWE will one day equal if not surpass, the glory days of the 'Attitude' era.
by James Norbury ..
Jacob Kuhn wrote:
I can't deny that for the general populace, the "Attitude" era was very exciting and interesting. I can't say in my own opinion that it was the most entertaining. For me, pro wrestling is what is most entertaining. I would rather see a 60 minute match between two kickass wrestler, than a 15 minute match and 45 minutes of storylines.
HHH is not the only wrestler WWE can push as a main eventer. It's up to WWE to create and push NEW wrestlers. If they choose to only keep pushing the same guys, than that's their funeral. While I agree that it doesn't help to have wrestlers keep floating back and forth between the mid and upper cards, it's also not wise to make the World Titles exclusive to certain wrestlers. But this is hardly new. One only has to remember how when Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker all lost the WWE Belt, they were pushed into lower card feuds with other wrestlers. However, a wrestler should pay his dues before getting a title run.
Finally, hardcore matches can be a lot of fun. But let's not fault the wrestlers for not wanting to fall off the top of a cage or be put through a table. It's cool when these people put their physical health on the line to entertain us, be we are not entitled to it. These people have families who probably don't want to see their husbands and fathers put into the hospital just because fans feel they need to see them get broken into pieces.
Ben Connor. wrote:
I agree, the WWE lost a lot of it's edge post attitude era...because mostly, wrestling has become monopolized, in the favor of the WWE.
Face it, I don't care how much of a die hard TNA or ROH fan anybody is, Nothing even compares to the WWE in terms of ratings, fanbase, etc. The WWE has gone out of its way to compte with the likes of WCW(who for a good time, was kicking the WWE's ass in ratings) and Ecw was out to make a name for itself (which it did), inspiring the WWE to do whatever it took to stay on top. Virtually all the ppv's, raws, smackdowns, were gold.
Thing is after Vinne Mac got control over ECW and WCW, he went drunk with power, doing whatever the hell he wanted. The guy doesn't think two cents towards his competition, and rightfully so...Granted, TNA has this huge WCW/ECW vibe to it, and gives off these awesome ppv's, but TNA struggles to have ratings, even when they're not in dirrect competition. ROH, though having some of the most awesome Indy wrestlers, don't even have a show.
The Problem is that Vinne, and the peeps at the WWE don't care, and no longer trying to push the envelope to keep their name on top. This is why the success of the likes of TNA is important, because if a real competitor doesn't emerge soon, the WWE will remain stale.
While I agree that there are a lot of things about the current WWE product that aren't as good as the "Attitude" days, I have to disagree with all the wrestling fans who see that era as the pinnacle of the WWE, or even of pro wrestling. I find it ironic that the problems that so many people see with the current WWE product are a direct result of the Attitude era. The Diva Search that everyone finds so apalling" It wouldn't have happened without the decision to "push the envelope" with T & A (the body parts, not the tag team) on WWE programming in the late 90s. The long backstage segments and other story-related stuff that go on and on without any actual matches taking place" That stuff was kept to a minimum in the 80s-WWF days, relegated mostly to little "talk show" segments like Piper's Pit and the Barbershop and the Funeral Parlor. Only since the "Attitude" era do we see stuff like Shane McMahon having dinner at a restraunt with Kane.
I will grant that there was good stuff during the Attitude days, and there have been some very talented performers in post-1997 WWF/E, like HHH, Rock, Austin, Foley, Angle, etc.... but I believe that pro wrestling is at its best when the majority of the storytelling is done in the ring by the two wrestlers, with the off-camera storytelling kept to a bare minimum, as a simple way to set up the matches. And I also find it ironic that you mention Kurt Angle prominently as a big part of the Attitude era, when a) Angle didn't really start to rise to prominence until the Attitude era was winding down, and b) Angle really has more in common with the pre-Attitude days; Angle fits in better with heels the like of Owen Hart, Ted Dibiase, Ric Flair, and Mr. Perfect than Triple H or the heel versions of Rock, Austin, Kane, or Foley (has anyone else noticed that there are very few "career heels" like Angle anymore" Everyone switches back and forth between heel and babyface at the drop of a hat now) . I was never really into the hardcore wrestling as a "main attraction," I'm into more traditional, amateur-style guys like Bret Hart and Kurt Angle, so I won't address that part of the article...I guess I'm just writing all this because I grew up on 80s WWF and I still look upon that era as the best.
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