10 Attitude Era stars who are underrated by fans
Since its inception, Professional Wrestling has acted as a mirror of the society that created it. During World War II, for example, wrestling saw a slew of heels who all happened to hail from Germany. The most famous of these men was Baron Von Raschke, who is remembered as one of the top bad guys of the era.
Then, in the 1970s, with grindhouse films and more gory fare available at the box office, wrestling grew bloodier. The foreheads of the men who worked this era, like Abdullah the Butcher, are a roadmap of deep scars and furrows from all the blading.
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In the 1980s, at the height of the cold war, 'Russian' wrestlers like Nikita Koloff were there to offend the sensibilities of the fans.
However, several events conspired to make the 1990s different. The end of the cold war led to a more complex understanding and view of global politics, meaning promoters could no longer get instant heat by having a bad guy foreign wrestler or a good guy dressed in the American flag.
Another major blow to wrestling was when Vince McMahon admitted--which no other promoter had ever done--that wrestling was a performance and not a competitive sport. He did this to avoid many restrictions put on him by state athletic commissions, but the end result was kayfabe was officially dead.
And finally, the steroid scandal had not brought down any one promotion but did lead to a great deal of negative press about sports entertainment in general. In this environment, fans dwindled. Worse, many top stars of the WWE headed for the greener--as in money green--pastures of Ted Turner's new WCW promotion.
The WWE was in a tight spot. They couldn't match the WCW's finances, and they had lost many established stars, so they built their promotion around WCW mid carders and new, young talent like the Rock.
With some research, the WWE discovered that their new demographic was mainly males age 14-36. The programming changed, tailored to appeal to this audience. Bad language and aggressive behavior became the norm.
During this era, we had Stone Cold Steve Austin, Degeneration X, and The Rock. However, there were many talented wrestlers working for WWE at this time who never truly caught on with fans despite being quite talented.
Here are ten Attitude Era stars who were sorely underrated.
Simply put, Val Venis had the best body in WWE during the Attitude Era. While there were many chiseled superstars of this era, such as Triple H and Sid Vicious, Venis's physique was several notches above.
Sean Morley, the man who played the Venis character, was no stranger to the squared circle when he made his WWE debut. He had wrestled in Japan, Canada, and Puerto Rico prior to signing with the WWE. His most successful run had been with Mexican promotion CMLL, where he was a masked luchadore named Steele. Steele held the CMLL heavyweight championship for a time, the only singles big belt he would ever win.
Once he joined WWE, it was thought by head writer Vince Russo that he was too 'plain' and a 'guy in tights' would never get over with the new Attitude Era audience. So, he was turned into the world's longest running sexual innuendo, Val Venis.
Val Venis the wrestling porn star was featured prominently on WWE programming for a time, being one of the top mid-card wrestlers under contract. However, despite some success he never truly broke into the main event. His most famous, or infamous if you prefer, moment came when he was nearly castrated by Kaientai because of some impropriety with their manager's kayfabe wife.
Venis would eventually retire the porn star gimmick and join Right to Censor. He spent some time as Chief Morley, a precursor to Baron Corbin's gimmick, but that also fizzled out.
Val Venis would end his time with the WWE without ever breaking into the main event picture.
Why he was so underrated: Venis's cheesy, outlandish gimmick overshadowed his impressive physique and surprisingly scientific wrestling skills. A six foot four man, sculpted like a Greek God, who could pull of a perfect Fisherman's bridge suplex should have accomplished more.