5 greatest matches of "The Attitude Era"

Perhaps the best ever era of WWE programming
Perhaps the best ever era of WWE programming
Akash Deep

The Attitude Era was a period in the WWE that began as a direct result of the Monday Night Wars and culminated with the conclusion of the Wars in 2001. This Era was defined by a radical shift in programming content.

In contrast to the more traditional, family-friendly content that was common in WWE programming, the Attitude Era sought to attract the young adult demographic viewers by transforming the product into an edgier and more controversial form of entertainment.

Traditionally heroic characters were replaced with disaffected anti-heroes and family-friendly storylines were replaced with controversial plots based on shock value, similar to the "Trash TV" genre popularized in the 1990s.

The fans were jubilant each and every week when their hero spat in the face of authority, instead of respecting them and it was undoubtedly more brutal as compared to what we see today.

WWE Superstars of The Attitude Era at one glimpse.
WWE Superstars of The Attitude Era at one glimpse.

Now, as we continue to enjoy the “New Era” WWE has given us, let’s take a look back at top five matches that defined the “Attitude Era”.

#5 Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XIV

Mike Tyson-The Guest Enforcer of the match with Austin.
Mike Tyson-The Guest Enforcer of the match with Austin.

There are very few matches that can be immediately identified as the turning point of a company, much less the start of an Era. This is one of them. One of the most hotly anticipated matches in WWE history (thanks to the involvement of boxing star Mike Tyson as a guest enforcer), the match was slated to be the main event of WrestleMania IV.

Both Austin and Michaels entered the match with injuries affecting them. Michael’s injury was so severe that this ended up being his last televised match until Summerslam 2002. Although his moveset was somewhat limited due to his injury, Michaels showed his pitbull-like tenacity and worked through the pain.

Even though Michaels showed guts that only few can, this was Stone Cold’s show. For over a year prior, Austin had been gaining momentum, climaxing during his in-ring altercation with Tyson weeks before this match.

#4 Triple H vs. The Rock- SummerSlam 1998

Triple H and The Rock in action for the championship match.

This match found both the wrestlers in their transition periods. The Rock was leading The Nation of Domination, while Triple H was the boss of DX.

The match featured The Rock's breakout performance. He defended his title at SummerSlam and the fans showed their appreciation, showering praise on him with chants of "Rocky". But despite a knee injury and eyes full of powder, Triple H scaled the rungs of the ladder and retrieved the intercontinental title.

It was a watershed moment for him, he demonstrated that he could also be an incredibly effective hero when it was needed. The involvement of Chyna and Mark Henry also played right into the story that helped to enhance the match as a whole.

#3 Undertaker vs. Mankind - King of the Ring 1998

Undertaker and Mamkind battling back and forth along the top of the cage.
Undertaker and Mankind battling back and forth along the top of the cage.

Perhaps the most infamous example of Foley's insanity came on this date (June 28, 1998) when Foley, working as his Mankind character, met up with Undertaker for the third ever Hell in a Cell match.

Instead of starting the match in the ring and working his way out of the cage, Foley wanted to climb up the ante, while Taker followed. The two wrestlers battled back and forth along the top of the cage. After some brawling and a few chair shots, they teetered near the edge.

Undertaker grabbed Mankind and sent him flying off the cage onto the table, some 16 feet below which separated his shoulder. Unbelievably enough, it didn't end there. As the medical team was wheeling Mankind out, he got up and headed to climb the cage again while Taker was still on top.

The match continued and Foley was chokeslammed twice, one crashing down the ring from the cage and the next one on the pile of thumbtacks. All that was left was a tombstone piledriver to get the three count to mercifully bring to an end of one of the most gruelling matches in WWE history.

#2 Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz –WrestleMania XVII

E and C hitting the Hardys with the steel ladder.
E and C hitting the Hardyz with the steel ladder.

This was the finest TLC match between the three teams. What gave this match that extra "feel" was the involvement of each teams' third member - Spike Dudley interfering on behalf of the Dudleyz, Rhyno interfering on behalf of E and C and Lita on behalf of the Hardyz.

This match had highlights such as Jeff Hardy soaring through 2 tables on Rhyno and Spike Dudley. The spear on Jeff Hardy by Edge off the ladder and the Matt Hardy-Bubba Ray freefall from the ladder through 4 tables outside the ring were also part of the charm.

The match would have ended while D-Von and Christian were going up for the Tag Titles at each side of the ladder when Edge held D-Von and prevented him from reaching the titles to allow Christian, with assistance from Rhyno, to pull down both titles to allow E and C to go home with the titles yet again.

#1 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock - WrestleMania XVII

Enter captio
Stone Cold, cheered by McMahon in the ring hitting The Rock with the steel chair

The two rivals- Stone Cold and The Rock began swinging as soon as the bell rang. This back-and-forth exchange continued until Vince McMahon shockingly interfered on behalf of Austin. After stunners and chair shots, the lopsided onslaught became too much for The Rock, as Austin went on to win his WWE Championship.

When “Stone Cold” Steve Austin shook hands with his arch-nemesis, Mr. McMahon, at the end of this match, he put the final nail in the coffin of The Attitude Era. The GM proved that the McMahons always win, even bringing the Attitude Era’s great rebel Stone Cold over to the dark side. That handshake signaled the end to not only to one of professional wrestling all-time great rivalries but also the end of the “Attitude Era”.

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Edited by Riju Dasgupta
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