The Attitude Era is beloved by WWE fans from all around the world and is widely remembered as wrestling’s hottest period. With WWE and WCW battling it out for ratings every Monday night, it led to WWE pushing their content to new limits in order to win the warm which they eventually did.
While there were many awesome aspects of this era, from the anything can happen feeling and the unpredictability to the violence on a daily basis; fans mostly look back at this era with rose tinted glasses and miss some of the terrible aspects of the Attitude Era which we will cove in this article.
We often see fans complain about the current product and wish that things would go back to the car crash style of booking that was prevalent in the Attitude Era. However, the Attitude Era with its violence and sexuality was a product of its time. That’s just where American and the world was back then and like everything, the WWE product evolved with time.
Of all the problems with the Attitude Era, here are the 5 worst things we often forget.
5: Hardcore Division
WWE’s Hardcore division in the late 90’s was a blatant attempt to capitalize on the underground success of ECW. While the Hardcore Championship’s first champion was legendary hardcore wrestler Mick Foley, in his Mankind gimmick, the title itself started as a joke with McMahon gifting Foley the belt.
Instead of being given any serious attention, the division was packed with perennial midcarders fighting each other every week. Although Crash Holly did inject some much-needed life to the division with his 24X7 rule (where he would defend the title anywhere as long as his opponent brought a referee), the joke wore off quickly as WWE predictably overdid the angle.
The prestige of the Hardcore Championship was never sky high but it reached new lows near the last days of the belt with the title getting hot shotted on a nightly basis. The belt changed hands 10 times on the night of WrestleMania 2000.
The title was finally retired in 2002 when Rob Van Dam unified it with the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
4: Brawl For All
Honestly, the Brawl For All was such a bad idea that it deserves its own article, but alas, here we are.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Brawl For All was a shoot boxing tournament held by the WWE in the summer of 1998 in what can only he assumed as Vince’s attempt at cashing in on the growing popularity of MMA at the time.
The tournament was a vehicle to get Dr. Death, who had just signed with the WWE, over as a legitimate badass and pitted a slew of lower card wrestlers against each other. The tournament took place on episodes of Raw in 1998 with 15-minute segments a show.
The fights were bland with wrestlers who were untrained in boxing getting tired just moments into the fight. The tournament led to injuries to the wrestlers and led to bad feelings amongst them. And the worst part, the fans thought it was scripted either way. The Brawl For All killed Dr. Death’s WWE career in its infancy and the eventual winner Bart Gunn was rewarded by barely being used for the rest of the year and getting knocked out by Butterbean at WrestleMania.
3: Over-sexualization of women
Although the Attitude Era gave us two bonafide Hall of Famers – Lita and Trish Stratus, the Attitude Era was still the worst time to be a woman on the WWE roster at that time. A majority of the women’s roster at this time were former models with little to no wrestling ability (Trish was the exception. Even though she was just a former model when she came in, she worked hard and learnt how to wrestle and is today considered one of the best women to ever enter a WWE ring) who were given the job based on their looks more than anything else.
Of course, this led to numerous bra and panties matches, mud pit matches, evening gown matches, bikini contests etc. Even top women like Sable were there because they were eye candy rather than for their wrestling ability. Add to this Jerry Lawler’s distasteful commentary which bordered on being perverted.
It’s amazing to see how far the women’s division of WWE has come from the dark days of the Attitude Era even though the same man-in-charge back then is basically still in charge now. The women today are legitimate competitors who have been putting on quality matches and go toe-to-toe with the boys. Thank you, Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky for the
2: Short, terrible matches
If you watch an average match from today and an average match from the Attitude Era, the difference in wrestling quality between them is staggering. Matches back in the day on Raw were either short, terrible or a depressing mixture of both. We can’t also forget how often wrestlers interfered in matches that had nothing to with them just to promote an angle that was loosely tied to it. This isn’t surprising as Vince Russo, who was booking the show for much of the Attitude Era, has never considered wrestling itself to be a very important part of a professional wrestling show.
Let’s also not forget the fact that a major chunk of the roster was wrestlers who just weren’t very good workers and sailed through on charisma and the car-crash nature of the show back then. Would The Godfather get over today without his “ho’s” and the references to recreational drug use?
1: Abuse of Women
The single worst aspect about the Attitude Era is the physical abuse of women by wrestlers. Violence and sexuality aside, this was the worst of the influences on young minds during the Attitude Era. The physical abuse of women in the WWE began with Vince getting influenced by ECW angles like Tommy Dreamer piledriving Beulah McGillicutty.
Instances of man-on-woman during the Attitude Era were pretty common from Goodfather sending his ex-“ho” Victoria through a table to the Bubba Ray Dudley’s running gimmick of sending women through tables, including Mae Young from the top of the stage. Also, who can forget a heel Stone Cold beating the holy hell out of Lita inside the ring?
Honestly, man on women violence isn’t cool because it promotes abuse to a certain extent and can untowardly mould the young mind watching the programming, especially when you considered Debra’s allegations of domestic violence against Stone Cold in the early 2000’s which WWE brushed under the rug.
Note: Since Chyna competed against men, I have no idea how to classify her matches.
To check out our list of the things we miss from the Attitude Era, click here.