How do millenials remember the Attitude Era
The Attitude Era defined a generation
As soon as Slam Jam’s “We’re All Together Now” hit, we knew something monumental was going to transpire in front of us. Every kid, teenager and young adult waited with bated breath for Monday Night Raw on prime-time. The wrestling revolution was in full effect, and people from all walks of life were embracing it. Gone were the times of cartoon character-like superstars who’d cajole you into eating vitamins and saying prayers. The times, they ‘were a changing’, in favour of edgier, in-your-face action.
The Attitude Era was akin to wrestling’s Industrial Revolution, pulling no punches and definitely not compromising on storylines and mature content. Which precise moment triggered off the Attitude Era is still a debatable topic amongst wrestling aficionados, but there are some events scattered here and there that affirm that wrestling was en route to changing face.
While some say Stone Cold’s 3:16 litany ushered in the Attitude Era, others claim that The Montreal Screwjob was the defining moment that paved the way for wrestling to morph into more real-life dramatisation.
As for millennials, World Wrestling Entertainment was more than just a television program of people beating up one another in the quest for glory. It was the embodiment of reality that was playing in front of us, every week, body bagged into a two-hour format. Never before had lunch-time discussions at school been so interesting. It was all courtesy of the bold movement that World Wrestling Entertainment had embraced.
The World Wrestling Entertainment boasted of a star-studded roster. Some of the biggest names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, etc. would go out there and put up great shows for the audiences. In order to manoeuvre such a gargantuan roster, Vince McMahon opened the creative envelopes and pushed the barriers, working in cahoots with the producers to develop storylines that would bring out the best in them.
Storylines played a significant role in bringing the Attitude Era into prominence, and they were the sole reason why World Wrestling Entertainment was relevant in pop culture (save some horrible ones including Mae Young giving birth to a hand)
As opposed to the bygone era of the WWE, the Attitude Era would stretch storylines over weeks, keeping it interesting and adding great depth to the overall narrative. (A notable mention to The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness which had us by the scruff of the neck for almost a year) From invading Vince McMahon’s home to nearly sacrificing Stephanie McMahon, the Era left no stone unturned in portraying reality.
The best part about it was that there were so many characters and almost each one of them had a distinct storyline to his/her name. It was at this time that even the mid-carders started enjoying an elevated status in the business. Comic relief characters such as The Headbangers and 2Cool became popular with the masses and made a name for themselves.
Degeneration X, which started off as an anti-establishment movement, gained momentum and became a proper faction that would change the face of the business. Profanity and sexual connotations became the order of the day for DX, and at some point in time, all of us adopted the “Suck It” gesture to flip people off. The Rock was coming into his own as a one-man show and was arguably every fan’s favourite.
His mannerisms and sublime microphone skills were the reason why “millions and millions” of people from across the world would tune-in to watch the programme on television. On the other hand, Stone Cold Steve Austin had moulded himself as the toughest “SOB”, fighting off the top echelon of management, stunning people at will, invading hospitals and beating the living daylights out of Vince McMahon. In hindsight, it was the coming together of talents that worked unanimously for the greater good (trumping WCW).
The Era also took cues from Extreme Championship Wrestling and matches became more violent. There was bloodshed, torment, and men being thrown off cages onto announce tables. Anything would go during these matches and us millennials loved every bit of the over-the-top action.
Sure, these matches lacked the skill and the technicality that was aplenty in WCW, courtesy the likes of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and company, but who were we to care? All we wanted was drama and fighting; skills and technicality bore no interest.
And how can we ever forget the ladies who made the experience of watching wrestling, a testosterone spiking one! Debauchery was the order of the day. From Bra and Panties matches to Barbara Bush, aka BB, “taking it all off for Triple H”, the millennials surely had their share of raunchy pleasures.
Gimmicks played a huge part of a wrestler’s image, something that is hard to achieve today because of the advent of social media. Social media brings wrestlers into close proximity with the fans, leaving no demarcation between real-life and storyline. But for us, The Undertaker was a “dead man” who could awaken from the dead at will and Kane wasn’t Glen Jacobs; he was The Undertaker’s half-brother who survived the fire and had returned to seek revenge.
The Attitude Era, in all fairness, played a significant role in the life of millennials who had sworn allegiance to WWE. It wasn’t just about what went on in the ring; it also encompassed all the tertiary events which were related to the biggest professional wrestling business on the planet.
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