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WWE History: 5 greatest storylines of the Attitude Era

Austin vs McMahon, a storyline for the ages
Austin vs McMahon, a storyline for the ages
Abhilash Mendhe

When Hulk Hogan turned heel at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996, it forced Vince McMahon to completely revamp his product in order to compete with World Championship Wrestling. He addressed the fans in a promo, kick-starting the most notorious and controversial era in the history of this business: The Attitude Era.

Also read: 5 moments that genuinely scared fans

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The late-90's saw some of the most intriguing and must-see television WWE had ever produced, and these storylines aided WWE and Vince McMahon in their quest to topple WCW and take over the wrestling business in North America. Let's take a look at five of the greatest WWE storylines from the Attitude Era.


#5 Hart vs Austin

Hart locking in the Sharpshooter
Hart locking in the Sharpshooter

When Austin won the Royal Rumble match in 1997 with a con finish, Bret Hart was livid and the two went onto reignite their rivalry from 1996. The duo faced off in a Submission match at WrestleMania 13, with UFC legend Ken Shamrock acting as the special guest referee.

During the closing moments of the match, Hart locked in the Sharpshooter on an unconscious Austin. As blood began dripping down Austin's head, Hart increased the pressure, leaving The Rattlesnake in seething agony. Austin didn't give up and passed out, resulting in a win for Bret.

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The match is widely considered by many as being one of the greatest bouts in the history of WrestleMania. It also resulted in a double-turn, as Austin came out of the match a crowd favorite babyface, while Bret Hart turned into a hated heel.

This persona of Bret Hart kicked off another amazing storyline with The Hart Foundation (consisting of Bret, Owen, Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, and Brian Pillman) becoming top heels and dissing The United States of America on a weekly basis.

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#4 Taker's long lost brother

The Brothers of Destruction
The Brothers of Destruction

Leading to the Badd Blood PPV in 1997, Paul Bearer began teasing of someone's arrival and the WWE fans were as confused as they had ever been. Bearer talked of The Undertaker's long lost brother Kane, whose face was burnt in a fire when he was a child.

Kane made his thunderous debut at Badd Blood, breaking off the cell door and attacking The Undertaker, which led to Shawn Michaels stealing a win over The Deadman.

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This moment kicked off a heated rivalry between the two brothers, with The Undertaker managing to put Kane down at WrestleMania 14. The duo later reconciled and formed one of the most dominant tag teams in the history of the WWE, dubbed as "The Brothers of Destruction".

The rivalry and its aftermath resulted in the fans getting to witness some of the eeriest and most disturbing moments inside the squared circle as well as backstage.

Also read: 5 times fans provoked WWE Superstars

#3 McMahon crosses all limits

Vince is revealed as The Higher Power
Vince is revealed as The Higher Power

During the peak of the Attitude Era, The Undertaker began hounding Vince McMahon's family, talking about a higher power who was behind it all. Vince McMahon pleaded with his longtime enemy Austin to help him fend off The Undertaker and The Ministry.

Also read: 5 times WWE copied their own storylines

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Later, in one of the most shocking reveals of all time, Vince turned out to be the higher power. This led to Linda McMahon and Stephanie McMahon coming out on the ramp and leaving Vince horrified by stating that they had appointed Stone Cold as the CEO of WWE!

The disturbing storyline took a hilarious turn as Austin completely changed how WWE's Stamford HQ and its employees worked. The changes that Austin made included beer drinking contests among the employees and dropping manure inside the office.

Austin didn't remain inside Stamford for long, but the storyline managed to leave a lasting mark in the annals of WWE history.

Also read: 9 mind-blowing facts about WrestleMania 35

#2 Foley wins the big one

Foley realizes his dream
Foley realizes his dream

On a pre-taped episode of Raw in 1999, Mick Foley was slated to win the WWE Title from The Rock with help from Stone Cold Steve Austin.

WCW's commentator, Tony Schiavone, announced the results of the night to the worldwide audience, making a sarcastic remark about Foley not being worthy enough to get people to watch the product.

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The tide immediately turned to WWE's side, as fans tuned into WWE after getting disgusted by Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash's "Fingerpoke of Doom" moment. Raw destroyed WCW in ratings that night and it was one of those moments that sealed the fate of the sinking ship that was WCW.

Fans hailed WWE for giving Foley a shot at glory and the win is regarded as the biggest turning point in the Monday Night Wars. McMahon ended up buying off WCW in 2001.

Also read: 10 greatest heel turns of the 21st Century

#1 Austin vs The Rock

One of the greatest rivalries of all time
One of the greatest rivalries of all time

Leading to WrestleMania 17, The Rattlesnake won the Royal Rumble match and was all set to face off against The Rock in the sequel to their encounter at WrestleMania 15.

The two Superstars sat for an interview with WWE announcer Jim Ross, which turned out be an absolute classic, with two of the greatest talkers warning each other of what was about to come.

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The match headlined the greatest WrestleMania of all time, with Vince McMahon aiding Austin to beat The Rock to a pulp and win the WWE Title. Austin turned heel in front of 70,000 roaring fans and shook hands with Satan himself, as Jim Ross aptly put it. The moment is etched in WWE history as one marking the official end of the Attitude Era.

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Edited by Anthony Akatugba Jr.

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