You can’t mention professional wrestling without the attitude era showing up like a drunk ex-girlfriend to remind you of all the good times you had with here before running off with that bitch PG. And just like a drunk ex, nostalgia can overshadow the much more cringe worthy moments and make you forget just how awful things were. The attitude era was one of the best times in professional wrestling hands down, but that period involved WWE’s creative team throwing anything they could out to see what stuck. A lot of trial and error with a lot of success with forgettable failures. But that was what it took to win a war against a rival company. That creative freedom allowed for superstars to grow in to their characters naturally. It was a period of discovering what works for a certain athlete and focusing on their strengths. It was the unpredictability of the product that drew us fans in every Monday.
So what really made the attitude era more superior? What was the real formula to WWE’s success in the mid nineties? It certainly wasn’t the way Shawn Michaels obnoxiously sucked an imaginary penis while tickling the invisible man’s balls at the same time. It’s not naked mud wrestling and bikini contest that trout half naked women out in front of the teen and adult male demographic in search of a little skinemax with their tag team matches. What the attitude did well was give us variety. With a two hour show, they were able to deliver more than any three hour episode of the current version of Raw because everyone from the top to lower card has something to do. Fans were always given options to enjoy. You don’t like Stone Cold Steve Austin? Well, check out what The Rock and the Nation of Domination were up to. Can’t stand that? Well we have Degeneration X to keep you entertained. Not good enough for you? We have Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation to impress you with their technical wrestling. We have have all sorts of flavors of Mick Foley. We have The Undertaker, the New Age Outlaws, Val Venis, and a bunch of repackaged and up and coming superstars you can connect with. And as each top superstar evolved, more stories written for characters like Goldust and Al Snow pushed the two hour show to its limits. While WCW was riding the NWO train in to the ground, WWE was pushing out stars with crazy gimmicks and letting organic natural talent grow. If WWE will not turn John Cena heel because he sells the most merchandise, then the 90’s attitude era was filled with superstars that moved more weight than Walter White. Merchandise was selling like crazy because not only did fans have a favorite, they had favorites. And they felt the need to consume everything they could get their hands on.
So you can keep all of the blood and nudity. Did that add to the success of the attitude era? Yes. But it doesn’t make it better than the PG era. Better writing and fleshed out stories is what makes it better. Putting more talent to use is what makes it better. Not burying wrestlers who are over with the audience in order to push what WWE think should be their top guy makes it better. And most importantly, not holding down your whole roster on a three hour show just to put one guy over is what makes it better. The real difference between the attitude era and the PG era is not the blood and violence. It’s the lack of a strong creative team who can give you something special all around the card. WWE has fallen in to the same stale formula it had followed before the attitude era. And unfortunately for them, a day may come in which a wrestling organization, possibly by Jeff Jarrett, will rise to challenge them. Will WWE’s mediocre product stand strong against new competition? Or will history repeat itself?