Ahhh, the Attitude Era…
Arguably the greatest era in WWE history. The Attitude Era provided us with endless memories, entertainment, and will always hold a very special sense of nostalgia for longtime wrestling fanatics. Although we remember it fondly, times have most certainly changed, and the world of professional wrestling is definitely evolving into a more technically sound environment. Now the spotlight is focused more on real skill and in-ring abilities, and not so much focused on sex, mic skills, and charisma as during the Attitude Era. Although we still see good story lines and plenty of charisma during promos, wrestlers of this new era lack much of the charisma that we have seen in the past.
In the past 5 years, the WWE has provided a much more solid foundation for not only their midcard and main event talent, but also for the up-and-comers. The WWE training facility and the notorious NXT program have provided top notch training for new wrestlers to develop not only their technical skills, but also character development, promos, entrances, and more.
Although we do still see Extreme Rules Matches (RIP Hardcore Matches), let’s be real, back then if someone shed a few drops of blood, no officials were going to come running out to stop the match while they wipe the blood from your face like they did during the Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor NXT match in Texas recently. So now we just remember fondly the days of blood, sex, and violence, in exchange for a program more centered around more technically sound wrestling.
Blonde beauty Sable was a staple of the Attitude Era’s Diva division. She was certainly blessed in the beauty department, but what she made up for in sex appeal, she lacked when it came to mic skills and genuine wrestling talent. Sure, she was popular, but you could argue that she just didn’t have all that much competition during her time in the WWE. At that time, the Diva’s division was minimal, and since it was so centered around sex when it came to the female wrestlers, Sable didn’t really need much wrestling ability to get by. In the new era, the Diva’s division is no more – we have now been introduced to the new and improved Women’s Division. Long gone are the bra and panties, evening gown, and gravy bowl matches. This is good news for up and coming females who aspire to be taken seriously as professional wrestlers. Sable just simply wouldn’t make the cut these days. The crowds today are more interested in seeing genuine talent from the female wrestlers, and many ladies seem to be bringing just that into the ring lately.
Goldberg first really made a name for himself in WCW during a winning streak that seemed endless, racking up around 200 straight wins with no losses in between. As entertaining as it was at the time for fans to wonder how long the streak would continue, the modern wrestling game has changed and a stunt like that today would simply bore viewers. Goldberg possessed no mic skills, zero charisma, and hardly any in-ring ability at all. He was all strength and muscles with nothing behind them. Always booked as a champion, Goldberg would enter the ring, dominate the opponent after a few minutes, and leave. The new era of wrestling standard has risen, and today fans crave real wrestling matches. Crowds are less impressed with pure brawn with nothing to show for it, wanting to see what you’ve got and see wrestlers show more technical and impressive moves in the ring.
Gangrel probably had one of the coolest entrances of the WWE during the Attitude Era. The vampire character would ascend through a trapdoor on the stage in the center of a ring of fire before walking to the ring with a glass filled with “blood”. Once he arrived at the ring he would fill his mouth with “blood” and then spit up into the air.
Not only would the spitting blood most likely not fly in the new PG era, but his character as a whole was too fictitious to really make it big in modern wrestling. Today’s characters, for the most part, are more realistic or reality-based, and such an outlandish act today would probably look more hokey than impressive to a crowd.
9. Hardcore Holly
The name speaks for itself – obviously, “Hardcore” Holly wouldn’t be able to survive in today’s era. In the more recent PG rated programming, even the slightest drop of blood calls for a halt of the match until all is clean and well. Today’s “extreme” matches are nowhere near comparable to the days of old when we watched Mick Foley dive into thumbtacks or being speared onto a flaming table. Hardcore Holly suffered through a match with The Rock in the Royal Rumble of 1999 in which he was whacked in the head eleven times with a steel chair. Something tells me that Vince would put the kibosh on that move real quick if it were even suggested today. My, how times have changed.
The Usos’ father, Rikishi, was a relatively popular wrestler during the Attitude Era as a face, losing a bit of his popularity after turning heel. Rikishi’s size limited his range of motion and his wrestling abilities, and with fans today wanting solid wrestling matches, it is hard to imagine him gaining success today. Not only would it be hard to imagine the “stink face” working in the current programming, but the lack of mic skills and in-ring abilities would make it tough for Rikishi to get very far. His act began to get stale, and even once he returned as a face, he never quite regained his popularity due to his physical and technical limitations.
7. Crash Holly
Crash Holly, “the Houdini of Hardcore”, was certainly known as an entertaining presence in the ring. Notorious for implementing the “24/7 rule” for the hardcore championship, Holly and his infamous escapes were always sure to put on a good show. Hardcore Holly’s cousin had plenty of charisma and he could always get the crowd going. However, Holly possessed little actual wrestling talent outside of his hardcore escapee gimmick. In today’s roster, he would never be able to make it since his tough skin and quick feet were really all he had going for him. Perfect fit for the Attitude Era, but his lack of technical skills would not get him far in the ring these days.
DX was never short on crotch chops and sexual jokes and puns. The sophomoric and immature gimmick always got great reactions from crowds, but not always from WWE officials. Their antics often pushed the limits, and at times even crossed the line of what was acceptable to broadcast. Shawn Michaels even received a fine from Vince in one instance for stuffing the front of his pants before an interview on Raw, a stunt that was originally dismissed by Vince for being too inappropriate. DX was known for getting women in the crowd during Monday Night Raw to flash them; we all know that would never fly today. No more strip poker during matches or women exposing themselves in the crowd. How times have changed…
5. Cactus Jack
“The King of Hardcore” – need I go on? You can probably already see why this wouldn’t work out, but I’ll explain. Cactus Jack was notorious for having some of, if not the, most brutal matches in WWE history against the likes of Triple H and Randy Orton. Cactus Jack would enter the ring carrying a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire to face his opponents. Oh, and sometimes he even lit the weapon on fire just to spice it up a bit! I can recall a Hell in a Cell match against Triple H where Jack was flipped over and pushed through the cage, falling about 13 feet down to the mat. The violent and risky stunts performed by Cactus Jack pushed all of the limits and never failed to shock the crowd. In modern WWE, the amount of bloodshed that Cactus Jack matches caused would never be allowed in today’s programming. Period, end of story.
4. The Rock
This could go either way – some believe that he could survive, and others believe that he just wouldn’t make the cut. The Rock dominated the Attitude Era, and is a beloved star of the WWE. The main argument would be that once he made his return and feuded with John Cena, The Rock’s material seemed to become tired and stale. Back in the day, Rock gained popularity with his catch phrases, his genuine talent, his look and overall charisma. Although the Rock still receives reactions from the crowd when he appears in the ring, some believe that if he weren’t a well-known and loved superstar, he wouldn’t survive if he debuted on today’s roster. He just wouldn’t be able to cut the same promos or make the same jokes that he was known for in years past. The times have changed and many don’t think that he would get over well with crowds in this new era.
3. Stone Cold
The beer chugging, middle finger slinging, forever cussing Texas Rattlesnake would absolutely have a difficult time surviving the PG era of wrestling. I know, I know, he’s a legend and a beloved veteran wrestler, but let’s be real – the gimmick he put on was far too mature for today’s standards. Sure, Austin would make an attempt to clean up his act to fit the mold, but the character would lose significant appeal. A good ol’ fashion rebel like himself would turn into such a mediocre act if he was to shed his bad guy image. Austin’s character was simply too inappropriate to survive the new era. Although his wrestling abilities, especially prior to his neck injury, were up to par to carry him through as far as technicalities go, if he debuted in today’s roster, it is safe to say that he would struggle if stripped of his most popular antics.
2. Val Venis
“The former adult star” Val Venis is quite obviously no fit for today’s programming. The bath towel clad star would enter the ring sensually swinging his hips before whipping his towel off and announcing himself – “Hellooo, ladies!”
The character centered around sex, which is a big no-no these days. In one angle, a group of Asian men threatened to chop off “the Big Valbowski”, stringing him up with his rear end out for all to see at the end of an episode of Raw. Venis would always have promos up on the screen and, more often than not, he would appear either in a bed, a hot tub, or some other sensual location, eventually unveiling a woman beside him. These antics, along with his sexual innuendos and entrance music would be far too mature to make it today.
1. The Godfather
The Godfather was a pimp. I feel that I need not go on, because that alone speaks volumes. Where do I begin… It was typical for the crowd to begin chanting “We want hoes!” before Godfather would summon a gaggle of women to come running out onto the entrance ramp surrounding him. Common sense will tell you that, if nothing else, the use of the word, and even the reference, of women as “hoes” is nothing more than a memory now. You could never in a million years get away with a gimmick like that these days, especially not on live television during Raw. As The Godfather would say, “Pimpin’ ain’t easy!”