The WWF (World Wrestling Federation) was facing some stiff competition from the WCW in the latter half of the 1990's. You see, the WWF had been airing Monday Night RAW since 1993 and then the WCW came along with WCW Monday Nitro in 1995. This created a rating battle called the Monday Night Wars, which would last for nearly six years. In fact, Nitro was clobbering RAW in the rating department and this forced Vince McMahon to rethink his strategy. McMahon’s solution was to introduce the “WWF Attitude” brand, which was unveiled on November 9, 1997.
Throughout the Attitude Era, the WWF introduced us to a whole new stable of wrestlers, raised the level of sleaze, and began to push the limits of physicality. Tag team wrestling saw a sudden surge in popularity and women became a focal point. In a nutshell, the Attitude Era delivered much more adult-oriented and edgier entertainment than their competitors. Well, it worked. The storylines on Nitro became far less appealing when compared to those that were happening on RAW and the new faces on RAW were gaining massive popularity. After “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won the first WWF Championship of his career, the WWF began to hold a significant lead in the rating department and the WCW wasn’t able to recover. The Monday Night Wars officially ended on March 23, 2001, when Vince McMahon purchased the WCW.
It’s fair to give a lot of credit to the business savvy, Vince McMahon. After all, he was the man with the plan. However, we must also give a lot of credit to the wrestlers who actually delivered the end product. It’s quite possible that things could have turned out much differently if it wasn’t for them. Here are 15 Attitude Era WWE stars and what they’re doing today.
15 Paul Wight
It’s certainly fitting that a guy who stands seven feet tall and weighs nearly 400 pounds would use the ring name, Big Show. It’s also fitting that such a guy would have been one of the most popular wrestlers during the Attitude Era. Believe it or not, Wight was led down the path by Danny Bonaduce who then introduced him to Hulk Hogan. The rest is history. Wight honed his craft in WCW and nWo before immediately making an impact with the WWF in 1999. He recently let his WWE contract expire and announced that his days in the ring are over. It’s uncertain what the 46-year-old wrestling legend has planned but he has been gaining a lot of acting experience in recent years and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we saw him take on a few more movie roles. He is also well-suited for a role in professional wrestling outside of the ring.
14 Sean Morley
Sean Morley cut his teeth in the independent circuit, AJPW, and WWC between 1995 and 1998 before signing with the WWF in 1998. He made his debut on May 18, 1998, as Val Venis, who was supposedly an adult film actor. Naturally, such a character was perfect for the storylines and vicious feuds that defined the Attitude Era. Make no mistake, Val Venis wasn’t just an edgy sideshow, he went on to win a pair of WWF Intercontinental Championships along with a WWF European Championship and a World Tag Team Championship. He had a great run before being released in 2009. He continued to wrestle in the independent circuit and TNA but he moved on to other things after 2010. He has since become an advocate for a special interest and owns and operates the Health for Life dispensary in Arizona.
13 Chris Irvine
Chris Irvine was 19 years old in 1990 when he began training at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling where he turned himself into “Cowboy” Chris Jericho. Five years later he was in ECW and then he joined WCW. By 1999, he was making waves as the self-proclaimed savior of the WWF. Jericho, or Y2J, as he called himself at the time, raised the ire of The Rock before engaging in a long-lasting feud with Chyna, who he defeated to capture the Intercontinental Championship. Irvine is now 47-years-old and has won more titles than you could shake a stick at. He certainly has a lot of gas left in the tank but he appears to be shifting his focus to music and his band Fozzy which is about to set out on a tour to promote their seventh album, Judas.
12 Mark Calaway
When it comes to discussing the greatest wrestlers of all-time, you can’t possibly forget about Mark Calaway. It doesn’t matter if he was wrestling under the name Mean Mark Callous, The Punisher, or his most famous persona, The Undertaker, Calaway has always been a force who knows how to entertain. The Undertaker made his first appearance in the WWF in 1990 and he quickly made his mark. He battled with the biggest names in the business and will always be remembered for his staggering 21 straight WrestleMania victories. Nearly 20 years and dozens of championships and awards later, the 53-year-old wrestling legend is nearing the end of the line. He’s been called out by John Cena but The Deadman has yet to respond. Calaway has done well with real estate investments and development so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he focused on those enterprises. He would likely be more than welcome to remain in the WWE in some capacity.
11 Glenn Jacobs
It wouldn’t be right to talk about The Undertaker without paying tribute to Glenn Jacobs, who is better known to wrestling fans as Kane. Billed as The Undertaker’s half-brother during the Attitude Era, Kane was a huge part of the whole Undertaker storyline. When he wasn’t feuding with The Undertaker, he was teaming up with him. The pair were quite the force as the “Brothers of Destruction” but Kane didn’t need his fictional half-brother to be a success. He eventually became an icon himself winning loads of WWF/WWE titles and his share of fans. While the 50-year-old Jacobs clearly has a lot of fight left in him, he has been turning his attention towards a career in politics. He and his wife also own an Allstate insurance outlet, which they are both very involved with.
10 Paul Levesque or Triple H
It only took a couple of years for the hulking Paul Levesque to work his way from the IWF and WCW to the WWF. He made his WWF debut in 1995 as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but shortly after, he adopted the name Triple H. He became a force during the Attitude Era when he co-founded D-Generation X and his profile was boosted even higher when his storyline involved marrying Steph McMahon in 1999. In a case of life imitating art, Levesque and McMahon tied the knot for real in 2003 and it appears that Triple H is set up nicely for a life after he finally retires from the ring. It’s not like he married himself into success though. Triple H has achieved about as much as a man can in the ring. Triple H is now 48 but he can still hold his own in the ring while also performing his duties as the WWE’s Executive Vice-President of Talent, Live Events, and Creativity.
9 Darren Drozdov
Life isn’t always fair, just ask Darren Drozdov. The multi-talented athlete played for three seasons in the NFL where he gained notoriety for vomiting on a football prior to the snap while on camera during a Monday Night Football game. After his football career fizzled out, Darren set his sights on wrestling and arrived in the WWF as Droz in 1998 just as the Attitude Era was beginning. Sadly, Droz suffered a serious neck injury during a match with D-Lo Brown in 1999 and he was left completely paralyzed for a while, although, he has regained some functions in his upper body and arms. Droz’s can-do attitude and determination to live life to the fullest should be an inspiration for anyone. Despite needing almost constant care and frequent treatments, Drozdov remains in the WWE fold as a writer.
8 Accie Connor
Better known as D-Lo Brown, Accie Connor made his WWF debut in 1997 as a bit player in Faarooq’s Nation of Dominance. He hit his stride in 1998 when he accomplished the rare feat of holding the European and Intercontinental Championships at the same time. In 1999, D-Lo was involved in the tragic stunt gone wrong that resulted in his opponent, Droz, being left a quadriplegic. Connor admits that the incident deeply affected him and he considered retirement but he continued to wrestle throughout the rest of the Attitude Era. He was released by the WWE in 2003. D-Lo made a brief return to the WWE in 2008 before fading away in TNA and the AJPW. Connor graduated from the University of Maine as a Certified Public Accountant and he is currently working as a wrestler booking agent in Las Vegas.
7 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle came to the WWF in 1998 but many wrestling fans were already familiar with him, due to his conquests as an amateur. Angle had won a gold medal at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships and then followed that up with a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics. It didn’t take him long to start racking up WWF championship titles and it took even less time for him to master playing the role of a villain. His reason for leaving the WWE in 2006 was that he felt that the company was making him work through injuries instead of letting him recover. He continued to wrestle with TNA, NJPW, and on the independent circuit over the next 11 years. Then, in 2017, Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and appointed to his current position as the General Manager of RAW.
6 Mick Foley
Mick Foley had already made a bit of a name for himself as Cactus Jack in the decade before the Attitude Era began. He joined the WWF in 1996 and was repackaged as the mentally unstable and masked Mankind. He was an instant hit with fans, as he quickly developed a brutal and long-running feud with The Undertaker. He actually participated as Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love at Royal Rumble in 1998. Before officially retiring from the ring in 2012, Foley had won 3 WWF Championships, a WWF Hardcore Championship, and 8 WWF Tag Team Championships. The wrestling legend was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. Foley is involved in a few children’s charities and is an accomplished writer. Oh, he’s a comedian too on top of being a WWE color commentator.
5 Dwayne Johnson
After giving up on professional football, Dwayne Johnson decided to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and pursue a career in professional wrestling. What a brilliant move that ended up being. In fact, it seems that every move that Dwayne Johnson makes is brilliant. He arrived in the WWF as Rocky Malva in 1996 but he soon renamed himself The Rock and tinkered with his image. Another brilliant move! The Attitude Era would certainly have been less interesting if The Rock wasn’t a part of it. He ended his career with 8 WWF/WWE Championships, 2 Intercontinental Championships, 5 WWF Tag Team Championships and many other awards. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that Dwayne Johnson now has a prosperous acting career and is involved in several other business ventures.
4 Steve Austin
There aren’t too many wrestlers that defined the Attitude Era quite like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin did. He was vulgar, he was cocky, he was mean, and his character was allegedly based on the infamous serial killer and mob hitman, Richard Kuklinski. Heck, Stone Cold flipped Mike Tyson the bird and made an enemy of Vince McMahon. That’s beyond brave! He was the type of guy that you should hate yet fans just adored him. Even though his career was cut short due to injuries, Steve Austin still managed to win 6 WWF Championships, a pair of WWF Intercontinental Championships, 4 WWF Tag Team Championships, and many more. The WWE Hall of Famer has made sporadic appearances in the ring and is currently signed to a WWE Legends contract. He also hosts a weekly podcast and has done a bit of acting.
3 Scott Garland
Scott Garland wanted to be a professional wrestler and as a young teenager, he did all he could to find out how to get his foot in the door. Scott even tried to contact Vince McMahon directly to get himself on the radar but his attempts failed. Garland started to hang around a wrestling venue in Maine and was soon helping the crews set up wrestling rings. It was there that he was eventually noticed while he was wrestling with some friends. This set him on the path to the independent circuit and he finally made it to the WWF at the dawn of the Attitude Era. He was released in 2007 and he went on to become a firefighter and an emergency medical technician. He returned to the WWE in 2016 to teach at the WWE Performance Center.
2 Page Falkinburg
Better known as Diamond Dallas Page, Page Falkinburg was already an established wrestler and had won several titles with WCW when the company was bought out by Vince McMahon in 2001. He was a big part of the WCW Invasion during which time he engaged in an entertaining feud with The Undertaker. He would win the WWF European Championship just as the Attitude Era was coming to a close but he suffered a series of injuries that prevented him from continuing and he was granted his release in 2002. The WWE Hall of Famer has made a few WWE appearances since then but he has spent a great deal of time developing his DDP Yoga program which has been quite successful. He can also be credited with helping former wrestlers like Scott Hall and Jake Roberts get their derailed lives back on track.
1 Steve Blackman
Steve Blackman may not have been much more than a mid-carder but he enjoyed some huge successes and was a big part of several high-profile storylines throughout the Attitude Era. He defeated some big stars of the time including The Rock and Faarooq, while also engaging in memorable feuds such as his long-running beef with Ken Shamrock. In the end, Blackman claimed 6 WWF Hardcore Championships before leaving the company in 2002. He opened a school in 2003 called Blackman MMA where he teaches jiujitsu and wrestling and then developed Steve Blackman’s Fighting Systems which is geared towards MMA. It’s likely that Steve gets to try out a few of his moves now and then as he works as a bail bondsman in Pennsylvania. You certainly don’t want Steve Blackman chasing you down.