It’s difficult to say whether or not pro wrestling is going through a renaissance period in 2017. Vince McMahon and WWE have certainly taken a more open-minded approach to the presentation and Vince has been hiring beloved independent talents in recent years, and the result has been fresh match combinations and more exciting action, not to mention a women’s division that actually means something. However, the ratings have also been slipping as of late, something that, unfortunately, the company has been dealing with since the early 2000s.
Fans have been begging a return to the style of the famed “Attitude” era in WWE for years, but let’s face it: the wrestlers – not the content – did more to make that era what it was. Those wrestlers have all largely retired now and moved on to other ventures or otherwise are involved in a less active role in the industry such as road agents for WWE. We remember the Attitude era with rose tinted glasses but sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of our favorite stars have been aging while they’ve been away. Here are fifteen of the most iconic faces of the WWF’s Attitude era, which you probably won’t recognize today.
15 Scotty 2 Hotty
If you were a wrestling fan at the turn of the century and watched even one episode of the World Wrestling Federation’s programming, you were bound to have seen Scotty 2 Hotty, Grandmaster Sexay, and Rikishi getting down in the middle of the ring as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Known collectively as Too Cool, Hotty and Sexay would dance to the ring with the monstrous Rikishi in tow and following a match, win or lose, they would coax Rikishi into partaking in a hip hop dance number with them right inside the ring.
Scotty 2 Hotty was known for his wild blonde hair, which stood vertically so high that it broke through the hat he would wear to the ring, as much as for his “worm” dance move. He doesn’t look like that these days, though, as his trademark hair has thinned quite a bit in recent years.
14 Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn was around in WWE before the Attitude era really kicked off, but his time alongside the Road Dogg Jesse James in the New Age Outlaws and as a member of the infamous D-Generation X will always be the defining era of his career. He was known by his “Mr. Ass” moniker and was a good looking guy, blonde hair, tan and all. He frequently teased the women in the audience by pretending to pull his shorts down and the lips plastered all over his tights were part of the appeal.
That appeal has since faded, though, as these days Billy Gunn barely has any hair on top of his head and is so wrinkled he doesn’t look anything like the “Mr. Ass” we remember anymore.
Tori is one of those former WWE Superstars who may have largely gone forgotten to most fans, but her contributions to the company during the Attitude era are no less commendable. She was one of only a handful of women, alongside the likes of Ivory and Jacqueline, who were maintaining a barely there women’s division at a time just before “bra and panties” matches became the norm of the time period. What Tori will likely be best remembered for, though, is the dramatic storyline twist when she dumped her boyfriend Kane for his best friend turned arch rival, X-Pac.
Though she’s still beautiful, Tori, who is long removed from WWE, looks nothing like she did when she was angering the WWE Universe by joining D-Generation X, as her trademark blonde hair is now brown.
The Attitude era was a time in the World Wrestling Federation where the entertainment had grown a lot more adult, but there was a transitional period where things got weird. The company was coming out of the mid-1990s with a reputation for being silly and cartoonish while their competition, WCW, was putting on entertainment for the grown-ups. As the WWF figured itself out going into the late ‘90s, we were brought things like The Oddities, which included a monstrous man named Kurrgan.
Kurrgan was a man intimidating in stature, but he wasn’t around for long before being released. His unique appearance made him a memorable image of the time, but now he has retired from wrestling and has gotten into acting with roles in films such as 300, Pacific Rim and Hercules, and he looks a lot more “normal” these days than he did during his time with the Oddities.
11 Al Snow
Perhaps one of the more underrated performers of the late 1990s was that of Al Snow. If you’ve read any of Mick Foley’s autobiographies you’ll know that Snow is a friend of Foley’s, but one that is often the butt of Foley’s jokes. He was also frequently a joke on WWE programming, but he was no joke in the ring. Al Snow was one of the most skilled wrestling performers of the era and held his own against the likes of the biggest names of the time, including The Rock.
Snow hasn’t been around on WWE programming for a very long time, but he has remained active and has worked with Impact Wrestling over the years. You might not know him if you saw him, though, as he has aged quite a bit and has a lot less hair than he used to.
10 Val Venis
The Attitude era was home to some pretty raunchy entertainment at times and it was a period of time when women were largely used as sex symbols. The sex appeal was not always saved for the women, though, as proven by a man named Val Venis. In case you don’t remember, the character of Val Venis was a former adult film star who became a wrestler but didn’t exactly leave his past behind him. He would frequently gyrate his hips and appeal to the women with suggestive promos.
It might all sound a little silly, but Val Venis was an iconic staple throughout the Attitude era. That famous sex appeal, however, may have run out a long time ago. Today he barely looks like the same guy with a bald head and aged face.
9 Trish Stratus
When you look at the current state of the very athletic women’s divisions on Raw and SmackDown and you start to think about the female ring pioneers who made it all possible, your mind has to go straight to Trish Stratus. Stratus got her start in WWE at the height of the Attitude era essentially as eye candy, which is why she was able to shock the world when she started competing in the ring and her work ethic helped her evolve into one of the finest female performers of all time.
Trish Stratus was a seven-time WWE Women’s Champion and now resides comfortably in the Hall of Fame, but she’s virtually unrecognizable from her early years in the wrestling business. Gone are the huge breasts and blonde hair, though Trish is now stunning in a whole different way.
The man known as Mideon was never a big star in the World Wrestling Federation, but he was certainly a regular and a part of some unforgettable moments. He was often featured in matches competing for the popular Hardcore Championship and he was a member of the Undertaker’s famous Ministry of Darkness stable, often teaming with fellow member Viscera. Though Mideon was a part of the WWF well before the onset of the Attitude era, this would prove to be the height of his wrestling career.
To look at Dennis Knight today is to see a man far removed from his dark days as Mideon. WWE’s official website caught up with him a few years ago and revealed that he is now bald, all cleaned up and running a catering company.
7 Shawn Michaels
We’ve spoken about Val Venis and how he was a heartthrob for the World Wrestling Federation in the late 1990s, but another male sex symbol of sorts who came earlier was none other than Mister WrestleMania himself, Shawn Michaels. His “sexy boy” gimmick took him a long way and by the time the Attitude era was really picking up steam he was running around causing mayhem with Chyna and Triple H as one of the original members of D-Generation X. This was the group that practically started the entire Attitude era and it was just one of the myriad of memorable times in the career of this Hall of Famer.
Of course, the term “sexy boy” is probably a bit of a misnomer these days as Shawn Michaels looks more like a cast member of Duck Dynasty, and an old one at that.
One of the biggest stars to come out of Paul Heyman’s original Extreme Championship Wrestling organization was Raven, a man who helped take the company to the heights it reached. He would have been a first ballot inductee into an ECW Hall of Fame, but he never reached his true potential in WWE. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a very respectable part of the Attitude era, though, as he had some memorable moments with the Hardcore Championship.
The vicious, brooding man they call Raven, though, is long gone to just have a glance at him. He might have been grungy and sometimes creepy at the height of his career, but these days Raven, whose real name is Scott Levy, just looks like another old guy.
Few WWE Superstars embodied the essence of the Attitude era the way Sean Waltman did when he brought to life the character of X-Pac. He was small, loud, hyperactive and totally annoying, but he got it done in the ring as one of the best competitors in the company at the time. He enjoyed runs with the WWF Tag Team, European and Intercontinental Championships throughout his time with the World Wrestling Federation and become an icon of the most popular time period in wrestling’s history.
He was also badass enough to have been a member of both of the most famous wrestling stables of all time, the New World Order, and D-Generation X, though it might be hard to believe by taking a look at how much he has aged since then.
4 Perry Saturn
The contributions made to professional wrestling by Perry Saturn were of the more subtle variety, but he was a talented grappler and an entertaining piece of work to have around during his time with the World Wrestling Federation. After jumping ship from World Championship Wrestling alongside Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko, Saturn made his own unique mark on the company by sometimes dressing in women’s clothing and talking to his girlfriend Moppy, who was literally just a mop with a mask.
Personal struggles with drug abuse and homelessness saw Perry Saturn disappear from the public eye for a long time, though, and while he has reemerged in recent years, today he’s aged so much that you probably wouldn’t know him if you saw him on the streets.
3 Spike Dudley
A hefty selection of the World Wrestling Federation’s most memorable talent during the Attitude era came straight out of Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. After Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley had been around for while, WWE decided to bring in the third Dudley, Spike, and for a while, he became as big a star as his brothers, if not a bigger one. Fans fell in love with Spike and were really behind his romance angle with one Molly Holly, who was also relatively new to the company.
Spike was a punching bag and is fondly remembered as such, but if you take a look at him today those memories probably won’t come flooding back right away, as Spike Dudley has changed so drastically as to be almost unrecognizable.
2 Road Dogg
It would seem that nearly every former member of D-Generation X has an enemy in Father Time. We have already discussed how X-Pac, “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn and Shawn Michaels have all had a rough go of the aging process, and the “Road Dogg” Jesse James is no different. James was an important part of the stable and the Attitude era as a whole, proving to be one of the most skilled mouthpieces of the time. He was very accomplished throughout the era, becoming one of the most prolific tag team wrestlers in history and enjoying a run with the Intercontinental Championship.
He works for Vince McMahon even today, but in a backstage capacity. As seen a few years ago when WWE gave the New Age Outlaws one last run with the tag titles, Jesse James is not the Road Dogg we remember.
1 Bret Hart
Bret Hart might just be the finest professional wrestler of all time. That’s what many would say, and though you may argue, it can’t be denied that he’s certainly one of the most influential men to ever step foot inside a professional wrestling ring. Hart was competing for the WWF a long time before the Attitude era started, but he helped kick it off with his classic rivalry with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” which took place during his match with Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in 1997.
Bret Hart’s contributions to wrestling are immeasurable, but if you’re thinking you’ll see a familiar face to look him up in 2017, think again. The Hitman is fully grey and is unrecognizable in his older age.