This era was the opposite of Rock N’ Wrestling – everything was a shade of grey, and fans loved it that way. On top of that, the matches became more gruesome, violent and bloody (certainly the original ECW had a say in influencing that). Fans, especially the male 18-34 demographic, who grew up watching Rock N’ Wrestling, couldn’t get enough of this new high octane product.
Perhaps the biggest positive of the Attitude era was WCW – not the product, not the nWo, but the fact that WCW existed as viable, on-the-level competition to WWE. The Monday Night wars were paramount for interest in pro wrestling. Competition is good (along with more places for wrestlers to work), which is why some wish TNA could grow to that level to be able to compete with WWE in every market.
I describe The Rock’s promos today like a Big Mac – the buns are catch phrases, what's in between is something funny and unique. For example. “Finally, The Rock has come back to (your city)” = top bun. “John Cena you look like a big fat bowl of fruity pebbles” = Meat, cheese, lettuce. “In front of the millions ... and millions off The Rock’s fans!” = middle bun. “Look at this, John Cena midget shorts ... it’s an insult to midgets!” = Meat, cheese, lettuce. “If ya smelllll ... what The Rock is cookin!” = bottom bun.
Every Rock promo today, and throughout the Attitude era, seemingly follows this pattern. In the Attitude era, most promos did. Half of RAW would be a sing-along across multiple promos.
From 1984 – 1991, the WWE title changed hands nine times. From 1998 – 2001, the WWE title changed hands 26 times. This did not end at just the WWE title; every championship fell victim to an abundance of title changes, which ultimately was a big factor in many losing interest in championships (recall that in 2003 the Intercontinental title, which was once revered as the second-most important title in WWE, went dormant for several months)REALITY ERA
Much like the internet helping the Attitude era, Twitter has aided the wrestling industry move in a different direction. It gives you a perspective on the real lives outside the ring of these superstars, and sometimes you get completely unexpected tweets, like The Rock critiquing John Cena’s in-ring work to ROH wrestler Kevin Steen.
“Team vs team”
In an interview with “Entertainment Weekly,” Stephanie McMahon said that The Rock vs. John Cena will be marketed like “Team Jacob vs Team Edward” from Twilight. More than ever, it’s not about babyface vs. heel – here are two guys, this is who they are and what they’ve done, and you pick a team based on that information. This scenario will create more epic matches and moments.
More than ever and certainly more than the previous two eras, it feels as though many superstars feel contrived, constrained and robotic. CM Punk said in a recent interview that he feels the script is a suggestion. This may be the era, given the long-tenured success of WWE, where superstars feel the most afraid to take matters into their own hands to get over, especially early in their career.
This might be more a con for fans my age and gender. The Attitude era fed our testosterone, and that attention has now been shifted to MMA. Though there are glimpses of WWE moving away from “PG,” the core base of the product is still in that realm -- and the reasoning makes sense. It has been said publicly that with sponsorship in place, PG must stay. But to certain members of the WWE Universe, this limits interest.
At the end of the day, your favorite era may very well come down to when you were at the height of your fandom or your age. What is your favorite era? Comment below or tell me on Twitter.
Arda Ocal is a TV personality and blogger for theScore Television Network. You can find some of his posts here: http://blogs.thescore.com/wwe/author/ardaocal/