Attitude Era vs. PG Era

So it’s only going to be one post instead of a series. Sorry if that disappoints anyone.

I read a lot of posts and opinions of people that talk about how the Attitude Era was so great and how awful the PG Era is so bad and how things need to be more like what they were back in the late 90s. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard because people aren’t thinking when they say stuff like this. Either that or the more likely reality: they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Wrestling today is pretty awesome and in a lot of ways it’s better than what we have back in the 90s. Now before I get into this, let me make something clear: I’m not saying this era is better nor am I saying it’s worse. I’m saying that there are a lot of people that blindly say we need to get back to the Attitude Era way of thinking and style of airing TV and I’m going to explain why they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Note that this is just about WWE, not TNA and/or WCW. Also I won’t be going past the end of the year 2001 with this so don’t bother mentioning stuff from January 1, 2002 on because it’s not what I’m talking about. For a starting point, let’s say January 1, 1998. I know the Attitude Era was longer than that but it’s an easy date to work with.

First and foremost, people seem to think that the Attitude Era was all Austin and Vince tormenting each other and Rock cracking people up and Foley getting beaten up and then cracking a witty line. See, here’s the thing: that was about ¼ of the show. The fact of the matter is that a lot of the Attitude Era’s TV time SUCKED. I’ve been watching some 98 Raws and you get a lot of stuff like the DOA vs. the old Road Warriors, a multiple months long Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve Blackman feud, the NWA faction sucking the life out of the place, and about 15 minutes of Austin vs. McMahon per show.

People remember the cool moments of the late 90s but they forget about a lot of the really awful stuff and believe me, it got bad. You had stuff like Mark Henry getting oral sex from a transvestite, May Young giving birth to a hand, a story about Stephanie McMahon’s teddy bear, William Regal as the Brawny Man, the J.O.B. Squad, a trio of vampires, human sacrifices, people almost being embalmed, live burials, Chyna turning three times at one show, Jeff Jarrett getting hit in the back by a frozen fish, a championship changing hands at a Days Inn, a wrestler whose gimmick was he could vomit on command, and Mae Young being topless on PPV.

In short, the Attitude Era had some really stupid ideas. Some of those might not have been in the time period I mentioned, but you get the idea. People want to complain about Cena being impossible to beat and call him Superman or something like that, but is John Cena saluting people more childish than Austin holding his boss at gunpoint and having a flag come out of it that says Bang 3:16? That’s something I’ve seen in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

People want to argue about how silly and childish things are today. Yeah, there are some pretty stupid ideas like Hornswoggle and Sheamus being related to a Muppet, but at the same time we have Punk and his Pipe Bombs, Cena standing tall against a guy that talks about Fruity Pebbles and talks in funny voices (there’s a long chat in that feud that I’ll save for later), anti-bullying stories which can inspire kids (corny but true), and comedy bits that aren’t that bad when you remember your audience.

That brings me to one of the bigger points: the show isn’t for us anymore. Back in the 80s, everything was based around kids. Hogan’s feuds were never more than “I can beat this giant because the Hulkamaniacs are behind me!” You had a guy with a snake who beat up everyone else with the DDT. You had Savage being incredibly colorful and over the top. You had simple villains like Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart. It was a simple time for simple minds. Know what else it was? The biggest era ever for wrestling.

Then the 90s happened and those fans grew up. They got tired of seeing guys like Hogan and hearing the “you all be good” stuff. The fans rebelled and we got stuff like ECW and Steve Austin and DX and The Rock and all that jazz. The problem became that everything had to top what we had before, which is how in 1999 we had the Ministry of Darkness and crucifixions and Mideon drinking blood and vampires and all that stuff. It stopped being about wrestling and was all about drama.

Finally Austin got too hurt to wrestle and things got even better in the year 2000. What was different about 2000 rather than 98 and 99 you ask? The focus was on the ring. You had Angle and Benoit and Jericho and Guerrero coming in and Rock vs. HHH going 25 minutes every PPV and Undertaker being a biker instead of a demon.

Nick Bockwinkel used to say “That’s what it says on the marquee: Wrestling.” It sounds corny and stupid, but at the end of the day he’s right: if you put good wrestling out there, people will watch, because that’s what they’re here to see. I don’t watch Raw to see pure drama or comedy. If I wanted to see that, I’d watch a drama or a comedy. Look at the biggest angle of the year in Punk vs. Cena. In every promo Punk had, it ended with him saying that he was the best in the world and that he would prove it by beating John Cena in the middle of the ring. It wasn’t about power or some obscure thing. It was about pinning John Cena to the mat for 3 seconds. It was about wrestling.

So then Rock and Austin leave and you have guys like Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle to take their place. The pendulum has swung back to pure mat wrestling….and people don’t care as much. Starting around 2003-2004, things started to go downhill again, especially interest in the product. It appeared as if the pendulum would be swinging back towards the Attitude Era as things were getting insane again….and then something happened.

In June of 2007, Chris Benoit went over the edge and murdered his wife and son before committing suicide. Wrestling was on the front page of the paper as you had someone that was a big deal in WWE and was on the verge of winning a world title on the news for killing three people. This made the steroids trial in 1993 look like a walk in the park. Everything was changed and WWE had to change too. They had just come through an era where Angle and Benoit would drop each other on their heads ten times a match 4 nights a week. Benoit went crazy and Angle can’t go a year without a neck injury. Things had to change.

With WWE and the wrestling world being turned upside down, everything more or less had to be reset. Benoit is still less than five years ago and it’s not like you can hide things in the modern age where there are cameras everywhere. People complaining about the lack of chair shots to the head and blood don’t get the bigger picture: if something else like Benoit happened, the WWE would cease to exist. Sponsors would pull out, people would leave, fans would go away. Vince is protecting himself and his company by doing what he’s doing and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you can’t watch wrestling without someone taking an unprotected chair shot to the head, I feel very sorry for you.

So in the aftermath of that, Vince reset things back to the most basic things he could think of. Wrestling fans being wrestling fans, they didn’t want something that wasn’t geared exactly to them, so when the product wasn’t aimed at them anymore, they declared that it sucked. Wrestling is geared towards kids right now and you know what? It’s freaking good. We’re getting John Cena vs. the Rock and Christian getting the push the fans have demanded for years and Sheamus being all big and awesome and Orton having his best matches in years and Punk being the voice of the voiceless and Ryder’s internet show getting him on TV and a dozen other awesome things.

“But it’s not the Attitude Era!!!” Get over it. It isn’t your time anymore so stop thinking it’s going to be. Things in life aren’t always going to go your way and you need to accept that. You think your parents liked listening to Hogan telling you to take your vitamins or Warrior wanting to load up the spaceship with the rocket fuel or Hawk and Animal rambling about absolutely nothing that made sense to anyone that was human? It’s not about us anymore. It’s about the kids and catching their attention with bright colors and low level humor. And as much as you don’t want to admit it, it’s working. Mania broke 1,000,000 buys last year and the Trump record will fall with Cena vs. Rock. It’s their era now, not ours.

This next part I wrote earlier but I got on a roll with the previous section so it’s going to seem a little out of place for an ending.

Also you want to complain about title changes? From 1998-1999, no WWF World Title reign lasted longer than 90 days. Think about that. No one held the world title longer than 3 months for over two years. This would include three title reigns (one by Rock, Foley and Vince) that combined to last ten days. Midcard titles more your thing? In 1999-2000, the Intercontinental Title changed hands 23 times. In 24 months, there were 23 title reigns. Think about that for a minute. The tag titles weren’t as bad as they only changed 22 times in that span of time.

Title reigns didn’t mean anything back then. Austin won 6 world titles starting in 1998 and ending in 2001. Factoring in the year he was gone, Austin won all of his titles in about two and a half years, or about 2.4 world titles a year. Rock won his first in late 98 and his last in 2002. He’s a nine time champion over a four year span, or about 2.25 a year. By comparison, Cena has won 12 world titles in roughly 6 years (factoring out injury time) or approximately 2 a year. Orton is a 9 time champion, winning his first in 2004, which puts him at about 1.3 titles a year. But hey, Cena and Orton win them too often right? And remember Austin and Rock had one world title to vie for (save for the Alliance Era) so there were fewer titles to go around, making it harder to win them.

I think the big difference is that people stay around longer now. Austin arrived in WWF in 1995 and was gone by let’s say the middle of 2002, giving him about 6 and a half years in the company (5 and a half factoring in the year off). Rock debuted in late 96 and was gone by late 2002 for a total of 5 years also (roughly 5 when you consider the time off for movies). Cena has been around for over 9 years now and Orton about the same. Do you remember the end of Austin’s run in WWF? It was when he was feuding with Flair and Big Show when he was falling apart. Imagine Austin as a shell of his former self and being so far past his time that he meant nothing. Think people would get tired of him?

You look at guys like Orton and Cena and you have two guys that have had some of their best stuff recently. Cena fueled Punk’s push and Orton stole a lot of shows with his matches against Christian. Austin and Rock both left the company (spare me the arguments about them bailing out and abandoning the company. They’re bogus) after about 6 years when they were past their primes. Cena and Orton have hit (very) arguably their peaks recently. The difference is that instead of spending years in another company building themselves up, they started in OVW (for the most part) and came through the WWF system, allowing them to be there faster.

2 comments

  1. Your Eternal Reward says:

    What i find as one of the most ridiculous arguments is when teenagers – people in their early 20’s bitch about the show being about the kids, the fact that a portion of the live audience is made of kids and how kids should not be watching wrestling. They then say that they themselves were kids while watching the attitude era.

    I mean a large portion of the people that bitch about the current era and those who bring up the kid argument were kids themselves during the very era they loved. Thus they are either upset that kids cannot see the all of the product that was around a decade and a bit ago or they are just being a bunch of hypocrites -.-

    and then you have people still bitching about Hornswoggle the guy that gets what 3 minutes of air time each month? John Cena needs to go heel so we can cheer him because all heels are cool because they are not faces, also Faces are not cool thus we will boo them in an attempt to turn them heel so we can cheer them. Randy Orton also needs to turn heel because we turned he turned face like we wanted him to, he turned into a dominant superstar instead of the cowardly heel he was oh but now he is just super cena 2.0 so obviously he needs a heel turn as well.

    Sarcasm aside, sadly its quite impossible to get people to change their thought process, it has to be their way because what one person wants is obviously what everyone else wants.

    Though I have complained about the title changes on the forums at times its mostly frustration because “my guy” is not the champion. But one should normally get over such a trivial thing.

    [Reply]

  2. AttitudeFan says:

    Only found this post now but KB it seems like this post is kind of Anti-Attitude Era whether it was intentional or not. I know that this was in 2011 and your reports have improved massively since but there are some big mistakes that needed to be pointed out.

    “It’s about the kids and catching their attention with bright colors and low level humor. And as much as you don’t want to admit it, it’s working. Mania broke 1,000,000 buys last year and the Trump record will fall with Cena vs. Rock. It’s their era now, not ours.”

    They broke 1M because of The Rock and no one else. Rock is a product of The Attitude Era and it shows that a character like The Rock who cusses and talks about things considered inappropriate these days was THE DRAW of the show.

    What did the year before with “bright colors and low level humor”? W/O The Rock draw? 885K which was the worst Wrestlemania buyrate since 2003 so 7 years. Shows that Attitude can drawn in the 10’s. What did WM28 get with Rock? 1.2M biggest WM PPV draw of all time.

    “We’re getting John Cena vs. the Rock and Christian getting the push the fans have demanded for years and Sheamus being all big and awesome and Orton having his best matches in years and Punk being the voice of the voiceless and Ryder’s internet show getting him on TV and a dozen other awesome things.”

    Christian then obscured to nothingness, Sheamus lost his awesomeness in 2012 (Del Rio didn’t help) Punk turned into Cena 2.0 with some of the corniest promos I have seen some even worse than Cena and Ryder? Well we know that story.

    What are we getting now? The best matches are still coming from the old timers like Jericho on RAW, The Shield have to be the least threatening stable that had huge angles in years and already look to getting the big loss by the hands of the WWE Golden Boys at the chamber and hardly any of these new guys are getting over with the fans like they should be and it only seems that the crowd come alive when Rock shows up.

    “You had stuff like Mark Henry getting oral sex from a transvestite, May Young giving birth to a hand, a story about Stephanie McMahon’s teddy bear, William Regal as the Brawny Man, the J.O.B. Squad, a trio of vampires, human sacrifices, people almost being embalmed, live burials, Chyna turning three times at one show, Jeff Jarrett getting hit in the back by a frozen fish, a championship changing hands at a Days Inn, a wrestler whose gimmick was he could vomit on command, and Mae Young being topless on PPV.”

    I’ll call that and raise you with the PG era giving us

    .Santina Marrela
    .Hornswoggle being the main focus of RAW shows in 2009-2010 with Hornswoggle and Chavo having pointless matches every week in 2009
    .Cole being poured in BBQ sauce by Cena
    .Cena star wars promo
    .Little Peoples Court
    .Santino Vs Ricardo that actually got “boring” chants from a PG era crowd which must mean they were PISSED.
    .Natalya farting gimmick
    .Mae Young gives birth to hornswoggle and managed to be worse than the hand.
    .Ridiculous guest hosts with the 3 stooges being an example of one rotten host appearance as they got booed out the building.
    .Piggy James
    .Aksana (who must be blowing some higher up to still have a job)
    .”People Power” and Johnny Ace being the focus of the show at times
    .Mcmahon making fun of JR’s condition
    .PG DX
    .Stopping matches with any accidental blood in them which is something they didn’t even do in the 80’s.

    Probably more I am forgetting. There is always two sides to this story and it just seems that the PG Era was sugar coated in this article while the PG Era was described as this horrible, evil and awful creation.

    [Reply]

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