Authors Note: Today is my birthday. I decided to post this article as part of my celebration.
A lot of different moments could be considered the true beginning of the Attitude Era, However all the moments were important to the overall picture. Each moment built on the previous one and thus created the Perfect Storm capable of defeating WCW once and for all. What I want to do with this article is look at a few of these moments and talk about their impact on WWE as it sped towards the Attitude Era. The Events I focus on here The Key events in my opinion that triggered the Attitude Era.
Wrestlemania 12: Hollywood Backlot Brawl
The Hollywood Backlot Brawl between Goldust and “Hot-Rod” Rowdy Roddy Piper is considered the earliest known sign and outlier for the beginning in the shift towards edgier programing that became the norm in the Attitude Era. This moment spring boarded Goldust into stardom and his character was the Attitude Era before it was cool. It wasn’t an important moment to the build to The Attitude Era however something had to start it off somewhere after all.
In Your House: Mind Games WWE Champion Shawn Michaels gains an edge during a title match with Mankind.
This match began the unlocking of HBK’s personality and allowed him to be more real which lead eventually to the edgy HBK in DX. HBK had be cast as a Beaver Cleaver Aw Shucks kind of guy from his Wrestlemania 12 WWE championship win where McMahon called his Boyhood Dream had come true. Mankind had such a dark character it required HBK to get down and dirty to retain his championship. It also helped that it was such a great match.
Wrestlemania 13: Austin vs Hart Double Turn
Easily the best and most successful Double-Turn ever pulled off. Hart got a second life breathed into his character by becoming a Villain to the US fans while remaining a hero to the Canadian fans and having the war with Austin and HBK and all of the US in 1997. Austin by becoming face was finally put into position to become the franchise, The Face of WWE. Austin took the ball and became the greatest Anti-Hero Wrestling has ever seen. Austin’s face-turn would set in motion, everything that needed to be started for the Attitude Era to commence.
The formation of D-Generation X
In my Opinion, on August 11, 1997 during a match between HBK and Mankind, The most successful faction WWE ever created was born. HHH, Chyna, and “Insurance Man” Rick Rude came together with HBK to inject attitude into WWE. This group knew that WWE could no longer do everything the way it had for the previous 50 years and hope to win the War that WCW had been winning for over a Year at that point. If WWE was going to get back into the Ratings War with Nitro they had to get edgier, Hipper, and all-around cooler to win over the evolving fan base. DX was the first step in that process as their antics began to see the walls of the box WWE was placed in at the time crumble into dust.
Austin Stuns McMahon
Just over 1 month later on September 22, 1997, The Paradigm of WWE forever shifted as arguably the greatest feud in WWE history was sparked. Austin who had suffered a broken neck at Summerslam came out and attacked Owen Hart who had accidently broken his neck. This led to then Lead Commentator and WWE Owner and Chairman Vince McMahon to enter the ring to talk to Austin and try to calm him down. What happened next was the gunpowder to the Attitude Era being packed into the TNT barrel. Austin Stunned McMahon for the first time. It was one of the worst stunners ever given but the meaning behind it shook WWE to its core and with it Steve Austin was launched to Pluto.
The Montreal Screwjob
This is probably the most infamous moment in WWE history. The Montreal Screwjob was the lighting of the fuse to the bomb that would become the Attitude Era. Vince through Screwing Bret realized how much money there was made by him being the Villain Authority figure and not a commentator. Vince would become the greatest villain in WWE history and was the perfect person for Austin their budding superstar to butt heads against. WCW in typical WCW fashion was handed on a platter the hottest thing in wrestling in a pissed off Bret Hart that was still drawing and would have drew huge for WCW, was cooled off by WCW waiting 6 months before debuting him. Instead of a potential knockout blow, they fumbled the ball and let WWE back into the game. This blunder is considered one of the first signs things were about to unravel for WCW.
Wrestlemania 14: Austin wins The WWE Champion
All the stars aligned perfectly and at Wrestlemania 14 the powder keg exploded and the Attitude Era was officially recognized and moved forward at full speed when Austin won the WWE championship for the 1st time and Mike Tyson knocked out HBK after the match. Austin would go on to become one of the biggest stars of all time and brought WWE to the Promised Land where they would defeat WCW in the Monday night Wars and put WCW out of business.
No one event was responsible for the Attitude Era existing. It took many smaller events to occur and build off of each other, which made the effect louder and stronger. Because everything having to go just right for the Attitude Era to begin, WWE will never be able to recreate it because those circumstances no longer exist in society as well as the Wrestling Business as a whole. Be thankful for the Attitude Era for it saved WWE, however let it go and realize it is never coming back no matter how much you wanted it to and just enjoy the memories you have of it.
Thank You for reading my Blog today. And as Mick Foley always said, Have a nice day!