2017 marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most successful periods in the history of sports entertainment, the WWE Attitude Era. Both In terms of creative developments and revenues the attitude era revolutionised the WWE and made it a household name across North America and other parts of the world. To be precise the Attitude era succeeded the Hulkamania era and preceded the PG era of present times.
There has been a fair amount of argument on the exact moment or event that kick-started the Attitude era. But the Survivor Series held on November 9, 1997 and the December 15, 1997 episode of Raw is War are generally considered as the initiators of the Attitude era.
The company, then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), adopted the logo “WWF Attitude” during the Survivor Series event and Vince McMahon provided a formal introduction to the era explaining the creative vision and goals that the company wished to accomplish through the revamp.
Vince McMahon Introduces the “Attitude Era” – Raw, December 15 1997
The video titled “the cure for the common show” shows Mr. McMahon directly referring to the audience by stating that this is an effort to “open the creative envelopes” while entertaining them in a more “contemporary manner”. McMahon shaped the future of the company by openly admitting that even though it’s called sports entertainment due to the athleticism involved, the key word in that phrase is entertainment. Hence, the company will try and break the boundaries of what defines sports entertainment and take it to another level altogether.
This “contemporary and innovative creative campaign” was one which defined an entire generation and was aptly called the Attitude era. This era was characterised by a shift to more adult content, increased level of violence and introduction of characters that challenged the very values that governed traditional society. Wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Kane and the Undertaker shot towards fame and gained popularity amongst the rebellious, Punk culture influenced the younger generation.
The Attitude Era had one rule – anything and everything is possible. Be it the middle finger salute by the Texas Rattlesnake, the inappropriate groin thrust by DX or sexual and verbal obscenity. Nothing was off limits as the writers were given only one target to achieve – to attract audiences. On stage marriages and the owner drowned in beer coming out of a fire hose were all common sights in the WWE during these times.
Uploaded by anonymous virus on 2013-12-11.
The business foundation for what the WWE is now was built during the attitude era. At the time WWE was facing huge competition from other promotions like the WCW and the ECW and this was a strategy to rise above them. It did not only had more success than them but WWE legends like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Big Show and Chris Benoit jumped ship to WWF and it eventually took over rival promotions. The era also was characterised by WWE finally starting to realise it’s marketing potential. The merchandising revenue generated from the Austin 3:16, DX and the Rock paved the way for incredible revenues for the company.
The Attitude Era still holds a significant place in the memories of wrestling fans all over the world because it was pure. It was what the real WWE was before it became contaminated by corporate responsibilities and profit orientation. It was an era where a fan had no idea what he was going to witness each time he turned on the television set. It was a time where WWE was not simply Good vs Bad. It was the Good vs the Bad vs the Ugly.