ViRTUE's RAGE: A Letter to the Attitude Era Submitted by Virtue on 10/01/2017 at 01:34 PM
October 1, 2017
I’m back! Virtue just won’t leave me alone. “Please write more guest columns for me, Vengeance!” So I figured what the hell! Besides, it gives me a chance to get some stuff off my chest. So without further ado, here’s my love letter to the Attitude Era. I’ll probably get lambasted for this one, but guess what? I don’t care!
Dear Attitude Era,
Thank you. Thank you for ruining wrestling. That’s right. I said ruin.
Ok, so maybe ruin is too strong a word, as there are things that you did well. Even still, I’m not nearly as big a fan of you as the average wrestling fan. To be fair, some of the things that came out of the Attitude Era aren’t necessarily the Attitude Era’s fault, such as one of the worst, most overrated stables in wrestling history, D-X, but I’ll save that for another time.
First up, reality programming: This is, for my money, the biggest sin of the Attitude Era. Suddenly there were worked shoots and “pipe bombs” left and right, and while some of them were actually good, it really became an overexploited trope; the “disgruntled wrestler.” Next thing you know, wrestlers everywhere are “breaking the 4th wall” and shedding their gimmicks and talking openly about them. While you brought upon us a growth in wrestling, growing out of the gimmicks so quickly ruined the “magic” as it were, and everything that had been established for years was no longer relevant. Now I’m not some “It’s real to me, dammit” guy. I know that wrestling was all just entertainment. But that’s just it, I knew what it was, and that’s why I watched. I knew Kane wasn’t actually the burned brother of the Undertaker, or that Double J Jeff Jarrett wasn’t actually a country singer, or that Bob “Spark Plug” Holly wasn’t a race car driver. I knew that those were the characters they played. But now those guys were breaking character on air. Sure, the first couple of times it happened it was ok. It was stuff you hadn’t ever seen before, or at least not often. But I didn’t, and don’t watch wrestling for reality, I watch to escape it. It’s like tuning in to Game of Thrones, and Peter Dinklage comes on and starts “shooting” on how he doesn’t actually like the show, or his character, or Maisie Williams breaking character and starts talking about how she’s not on Doctor Who anymore and how they sucked. That’s what you did to wrestling, Attitude Era.
Authority Figures: Thanks to you, Attitude Era, we now are subjected to the on-air boss. Heel or babyface, it sucks. Sure the occasional “Commissioner” coming out is one thing, but suddenly there’s Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon on TV every week, and they are fixing matches and in some cases wrestling in them. No. You are not a wrestler. You weren’t even a good commentator, but now we were subjected to the ego trips of the guys that ran things who decided they were important enough to be on TV every week. And, like the aforementioned “Pipe bomb” promos, it’s a trope used way too often to actually have the desired affect anymore.
Writers instead of bookers, and wrestlers with creative control: Ok, so this is one of my biggest problems. During the Attitude Era, wrestling (at least the “Big Two”) started having TV writers writing storylines and booking matches instead of the promoters doing it. Not only that, but now there were booking committees made up of 20 or 30 guys. Ever hear the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen?” Top this off with egotistical wrestlers like Hogan and Nash who suddenly had creative input and you have a product that is all over the place. WWE managed to make it work (mostly) for a while, WCW on the other hand didn’t. This continues to this day, more so the writer aspect. A lot of the guys writing angles and storylines and gimmicks (such as they are) have often times never stepped foot in a wrestling ring, or have much experience in the business. But then again, Raw is just another reality TV show like Project Runway or Real Housewives.
But at least you weren’t all bad. You helped bring Hardcore Wrestling into the mainstream, you brought about a renaissance of tag team wrestling (not sure what happened there), and you caused a major boom in wrestling, inspiring tons of kids which is partly why there’s such a huge surplus in young talent today.
In closing, you changed the face of professional wrestling, Attitude Era. You made wrestling grow up, and continue to impact it to this day. But for an Old School guy like me, you went a little too far at times, and turned me off. You changed wrestling, and forced fans to either change with it, or be left in the dust. And Although I’m still a fan of wrestling in and of itself, I’m also man enough to realize that I was one of those fans left in the dust.
@EGW_Vengeance on Twitter
I have heard recent rumblings that the Clueless Wrestling Columnist is working on a new episode and plans to return this Fall. I am not sure exactly what the topic is, but I am sure that it will be something worthwhile and potentially controversial. Stay tuned…
PPV Grades for 2017
NXT TakeOver: San Antonio = B++
WWE Royal Rumble = B
WWE Elimination Chamber = B
WWE FastLane = C++
NXT TakeOver: Orlando = B++
WWE WrestleMania 33 = B+
WWE Payback = B
NXT TakeOver Chicago = A-
WWE Backlash = B-
WWE Extreme Rules = B
WWE Money in the Bank = B-
WWE Great Balls of Fire = A-
WWE Battleground = C
NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III = A-
WWE SummerSlam = C++
WWE No Mercy = B+
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