Why the Attitude Era was so special
By Kyle Grappone
(@KGrapper22 / @WCWToday)
Every Monday Night millions watch RAW and share the experience with thousands on Social Media. Never does a Monday go by when someone isn’t clamoring for the “Attitude Era”. The attitude era will most likely never come back and the reasons have been well documented. It was special because it was new and unpredictable, another statement that has been well documented. Yet, I believe there is a rare thought of reason why so many found that era so special. It also contributes to why most of us have such a tough time enjoying today’s product. That reason is your age.
When the attitude era was in full swing I was 11-12 years old. I can’t remember when I became wise to how things worked in the wrestling world but one thing I know for sure is I didn’t know nearly as much as I do now. I also hadn’t seen enough wrestling to notice any patterns or see any recycled storylines. I never had any idea who was going to win, and I certainly never used the term “go over”. We as fans believed anything was possible. More importantly the only thing I thought about when watching a match was the two wrestlers in that match, and that specific match only. I never thought about whether or not they were going to “push” a wrestler, if they were setting him up for another “program” or if his contract was almost up. I never thought that “they won’t put the title on him because he can’t draw money”. The point I’m trying to make is my 11-year-old innocent mind truly believed the best wrestler won. Therefore, anything was possible and every match was interesting.
A recent example of this was a last year when Mark Henry faked his retirement before attacking John Cena. I thought it was a terrific segment but the majority of twitter was filled with “Ugh, what a pointless storyline. They’ll never put the WWE Championship on Mark Henry.” Yes, Mark Henry will probably never wear the WWE Title but the fact that is what popped into your head first proves my point. The pre-teen version of you would never have thought that. They would have been genuinely shocked at Henry’s hoax and then wonder if John Cena could defeat the man who you honestly thought was the strongest in the world. “Henry is too strong for Cena” would most definitely trump “This is a placeholder feud” in your pre-adolescent mind. Yet now in 2014 you can’t help but think the latter because you dont allow yourself to live in the moment.
During the attitude era you would watch the main event and hang on every move and wouldn’t allow your mind to think about anything else except what was happening at that very moment. These days we watch a main event and think about every possible outcome, swerve, heel turn, face turn, double turn, and return we can possibly think of. By the time the match is over anything that could possibly happen has happened. Therefore we are far from surprised and end up labeling it as predictable. Sometimes it is predictable but sometimes it’s just because we’ve watched so much wrestling that we’ve seen every angle imaginable and nothing is new anymore. We’re unable to live in the moment and allow ourselves to dream like we did when we were 11.
There are other issues that attribute to this theory. Dirt Sheets practically spell out the results as if they were pre-taped and non-compete clauses make shocking returns pretty much impossible. Unfortunately, you can’t stop aging and you can’t un-watch 15 years of wrestling. You can allow yourself to live in the moment and enjoy the little things again. Stay away from the dirt sheets and don’t be so concerned about predicting what’s going to happen next. The Attitude Era was special and will most likely never return but that doesn’t mean you cant enjoy wrestling as much as you did back then.