20 years after Vince McMahon first delivered a Monday Night Raw sermon that officially ushered in what would be latterly labelled 'Attitude', the chaotic content between 1997 and 2001 still represents the most divisive period in the chequered history of an already murky industry. Eric Bischoff may have torn up wrestling rulebooks in the mid-1990s, but Vince McMahon made those moves look positively quaint when he set most of his 'time-honoured traditions' ablaze in an aggressive quest for dominance.
It worked, too. Millions watched, and millions more became at least loosely aware of a new generation of Hulk Hogans and Ric Flairs. Even with the original vintages doddering about on the other side.
McMahon is notable for relishing a spot slightly behind the curve rather than as ahead of it with the rest of the moguls, magnates and millionaires . It's perhaps why he's a billionaire. But for all the bluster of the most bombastic period of pro wrestling since the 1980s boom, the frenetic nature of the output lacks genuine foundation on rewatch.
More crass than creative, the rhetoric and rebellion looks far more like the descent into the gutter it pretended not to be at the time. Wrestling has twice been the preserve of PG, proving the that the child-friendly rating sustains success without circling the drain, but the turn-of-the-century timeframe did allow for some boundary-busting gambits sadly missing from today's product.
Just how could some of wrestling's sanitised stories have shone from sexed-up sensationalism?