It is a phrase we hear spoken very often, ‘The Attitude Era was much better than today’s WWE’. Certainly, the mainstream popularity of Professional Wrestling in the late 90s would attest that it had more of a following at the time. However, basing success on television ratings is becoming a very dated way of measuring the popularity of WWE programming, particularly given the amount of ways it is possible to watch the weekly shows in the modern day.
And judging by the amount of coverage Hollywood gossip website TMZ gives to WWE and Wrestling in general, there’s certainly an argument that the outreach of WWE is the same if not further than it was during the Attitude Era, just not perhaps to the same demographics.
The PG Era has certainly had its criticisms, both from fans and ex-Superstars. The quality of storylines and promos has often been negatively judged, with comparisons to the Attitude Era stories that fans would tune into week in, week out. At the time of the Attitude Era, Internet Wrestling News sites and forums were nowhere near as prevalent as they are today. Wrestling fans were in a transition period from phoning hotlines or subscribing to physical newsletters to discovering the Internet as a place to find out the latest Wrestling gossip and also voice their own views on WWF TV. With the ability to do so as instantly as we now can, are we as fans too quick to criticise the modern day WWE product?
In 2007, fans and critics were extremely critical of the storyline when Vince McMahon’s limousine blew up in the car park. Granted, as a suspension of disbelief, this was maybe a step too far even for the most open of fan. However, was this much different to the Undertaker kidnapping and possessing wrestlers in order to join the Ministry of Darkness in 1999?
If something happens on WWE programming now that is generally deemed silly or too much by the vocal WWE fans, there will be Tweets, Facebook Status Updates and Podcasts all lambasting it and shaping other fans opinions pretty quickly. During the Attitude Era, these thoughts were certainly not as a wide spread, although there is nothing to say certain segments during the time would have not been criticised in the same way were the forums available to do so.
As well as storylines, many have said that today’s gimmicks aren’t as good as they were during the Attitude Era. Fans and critics were very vocal in their thoughts towards the recent Lord Tensai character, however during the Attitude Era you had gimmicks like Gangrel and Puke, and there never seemed to be such a negative perception towards them.
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