10 Classic Wrestling Rivalries That Would Have Flourished In The Attitude Era

Monday Night Rewrites

Bobby Heenan Jerry Lawler Jim Ross Gorilla Monsoon

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?

10. Bray Wyatt Vs The Undertaker

Bobby Heenan Jerry Lawler Jim Ross Gorilla Monsoon

Few ever call for Vince Russo's return to mainstream wrestling, but if there's one writer that might have salvaged the wreckage of Bray Wyatt's career before it became as enflamed as his own compound, it was the New York gobsh*te himself.

That's not to say 'Vinnie-Ru' was deft with the paranormal. His use of Sting in WCW between 1999 and 2000 is direct evidence to the contrary, and The Undertaker's gimmick was never dafter than when he lead an Attitude Era army of evil. But Russo at least gave a toss about every single performer on the roster. The number of nobodies flanking 'The Deadman' as part of his 'Ministry Of Darkness' was a testament to the fact.

Bray's shoddy treatment since emerging from NXT in 2013 has as much reflected the damage a permanent residence on the main roster can do to a niche performer. And his pathetic WrestleMania displays on opposite sides to John Cena, The Undertaker, The Rock and Randy Orton highlights just how little stardust falls off top talent in the modern age. Big matches alone don't elevate like they used to.

Likely to be stupider than most Undertaker programmes (but far less ludicrous than the eventual payoffs between 'The Eater Of Worlds' and 'The Viper' in 2017), a WrestleMania 31 retread with the satanic red and pitch black tones of 1999 could have lifted a listless exhibition match beyond mediocrity.


Michael is a writer, editor, podcaster and presenter for WhatCulture Wrestling, and has been with the organisation over 7 years. He primarily produces written, audio and video content on WWE and AEW, but also provides knowledge and insights on all aspects of the wrestling industry thanks to a passion for it dating back over 30 years. As one third of "The Dadley Boyz", Michael has contributed to the huge rise in popularity of the WhatCulture Wrestling Podcast, earning it top spot in the UK's wrestling podcast charts with well over 50,000,000 total downloads. He has been featured as a wrestling analyst for the Tampa Bay Times and Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, and has covered milestone events in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, London and Cardiff. Michael's background in media stretches beyond wrestling coverage, with a degree in Journalism from the University Of Sunderland (2:1) and a series of published articles in sports, music and culture magazines The Crack, A Love Supreme and Pilot. When not offering his voice up for daily wrestling podcasts, he can be found losing it singing far too loud watching his favourite bands play live. Follow him on X/Twitter - @MichaelHamflett