6. The PG Era (2008-2011)
The PG Era could technically stretch all the way from 2008 to the present day, given WWE’s enduring television rating. The past five-six years have been defined by other titles, however, and the first few years of PG should be treated as a separate entity.
WWE made the decision to switch their programming to a family-friendly PG rating in July 2008. It prompted a major shift away from the edgier programming of old, with WWE toning back on the explicit violence, sexuality, and all-round crudeness of their product, prompted in part by Linda McMahon’s senate run.
Going PG wasn’t an entirely bad decision; it allowed the company to finally move away from outdated Attitude Era tropes. That being said, the company’s product has been watered down considerably since 2008. Storytelling has become more simplistic than ever before, ratings slid after an initial improvement in 2008, and for a few years, WWE hit the skids.
This was the era of weekly guest hosts, John Cena crushing everyone he stepped inside the ring with, and the brand split’s dying days. It produced highlights like the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker WrestleMania match series and the fantastic Cena vs. Edge feud, as well as disasters like the Anonymous Raw General Manager and Michael Cole’s heel turn.
Though never as cringeworthy as the New Generation Era, PG’s first three years didn’t consistently deliver.