Well, it’s come to this. On the eve of WrestleMania, we are here to present what I believe to be the worst moment of the WWE’s so-called “Attitude Era” – the reason i find it hard to believe that anything that transpires in Santa Clara this Sunday will come close to being as bad as any of the moments I have listed, and especially this one to be revealed today. This is why i can’t help but view that entire period as nowhere close to being as amazing as so many smarks do and have to look at myself as some kind of outsider in the world of wrestling fans, preferring a time when wrestling was fun and colorful and cartoonish rather than dark, vicious, excessively violent and somehow more “real.”
So without further ado, here is my top worst pick:
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Triple H – Survivor Series 2000
Former WWE booker Jim Cornette has often said that WWE in the Attitude Era was a heel program, there were no real babyfaces. And he was right. Among the in-ring characters, there were no decent human beings in this time period. It was one asshole trying to beat another asshole literally to death, and the crowd was supposed to just cheer whichever asshole looked the most badass in his attempted murder. And no match may exemplify that more than when Triple H and Stone Cole Steve Austin faced off in November 2000 in what might have been the most brutal point of perhaps the most venomous rivalry in WWE history. To me, it represents everyone about the depravity of the Attitude Era that just doesn’t come off as fun. And the big thing is, it goes even farther than the match itself and into the buildup before it and what came after.
It essentially started at SummerSlam 1999 when Triple H severely hurt Austin after Austin lost the championship to Mankind (the story is, Mankind was put in as a third participant and won the belt because Austin refused to job to Triple H) Stone Cold’s response to this – assault Triple H a few weeks later on SmackDown, throw him into an ambulance and then PLOW A SEMI TRUCK INTO THE AMBULANCE.
A few weeks later, Austin gets hit by a car at Survivor Series (which was admittedly an element done to give Austin time off to deal with surgery on his neck and knees). It’s nearly a year later, but it’s naturally revealed that sure enough, while Rikishi was technically the one driving the car, Triple H was ultimately behind everything.
That was the setup for a no-disqualification match to end the night at Survivor Series – forcing the championship match to take a back seat (funny how the smarks have no problem with the title match not being on last when someone like Austin is involved, eh?)
Let’s start with the fact that the match ended the way all the smarks supposedly don’t like any match, let alone a PPV one, to end – without a decision in the ring. Instead, Austin chased Triple H backstage, where the Radicalz were waiting and jumped him, and Chris Benoit (sorry I have to bring up his name, but it’s important to the story) then lured Austin into the parking lot, where Triple H was waiting in a car, this time to likely run over Austin himself and finish the job he started a year ago.
Only this time Austin didn’t fall for it. Instead, he trapped Triple H inside the car using a forklift, lifted the car up as high as it would go using the forklift and the dropped the car to send it CRASHING TO THE CONCRETE UPSIDE DOWN WITH TRIPLE H STILL INSIDE. STONE COLD, ONCE AGAIN, TRIES TO FLAT OUT MURDER TRIPLE H. And we, as fans, were supposed to CHEER that because that was redemption for everything Triple H did to Austin.
The next night on Raw, what does Stone Cold get for his attempted homicide? Sent to prison with no bail? Nope, he gets a championship match that night. And in the middle of the match, Triple H come out completely unscathed when his brains should have been splattered all over that car’s interior and breaks up the match. And Jim Ross begins screaming on the microphone, calling Triple H a “no good son of a bitch!” Let that sink in: Good Ol JR, the supposed voice of decency in WWE, is saying Triple H is the bad guy for ruining a championship opportunity for a guy who tried to kill him 24 hours ago.
As a fitting capper, this hellacious war between the two ultimately amounted to nothing as far as WWE’s storyline was concerned. The feud should have at least ended at WrestleMania, but it didn’t. Instead, it ended a month earlier at the No Way Out PPV with Triple H winning a Three Stages of Hell match, only for Austin (who had won the Royal Rumble a month before that) to beat The Rock for the title at Mania for the second time in three years while The Game became the annual victim to The Undertaker. What was the point in having Triple H win that final match in between the Rumble and Mania, theoretically killing Austin’s momentum, just so he would lose and Austin would win in the big show? Was it some sort of compromise as Austin refused to lose to or even face The Game in the main event at Mania? Yeah, even in the WWE’s supposed grandest time, it looks like backstage politics played a factor.
But ultimately, that match at Survivor Series and how it ended is, to me, one of the worst moments in WWE history because it exemplified everything wrong with the era it was a part of. The goofy, fun, “good vs evil” story lines that had carried pro wrestling for ages had been replaced with nothing but battles between TWO monsters you would fear running into in a dark alley at night, yet one of them gets cheered because… he somehow looks more badass? All to appease an increasingly nihilistic crowd that seemed to love watching a world where it was perfectly legal to commit first degree murder on a guy who “did you wrong” or maybe just because you didn’t like him.
Sorry, but that’s not for me. I like watching the old Saturday Night Main Event shows and seeing Hulk Hogan take out members of the Heenan family with a leg drop. And I like John Cena’s “never back down and never quit” mentality. These are wrestling characters I can get behind, not an abusive redneck who has no qualms with beating up literally ANYONE (People actually cheered Stone Cold beating up STACY KIEBLER!) and people getting run over with cars and set on fire. Does everything have to be gory and brutal in order to be “entertaining?”
So here’s hoping WrestleMania this year is fun, and it will be even better when it comes to DFW in one year. Because whether so many smarks want to admit it or not, that is what wrestling is supposed to be – entertainment.