As critics of pop culture, it is typical of us to see everything through nostalgia goggles. And professional wrestling is no different among its fans.
As WrestleMania approaches, many members of the infamous “Internet Wrestling Community” have become as viscious as ever when it comes to bashing the current state of affairs of WWE. While the organization is definitely in a rut right now akin to 1995 or 2003, some in the IWC are declaring it to be like WCW in 2000, gleefully declaring that Vince McMahon’s empire is about to come tumbling down and be replaced with the supposed better quality of Ring of Honor or Lucha Underground – never mind the fact that no TV network is offering any of those promotions major air time to truly compete with WWE.
Naturally, being the wrestling equivalent of armchair quarterbacks, the IWC has the luxury of sitting back and saying everything would be better if Vince just went back and did everything like it was done 15 years ago when sex, satanism and violence that would make Paul Verhooven blush was all over Monday Night Raw, because they aren’t the ones having to deal with people like Bob Costas calling them out for ruining what had been a guilty pleasure for someone like him or media watchdog Brent Bozell shaming sponsors into dropping their ad support of Vince’s shows.
Still, the cry from wrestling fans across social media is our and clear: “The Attitude Era was the greatest time ever, and everything now SUCKS from WWE!”
Um, sorry. No.
You can take this with a grain of salt because I didn’t start following wrestling until 2002, which was about a year after when I believe the so-called Attitude Era came to an end (the first wrestling show I watched was actually the very first SmackDown under the WWE title). But I have watched plenty of past content thanks to YouTube and the WWE Network, and I can honestly say: The Attitude Era was NOT that great.
Do I think wrestling is at its best now? No. I say the greatest time was the “Rock N Wrestling” Era of the 80s, which is why my favorite thing to watch on The Network is the old Saturday Night’s Main Event. Wrestling back then was colorful and fun, like watching a cartoon show in live action. The Attitude Era was pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator, almost as bad as what is shown on “reality TV” today.
So, because I feel like ticking off people once again, I’m going to spend these next weeks giving you what I believe to be the worst matches in the history of professional wrestling’s so-called golden age to bring my point across. If you were in love with this time period of rasslin’, get ready to have your blood boiling over the next three weekends leading up to WrestleMania.
So let’s begin this list of the Five Worst WWE Matches of The Attitude Era:
5. Every single Sable match
One thing wrestling fans like to harp on is the lack of wrestling talent among the current Divas, claiming today’s women in WWE are just models with no skill (driven mainly by the belief that former talent director John Lauranitis hired women solely on whether they were Playboy material). And there is a good case that the overall crop of women wrestlers is not as good as when WWE had the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix.
But here’s the thing: While some of those ladies got their start in the Attitude Era, it was in the Ruthless Aggression Era that they, and subsequently the Divas division in general, hit their prime. The Divas who were on center stage in the Attitude Era? They were BAD. And no Diva currently in WWE, not the Bellas, not Layla, not even Eva Marie, can be as horrific an in-ring performer as the one who was the biggest Diva of them all at that time – Rena “Sable” Mero.
Originally billed as the valet for her then-husband Marc Mero, Sable was put into in-ring action just because Marc got hurt and WWE wanted to keep her body on camera in any way. Problem was that Sable not only couldn’t wrestle – she refused to actually wrestle, especially after she REALLY became a Diva after her first Playboy spread. Stephanie McMahon held the Women’s Championship for five months during this period – and she was more willing to get thrown around the ring. Sable actually had it in her contract that she couldn’t take bumps and risk damaging her breast implants. So it was because of her that we were subjected to “evening gown” matches where all she had to do was rip the clothes off of her opponent to remain champion. You think the women in WWE are disrespected by Creative today? Watch any of those matches, and you’ll vow to cheer a Nikki torture rack AND watch “Total Divas” every week.
And she was every bit as bad behind the scenes, worse than the supposed rumors of how the Bellas are now. Once she got that spread in Hefner’s magazine, she insisted she would not work any more un-televised house shows and refused to wrestle – or what she did that PASSED for wrestling – on anything but a Pay Per View where she got a cut of the revenue as opposed to her wage.
Despite the attitude she had at the end of her reign as the most visible Diva on Raw, and her subsequent sexual harassment suit following her departure, WWE brought her back in 2003 to be a foil of WWE’s current eye candy piece, Torrie Wilson. And heck, Torrie was a better wrestler than Sable, since she actually graduated from WCW’s infamously challenging Power Plant training facility!
The WWE Divas today have the chance to get better. Most if not all women there have to train in some way. AJ Lee may actually be the best combination of skill in the ring and on the mike of all time among the women. And with the likes of Bayley, Sasha Banks and especially Charlotte (Ric Flair’s daughter!) developing in NXT, there is potential throughout the organization. But no matter how much you may want to cringe at the Bellas today, thing will never get as bad as when Sunny, The Kat and Sable were strutting around the ring acting like they were wrestlers.
Okay, so maybe this was a cheat to start the list because it wasn’t one specific match. But when we come back next week, we’ll show you more specific examples of just how bad the so-called “quality” of wrestling in the Attitude Era really was.