It was a time of turmoil, a time of change. The WWE, once the biggest name in professional wrestling, was on the ropes. The competition was fierce, and Ted Turner’s WCW was breathing down their necks. It seemed like every time the WWE gained some ground, WCW would come back stronger, with bigger stars and bigger ratings. Something had to give.
That something turned out to be the Attitude Era. It was a time of gritty, hardcore wrestling, with edgy storylines and colorful characters that pushed the envelope in ways that had never been seen before. It was a time when Stone Cold Steve Austin flipped off his boss and called him a son of a bitch on live TV, a time when D-Generation X did crotch chops and told everyone to suck it, and a time when Mick Foley, as Mankind, was thrown off the top of a steel cage.
The Attitude Era was a direct response to WCW’s dominance, and it was a gamble that paid off in spades. The WWE went against the grain, pushing the envelope and embracing controversy in ways that Ted Turner and his conservative corporate overlords would never have dared. The fans responded in droves, flocking to the edgier product in huge numbers and propelling the WWE back to the top of the wrestling world.
But it wasn’t just a matter of edginess and controversy. The WWE also went after Ted Turner and his giant television empire. Turner, a billionaire mogul who owned CNN and TBS, had a stranglehold on the cable television industry. He used that power to force his own wrestling product, WCW, onto the airwaves, pushing out the competition and making it nearly impossible for anyone else to get a foothold.
The WWE knew they couldn’t compete with Turner on his own terms. So, they went underground, creating a product that was so different, so unique, that it couldn’t be ignored. They pushed the envelope, using raunchy humor, sexual innuendo, and ultraviolence to create a product that was unlike anything else on TV. And it worked.
The Attitude Era was a middle finger pointed at corporate America. It was a time when the WWE went against the grain and came out on top, proving that sometimes, the only way to win is to go all in and push the limits. People forget that the WWE was an independent company that some called the last of the independents. And while the era may be over, its legacy lives on, inspiring new generations of wrestling fans to embrace the unconventional and push the envelope.