Jump to content

1996 - When wrestling 'changed' (The introduction of 'Attitude')


garynysmon
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Paid Members

I was wondering what people's thoughts are on when wrestling really became edgier. 

Its often accepted that the 'Attitude era' as such, started in 1998 when the WWF brought in the scratch logo etc. Personally, I'd always thought that its roots were in 1997 though, the gradual change in programming over the course of the year, introduction of the set we know today, expanding to two hours etc.

But the more I think about it though, it may have been even earlier, and you could argue it all started in 1996. The seeds were definitely being planted for an edgier product anyway.

Exhibit A) Diesel flipping the bird at the Royal Rumble

6e7be7ceb01b9365416b01342fb0f2fc--royal-

 

B) Goldust's gimmick at its purest, leading up to the Wrestlemania 12 streetfight/backlot brawl. A lot of subtle and not so subtle sexual references.

e6bff79a70e22f615c23ce34b607af58--roddy-

 

C) The Mankind character was pretty three dimensional and violent for the time.

89.jpg

 

D) The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the 'Pillman has a Gun' angle. Everyone talks about the King of the Ring acceptance speech, but just as memorable is the angle with Pillman, "If you put the letter S in front of Hitman" at Mind Games etc.

screen-shot-12-04-16-at-02-42-pm.png?514

E) The Jim Ross 'heel turn', although it ended up introducing the terrible fake Diesel and Razor Ramon characters, did end up being one of the first 'shoot' interviews I can remember on TV.

hqdefault.jpg

 

F) The Nation of Domination started bringing race into the equation.

USWANOD-10.jpg

 

G) Highlighting Jake the Snake's past alcohol problems.

jakejerry14.png

 

H) Introducing ECW wrestlers for the first time.

screen-shot-10-04-16-at-08-17-pm.png?557

 

On the other side, of course, you also had the rise of the nWo, Nash throwing Rey Mysterio JR like a lawn dart and the Randy Savage/Elizabeth/Flair stuff which was a little edgy for the time.

Everyone has their own views of course, and I'm sure some will say Attitude started after the Montrael Survivor Series, while others will say Wrestlemania 14.

Some will also argue that this was very much 'New Generation' with Bret and Shawn on top and gimmicks such as Isaac Yankem, TL Hopper, Aldo Montota still around. 

It would also be fair to say that the first table bump took place a few months earlier at Survivor Series 1995.

But on the whole, you'd never have seen anything approaching the above angles in 1995 or any time before it. Therefore, I will argue that the seeds, at least, were planted in '96. 

Edited by garynysmon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

You mentioned it but I always think of the Survivor Series 1995 main event as being the start of the change of attitude. Some great examples from 1996 where they clearly wanted to change but couldn't commit so it dragged on longer than expected. 

For all the stronger natured stuff involving Diesel, Goldust and later Steve Austin, there was so much cheesy shit on par with 1995. 

By December 1996 I think they'd got the direction down and pushed on brilliantly into 1997.

WCW never went in the same direction but there was a cutting edge feel to those early nWo angles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I always thought that Vader's attack on Gorilla Monsoon was the start of a different type of WWF. Ok, the angle was tame in comparison to angles that would happen in the years following, however, it was a departure to what we were watching prior. The angle was also heavily featured in one of the first issues of WWF Raw Magazine, which was as the tag line suggested was "For the mature fan". 

I agree with @tiger_rick and tink that the WWF had got it nailed on by late 1996 and knew exactly where they wanted to go, direction wise. 

As a side note, didn't Vince want to turn the Warrior heel prior to his disappearing act in mid 1996? I would have loved to have seen what they had planned for him during that era.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

I think of it as Survivors 95 and the night after too. Diesel uttering a visible F bomb and the table spot aside, fake Bill Clinton spilling his popcorn down Sunny's top felt like the first time she was overtly presented as wankbait rather than just "shrill blonde that accompanies Skip."

Plus the night after, Big Kev's sulk and Shawn's fake "this is real" concussion collapse rather felt like the birth of the "worked shoot" stuff, for better or for worse, that was prevalent in Russo-penned Attitude stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pinpoint the exact moment as when Shawn and Razor were on top of the ladder at SummerSlam 95 and Dok Hendrix (heel commentator) is going back and forth saying 'hit him Shawn, hit him Razor' and he's fully into it because it's just a great match.

And Vince just stumbles over his words because he doesn't know how to react - this goes against every dynamic he's used to.

From here RAW starts to get a bit edgier with more realistic storylines like the Kid/Razor fallout and that tremendous beatdown of Diesel/Shawn/Taker by Camp Cornette/Mabel and Dean Douglas.

They really start to faze out the cartoony/comedy characters (only for them to make a comeback in the summer of 96).

Then it kicks in big style at Survivor Series 1995.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
18 hours ago, air_raid said:

Plus the night after, Big Kev's sulk and Shawn's fake "this is real" concussion collapse rather felt like the birth of the "worked shoot" stuff, for better or for worse, that was prevalent in Russo-penned Attitude stuff.

That's a very good shout to be fair. I was convinved that was real at the time, there was a big song and dance in Raw magazine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

I've always seen the Attitude Era as '98 - '00, but you're right, they were definitely laying the foundations for it well before that.

I watched In Your House 5 the other day, which was the last PPV of 1995, and the opening video package is all about how we no longer live in a world of black and white, how it's now dominated by shades of grey. The show itself might have country singer Jeff Jarrett, a Hog Pen match and Dean Douglas, but they were definitely already pushing away from the idea of Hogan-esque cartoon babyfaces, and presenting Diesel as a more conflicted character.

1997 is the year I think it all clicked, though. I'm not a big fan of the Attitude Era, but in '97 they seemed to have all the pieces in place that worked, before going too far in the direction of titillation and shock value taking precedent over actual wrestling. Canadian Stampede - aside from being a near-perfect WWF PPV anyway - feels like a very proto-Attitude show to me; you have Austin still feeling edgy and dangerous, the Hart Foundation as probably the best example of "shades of grey" that the WWF have ever managed, a wild brawl between Triple H and Mankind, high spots aplenty (for the time) in TAKA/Sasuke, and Undertaker at the point of being far more humanised and vulnerable than he had previously been presented, and right at the beginning of the Kane angle. It's a show that feels mature and adult, in that the more gimmicky workers are becoming more nuanced and believable, and the stories aren't black and white goodies and baddies, rather than "mature and adult" in the Attitude Era sense, which usually came down to "boobies and swearing".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...