Commentary | A popular topic among wrestling fans is comparing the “Attitude Era” of the late 1990s to today’s “PG Era”. Fans in their 30s who long for the days of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and D-Generation X, are left with John Cena, The Miz and the Wyatt Family. I think it’s wrong, though, to compare the two eras. Let’s see why:
The WWE, as a publicly traded company, has one task: to make money for their stockholders. This means getting people to watch RAW and SmackDown, attending live events, buying pay-per-views, and buying merchandise . It makes sense, then, to keep established talent like Cana and Orton at the top, as well as bringing back guys like Rey Mysterio and Batista. Even if Daniel Bryan and Big E Langston make it, they’ll have to suffer a bit longer. What makes money, it seems, makes sense.
Lack of Competition
When WWE had to compete with WCW, which was beating them in TV ratings, it meant they had to take risks to stay on top. WCW was live? WWE had to do the same. WCW had the NWO? WWE created D-Generation X. Now, WWE has no real competition. TNA, the only other nationally televised wrestling program, struggles to get the same amount of viewers as SmackDown every week. This means there’s no incentive for WWE to try new things (except steal all of TNA’s talent?)
Beside the big name superstars at the top, the “Attitude Era” featured a wealth of talent just below that: Kaientai, APA, Goldust, and more. These characters were not only talented, but entertaining. Now, we have Fandango, 3MB and Brodus Clay. While they’re all talented, their characters have changed multiple times. It’s hard to take someone like Jinder Mahal of 3MB serious when you know what he used to be. So, even though there’s talent in the mid-card, they’re not being used properly.
It’s the job of the WWE creative team to write the storylines fans tune in for. However, there’s been some weird things happening on WWE programs lately. The Miz turns heel, only to turn face the next week, then back to heel. Brodus Clay was set for a heel turn of his own, only to be left off TV the next week. Kane has gone corporate, but we were never told why.
For all of these reasons, the “PG Era” and the “Attitude Era” can’t be compared. It seems as though WWE is too worried about making as much money as they can, hoping that guys like Daniel Bryan will catch on eventually. With no real competition and confusing storylines, wrestling fans are left to wonder which direction the WWE will go next.