The Period Following the End of the AE

Discussion in 'The Wrestling Archives' started by Emmet, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. Emmet

    Emmet Juventino 4 LiFe

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    So I've read and heard numerous times how after WMX7, when Austin turned heel, that the numbers in the ratings collapsed and house show numbers also dwindled.

    I know from personal experience that the interest in wrestling was waning in the months leading up to WMX7. From a personal POV it seemed like there was only 2 or 3 of us at school who still watched it by early 2001, compared to a year previous when half of my year seemed to be watching the product.

    However was it all over Austin turning heel? Or do people think that the cycle was simply over and people lost interest in the WWF following WMX7? Would it have happened even if Austin had stayed as a face? Was the boom period over regardless?
     
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  2. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    I think the death of WCW had a lot to do with the declining interest in professional wrestling by the early 2000's. I remember during the height of the Wars it was incredible to go back and forth and see which show was going to go over the top and pull out the stops to try and top the other show. When the NWO and Stone Cold/Rock was hot there was no time period hotter so naturally there was no where to go but down. I compare this time period to the period just after the Hulkamania era of the 80's where a lot of the superstars from era either left or transitioned.

    But my main point is that WCW was completely unwatchable during the Russo era and turned ALOT of fans off the product. It was a no contest between RAW and Nitro. I don't think it all over Austin turning heel but a lot of storyline continuity was lost during this time period as well. Once creative went under the control of Stephanie McMahon all was lost. It was just absurd storyline and after absurd storyline
     
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  3. johnbragg

    johnbragg Championship Contender

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    A few things came together.

    One big issue was the end of the Monday Night Wars. PArt of the drama of pro wrestling in the 1990s was the WCW-WWF rivalry. WCW rose up with the NWO. WWF made a comeback with DX and Steve Austin. WCW has Goldberg. WWF has The Rock. WCW is reading out the taped RAW results. "Mick Foley Put My Ass In This Seat" beats live Nitro in the ratings.

    WCW 2000 was a complete mess, but they could have come back and done something. But in 2001, WCW was gone.

    If the Monday Night Wars were a story you were telling, that's the end of the story. Vince McMahon wins, Ted Turner Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo lose. The Invasion angle gets a lot of criticism, but the reality is that WCW as it was at the end just wasn't a threat. There's a reason that the only time the Invasion angle showed a pulse was when they added ECW and Steve Austin.

    Sure, there were some guys on the shelf. But the Invasion wouldn't have been a success instead of a failure if Booker T and DDP had Scott Steiner and Jeff JArrett backing them up, much less Hugh Morrus and Lance Storm. (Although Lance Storm Canadianizing all of the WCW midcard titles was fun stuff).
     
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  4. Aquaman6686

    Aquaman6686 Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    That also depends on when you consider the Attitude Era to have ended. A lot of fans consider WM17 the end of the Attitude Era, but there are just as many who feel WM19 was the end.

    But I think Austin's heel turn could have been the beginning of something amazing, but WWE chickened out and turned him face again almost immediately. So we'll never know where that could have gone. Personally I feel Austin works better as a heel, and I was REALLY excited to see what they were going to do with him. Then he was face again. A few months later he turned heel again during the Invasion, but it was diluted because we'd literally just seen it. And then BOOM, he's face again. A total waste.
     
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  5. agentmichaelscarn

    agentmichaelscarn Old School

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    I don't think Austin's heel turn had anything to do with the decline. Whether people want to admit it or not by that point The Rock was the ratings draw. His segments routinely outdrew Austins, so you take him away from the equation and that hurts things(he was gone for 6 months then). Plus on top of that HHH got hurt right after it so he was gone too.

    And finally on top of both of them being gone, the biggest draws in WCW(Hogan, Flair, Sting, Goldberg, Hogan, Hall, Nash, Hart) were all gone, so any audience you got that would flip from WCW to watch WWE would tune out if they watched for any of those guys.

    So the bottom line is between all the top guys from WCW being off TV and the two biggest non Austin attractions in WWE being on the sideline led to the decline in ratings. Not Austin turning heel.
     
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  6. sikkbones

    sikkbones the root of all evil

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    I consider 19 the end of the attitude era if for no other reason that 18 gave us the ultimate attitude era match.

    The rock vs hogan has to be considered attitude era, as does jericho /hunter.
     
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  7. FromGlasgow

    FromGlasgow Championship Contender

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    I think it was a combination of a few things like the end of the competition like WCW and ECW, Competition is good for business with no other mainstream companies all we had was WWE, Also If a Raw segment was dull you could switch over to Nitro,
    This was also around the time of the anticipated WCW invasion storyline which I had high hopes for but just fizzled out dissapointingly and the Austin heel turn you mentioned at that time was in my opinion a horrible idea and Austin and Rocks full time careers were also winding down which couldn't have helped.
    Looking back they did do a few good things but I just don't have the same fond memories for that era as I do for other eras even a couple of years later was an improvement
     
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  8. Lowdown

    Lowdown Ooh baby I like it roooaaaaw!

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    I have to say it was WCW going under that was the beginning of the end for the Attitude Era. The whole genesis from that period was that WCW was must see TV compared to RAW between '96 and '98. Stone Cold was on the rise in '96, and Vince wanted to make sure WWF stayed relevant. Keep in mind that you had ECW with the edgier product during the 90's, though they posed no real threat to WWF and WCW. Once there was no more competition, there wasn't much of a need for the shock value and T & A, and it gradually started to fade away.
     
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  9. johnbragg

    johnbragg Championship Contender

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    WCW dying was one factor. But another factor was that Attitude had run it's course. 2002 saw "Billy and Chuck's wedding", Hot Lesbian Action, Katie Vick, and, in upstart TNA, *********ing midgets in the other semi-major US promotion.

    I'm not saying HLA was as bad as the other three, but people forget there were strong reasons at the time that the sponsors pushed for the PG Era.
     
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  10. sikkbones

    sikkbones the root of all evil

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    That and things were not as interesting after the dream match of hogan/rock.

    We had the wcw imports finally showing up as stars and not jobbers, and it was a weird year for headliners.

    Hogan should not have been given a nostologia run with the title...just like taker should be nowhere near one today.
     
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  11. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    I think people overrate Austin turning heel as the end of the attitude era. As hot as the Attitude Era was wrestling, at the time, was just a fad. A fad that lasted for 3+ years but like all fads people moved onto different things. Plus also with all the raunchy angles being presented, it was just a matter of time until viewers grew tired of it.

    I mean even before Austin turned heel the months leading to WMX-Seven you could see RAW ratings softening from high 5's to low 6's to high 4's to mid 5's. So you could already see a steady decline in viewership.

    I also remember a few wrestling articles back in early 2001 and remember reading that they predicted 2001 would start the downturn of the WWE product. And these were articles before WM17 even took place.

    Could Austin turning heel have accelerated the end of the Attitude Era? Sure but it would have ended sooner than later.

    I often call 2002 to 2007 as the black hole era. It's the era when WWE was still trying to recapture the success of the attitude era but failed miserably.

    One theory about the PG era as the new direction I have is maybe with ratings, attendance, and buy rates being so soft the WWE probably needed to attract advertisers again. If I recall in The Attitude Era WWE lost a lot of advertisers but the product was so hot that the ratings, the attendance, and PPV buys offset what they lost in advertising revenue.
     
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  12. johnbragg

    johnbragg Championship Contender

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    I was only mildly unhappy with the Hulk Still Rules title run. Sure it was pushing 20 years since Hulkamania v 1.0, but we were only 2 years past Bash At the Beach 2000, less than 5 years past Hogan-STing at Starrcade. Hulkamania never did much for me (either in the 80s when I was a little kid or in the nostalgia runs), but other people were enjoying it.

    And, for one of the few times in his career, Hogan did what's best for business and did the job on the way out, in clear, convincing and dominant fashion, helping to build a new star in Brock Lesnar.

    (I am a total mark for Lesnar wiping Hogan's blood across his chest to clean his hand off and retiring the legend. That's a star-making moment.)

    I agree about Taker today, but Hogan coming back to WWF from WCW and changing back from NWO black-and-white to Hulkamania red-and-yellow didn't drag on too long--less than six months from Wrestlemania to August. I just checked--Hogan only had the title from Backlash to Judgement Day, just enough that it didn't seem like cheating the fans.

    Did resetting the clock to 1985 do something to cause Attitude Era fans to check out? Maybe. The Monday Night Wars were over, everybody's seen Hulkamania, so maybe it's not as compelling--you're not seeing something dramatically new and awesome, so you drift away.
     
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  13. sMark

    sMark Getting Noticed By Management

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    WMX7 was the point in wrestling history:
    - monday night wars were over, WWF won, and WMX7 was it's triumph
    - almost all the best things WWF could do with their roster at the time were done
    - WCW fans were gone by the big part, no more channel switching
    - Austin goes heel, HHH gone, Rock gone, there is no megaface anymore
     
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  14. SSJPhenom

    SSJPhenom The Phenom of WZ

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    As far as when the Attitude Era ended, that's WM 17. Why did interest suddenly decline around this point in time? It was many things, but the biggest were WCW folded and injuries.

    When WCW folded and the invasion angle started, a lot of fans, including myself, were expecting the WCW team to be led by Sting, Goldberg, Hall, Nash, Flair, Hogan, DDP, etc. Instead we got Booker T and others. Could you imagine if those guys had of participated in the Invasion. It would've been bigger than the Attitude Era for a time. Also, everyone was gone after WM 17. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people were gone. Trips was gone, the Rock was gone, and others. Plus Austin turned heel. So the biggest face we had was probably Angle. I would say 'Taker but people were still getting acclimated to his American Bad Ass gimmick. Sure, he was the Undertaker, but he wasn't The Undertaker. If that makes sense.

    All in all, WCW folded and we had very few top guys on the product at the time. Sure, these guys would come in, incrementally from time to time, but if they had of been there for that angle, it would've been the biggest thing wrestling had ever done.
     
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  15. #tamale

    #tamale Marry me Billie Kay!!!

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    Austin turning heel was a cosmetic mistake that had no real effect on the downward trend that WWE and professional wrestling as a whole was going in. Mainly what happened was that Austin and Rock were barely around after 01, no new stars emerged until Cena and to a lesser extent Batista, and creatively the WWE had gone as far as they were going to go with the Attitude Era. They had to change their philosophy and head in a new direction as a company. It took them long enough because the Ruthless Aggression era was just an extension of the Attitude Era.

    Couple of issues I have with this belief. First off, paying off your competitions Turner contracts to the last day then reworking a new deal with them does not send a great message to your employees who stayed loyal to you when you were floundering. What would have an Austin, Undertaker, Kane, Rock, HHH thought? What would the guys who jumped from WCW to WWE thought of that these guys were not only getting their contracts paid out, but were now getting to work in WWE again?

    Which leads me to my next point; WCW was a trainwreck from 99-01 and no one wanted it. They pissed people off, and that brand wasn't worth bringing in. WWE tried an angle that would have been major in 1998. In 2001, people hated WCW and that infamous Bagwell/Booker T match proves it.
     
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  16. johnbragg

    johnbragg Championship Contender

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    Yup. The only enthusiasm the Invasion angle generated was when ECW entered the equation. That, and a few weeks after September 11, bona fide American Olympic hero Kurt Angle hosing down the heels with a milk truck. (That was maybe just me.)
     
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  17. Chris1-16

    Chris1-16 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    Attendance and ratings didn't "collapse" immediately following the turn it wasn't until the Fall during the Invasion flop when there was a true decline in ratings and business.

    Attendance in 2001: https://sites.google.com/site/chrisharrington/mookieghana-prowrestlingstatistics/avghouseshow

    Not on the level of 1998-2000 but still stronger than it would be in 2002 after the roster split, the Fall portion of the year were huge down months for the time though.

    Ratings in 2001: http://www.gerweck.net/tv-ratings/2001-ratings/

    Smackdown's ratings dropped a bit but Raw's were constant throughout the year although there were some months where they were noticeably lower than others.
     
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  18. HBKperfect23

    HBKperfect23 Championship Contender

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    It was very odd timing for wrestling to lose its popularity. It does makes sense in some ways: Where could they have gone with Austin vs McMahon which was the driving force of the AE for WWF. You can only beat up your boss and get fired and re hired so many times. The NWO which highlighted WCW during this era was completely watered down and dead. WCW in general was unwatchable even before it died. That being said, we on the verge of finally getting WWF vs WCW. How can you not hang on to watch? Like someone mentioned above, I think people were just ready to move on from wrestling. It couldn't get any more popular then the late 90s.

    Looking back with what he know now, they should have simply waited for the invasion angle. Kept WCW going as it own company with Shane as the owner. WWF continues the same storylines and angles all through 2001. Granted, this year will be very transitional and will lose popularity. In 2002, sign the big names, Hogan,Hall,Nash,Flair,Goldberg, probably could have got sting. Then do the invasion angle leading into wrestlmania 18. Would it have drawn all the artitude era fans back? Possibly. I think that would have been the best shot.
     
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  19. Revenant87

    Revenant87 Dark Match Jobber

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    1) The end of the MNWs really sapped a lot of the energy out of things. Yeah, it had long ceased to be much of a war at that point but 2001 put an official full stop on things - Vince won, WCW was never going make a grand comeback and ECW was never going to grow beyond what it had been. It all just felt a bit depressing.

    2) The WWF vs WCW stuff was not even close to what people used to dream about when the MNWs were still hot. WCW looked about as impressive and threatening as TNA, even with them illogically partnering with ECW.

    3) Austins heel turns were not great. I dont think people were fully ready to accept the face of most of the AE and a former anti-authoritarian badass sucking up to Vince and being more of a comedic, cowardly character. Then the 2nd turn with him joining WCW was even worse because it just didnt make sense and was annoying after the old Stone Cold had come back before that.

    4) By 2001 the WWF had been putting out edgy content for like 4 years. Austin, Rock, the NWO, blood, swearing, sexuality etc had all been exposed a ton and there was just no real freshness or novelty left to it anymore. Things were kind of starting to run their course naturally irregardless of booking decisions. Even if the invasion had been handled perfectly it might have kept things hot for another year but the decline was still going to come eventually.
     
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  20. HBKperfect23

    HBKperfect23 Championship Contender

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    The death of WCW and the end of the Monday night war had a much bigger impact on the wrestling boom ending. Like mentioned above, Wrestlemania X7 ended the attitude era. The combination of Vince buying WCW, Austin turning heel, and the length of the wrestling boom was the perfect trifecta to end the attitude era. If it were a fictional story, that's most likely how the end would be written. What would have been interesting is to see if the casual fan base who only watched the Attitude era would have stuck around for a Austin/Rock/DX vs the NWO/Goldberg/Flair true WWF vs WCW war. I still thing wrestling in the mainstream would be dying off due to the length of the boom
     
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  21. comrade_mario

    comrade_mario Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    I think the WWF was feeling pretty tired by 2001. 2000 had been a great year from an in-ring perspective but the soap opera storytelling had grown stale and taken the product to ludicrous places. That's without even talking about WCW. So I would argue that it had peaked and that WM17 was just a last hurrah with Rock v Austin being a nice cap on the boom times.

    I think people forget that Rock, Austin, Taker and Triple H all felt a little bit stale by the start of 2001. We'd seen them put it all on the line a few times by that stage and the characters were in need of stepping back somewhat. The only problem was that only Kurt Angle had made the transition to being considered on their level. The likes of Jericho, Benoit, Jeff Hardy, Kane and others were nearly there but not quite.
     
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  22. dd23beatlesfan1

    dd23beatlesfan1 Getting Noticed By Management

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    Another point that people tend to mostly forget about that helped bring about the decline in ratings and viewership was the disastrous move to move Raw from the USA Network to TNN in September of 2000.

    TNN was not near as big of a tv channel then as it is today, and it was probably in about a third of the households in America that the USA Network is. Sure they may have got more money in the short term, but not near as many people were able to watch Raw as a lot of viewers didn't have TNN in their cable packages, whereas just about everyone with cable had USA (along with TBS, TNT, etc.) Their ratings dropped instantly from this move. I remember Raw was still averaging in the 6's in ratings up to this point, and once the move happened they instantly went to the lower 5's and upper 4's. And this only continued as time went on.

    Obviously the usual talking points that have been brought up in this thread of course led to the downturn in popularity for the pro wrestling industry. WCW and ECW going out of business was huge and definitely led to a decline in the amount of fans as many were longtime WCW and ECW fans and refused to become WWE fans (many of those ended up being loyal to TNA and/or ROH, even to this day, or just gave up on wrestling period). The big name WCW guys not coming in definitely made the Invasion angle weak. Also not having Rock and Triple H around hurt the WWE side.

    But the ratings decline didn't begin with WCW and ECW going out of business, or Austin's heel turn, or Rock's sabbatical for Hollywood. It began instantly when WWE moved Raw to TNN. Go back and look at the ratings. The decline was instantaneous, because again TNN was a much smaller channel back then, and many fans didn't have access to TNN and thus couldn't watch and mostly just gave up. There was no streaming, Hulu, YouTube, WWE Network, or even illegal streaming sites on the internet in 2000-2002 for fans that didn't have TNN to watch. So yeah, that was a major point in the beginning of the ratings and overall viewership decline for the WWF/E.
     
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  23. Wolf Pac

    Wolf Pac Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    The Attitude Era didn't end at Wrestlemania X7. The Attitude Era ended when 2001 ended. The Invasion was part of the Attitude Era.

    Why people attribute the AE ending to Austin's heel turn, The Rock leaving for just only 3 MONTHS, it's not like he left for 7 years as he would go on to do starting from 2004, he came back in June 2001, Triple H being out with an injury when he never really had any affect on the product at all, he wasn't some game changer or ratings draw, actually it was because of Triple H's reign of terror that wrestling truly declined in 2002-2003, he was never THE GUY and he drove plenty of fans away from the product, or WCW ending, which spelled the end of The Monday Night Wars, not the actual WWF Attitude Era, I will never get.

    There were no actual changes made to the product until 2001 came to a close when the WWF Title and WCW Title were merged to create the WWF Undisputed Title and the main event scene was never the same again with Austin and Rock being mostly out of the title picture and never holding the top prize again except for Rock's 1 month transitional reign in 2002 but his reign wasn't the same as before, the brand split after Wrestlemania X8, the name change to WWE, the Ruthless Aggression marketing, and Austin & Rock leaving mostly for good this time as Austin and Rock's leave were longer and they didn't stay long when they did come back the following years.

    For as much shit the Invasion gets for not bringing in the bigger WCW names, the Invasion was still entertaining. Do I agree that it could've been bigger and better with the bigger WCW names coming in? Yes. But we still got great moments, great matches, great PPV's and a great roster from the names we did get. And people may not have wanted to see Austin not play the badass character anymore but Austin was still a goddamn entertaining heel and played a great set of heel characters as the ruthless psycho chair wielding madman in The Two Man Power Trip, the beatings they gave The Hardyz, Lita and Kane with the Steel Chairs were brutal and the psychotic looks on Austin's face at times during his 2001 heel run were just wow, and the comedy entertaining heel with his segments with Kurt Angle and the "WHAT?" promos. Austin and Angle's feud was also great even if it seemed that Triple H was originally supposed to be the one feuding with Austin in the summer. Austin also put on the greatest in-ring year of any WWE wrestler in history in 2001 all year long on TV and PPV with his matches against Triple H, Rock, Undertaker, Benoit, Jericho, Angle, RVD.

    2001 was still attitude after Wrestlemania X7 and the downturn didn't start until 2002 with all the changes I mentioned above plus Triple H's reign of terror.
     
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  24. WWEWrestleFest

    WWEWrestleFest Pre-Show Stalwart

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    It wasn't Austin's heel turn, it was a number of things. Most of all, it just wasn't as entertaining as it used to be. I don't remember the exact timeline, but it probably started sometime after WM 2000, with Austin out injured and the Rock out making a movie, it became the Triple H show. He would cut long, boring, 20 minute promos every week and fans just started to tune out. With WCW dying around this time, they had no real competition to keep pushing them. By the time WCW folded for good and they turned Austin heel, it just wasn't the same as it was in 1997 -1999 were both WWF and WCW felt like must see TV.
     
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  25. Vanilla Midget

    Vanilla Midget Registered Suplex Offender

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    I always consider the Raw where Rikishi was revealed to have sun over Stone Cold as being the end of the Attitude Era.

    It was the first instance of a ludicrous storyline that the Ruthless Aggression era would become known for. Most of my wrestling friends lost interest when the payoff to the biggest late Attitude Era storyline was revealed to have been mastered by a big fat guy in a thong.

    That's my story though. Three of my main wrestling friends lost interest. I remember some kids talking about the Austin/Triple H match at Survior Series 2000 and getting made fun of at high school. That was unusual for the time as wrestling was generally considered very cool.

    Throughout human history, we like to try and find these exact moments when history changes. An example would be the shooting of Franz Ferdinand starting the Great War (World War I). The truth is that multiple factors were at play that were sending Europe to war, that's just a significant moment/factor that makes for a great and easily digestible story.

    What if history were different? Triple H is revealed to have driven the car that hit Austin and Austin fought Rock and X7, but won clean. Would things be different?

    Probably not. Wrestling was just gradually becoming less popular. Nothing lasts forever, and wrestling proved that its most exciting concepts simply weren't sustainable. WCW hit the crapper creatively, and come X7 it had been bought by WWF.

    The Rock left for Hollywood right after X7, another factor to consider. Mick Foley was semi retired and would only show up once a year or less. Goldberg was gone from WCW and wouldn't show up again until 03. Even by then his popularity had waned given WCW's masterclass in how to not get anyone over booking.

    Even before the buyout, WCW's failures became WWF's. All the awful stuff happening there would have been incentive for people to change the channel away from wrestling altogether.

    Austin didn't shake Vince's hand and then suddenly millions were done with wrestling. The truth is that there was just a change in times coming. A form of entertainment was becoming less viable to casual fans.

    Reality TV was on the rise, internet connections were becoming commonplace in homes, film CG was becoming quality enough that superhero films were able to be blockbusters instead of b films, there were just so many changes in the world already in place come 2001 that it's hard to blame any one thing.

    That's long winded and makes for a piss poor story though. It's way more exciting to single out the Rikishi heel turn, or the Austin heel turn, or the death of WCW, or the the exit of Dwayne Johnson, or the mishandling of the Invasion, or having to drop the WWF name as being these cynosures for the end of an era.

    The exact moment it ended varies for everyone. I've even heard some argue that it ended when Austin got hurt in 1999. I've heard some people argue that it ended when Foley left. Some consider the Invasion, all the way up to the 2002 brand extension.

    It doesn't really matter though. There's no wrong answer, just as there's no exact right answer either. It ended, wrestling's popularity subsided and we've been in this 15-17 year decline depending on who you ask.

    Regardless when you decide it ended for you, it was in the process of ending after Mania X7. Some had left ages ago over the New Blood angle, some tuned out when May Young gave birth to a hand, maybe people left when Bubba Ray was assaulting women for a face gimmick, maybe the Booker T, DDP and the jobber Invasion squad made you change the channel.

    Would babyface Austin vs WCW have saved wrestling? Not unless that WCW featured anyone that casuals might have been interested in ie Bischoff, Sting, Austin, Hogan, Hall, Nash, Goldberg, or Flair. Rock showed up later in the Invasion and barely made difference.

    It would have taken WCW staying good until its death (which may have prevented the death), the Invasion being good, Rock and Foley sticking around, and less gross storylines to keep the quality of the Attitude Era rolling. Face Austin couldn't have been enough, just as face Austin wasn't everything about that era.
     
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