Many modern-day WWE fans still remember the Attitude Era fondly. It was filled with epic moments with some of the best wrestlers who were excellent at cutting promos as well.
We take a look at some of the biggest moments that changed the landscape of professional wrestling in WWE.
5. WWE purchases WCW
Well, this wasn’t an in-ring moment but its implications were huge. 6 days before WrestleMania 17, WCW and WWE joined forces to become one.
After battling Ted Turner’s Monday Nitro for years in the so-called “Monday Night War,” WWE Chairman Vince McMahon celebrated his purchase of the Atlanta-based company with an unprecedented simulcast of Nitro and Monday Night Raw. This took the pro wrestling world by storm.
Vince McMahon basked in the glory of having the control of WCW in his hands. However, much to his dismay, his son Shane McMahon claimed that he was the owner of WCW and not him. This set the stage for a WCW/ECW invasion later in the year as WWE’s fallen foes pledged their allegiance to take down the organization from within.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin comes face-to-face with Mike Tyson
Attitude Era and Stone Cold’s rivalry with Vince McMahon are synonymous. The attitude Era would have been incomplete without this monumental feud. One memorable segment in the feud occurred on the January 19th episode of RAW in 1998.
Just after the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, McMahon on the RAW after the event was about to mention the role of Mike Tyson at WrestleMania 14 when the Texas Rattlesnake made his way to the ring to come face-to-face with the legendary boxer.
Austin won the Royal Rumble the night prior and was the top superstar in the company back then. Austin received a huge pop as he went up to the middle rope to acknowledge the fans. Vince asked him why he was here and he said he was tired of seeing Mike Tyson shake hands with all the WWF (now WWE) superstars. Tyson offered a handshake but Austin was in no mood to make friends.
Austin said he respected what Tyson did in the boxing world, but he messed with the WWE Hall of Famer when he entered a WWE ring. Austin said that he can beat Tyson any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The WWE veteran showed the middle finger to Tyson which infuriated the “Iron Mike” as he pushed Austin.
Austin went for Tyson but he was restrained by several officials, referees, and Shane McMahon himself. Tyson didn’t want anything to do with Austin as he stayed behind a few members of his security team. Austin was escorted out of the ring as McMahon was heard shouting “you ruined everything” as a defiant Austin showed him the middle finger.
The publicity that WWE gained from this segment was immense. People who had no interest whatsoever in pro wrestling also took notice.
3. D-Generation X invades WCW
Another major incident happened in 1998 one night after the Unforgiven pay-per-view. D-Generation X headed by The Cerebral Assassin Triple H set out to invade World Championship Wrestling’s Monday Nitro. The Game had Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, X-Pac, and Chyna for company.
Triple H and co. rode a huge tank and spoke over megaphones to the fans waiting outside the venue and revealed WCW was giving free tickets to the night’s event.
They tried to enter breach the front door of the venue. Heading around back, they drove down to the wrestlers’ entrance of the arena but someone closed the garage door before Road Dogg and Gunn could enter. Their attempt to interrupt WCW was unsuccessful but it established DX’s babyface run and also McMahon had some fun at the behest of Eric Bischoff’s WCW which had bragged about beating WWE in the television ratings for 83 consecutive weeks, till WWE got the upper hand a few weeks before this segment.
2. The Undertaker versus Mankind – Hell in a Cell Match: King of the Ring 1998
Every wrestling fan must have rewatched this match a number of times. Brutal, physical, jaw-dropping and add more words along those lines to describe this match for the ages.
Mick Foley was known for his death-defying acts and his taking enormous amounts of punishments during his matches was a common feature. This match was different as he upped the ante and took a Chokeslam from the ceiling of the cell which saw him fall crashing 15 feet below down on the ring and a steel chair also accompanied him during the fall as it bounced off Foley’s head.
Foley suffered several injuries in the match. He suffered a concussion, dislocated jaw, bruised ribs, internal bleeding ribs, punctured wounds, and also lost a few of his teeth.
It was a grueling and intense match that had everyone talking. Popular journalist Dave Meltzer awarded the match four-and-a-half stars out of a possible five while writing in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter and said he would never forget Foley’s performance.
Another journalist Wade Keller wrote in the Pro Wrestling Torch that the match between The Undertaker and Mankind was the decade’s “most memorable match”.
Stone Cold Steve Austin coins “Austin 3:16”
Stone Cold Steve Austin beat Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament in 1996. Roberts’ gimmick was that of a preacher at the time. He used to mention quotes from the Bible. Before the finals, Austin had already competed in the semi-final on the same night.
Austin was informed that Roberts had quoted a Bible passage during his pre-match interview. After beating Roberts, Austin delivered some unbelievable lines in his post-match interview with Dox Hendrix where he said:
“You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16…Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your a**!”
The day has been dedicated to Austin 3:16 because if you write the date in MM: DD format, it turns out to be March 16.
Austin went on to become one of WWE’s all-time greats and a well-deserved Hall of Fame inductee.
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