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Why PG doesn't mean bad wrestling

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Unfortunately for modern wrestling in the WWE, every match, angle and ‘superstar’ are compared to those of the Attitude Era. There’s no doubt that the era was the most thrilling in wrestling history and it really rejuvenated the whole industry but I think some people are confused about what made the time so special.

At the moment some people complain about PG wrestling and the lack of blood and swearing and that we should bring back the Attitude Era, and quite simply put, these people probably never saw it. So to help these people here’s a semi-quick breakdown of what you missed from what I class the Attitude Era, Survivor Series ’97 to WrestleMania X7.

I class Survivor Series ’97 as the beginning of the era because of the birth of the McMahon character. Bret Hart was moving to WCW purely because Vince couldn’t afford the 10-year multi-million-dollar contract that he had Bret on. It was his comments after the ‘Montreal Screwjob’ that made the character though, “Bret screwed Bret”, that enraged the audience. And despite the boom in popularity towards Austin, he hadn’t held the title and WWF continued to be second best in the ratings. The McMahon character had someone for Austin to rival at the highest level, as this was before The Rock and Triple H became top level superstars, and it was the ultimate badass against the boss which brought the ratings in. His battle with The Undertaker through the summer brought Raw its biggest ever ratings and Summerslam ’98 was the most successful Summerslam in its history.

The Rock by this time had been electrifying audiences as the main heel after leaving the Nation of Domination. His character from his time from NOD to WrestleMania XV was the best incarnation of The Rock in my opinion. He was the cockiest wrestler I’d seen, with the smug eyebrow and quick wit and I loved it as it was so different to every previous major heel I’d seen. When he was chosen to be the last in the ring with Austin at Royal Rumble ’98 I knew he was going to be big but never someone who could actually rival Austin for popularity at the height of the WWF. At WrestleMania XV with the crowd behind him, Austin managed to overcome the odds and defeat The Rock and McMahon.

By this time the WWF was booming while WCW and the tired and recycled NWO were suffering. As great as this time was the PPVs were not as good as people may think in the late ‘90s. WrestleMania 14 had a few quality matches while XV, I would argue, had only one good match, The Rock V Austin.

WWF had survived the ‘90s not through 100% quality PPVs but great main events and charisma. Charisma is the first thing missing from modern wrestling that the Attitude Era oozed of. Austin was so over as the face with fantastic promos, DX were hilarious with the rebel vignettes and the New Age Outlaws, despite not being great wrestlers, were massively over because of their introduction. To prove this think of how many times you’ve watched Raw matches from ’99 and how many times you’ve watched say the DX Clinton mock. Charismatic wrestlers are successful. Now WWE have creative write the vignettes and promos which mean they never feel natural and they don’t always reflect the characters. Again, to prove this think of the most popular promos at the moment. Zack Ryder is becoming more popular for his YouTube videos which have nothing to do with WWE and The Miz, who is known for being forthcoming and hardworking at coming up with ideas for his character rather than leaving it to creative, has become successful as a heel for his promos not always his wrestling.

I did love 2000 to WrestleMania X7 though for not only promos but also the wrestling quality. The Attitude Era was at its best in this period because of the second reason modern wrestling is failing, the quality of the wrestlers. By the end of ’99 Austin had taken a leave as had Undertaker which allowed The Rock to become the massive face that he is today and Triple H to become the major heel while Mick Foley was helping Triple H to go over in classic matches at RR and NWO ‘00. Then Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho arrived bringing a mix of charisma and amazing and different wrestling backgrounds to WWF. Angle was a pure athletic wrestler while Jericho had years of experience through Japan and Mexico. With the forthcoming collapse of WCW and ECW many talents started jumping ships to WWF which led to interesting rivalries and a variety of wrestling techniques. The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko) all brought unique wrestling backgrounds as well. With all the new talent all the matches were fresh and the creative were so fresh with ideas that rivalries, such as Triple H V Rock, could last for months without becoming stale. Jericho, Angle and Benoit refreshed the Intercontinental title scene while Edge and Christian, The Hardys and The Dudleys as well as Too Cool and APA made the tag team matches some of the most entertaining in WWF history.

The massive return of Undertaker (watch the JD ’00 return on YouTube just for the massive pop) and Austin threw up more choices for matches. Summerslam ’00 is one of the best PPVs I’ve ever seen and of course the Attitude Era was given the perfect send-off at WrestleMania X7. The best WM in history by far had no bad match on the card. Austin V Rock, Triple H V Undertaker, TLC tag team triple threat, Angle V Benoit were all individually classics. On top of this the 60,000 + crowd was amazing and it was the first WM to have the huge production.

Two tips for the WWE are:

1. Get the talent to practise their own promos and interviews so they become natural to them. Having them scripted means the wrestlers have to learn to remember them and don’t learn how to get their character over with the crowd. They rely on creative for ideas without ever trying to come up with their own stuff which might further their careers.
2. Get talent from different areas. OVW can produce talent but all the wrestlers there learn to do the same moves in the same way which is boring. Getting talent from Japan, TNA, Mexico, MMA and ROH would provide fans with a variety of wrestling techniques to enjoy. Guys like Cody Rhodes, DiBiase and Ziggler all look the same and do the same moves, no wonder fans won’t buy your product. The Attitude Era had its best wrestling when talent, such as Jericho and Benoit, came to their group.

Fans who miss blood and swearing should watch another product because WWE won’t change from PG for years. And it doesn’t matter. Don’t blame the lacking product on swearing and blood and act like the Attitude Era will come back. The product lacks because there isn’t enough variety in talent and the wrestlers are lacking charisma.

Swearing was never a big piece of wrestling in the first place and only a child would be excited by hearing a naughty word. The Rock is still doing the same promos he did a decade ago because he never saw in them the first place and The Rock’s ‘This Is Your Life’ is the most viewed segment in WWE history. There’s no swearing in that promo but it’s the best in Raw history, something that could be achieved with a PG rating.

Blood did play a part in a lot of the Attitude Era’s best matches but I never knew a match where I felt let down by a lack of blood. Undertaker V Michaels and V Triple H at the last 3 WMs were classics but none had blood which shows blood doesn’t necessarily make a good match.

Hopefully by reading this people who never saw the Attitude Era can understand why it was so special for wrestling fans. And as well for those who did experience it I hope it brought back many fond memories. And people can understand that PG doesn’t necessarily mean bad wrestling.

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  1. Mark Petries IP's Avatar
    Actually a really good blog here. I actually agree with you 100% on what is wrong with WWE is the talent is simply not there.

    One thing you should say though about the blood, is it did add to a match, not that its necessary or anything but it really did make matches more seem more extreme. The swearing is alright, it just allows the wrestler who's cutting a promo be less restricted on what they want to say, thats the one and only reason it should be allowed. I would rather hear someone being called an obscene word than a coward, maybe thats just me.

    The WWE will never be as good as it was from end of 97 up until around brock lesnar's departure in 2004. It just will not happen they don't have the talent we can all sit here and hope it's going to happen but it's not
  2. Anyrysm's Avatar
    I loved the post. I have made similar arguments on various posts and blogs of my own. I never really minded the PG rating; the only time it bugs me is either Elimination Chamber or Hell in the Cell matches. Good article, well articulated, and enjoyable to read. Keep posting.
  3. Chaston80's Avatar
    I have been saying the same thing...its not the pg rating or the lack of swearing or blood...its the talent and story lines. Need proof of this? Check out Bret Hart vs Owen Hart in their cage match at SummerSlam back in the original pg era of wrestling. Great match and not one drop of blood spilled and not one curse word uttered.
  4. candlelarbra521's Avatar
    Totally disagree. Yes PG can work, it could work if you had intellegent charismatic individuals who new the ins and outs of their characters, like in the Atiitude Era, wwith writers that know wrestlers skills talents and strenghts.(that won't happen) But PG is the reason there is no development, wrestlers can't explore their own characters because everthing is scripted mainly (but not only) due to the fact that WWE has to control what the wrestlers say (Blame PG for that)
    The superstars have no room they can't develop and god forbid if they offend a rowdy minority or the kiddies.(BTW its not the kids who get offended it the parents)
    WWE need to be edgier it needs blood, and yes it needs swearing, it may only be kids who get a kick out of it but its better to have swearing rather than knowing Cena said poopy or bottom because he couldn't swear.
    TV 14 and wrestling creativity go hand in hand and at the end of the day VKM needs to stop micro managing and have faith that talent will get their, but only with faith, development, time and freedom.
    Yes it is possible to have a quality PG product but history shows that PG doesn't work and until we're proven wrong I am sticking with the fact that the Attidude Era was the best and we need to use its lessons to go to the next stage of wrestling evolution, PG or not.

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