VIJAY SHAH and SUNNY ATWAL with AARON CARR, PHIL HAIGH via Penn News and Metro
Fans of sports entertainment brand WWE are in for a treat this Sunday as the wrestling highlight of the year, WrestleMania 33, happens this Sunday. This will be a once-in-a-year chance to see some of the world’s greatest wrestlers face off against each other in the ‘squared circle’.
In its third decade of existence, WrestleMania will take place at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, United States, the second time this venue has hosted the event since 2008. Around 70,000+ fans are expected to fill up the stadium for the highlight of the wrestling calendar. The matches will also be broadcast on the sports entertainment firm’s own WWE Network as well as sports channels across the globe.
Featuring a healthy selection of big names from the locker rooms of the bitterly competitive RAW and SmackDown brands, thirteen matches are scheduled, including title matches for the Universal Championship (RAW) and SmackDown’s WWE Championship. Goldberg will defend the Universal Championship against the seemingly unstoppable and brutal Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt will defend the WWE Championship against the famed ‘Legend Killer’, Randy Orton. Already, critics and observers have commended the line-up for the matches, and numerous rumours and predictions are doing the rounds all over the Web.
The following thirteen matches are scheduled to take place around WrestleMania this weekend, with ‘(c)’ indicating the current title holder with their belt on the line:
2017 André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Battle royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy)
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) (Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship)
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns (Singles match)
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (Non-sanctioned match)
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles (Singles match)
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (Fatal 4-Way elimination match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens (Singles match for the WWE United States Championship)
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse (Mixed tag team match)
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin (Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (Triple threat ladder match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella (with James Ellsworth) vs. Naomi (Six-pack challenge for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Many of the matches are the culmination of storylines in the WWE shows, where wrestlers frequently challenge each other, not only for belts and bragging rights, but also for the hearts and minds of their legions of fans.
The event, often known among fans as the ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ and the ‘Show of Shows’ will take place on Sunday, 2nd April 2017, but will be broadcasting early morning the next day in the United Kingdom due to time differences. British subscribers to the WWE Network can catch the match live, and television viewers can view WrestleMania on Sky Sports Box Office, channels 491 and 492, with the pay-per-view broadcast costing £19.95.
This past Friday, as the build-up to WrestleMania 33 has already reached boiling point, long-time WWE veteran Kurt Angle hosted the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Angle joins Diamond Dallas Page, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Beth Phoenix, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Theodore “Teddy” Long in the 2017 class.
I grew up playing both wrestling and footballvideo gamesmyself. I and my younger brothers are all great football and wrestling fans and we would supplement watching intense battles of the ring and the pitch with battles against each other on our PS2 console. Whether it wasReal MadridagainstManchester Unitedon FIFA 2012, finessing our bicycle kick skills onPro Evolution Soccer, we had the time of our lives in front of the big screen. I still remember my brothers Azzy and Suraj creating wrestlers based on family members on theSmackdownrelease from probably around 2009 and then setting them up in duels against the Bigshow orBrock Lesnar. Nowadays both Azzy and Suraj regularly tussle for bragging rights onFIFA 14, while my youngest Arjun has found his calling as a football manager with some top names on his team and a very busy inbox thanks to the agents constantly negotiating player transfers with his alter ego, ‘Buju Banton’.
FIFA 15 is published byEA Sports, a subdivision of the Electronic Arts (EA) game developer. A football simulation game, it is in the final stages of development byEA’sCanadian arm and is scheduled for public release on the 23 September 2014 inNorth America, before being released in mainland Europe on the 25th and inthe United Kingdomon the 26th. FIFA 15 will be available for the PlayStation 3 and 4, PlayStation Vita,Xbox One,Xbox 360,Microsoft Windows,IOSandAndroid. On PC, this game runs on EA’sIgniteengine and boasts the same features as the PS4 and Xbox One editions. The front cover will featureLionel Messiof FC Barcelona. Posed as though he was charging around the pitch, Mr. Messi has been a hallmark of the game’s cover since FIFA 13, when he replaced Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. There will be regional variations on the covers though, so for example for Swiss fans, Xherdan Shaqiri of that country’s national side will appear alongside Messi. There will also be two versions of the title, the Standard edition and an Ultimate Team edition which will cost fans more but comes with limited edition goodies, both in and outside the game.
According to British tabloidMetro, EA Sports have promised that FIFA 15 will be their most realistic football game yet, with some observers saying that it will revolutionise gameplay for the 21st century completely, although some supporters of the Arsenal football team who have seen pre-released screenshot of their players, Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere on Twitter claim that the appearance of the players on FIFA 15 is far from accurate, with one wag claiming that Ozil resembled a ‘zombie or some kind of monster’. Despite the inevitable complications that come from rendering player’s looks in computer pixels, the pre-release hype for FIFA fans has been kept ablaze with special releases of screenshots, tidbits and rumours about what the game will feature and what exactly the improvements will be. There have been reports that a pre-issue demo of the game is in circulation, with Martin Robinsonof Eurogamer claiming as such, according to theBleacher Report.TheBleacher Reportalso claims that there are ‘rumblings’ from an organisation called the FIFAU Teamthat the demo will consist ofeight teams, two game modes and will appear on September 9. These rumours are of course, just that and nothing concrete has been confirmed by EA Sports or the licenser FIFA.
According to the developers, FIFA 15 will be the first game of the series to feature ’emotional intelligence’. A new and advanced AI machine means that your players will have their own memories of previous matches and will display emotion based on the outcome of the match. So if Balotelli gets sent off yet again, you will know he won’t look too pleased about it, and if you lift the cup, the players look as happy as you would be if you earned their massive salaries. This is a massive improvement on both previous titles and other rival football gaming titles, as there the players usually are expressionless and game developers were more interested in creating footballers with skills and the package to deliver on the hallowed turf rather than the niceties of a few facial expressions. Each player now possesses over 600 emotional states, responding with gusto to bad tackles, near-misses on goal and the spectacular epic goals. They probably won’t swear at the camera or flip a bird at a red-faced coach but FIFA 15 guarantees to make gameplay almost as convincing as watching a match yourself.
The fans too will be more responsive and realistic, with actual chants and crowd behaviours tailored to each individual team or national side. The game also has advanced bench reactions, side-line character animations, ten-man goal celebrations and more to keep you firmly interested in the progress of the match. Those matches against your friends are about to get that little bit more emotional.
You can create and manage your own teams far more easily. You can customise up to six different team sheets per club and adapt your formations, tactics and star players based on the opponent, which will make FIFA 15 perfect for aspiring managers and those who really look for the finer details in formulating that winning eleven. Goalkeepers have also been upgraded, with fifty new save animations and improved goalsaving AI. Witness breath-stopping and improved save reactions at the last second supplemented with realistic tips and deflections. You will learn to fear this goalie’s fingertips. Outside the goal, team members will react convincingly to changing play, just like real-life players. New team tactics, such as ‘Park the Bus‘ and ‘In The Mixer’ will be some cool team play features on offer in FIFA 15.
The graphics are far more advanced too. Gone are the stiff, wooden and slightly pixelated player of old, and say hello to players with fluid movement and painstaking detail in their appearance and kit. Shadows and shirt creases are reproduced faithfully, which shows that FIFA 15 really does have its eye on the ball…and on the little details. The players will look and feel powerful and athletic, and even the kits will flutter realistically as your strikers charge down towards that quick-as-lightning goalkeeper. Indeed such is the attention to detail, that even small things such as debris on the pitch, skid marks from footballers’ boots, LED advertisement hoardings and the fluttering of corner flags are there in glorious lifelike three dimensions. They have really done their research here.
The players tackle in style, with shirt-pulling and shoulder barges something to contend with when getting that ball off your opponent. Once you have won the ball, prepare to be amazed as your dribbling and touches of boot on ball are more realistic and believable. Footwork, spin and general ball control will have better accuracy and trajectories as the ball is passed on from player to player.
FIFA 15 also introduces the all new ‘Match Day Live’ feature. Powered by authoritative football site Goal.com, fans can keep updated and on the ball with their club’s latest matches, news and action using an internet connection while they make history with their FIFA 15 version. For budding managers, FIFA 15 builds upon the team management capabilities and career mode of last year’s predecessor with new ways to play, manage the squad and decide on transfers to boost up your side.
That other big game for virtual sports fans, WWE 2K15, is also a must-have for the Christmas stocking. Like FIFA 15, the wrestling version also promises to bring fans of sport entertainment a more realistic and relatable configuration of gameplay, as the virtual becomes more like the reality.
WWE 2K15 is being published by 2K Sports, with in-game development by Visual Concepts&Yuke’s – the second title being released from the well-receivedWWE 2Kseries. The plans in the works are for this title to be released sometime late October this year on Xbox 360andPlayStation 3, and will be the first WWE game to be released onPlayStation 4andXbox One. Its North American release is scheduled for October 28, 2014 and in Europe on October 31. The cover features WWE Superstar and king of the invisible John Cenaand is also the first to use the new WWE logo, which was introduced at the launch of theWWE Networkin February 2014. Unlike Cena, fans will hopefully be able to see this latest WWE video game appearing in their local superstore in only a month’s time.
The game’s designers claim that 2K15 will usher in a new era of WWE video gaming, delivering the experience fans have been searching for generations. It aims to be the most authentic, comprehensive and action-packed WWE video game experience to date. The ‘Next-Gen Superstars’ will have more realistic movements and mannerisms, with improvements to body, attire and facial features of individual wrestlers, resulting in a highly life-like and natural look. There will also be improvements to stage lighting featured in the sets on the game and better all-in-ring sound effects and acoustics.
The roster featured in the game will be one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen in a WWE game, including Hall of Famers, current favourites such as Cena, Bigshow, the Usos, Dolph Ziggler, Batista, Randy Orton and the Undertaker. There also good representations by the WWE Divas, including big names like Brie Bella, Natalya and Summer Rae. Full details of the complete roster will soon be announced on the WWE 2K website. It is believed up to sixty superstars may feature in the game as new modes are dribbled out to fans and gaming media.
Unlike FIFA, a collector’s edition of the game has already been released earlier this month. It features a copy of the game pre-released with special premium packaging, a collectible wrestling promo card signed by Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, exclusiveFunko“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vinyl figure, an actual piece of the ring canvas from Hogan’s appearance onWWE Rawon March 10, 2014, two playable pre-order launch exclusive Hulk Hogan characters, and two playable pre-order launch exclusiveStingcharacters. There are only 25,000 collector’s editions being made at the time of release, according to a Wikipedia article dedicated to the game.
The game has been blazing fires underneath the backsides of critics, with many applauding its faithful homage to the dramatism of the WWE’s infamous storylines, the ‘soap opera with stunners’ as giant of the ring The Bigshow once described it. Review Darryn Bonthuys described WWE 2K15 as a game which heralded the entrance into an age of wrestling games that captured both the attitude and nostalgia of sports entertainment, in a way never really touched on before. Even the detail afforded to some wrestler’s beards is astonishing, amazing even the superstars themselves. On a recent scanning for his character in the game, Yes-Man Daniel Bryansaid to Sports Illustrated “When I went for my scans, 2K had so much machinery in their studio, it’s like being in the future,”
“I get weirded-out just being around that much technology. I was like, ‘These things won’t give me cancer, right?”
The article by Bonthuys delves deeper into WWE 2K15’s obsession with detail, aided by the better graphics handling of the latest consoles, such as the PS4:
“It’s incredible what they can do now. The detail they capture is amazing. My beard looks perfect in the game. It looks exactly how it does in real life. But they also have small details like the scar on the top of Randy Orton’s head. He has this small little knick, and it’s detailed perfectly. I know when I was playing the game, when I saw the little things like Randy’s scar, when I saw how my beard looked, I was blown away.”
Grappling and other moves are more like what you would expect in a wrestling match than running up and just hitting the analogue stick. The game, despite its many visual and gameplay improvements and tweaks, is still easy for first-time and casual gamers to pick up the skills needed to lift the championship belt, while keeping seasoned gamers and wrestling fans hooked and impressed with the new 2K way of chokeslamming things. The ratio of ring to wrestler sizes is more believable and you can no longer take the easy route out by simply running around the squared circle.
The game will also feature a match history mode, tailored to be just like the bad blood and storylines of the Smackdown and Raw shows as seen on TV. The mode will pick up on past rivalries between superstars and is provisionally being called the ‘2K Showcase’. In comparison to the previous older sibling of the WWE 2K family, the story mode will be similar toWWE 2K14‘s30 Years of WrestleManiamode in that it focuses on historical events, but will be more like the Attitude Era mode where it focuses on specifics rather than generalities. The two main feuds highlighted in 2K15 are John Cena vs. CM Punk which took place between 2011 and 2013, and the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels rivalry which began in 2002. Players will be able to relive a total of 33 matches across the feuds, where key historical objectives must be completed in order to progress further in the mode. As with last year’s game, high-quality documentary packages will accompany each rivalry. This emphasis on the nitty-gritty will also make gameplay just that more believable for diehard wrestling fans who want the perfect story of hatred in the locker room. Players will also have access to a self-operated ‘MyCareer’ mode which sees them take on the Lycra mantle of a superstar and gives them the chance to develop his or her career via the Creative Suite and to evolve and take on challenges for title belts. This mode will be exclusive to the XBox One and PS4 versions of WWE 2K15 though.
I can definitely say this about my best friend and I can say this for myself and my games-mad siblings as well. Playing these two games will be an experience that will blow away all the memories I had of previous playing PlayStation and XBox games on the sacred subjects of football and wrestling entertainment. Just the detail and dedication the designers have spent on the graphics and kinetics of the FIFA footballers and WWE wrestlers alone will be mind-blowing. Even though I do not own a games console, and am what nowadays you could convincingly call a ‘casual gamer’, a part-timer in the world of video games, I can appreciate the way these two titles will change my whole viewpoint of gaming for 2015. Just the thought of being able to play and control something that is so very near the real deal is itself a moment I look forward to experiencing. The thrills, the spills, the crossfaces and the cross-kicks. Whether slamming an opponent into the ringside or booting a ball into the net, I think FIFA 15 and WWE 2K15 are the ones to watch for sports games on the PS and others. Let’s hope my brothers have put in their pre-orders.
The first Wrestlemania ever to be held in Louisiana, the monumental event, created by wrestling entertainments company WWE (Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment) will see old scores settled and old friendships broken as the locker-room roster amaze audiences with piledrivers and twists of fate as well as devastating and action packed 30-man battle royal. Two champions will also be putting their titles on the line as four hours of the ‘greatest show on Earth’ makes its impact felt thousands of miles beyond the squared circle.
This show-stopping event, dubbed the ‘Show of Shows’ and ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’, has been one of WWE’s most successful PPVs to date. It began life on the 31st March, 1985 at the Madison Square Gardens in New York, where the headline was a tag team match between the ‘Hulkamaniac‘ Hulk Hogan and his partner and jewellery-laden star of 1980’s action series The A-Team, Mr. T. They faced a challenge from Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Fans who witnessed the very first Wrestlemania almost thirty years ago still now speak with fondness of the guest appearance by boxer Muhammad Ali and André the Giant decimating Big John Studd in a $15,000 Body Slam Challenge. André celebrated the win by sharing his duffel bag of cash with the capacity crowd in attendance.
Fast forward another three decades, and this year’s Wrestlemania promises to be as explosive as ever. A series of matches involving the many feuds and alliances on the WWE signature shows Raw and Smackdown, Wrestlemania tickets went on sale in the United States on November 16, 2013, several months in advance, as WWE buckles down for a deluge of ticket purchases from its army of loyal fans.
In January this year, Batista returned to the ring and won the 2014 Royal Rumble against overwhelming odds earning himself a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXX. Meanwhile, Randy Orton survived the Elimination Chamber while defending that same belt to clinch his place in the match in April at New Orleans. February saw the return of WWE legend Hulk Hogan, who fought at the very first Wrestlemania and is being tipped to host the thirtieth one. The Hulkamaniac soon got his new role alive and kicking when on the March 10th episode of Raw, he announced a thirty-man battle royal will happen to celebrate the thirty years of the event’s existence and in memory of the lofty man-mountain and seasoned French wrestler André the Giant. The winner of this epic clash will receive the André the Giant Memorial Trophy.
These are the headliner matches that will be taking place at Wrestlemania XXX (as of 30th March 2014).
In the run-up to the event, WWE will be hosting a special press conference which will stream live on the WWE Network this Tuesday from the Hard Rock Café in New York City at 11:00 a.m. ET (United States Eastern Time). Reigning World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton will come face-to-face with his nemesis and challenger Batista. Fellow competitors Daniel Bryan and John Cena as well as show host Hulk Hogan and manager Stephanie McMahon will also be in attendance. The event itself will be prefaced by a two-hour ‘pre-show’ to get fans fired up for the big matches.
The first hour of the WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show will feature analysis of the action-packed card from a star-studded panel of Superstars past and present, along with on-the-scene interviews featuring Superstars preparing to battle on The Grandest Stage of Them All. The first half of the WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show can be viewed on WWE Network, WWE.com, the WWE App, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pheed.
Then, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, the Pre-Show continues exclusively on WWE Network, where the all-star panel will continue to break down the stacked WrestleMania lineup. In addition, the action will begin with an exclusive Pre-Show Match! (WWE.com)
In the United States, Wrestlemania will be broadcast for the first time on the WWE Network service, a dedicated wrestling entertainment channel. It will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office and Sky Sports HD Box Office (priced at £17.95 for UK customers, € 24.95 for viewers in the Republic of Ireland, for the whole pay-per-view).
“WrestleMania XXX” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“March 31, 1985 WrestleMania I” – WWE/WWE, Inc. LINK
“WrestleMania Press Conference to stream live on WWE Network this Tuesday” – WWE/WWE, Inc. (28 March 2014) LINK
“Watch the two-hour WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show on Sunday, April 6!” – WWE/WWE, Inc. (19 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania XXX: Watch Hulk Hogan host and The Undertaker fight Brock Lesnar” – Sky Sports/BSkyB (28 March 2014) LINK
IMAGE & VIDEO CREDITS:
“File:WrestleMania XXX Poster.png” – WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), Wikimedia Commons (22 March 2014) LINK
“File:Hogan and Andre.jpg” – codinghorror.com, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2007) LINK
“Wrestlemania XXX: Top Matches/Match Cards + Promos – HDWWETitantronsV1”, HDWWETitantronsV1, YouTube GB (26 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania XXX all-star press conference” – WWE, YouTube GB (18 February 2013) LINK
“John Cena vs Bray Wyatt WrestleMania 30 Eminem Promo #2” – Hero83, YouTube GB (18 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania 30 Official Trailer” – TheOfficialSlimber, YouTube GB (17 April 2013) LINK
The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is one of the world’s most widely referenced and talked-about forms of wrestling entertainment. It’s United States-based parent company earns millions of dollars every year from ticket sales alone, bringing to screens and stadia an awesome collection of wrestling greats and gripping storylines. From John Cena’s illicit relationship with AJ Lee to the rivalry of deep hatred between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto del Rio, already this year has proved to be a blockbuster one for WWE, and the sports entertainment franchise has bounced back from a previous decline in quality caused in part by the departure of several big name superstars.
WWE, and its previous incarnation, WWF (World Wrestling Federation) have for nearly thirty years entertained its fans across the globe and launched the careers of some of the sport’s biggest personalities. To really understand how the WWE had become the behemoth of athletic entertainment that it is today, and how it keeps inspiring legions of fans to pursue their dreams of setting foot in the ‘square circle’, we have to take a trip back in time.
From about 1995 to the early 2000’s (the exact dates are disputed among WWE scholars), WWE experienced the Attitude Era, an age where it underwent a massive transformation from being a niche, little-known weekly show for die-hard wrestling fans into a multi-million brand whose characters soon overtook superheroes like Batman and Superman as the role model for thousands of children in playgrounds all over the world. WWE Attitude saw the rise of influential superstars. Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Texan Rattlesnake, famous for his quad bikes and consumption of copious amounts of beer. The Rock, the Brahma Bull – the people’s champion who made a lifetime’s work out of giving ‘jabroneys’ a candy-ass whooping. The tough, fearless man-mountain known as Triple H. All of them saw their careers take off in the Attitude days. Established superstars like the Undertaker (who has enjoyed a 30-year career with WWE/WWF) and his brother /on-and-off nemesis, Kane, also were re-invented.
Wrestlers with rival franchises like ECW and WCW (World Championship Wrestling) soon saw the new developments going on at WWF and decided that there was where the action was at. The Bigshow, the world’s biggest wrestler at 7 feet tall and weighing 500 lbs, alongside the late Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, decided to jump ship. Making the switch to WWE was a bold move, which took their careers to dizzying heights.
There was a massive change in the programming content. While wrestling enjoyed a boom in televised ratings during the 1980’s, competition with other sports, changing trends and a formulaic approach to setting up matches contributed to the sport’s declining popularity markedly. Attitude changed all that. Gone were the days where wrestlers would come to the ring with just a cheering crowd and a sweaty coach for company. With Attitude we saw a shift to adult-oriented storylines and content, with more violent matches (Tables, Ladders and Chairs & Hell in a Cell for example) being introduced. Characters which were controversially sexist, violent and abusive were created to add further shock value. While many wrestling purists criticised the move by the WWE brand’s owners, the McMahon family, its chief executive, Vince, soon sat back and laughed as ratings soared both in free television shows, and the exclusive pay-per-views made available to America’s rising numbers of cable and satellite viewers. While the purists felt Mr. McMahon was cheapening and devaluing a sport of ancient heritage, that celebrated masculinity and strength, the WWF’s boss knew in his opinion, and certainly in the opinions of many fans, that ushering in the Attitude Era was a solid business decision one which reverberates throughout the wrestling world to this day.
The Attitude Era, which some wrestling aficionados pinpoint at starting around the year 1997, took its name from the one-word “Attitude” slogan that appeared under WWE branding used at the time. WWF and rivals WCW were engaged in a bitter standoff that culminated in the Monday Night Wars. The era eventually drew to a close with the main event of Wrestlemania X-Seven which was held around 2008. After that milestone, the policy of gratuitous violence and over-12’s storylines was shelved in favour of PG-rated family friendly material, a move meant to silence critics of wrestling entertainment’s impact on young minds, but also one that disappointed many fans who were brought up on the tougher stuff that Attitude brought to the WWE.
Along with CEO Vince McMahon, the era’s other main architect was head writer Vince Russo. Russo’s dramatic storylines and match-booking style was dubbed by the media as ‘Crash TV’.
The two Vinces were responsible for the introduction of the effeminate golden-clad wonder that was Goldust. Despite his appearance, he had prowess in the ring, though his fortunes were not always as golden as his Lycra jumpsuit and face paint. The duo were also behind the controversial scene where Brian Pillman pulled a pistol out on Stone Cold, and they also are credited with introducing the WWE Divas, female wrestlers who, although often seenas eye candy to pull in male punters, also held their own in wrestling matches and often had personalities more developed than some of the male athletes they shared the ring with.
There was the feud between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who hated each other even in real life. Russo exploited that, and had them both appear in on-camera interviews where they persistently laid into each other. The conflict, ironically, was over the changes that Attitude was ushering over the changing rooms. Hart disliked the increased sexual content being written into the shows, while Michaels, who once stuffed gauze down the front of his biker shorts while making dirty gestures, favoured the new approach. This rivalry led to Shawn Michaels forming a new collective with Triple H, Chyna and Rick Rude. Named “D-Generation X” and later reforming as just “D-X” minus previous members Triple H and Chyna, the disruptive quartet became legendary for their crotch pumping and X gestures (crotch chops) while shouting the catchphrase “Suck It”
Stone Cold Steve Austin was redubbed as Austin 3:16, also an accompanying phrase that became a marketing juggernaut for WWF, while helping create a very popular and strangely likeable character out of the leather-clad Texan among fans. Highly irreverent of both his fellow wrestlers and his paymasters, Austin once carried out his signature move, the “Stone Cold Stunner” on Vince McMahon during a special interview in 1997, leaving the CEO unconscious. His gritty humour and ability to call up beer tanker trucks at short notice made him many enemies in the locker room, but an anti-hero among WWE devotees.
Other highlights of the Era included a simmering feud between Shawn Michaels and veteran wrestler The Undertaker. Michaels found himself in the Undertaker’s revenge sights after incurring the Deadman’s wrath by mistakenly striking him with a chair. The Deadman had been wrestling during a crucial match between himself and Bret Hart at Summerslam 1997. Boxer Mike Tyson made a guest appearance at WWF’s franchise show Raw the same year, in which during a segment where Tyson was to be announced as a special referee, Stone Cold showed up and made an offensive middle-finger at the heavyweight boxer (another of Stone Cold’s characteristic signature traits, usually delivered to an opponent before a Stunner). Tyson objected and challenged Austin, leading to a televised scuffle that made media headlines and putting WWF in the spotlight.
Another Attitude Era personality who was strong with witty catchphrases and is still a widely loved legacy of the Attitude Era was the Rock. Born of mixed Samoan and African-Canadian heritage, the Rock, real name Dwayne Johnson, was the progeny of a succession of wrestling greats from the south Pacific. His uncles were Peter Maivia and Jimmy Snuka, who headlined the WWF in its 1970s embryonic days . The Rock made his début in the Survivor Series of 1996, where his novelty and baby face made him a target of booing by disgruntled event-goers Initially known as “Rocky Maivia” in honour of his illustrious relatives, the boos and chanting of “Rocky sucks” unnerved him, forcing a drastic change. The Rock shed his old personality and was reborn as the self-styled ‘People’s Champion’ and won the Intercontinental Championship belt a few times. He made an art out of ‘talking trash’ and like Stone Cold, would insult all and sundry, even referring to fans as “trailer park trash’ while he was aligned with the Corporation. The Rock soon endeared himself to fans however, thanks to his clever insults, proficiency with the guitar, and his widely emulated wrestling finishers. He was a strong rival of fans’ loyalty with the Texan Rattlesnake for many years, helping pave the way for his current movie acting projects.
The Attitude Era remade the fortunes of WWE and changed the face of sports entertainment. It helped introduce a wider audience to the sport and made massive far-reaching efforts for inter-communal relations, from including a powerful team of female wrestlers to employing athletes from all over the world – such as the Indo-Canadian Tiger Ali Singh, Carlito from Puerto Rico, the gruff and distinctively old-school Lancastrian William Regal and Japan’s diminutive Funaki – and moulding them together as a team in a common arena. Though the era is now very much a thing of the past, it still survives in the WWE’s current lineup, DVD sales fuelled by fans’ nostalgia of those golden days and a successful tie-up between the WWE’s merchandising wing and video games producers. But above all, the impact of the Attitude Era still persists most strongly as memories. Memories that will always remain as fresh as ever among WWE’s family and its fans, no less.
Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.