WWE – The Attitude Era Vol. 2 (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 347 minutes approx.
Never one to pass up the opportunity it squeeze more mileage out of a concept the WWE returns to its most successful period for this latest DVD release – the Attitude Era. As already discussed in the first release from last year, the years from 1997-2001 was when the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H & DX, Mick Foley and The Undertaker were on top and packing the fans into the arenas and helping WWF RAW regularly top the cable TV ratings.
This second release doesn’t have a documentary segment, only brief but fascinating behind the scenes memories from those involved, such as Mark Henry, Ron Simmons, The Godfather, Sunny, Gerald Brisco and Edge. The format for this presentation is simply a compilation, in chronological order, of memorable angles and matches that were not featured in the first volume. I say memorable – I am sure many of these have been forgotten by most of us!
Aside from the trip down memory lane for those of us of a certain vintage who would loyally tune to SKY Sports in at 22:00 pm on a Friday night to watch a sadly edited version of RAW (it’s amazing how much SKY would cut despite the show being after the watershed), this set allows us Brits to see a lot of material which in fact never aired on UK TV before.
While Smackdown and the now defunct Sunday Night Heat became regular UK TV fixtures from January 2000, there were four months of SD and eighteen months of Heat which we didn’t get to see. This set offers a taster of what we missed and while the matches may not be the best or, in the case of the Mark Henry sex therapy skits, not the best representation of the shows, they hold a nice historical importance as previously unreleased material. And if you have Blu-ray you get extra matches in HD!
One of the shocks of trawling the archives of something which is regarded with immense fondness by fans is how often the material occasionally fails to hold up to the rose tinted memories we have of them. This may apply for many of us when watching this set so the match choices have, in that regard, been rather wise with a number of strong if largely forgotten bouts are included here – forgotten as the emphasis is on TV output with only a few PPV shows represented here. Of course this was the era of crash TV meaning the matches got shorter as the skits, promos and whatever extraneous nonsense Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera would vomit up took precedence.
This collection kicks off with a decent and fairly long TV match between the late great Owen Hart vs Shawn Michaels in the fall out of the Montreal Screwjob, which may have slipped a few minds over the years. From hereon in we enter more familiar territory with the top card pushes for Austin, Rock, DX, etc. which is when it is generally regarded as the point the Attitude Era as we know it really kicked off.
The pivotal match/angle between Austin and Vince McMahon from April 1998 is here in its entirety, famous for being the episode of RAW that finally ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 83 week winning streak in the TV ratings. You couldn’t get away with that bait and switch today but in 1998 it was a new idea and it clearly worked both in the live arena and with the viewing audience at home. There was nothing especially magical about the segment in hindsight but then it was the sprinkle of magic that the WWF needed to kick the Austin era into overdrive.
Looking back at any era of any form of entertainment will see the same names being listed as the major movers or the most significant representatives of the period; this set doesn’t deviate from that and is a Rock/Austin/Triple H heavy set but it also gives screen time to some of the supporting players, including those who would go on to become headliners in later years. It’s fascinating seeing the likes of Kurt Angle, Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy, Mark Henry and Big Show is the nascent stages of their careers, all represented here in fun matches or long forgotten skits.
One notorious but popular aspect of the Attitude Era which hasn’t stood the test of time, at least in this writer’s opinion, is the treatment of women by the WWF. People bemoan the cleaned up “PG era” of today but frankly the current ladies have it so much better than their predecessors of fifteen years ago in terms of how they are being presented, although sadly the “model looks over wrestling ability” mindset remains a prevalent criteria for the company talent scouts.
After we revisit some tacky bikini contests, including the one between Sable and Jacqueline (the nipple slip from Jacky is edited out) with Sable’s infamous handprint bra, we get many segments devoted to the Godfather and his “Ho Train, in which a group of scantily clad women would accompany the former Papa Shango to the ring and often be offered to an opponent as a bribe to not wrestle! Not wishing to sound like a prude but this is one gimmick and general portrayal of women I’m sure many fans are glad is now extinct in wrestling.
For purely nostalgic purposes The Attitude Era Vol 2 is the equivalent of opening a long lost treasure chest, packed with fond memories and new treats. Not all of it has held up particularly well over the years but this set delivers a top notch jam packed reminder of demonstrably the most successful period in WWF history.
And the best thing about it? No John Cena!!
English SDH Subtitles
Blu Ray Only:
The Undertaker Attends His Parents’ Funeral – RAW – 20th April 1998
No 1 Contender’s Match for WWF Tag Titles – Kane & Mankind vs. Owen Hart & The Rock – Sunday Night Heat – 2 August 1998
Golga vs. Marc Mero – RAW – 3rd August 1998
WWF Hardcore Title Match – Al Snow (c) vs. Road Dogg – RAW – 4th January 1999
Lumberjack Match – Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock – RAW – 3rd May 1999
Gangrel & Christian vs. Droz & Prince Albert – Sunday Night Heat – 16th May 1999
WWF Title Match – Triple H (c) vs. Vince McMahon – Smackdown – 16th September 1999
Mark Henry and Mae Young Double Date – RAW – 27th December 1999
The APA Opens Their Doors – RAW – 31st January 2000
Last Man Standing Match – Triple H vs. Chris Jericho – WWF Fully Loaded PPV – 23rd July 2000)
Driving with Mr. Long
Damn: Look At That Outfit
Rating – ****
Man In Black