WWE: The Attitude Era Wrestlemania Collection (Cert 18) – PART 1
5 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 759 minutes approx.
Release Date: September 27th
With millions in the bank, huge paying TV deals, a good year business wise from COVID saving them a packet in touring costs, and blood money from Saudi Arabia, WWE still needs to keep their shareholders happy. Cutting costs by releasing wrestlers is just a start, there are other ways to keep the coffers topped up – hence this latest home video release!
Included in this 5-disc set are four classic Wrestlemania events from the fabled Attitude Era circa 1998-2001. This was the period where the then WWF was being hammered in the TV ratings by WCW, forcing Vince McMahon to step out of his creative comfort zone of outdated ‘80s ideas and get down and dirty. And it worked, leading to a boom period that so the company rise to new heights on the back of a bald-headed Rattlesnake and a third-person talking Brahma Bull.
Because of the sheer amount of content this review will have, I will split them up into individual posts otherwise this will be unbearably long to read in one go.
Disc 1: Wrestlemania XIV
This event took place on March 29, 1998, at the Fleet Centre in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was still trailing behind WCW at this point but the gap was closing in, with the bonus advantage of the mainstream publicity behind Mike Tyson’s presence on the show.
Originally, the plan was to have Tyson face Stone Cold Steve Austin in a match, and they went as far as to start hyping it on RAW, but Tyson’s licence had been revoked for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear a year earlier and this wasn’t deemed a good enough reason to circumvent that. So, Tyson’s role was changed to guest enforcer, and he became a member of D-Generation X as a part of the angle, to put the odds against Austin as he challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF title.
Another legendary story about the main event was HBK’s attitude at the time. He was not severely hurting from the back injury he suffered at the Royal Rumble that year, he was also unhappy about losing the title to Austin. To ensure Shawn did what was asked of him, Undertaker famously appeared in the Gorilla Position during the match with his fists taped up ready to “have a word” with HBK if he didn’t put Austin over. Shawn was only told of this later on and when he asked Taker directly, Taker said it wasn’t true, but recently admitted he lied to Shawn out of respect for him.
Regarding this DVD release, the opening performance of the US national anthem by the DX Band has been cut because the live crowd booed it so badly, it has been excised to the rubbish bin of eternity, even absent from the WWE Network version.
The full card was:
LOD 2000 won a 15 Team Battle Royale This was the rebirth of the LOD with Sunny as their manager although this deal didn’t last long as Sunny left a few months later and the team imploded when Darren “Puke” Drozdov was introduced as third member.
WWF Light Heavyweight Title match – Taka Michinoku (c) def. Mr. Aguilera The challenger later became Papi Chulo and more famously Essa Rios, who brought Lita into the WWF. Initially, Taka Michinoku was brought into WWF to put over Great Sasuke as the designated face of the Light Heavyweight, but fans took to Taka instead, and Sasuke ended up going back to Japan.
WWF European Title Match – Triple H (c) def. Owen Hart Chyna was handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter at ringside to stop her interfering. It didn’t work. This was odd as Owen was supposed to be a top babyface following the Montreal Screwjob but Vince lost faith in him, hence this messy feud where he was effectively buried as a face.
Mixed Tag Match – Marc Mero & Sable def. TAFA Goldust & Luna Vachon Sable’s popularity was sky high at this point, and she became a real diva because of it; When Luna was trying to train her to take bumps, Sable was uncooperative yet Luna was told if she hurt Sable, she’d lose her job.
WWF IC Title Match – The Rock (c) def. Ken Shamrock by DQ Earlier in the show, The Rock used the phrase “If you smell what I’m cooking” for the first time during an interview. After all the build up, this was a nothing match, but unlike the year before at WM 13 when Rocky Miavia was IC Champ, at least The Rock was over.
WWF Tag Title Dumpster Match – Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie def. New Age Outlaws (c) Charlie was Terry Funk with a stocking over his head, yet this is not the craziest thing Funk has ever done in his storied career. To win, you had to put both opponents in a dumpster. The tag titles were held up on RAW the next night when the Outlaws claimed the wrong dumpster was used.
The Undertaker def. Kane This was the first of three consecutive Wrestlemanias that Kane tombstoned baseball player Pete Rose. Another much with a tremendous build up but didn’t deliver as the two big lugs moved about in slow motion no-selling each other’s strikes. Irretrievably dull.
WWF Title Match – Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Shawn Michaels (c) Like him or hate him at the time, HBK worked this match under severe pain, as is evident in how he winces at the slightest thing. It may not have been a classic under the circumstances but at least Shawn tried, not wrestling again until 2002. Enforcer Mike Tyson made the count then after the match KO’d Michaels, revealing a Stone Cold T-shirt under his DX one, and the Attitude era began in earnest.
Does this show still hold up today? Not really but it was definitely the beginning of a new era, therefore has historical value as arguably the last truly transitional Mania. You can see they were still trying to get to grips with this new “attitude” thing whilst retaining a lot of the older values, which would shortly be gone for good. The only part aside from Austin that was really working was, oddly enough, Sable, which we can blame for the subsequent booking of female wrestlers as eye candy first, wrestlers second for the next 15 years.
In summary – an archetypal “you had to be there” event to appreciate it beyond its historical significance.
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black