Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Aftermath Era

The video clips that we saw last week on Thursday were all part of the era in which I become enamored with wrestling. I think that this has led me to try and classify eras in wrestling by the way I have seen them or heard them. This however can only apply to what I have been exposed to so it is not very accurate and not very inclusive of what has been going on in wrestling. The first era I really like to classify as the era of Hulk Hogan. From the moment he won the WWF title till the day that the Undertaker killed Hulkamania. I suppose you could say it was the steroid era, when big guys ruled the WWF. Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, Warrior, just big guys that were also larger than life. So then it came to the era of the smaller wrestler, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Bret Hart: These guys took wrestling in a different direction. While I think that this produced some of the best matches ever seen, (Razor vs Michaels at Wrestlemania X or Bret vs Michaels at Wrestlemania XII) some people look back and think that this kid friendly wrestling is what led to the WWE’s slump. The Monday Night Wars are of course next and this in turn led into the Attitude era of the WWF. I suppose this is the point in history where I wish I had been a part of it because of Stone Cold Steve Austin and D-Generation X. Then what we saw in class on Thursday was the time when I had become a fan of wrestling. It can only be classified as the time after the Monday Night Wars. The time of the McMahon Helmsley Faction and the Invasion. So I suppose that I am trying to find a way to point out what made this era of wrestling unique. I am sure that every era had a running theme through it and I can’t pinpoint the themes of other era’s but I can try to do it for this one.

Most people I have talked to and what I have read in chat rooms and forums tend to remember the 1999-2001 time of wrestling in the WWE as that time when Triple H ruled the show. I can’t argue with that. Triple H was the first champion that I had seen during a full broadcast of RAW. And when he took out Vince McMahon at Armageddon, it just seemed to permeate through the storylines as well as backstage. He was the champ for most of this time. It seemed really unfair in the story where he would beat down Mick Foley and would have his partners in DX to help out. Or how they would just put the Rock through so much as he was trying to get a shot at the title. He lost the title at Backlash 2000 but got it back a month later and finally lost it at King of the Ring. Maybe he didn’t have so much creative control but it was clear that he was the top heel. And this staying on top led to many memorable matches and drew the ire of some fans who thought he was at the top too long and got too many chances.

The second feature of this era was the immense popularity of the Rock. In 1998, the Rock was big but after having just won over the fans, he turned heel and joined Mr. Mcmahon’s Corporation stable. So it amazes me how well received he was after Wrestlemania XV. The number one heel became the number one face in a matter of months after Stone Cold was out of the picture.

But I think the biggest feature of this time was a missing Steve Austin. He was out for much of 2000 and when he came back he didn’t get back to the top until Wrestlemania XVII, where he turned heel and it all just seemed like a downward spiral for him from then on. Steve Austin would not recover his popularity and would soon find himself fighting bad storylines and chronic injuries. So this is the unique feeling this period of time has. No Steve Austin at the top, no more real competition for the WWE. It seemed to be a period of transition and for me was the best period of wrestling I have experienced.


Sam Ford said...

Luis, your post may come at it from a fan perspective, but it raises a significant point that is applicable to not just pro wrestling but to most ongoing narratives--the need to take a text that doesn't have clear seasons and divide it into eras or categories. Look at The Daily Show and Colbert Report, or the news, or soap operas, or comic book narratives...each of these deal with this issue, and wrestling fans do as well. To look at the WWE product means the need for some sort of classification system, and it's sometimes hard to do. We've seen it in the documentaries several times, particularly the WWE McMahon piece, where people struggle to define one "moment" when an era was born, such as the Mr. McMahon character....Of course, with every person there's a different answer, but there are also some recurring themes.

Anonymous said...


I agree with your view of the aftermath era completely. Fans who began watching it then felt as though they had missed out on one of the most brilliant time periods in the federation's history; the Attitude Era. The Aftermath Era was when I began watching the programs regularly and I found myself becoming tired with the McMahon/Helmsley Regime, and I was always anticipating the return of Stone Cold, the reuniting of DX, or the joining of a faction as diverse and powerful as the Corporation or the Ministry of Darkness. This era between 1999-2000 lacked factions. While McMahon Helmsley Regime reigned on top, they didn't have any depth with wrestlers. It consisted of Triple H, Stephanie, X-Pac, Roaddogg, Patterson, Briscoe, and Vince and Shane at some points. While The Rock and Triple H put on some great matches, the fans wanted Austin.

Ismael said...

It's funny, I can remember watching wrestling through every time period that Luis mentioned. Wrestling has definitely changed over time. While I was watching it I didn't seem to realize the changes that were goig on and the transitions through different eras. Looking back, there is definitely a distinction between each era. I can't say that I am fond of one era over the other, but I can say that I was thoroughly entertained through each. As Luis mentioned, I also remember when there was a sudden boom in popularity during the late 90's. It was a little annoying at times when you would run into bandwagon fans that only watched or claimed to watch because it was cool. Having more people to talk about it was a good thing though. I kind of felt like watching wrestling was something that had to be hidden or could only be discussed with very few people while I was growing up. Talking to otheres about wrestling definitely added to the enjoyment of watching wrestling.

Sam Ford said...

Ismael, you point out an interesting distinction. You want people to like and respect wrestling, but as an ardent fan you also, in some ways, don't want them to become fans if they weren't there for wrestling when "wrestling wasn't cool." I have always been fascinated by this aspect of fandom in particular, the desire to pull in new fans but simultaneously to reject those fans if they seem to have too casual an interest.