Steve Austin launched the Attitude Era 25 years ago this week. Now time for wrestling to launch ^something greater^

This a piece--an open letter--out of being a fan of professional wrestling, and beyond that, a believer in how it can be beneficial.

To wrestling smarks, included.

It’s about the legacy of the nWo's emergence 25 years ago. And at this moment, the anniversary of Stone Cold's "Austin 3:16" speech this week.
From surveying over how sports entertainment---and the world at large--has turned out in the decades following the new millennium, I have offered an unexpected direction for how the pro wrestling industry can inject "attitude" in life as we know it today.
If this all starts to go over your head, then jump to the "main point" at the --> mark.
Take a peak …


Twenty-five years ago this Memorial Day, disgruntled ex-WWE employee Scott Hall fired the first shots that would be the New World Order’s rise in WCW—and by extension, to reign of the Attitude Era in the professional wrestling world. Yet, decades into the new millennium, Hall’s spirit has even more potential for the future. To understand the nWo ethos, and its subsequently sparked Attitude Era, organizations like WWE tap into the importance for fiction: the capacity for imagination. That concept makes humans human--and not animals. Especially true when reality today deals with COVID-19 pandemic, political partisanship, racial tensions, and a slew of other problems in how the new millennium really turned out to be.

Is there any culture that provides an outlet from such modern societal problems? Contemporary pro wrestling landscape may not offer such a release. Players like AEW and NXT bid for new ways for talent to expand their skills in and out of the ring. But in comparison to the industry’s heyday at the turn of millennium, today the key elements are lacking. Flamboyance. Exuberance. Falling sway of the current culture wars, wrestling characters nowadays take themselves too seriously! Just as example would be Edge’s earnest striving in the 2020s that contrasts with his cocksure arrogance days in 2000s. This may be the outcome of the "legit competitor" puroresu and MMA influence that filled in the void after the Attitude Era and its outlandish theatrics passed.

The Attitude Era itself—with its boldness echoed by the emergence of edgy Eminem, the crudeness of "South Park", and the cult following of "Fight Club"—may have been bigger than wrestling itself. A time, in which had the post-Cold War United States as the last superpower standing, pushing ahead with the advent of the Internet offering promise to a new, global century. Subsequently though, the heirs to that period, from the Ruthless Aggression and eventually to the New Era, have proved to water down some of the "pushing the envelope" acts exemplified in the late 1990s.

--> Here’s the bottom line, the thesis: For those counting on WWE to be finally given stiff competition and usher in a better product, as did WCW with the Monday Night Wars, they were in for a disappointment this spring: NXT walked away from going head-to-head with AEW Dynamite. So what's the point for people to wait for that next Golden Age of professional wrestling to come? Maybe, when the original Monday Night Wars ended, a wrong direction was taken in 2001. Better put, following the lead of Scott Hall’s influence over 1996 Nitro, it’s overdue for an something similar, an imitation of sorts: the taking up of wrestling personas by the ordinary wrestling fans themselves to influence the rest of the world.

Could the concept of men in tights pretending to beat each other up, impact one’s life at work and at home then? Going back to story-telling central to our species, professional wrestlers are top characters to draw out of a narrative and into one’s own daily being. These grapplers have a grounding in reality—The Rock is Dwayne Johnson with the volume turned up, as explained by the legend himself. Yet with total fantasy in contrast, the actress Scarlett Johannsson. and her Black Widow character are firmly split off in real life. Such comic book fiction is of quite less utilization, for the everyman toiling in capitalist offices and striving to support their households. It is true that a laborer is geared to make money and pull off similar fiscal responsibilities of providing for mortgage and health insurance. But to financially support oneself, mental toughness is needed to get through this. One must struggle for their will not to be broken!

This resilience keeps up the weekday grind before the weekend finally arises. This is where wrestling comes in: the point is not to win or lose a match, but to do whatever it takes to impress a crowd. So, the worker takes the equivalent of "bumps", giving it all his societal roles, while at time, getting a "pop" from his coworker audiences. And most vitally, a "pop" within—self-respect. In doing so, those around this wrestling-inspired character can see a display that’s more passion than cynicism: mimicking wrestling promos into everyday conversation. Talking enthusiastically like a wrestler before the public eye—as if one were on camera--is the antidote to cynicism, the alternative to other ordinary Americans who, without "turning their volume up", pass the time until the weekend with both inefficient trying and inefficient non-trying. Yet, if one assumes a carefully choreographed persona, the result is more co-ordination of life, more self-control.

And becoming a grappler character matters even more in a brave new future of AI and automation. These machines will displace professionals from healthcare to the trucking industries, but there’s one role these robots can’t assume: self-promotion. It is only humans, in the vein of bombastic wrestling, that can sell themselves and hype their talents. Analysts speak of universal basic income to figure out the question of dislocated workers. Why not have these unemployed masses be also compensated--not by their 9 to 5, everyman skills now made supplanted by AI--but by their drive to go to any length for a "crowd reaction"? For example, just having a two-man oral competition in front of a voting audience of colleagues over who cut the most creative "promo"—that may be for starters. When it comes to meeting a tight deadline, the algorithms are set to resolve a problem more efficiently than the mind of a worker. Yet in the end, this novel order of publicly demonstrating before peers for the sake of gaining respect and recognition can be more alluring than turning out the same goods and services, upon pressure by the same bosses and paychecks.

Being ready from what the global economy throws at you—the Colonial Pipeline attack being just the latest—make a "larger than life" character strong enough to take on the unpredictability of crisis; wrestlers know injury lurks every time upon stepping in the ring. From this awareness of one’s "gimmick", self-confidence about yourself arises. Then, each day---each planned moment just as it is done in kayfabe ---can count in one’s life on this Earth.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.