Could WWE be on its way to reliving the “Attitude Era” of the late 1990s and early 2000s for present-day fans? Granted, a lot of angles and storylines that made their way to television screens during this perceived boom period for wrestling may not be suitable for modern times. But if recent comments from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter are to be believed, WWE will continue its transition to an edgier onscreen product in an effort to prevent teenage audiences from switching to the competition.
According to WrestlingNews.co, Meltzer appeared on Wrestling Observer Radio this week, where he shared that WWE chairman Vince McMahon is aware of how the company appears to be losing viewers from the teenage demographic. This has reportedly served as the impetus for WWE to make some changes to its programming, given how management is now aware of its product’s unpopularity with teen viewers and concerned about potentially losing these viewers to recently-formed independent promotion All Elite Wrestling.
“They were very aware that they had lost touch with the teenagers,” Meltzer reportedly said. “They were afraid of completely losing teenagers, especially when AEW starts [its weekly primetime show]. This is a direction they felt they had to go.”
So far, there have been some apparent callbacks to the Attitude Era on WWE’s most recent episodes of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live. Per WrestlingNews.co, this included announcer Corey Graves’ unscripted utterance of the words “holy s**t” on Raw and an in-ring segment on SmackDown, where WWE Champion Kofi Kingston flipped his middle finger at Samoa Joe.
— WrestleZone on Mandatory (@WRESTLEZONEcom) July 4, 2019
Likewise, the outlet opined that WWE wouldn’t have approved Monday night’s segments featuring the real-life husband-and-wife tandem of Mike and Maria Kanellis. As recapped by Pro Wrestling Sheet, Maria referred to Mike as her “b**ch” after challenging the duo of Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch to a mixed tag team match, and later on claimed to be pregnant while teasing that Mike may not have been man enough to be the child’s father.
Meltzer’s suggestion that Vince McMahon and WWE are hoping for an edgier product going forward came close to a month after WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley teased that the company may be bringing back certain facets of the Attitude Era on the third hour of Monday Night Raw. As reported in June by Wrestling Inc., Foley appeared on the Busted Open podcast, where he hinted at a third hour of Raw that would be “rougher, wilder, and more unpredictable,” much like things were during his time as one of the Attitude Era’s top in-ring performers.