John Carberry, Benjamin Trecroci, Craig Wilson and Brian Damage
One of the most popular topics on this blog is, unsurprisingly, the Attitude Era. While the heroics of the likes of The Rock, Stone Cold, The Undertaker and co are well documented. In today’s Top Five we wanted to take a look at some of the more unsung performers from that time period.
5. Dan The Beast Severn: Jim Ross would often describe him as being “all steak, no sizzle” and looking at him you could easily agree. He looked like a local police officer that had decided to give wrestling a go on the side. He was a no-frills guy, but that made him stand out. His offence always looked great and his legit fighting credentials gave his matches a sense of realism. Ken Shamrock is probably better remembered as the UFC crossover star of the Attitude Era but I’ll always have a soft spot for The Beast.
4. Terry Funk: He was only around for a few months between 97 and 98 but Terry Funk somehow managed to bring his wonderful flavour of crazy to the WWF in that time despite being given a terrible gimmick, Chainsaw Charlie, and being positioned as a mid-carder. His tag matches with and singles matches against Mick Foley were truly memorable, wild brawls that helped loan the WWF some of the ECW style underground legitimacy they were clearly craving.
3. Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett: It seems to me that this tag team has been lost to time, very few bring them up when talking about great champions of the era but Hart and Jarrett were a top tandem in late 98/early 99. They were essentially a pair of career mid carders thrown together and making the best of it. Both guys were accomplished wrestlers and their matches are worth seeking out.
2. D’Lo Brown: D’Lo Brown is almost a perfect mid-card wrestler. He didn’t have that million dollars look you’d need to be swinging in the main events nor the vocal ability to swing with the top players like the Rock etc but D’Lo was a very dependable wrestler who was often having the best match on the show for much of 98 and 99. His chest protector gimmick was distinctive and memorable and his in ring work was always worthy of praise. D’Lo would make a fine addition to any roster.
1. X-Pac: I feel like I have to put X-Pac number one just because by the end of the attitude era, his reputation was mud. “X-Pac Heat” became the name to describe anti-heat, “go away” heat, “we don’t care” heat. His X-Factor faction is properly remembered as one of the lamest factions ever and that feeling of lameness never really left him. From 98-2000 though he was one of the most reliable players in the company. In 98 he had a sterling series of matches with my number 2 pick D’Lo Brown, in 99 he managed to get the most out of a series with Shane McMahon and also formed a hugely popular tag team with Kane. Afterwards, he teamed with Road Dogg and the two turned out a better quality of match than Road Dogg’s more famous tandem the New Age Outlaws on a regular basis. X-Pac was a great in ring wrestler and someone with enough popularity and history that he could be quickly slotted into a Raw main event against an established star and not feel out of place for a time. It’s just a pity he’ll be haunted by that damn Uncle Cracker song forever.
5. D-Lo Brown: He first was just a random guy in a suit in the Nation of Domination. Soon he would become one of the best workers in The Nation. Him and X-Pac had a real hot feud for the European Championship. Would get some pretty good reactions from the crowd as well when The Rock was getting the biggest cheers of the night.
4. Jeff Jarrett: From 95-99 he would jump back and forth between WWF and WCW a number of times. But his run in 98-99 was somewhat forgotten. It seemed like once he finally cut that horrible long hair he was rejuvenated. Had a sweet run with Owen Hart until Owen’s death. Had that ground-breaking feud with Chyna. Never was a fan until then and he rode that into WCW stardom as well.
3. Test: For a guy who they made out to be a bodyguard for Motley Crue he quickly became a major player and developed into a pretty good wrestler. He was aligned with pretty much every top star whether it was DX, The Corporation, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, The Un-Americans, etc. He had a great look and word on the street is he had relationships with Stacey Kiebler and Kelly Kelly so that has to account for something.
2. Ken Shamrock: He first seemed out of his element but once he turned heel and joined the Corporation he really took off. He was the perfect assassin for the McMahon family. He won the Intercontinental Championship in a great tournament win over X-Pac. Held the tag-team title with fellow Corporate member The Big Bossman. Eventually would be in The Union with Foley, Big Show, Test. He was a big deal there for his short run 1998-99.
1. X-Pac: Some wrestling fans are revisionists of history and forget how good and popular X-Pac was. From the day he arrived in WWF the night after WM 14 he was on fire! Was put right into DX then was in programs for the Intercontinental and European championships. He would form a severely underrated tag team with Kane and they would hold the titles on two separate occasions. Not really sure where this “X-Pac” heat came from but feel like it isn’t warranted.
5. Too Cool: There is no doubting that the former ‘Too Much’ became big stars for the WWE every Monday night during the Attitude Era. The antagonising cheap heat aspect was dropped from their act and replaced with a fan friendly attempt at being cool. Who can’t remember a kid at their school attempting the worm at break times? Looking back, sure it was a bit cheesy but at the time it was harmless good fun that connected well with the audience. The pair were able to freshen it up with the addition of Rikishi to their ranks too. There’s no denying how popular Too Cool was during the Attitude Era.
4. Test: The former security for a rock band became a big player in the WWE being involved in numerous high-profile angles and rubbing shoulders with main event players along the way. How it all ended was very sad but who can forget the Stephanie McMahon wedding angle, his programme with DX as well as the, sadly short-lived, stable of ‘The Union’, with Mankind, Ken Shamrock and the Big Show. You almost forget how much in-ring success Test actually had: a one-time IC champion, a one-time European champion, two-time hardcore champion and two-time tag team champion. – both with WWE Hall of Famer Booker T. And to think he was just 33 when he died.
3. D’Lo Brown: Difficult to disagree with the assessment of others here. D’Lo was a fun act throughout the Attitude Era who was able to turn it on in the ring. As a kid, I was always bugged by the chest protector stuff and it made me hope he’d lose. Wasn’t till later that I really realised that was the whole point. Not bad for a man whose WWE career kicked-off by hanging about with the Nation of Domination. As Benjamin said, his programme with X-Pac was excellent and as John rightly points out, he was often responsible for one of the better matches on the show. Perhaps gets overlooked due to the success that other NOD alumni had but there’s no denying that Brown was a dependable and solid mid-card act during the late 90s in the WWE.
2. The Godfather: It’s an act that wouldn’t work in the more PG-era we currently find ourselves in but his “pimpin’ ain’t easy” shtick perfectly suited the T&A dominating world of the WWE during the Monday Night Wars and Attitude Era. After racking up poor gimmick after poor gimmick, it’s always refreshing to hear Charles Wright talk about how the Godfather was pretty close to his real-life personality. The Hos not only helped launch the careers of the likes of Lita in the WWE but also provided plenty of laughs along the way, particularly when the Godfather attempted to exchange a night with the girls for a victory. Like I say, not a gimmick that would work now but was very popular at the time and helped make Wright a big player during that period.
1. Al Snow: A hugely talented in-ring worker, it looked like his WWE career wouldn’t amount to much after such gimmicks as Avatar, Shinobi and one-half of the New Rockers. A spell in the upstart Extreme Championship Wrestling proved to be a catalyst in the changing of his fortunes and, along with Head, Snow would become a focal point during the period. Whether it was in the humorously named J.O.B. Squad through to Head Cheese via wrestling himself and battling Bob Holly into the Mississippi River, Al Snow never failed to entertain and was responsible for many a memorable moment during the Attitude Era. Less said about the Kennel from Hell match the better, though…
5. Droz: Darren Drozdov had a pretty small, but impactful role during the Attitude Era. He first started out as “Puke” a wrestler who could vomit on command. He then transitioned into becoming the third member of the Legion of Doom, where he had the memorable angle of trying to rid the WWF of Road Warrior Hawk by pushing him off the Titantron. Let’s not forget, Droz was also a part of the Beyond the Mat documentary as well.
4. D-Lo Brown: D-Lo doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as he should. Whether he was a member of the Nation of Domination or having solid matches for either the Intercontinental or European titles, D-Lo was a solid worker in the ring and very charismatic as well.
3. Mark Henry: Mark Henry had one of the single most over gimmicks during the Attitude Era. He was dubbed ‘Sexual Chocolate’ and the gimmick was basically a wrestler with a sex addiction. On the surface, that gimmick may not seem like it was worth anything but it helped Mark Henry get really over because Henry went way over the top with it.
2. Steven Richards: Steven Richards is often forgotten about when talking about the ‘Attitude Era.’ He and his Right to Censor faction were really big during that time. Richards group deprived fans of what they wanted to see every week and that was scantily clad women. He also turned two of the Attitude Era’s biggest stars against the fans in Val Venis and the Godfather.
1. Test: Test had probably the single biggest angle during the entire Attitude Era but it is mostly forgotten about nowadays. He had a love triangle storyline with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. While Test career might not have taken off after that angle, there is no denying it’s importance in any way.
You can read all previous ‘Top Five’ pieces here.