WWE's Attitude Era Vol. 2 is out now on DVD (There's a Blu Ray version too), available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set features twenty nine matches and five segments from the Attitude Era, from between 1997 and 2000, with a interviews from a number of the era's stars interspersed throughout. The set includes matches featuring the likes of Shawn Michaels, The Hardy Boyz, Chris Jericho, The Legion of Doom, The Undertaker and more.
Unlike the original Attitude Era set, Vol. 2 takes the form of a match compilation, originally presented by the dull flannel that is Michael Cole, whilst a series of interviews are placed in between the matches. Sometimes the interviews connect nicely with the following match, such as Sunny talking about managing LOD 2000 before a LOD 2000 bout or Mark Henry introducing a series of vignettes demonstrating the "Sexual Chocolate" gimmick. However, there is a number of the interviews that feel very thrown together, as if these are parts of interviews that WWE Home Video simply had knocking around from previous sets, such as Chris Jericho talking about his WWE debut, after we've just seen a Chris Jericho match on the set and a completely random story from Ron Simmons. There's also a real lack of star power in terms of interviews, with short clips of The Rock and Chris Jericho the only real appearances from major stars, and whilst it is nice to hear from guys like The Godfather and X-Pac, having the majority of the main event stars missing does give this set a slightly second rate feel. Throw into the mix the random clippings of interviews and it's difficult to feel that this set has been given the love and attention that it needed. The presentation really let's it down.
|Mike Tyson - Not on this set (but part of the press pack, so there)|
The Matches and Segments
The set kicks off with a Bikini Contest from the 1997 Slammy Awards, with Sable, Marlena and The Funkettes, to get over that the Attitude Era was all about frustrated teenage boys. Vince McMahon on commentary is hilarious with quips such as "She is looking mighty fine" being the pick of the bunch. Luckily, we get some wrestling next as Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels battle on a December 1997 episode of Raw. It's a grudge match style bout, happening a mere month after the Montreal Screwjob, with some great wrestling sequences and Hart's offence looking superb, this is a decent TV match and a good way to start the wrestling content. The New Age Outlaws take on the team of Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on a January 1998 Raw in a basic and dull brawl, that is almost saved by the everything going nuts after the match.
Strangely, the sets chronological order is broken as we jump back to Royal Rumble (surely helping the case that this set was thrown together) as Rocky Maivia and Ken Shamrock tangle in a decent Intercontinental Championship match. Raw in April teases Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon with a shit tonne of stalling, it never delivers what it promises but the swerve is still entertaining to watch. A few weeks later Triple H teams with The New Age Outlaws against LOD 2000 and Owen Hart in a fun six man tag, that's structured to play to the strengths of each man in the match. Again, everything Owen does looks flawless.
|Jerry Lawler talks about breasts.|
June segment from Raw see's D Generation X head to New York to promote SummerSlam in an uncomfortable segment that is chock-full of racist and sexist verbiage. Maybe not the best segment to include at time when the WWE (and specifically Triple H) have had claims of racism sent their way. A month later, Mankind and "Kane" battle to become Number One Contender to the WWF Championship, complete with Kane's red lighting! It's quick and swervy with an infamous finish, one of the iconic moments of the Attitude Era here. Just as iconic as this are Sable's breasts, which are on display in a bikini contest against Jacqueline from Fully Loaded. Jerry Lawler presents the contest, acting in the role of 13 year old boy seeing a breast for the first time.
Val Venis teams with Taka Michonoku to take on KaiEnTai's Dick Togo and Sho Funaki, which quickly descends into madness on an August Raw. On the same show in September, Steve Austin and Ken Shamrock work an acceptable TV main event over the WWF Championship, with a hot crowd that is let down by a dodgy finish. A week later on Raw, Sgt. Slaughter faces Al Snow in a Bootcamp match with Al Snow's contract on the line and whilst the commentators Shane McMahon and Jim Cornette have no idea of the rules and Sgt. Slaughter is horrendously out of shape, Snow manages to carry him to a tolerable match, with a number of fun spots.
|Road Dogg shouts words at Owen Hart|
A week later, a six man four corners match is on offer as Edge, Gangrel, Jeff Jarrett, Droz, Marc Mero and D'Lo Brown battle to become Number One Contender to the European Championship. The match is enjoyable, with a lot going on and allows a number of on-going stories to progress, but the crowd and D'Lo Brown's bumping ability are questionable. The bout is also a little short to fully show off all six men. On a November Raw, X-Pac get's a shot at The Rock's WWF Championship and while there is about as much doubt today as there was then as to who would walk out the winner, this is still a well put together match with a solid swerve finish. The opener from In Your House 26: Rock Bottom see's The Godfather and Val Venis team up to take on Mark Henry and D'Lo Brown. The match lacks any real pace or notable offence, but is entirely watchable, helped along by how over D'Lo Brown is!
Triple H vs. Edge from Raw in January 1998 is an extended squash match. Most likely included because of Edge's later star power, it's good for the two and a half minutes it lasts. Kane and Steve Austin main event a March Raw, in a bout that attempts to tell a decent story, but struggles because Kane refuses to sell at all. There's a couple of big spots and appearance from the then "Big Nasty" Paul Wight, as highlights. Two weeks later, Billy Gunn challenges Hardcore Holly for the Hardcore Championship. It's a good representation of the Hardcore division with plenty of random weapon shots, alongside one silly table spot. There's way too much focus on Jim Ross' stupid separate commentary table.
|X-Pac - Has A Sex Tape with Chyna|
On Raw in April, Paul Wight takes on The Rock and Triple H in a handicap match main event, which is much more of a segment than a match. The booking of Wight makes him look like a beast and the pop for Steve Austin entrance is HUGE! A week later, The Big Boss Man is supposed to face Goldust for the Intercontinental Championship. The match doesn't go to plan, but what is provided is an awkward and plodding title contest. Five days later on Shotgun Saturday Night, Edge & Christian go up against The Hardy Boyz in an enhancement match. There's some suspect booking, with Gangrel at ringside, but a superb finish makes this one worthwhile.
The Rock and The Undertaker tussle in a Casket Match on an May Raw, although again this is more of a segment with wrestling in it, than an actual match. There's interruption for a backstage brawl and a tonnes of interference, with a decent story peering through. It was strange to see the Casket match gimmick used in such a throwaway manner to build other feuds. A surprisingly entertaining contest comes in the form of Jeff Jarrett defending the Intercontinental Championship on a July episode of Sunday Night Heat. A quick match, with sound wrestling and good flow, it's a shame about the super silly finish. A Tag Team Championship match pitting X-Pac & Kane against The Acolytes is a perfectly booked, yet basic tag team match, played out in front of a red hot crowd. It also see's Kane talk for himself for the very first time, without his special talky stick.
Mark Henry's Sexual Chocolate days are represented through a series of promos and vignettes. These were straight up embarrassing to watch, as Henry revealed such lovely nuggets about his past as losing his virginity to his sister, aged 8 and that he was still having sex with his sister, I honestly don't understand the logic of this booking. Was it simply to embarrass Henry? Next up, there's more Henry action (literally) as he spends Valentines' Night with Mae Young in a hotel. How on earth do you review that? Luckily, wrestling returns as Chris Jericho and Tazz chase Kurt Angle's European Championship on a March 2000 Raw, unluckily the bout goes for only just over three minutes, and whilst all cut strong promos before the match, the match just isn't long enough for these three to reach their full potential.
Jericho and Angle are back on a May Raw with Jericho defending the European Championship. Angle's pre-match promo is a gem, but the match is not the strongest these two have had, whilst the wrestling is crisp, there is nothing resembling substance or drama to be found here. The next month on Heat, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero have a similar problem with timing, as whilst there are a number of cool looking moves, this match isn't given any real time to get going. There is also a genuinely shit finish. WWF's style storytelling suits a mixed tag team match, pitting The Rock & Lita against Kurt Angle & Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, main eventing an August Smackdown much better. The bout allows the Triple H-Stephanie-Angle love triangle storyline to progress, whilst pushing the Triple H vs. Angle vs. Rock for the upcoming PPV. Rock and Angle also manage to fit in some nice wrestling, whilst Lita is elevated from appearing in the main event, as are The Hardy Boyz appearing later on!
|Frilly shirts and sunglasses in doors. The Brood were cool.|
A truly awful Women's Championship match sees Lita defend against Jacqueline and Ivory on a September Sunday Night Heat. Lita is extremely over with the crowd, but this short, sloppy, botch-laden match does little show off why. Things continue on this downward spiral, as strangely we jump back to a June Raw to witness Gerald Briscoe and Crash Holly clash over the Hardcore Championship in a silly silly silly match. The King of the Ring PPV witness' more of Gerald Brisco's antics, as he takes on Pat Patterson in the infamous Evening Gown match. I don't think I'll ever be able to remove these images from my brain. Thank fuck the Hardcore title is gone and shall never ever return!
Another mixed tag bout rounds of the set, as The Rock and Lita team up again to take on Triple H and Trish Stratus to main event a July Raw. It's a little on the short side for a TV main event these days, but is still a lot of fun to watch, being well booked and contains a saucy finish. Even one loves a saucy finish!
|The Rock is the biggest name to get interviewed for this set.|
If you were an avid viewer of WWE between 1997 and 2000 this set could act as a nice little nostalgia trip, reliving a handful of iconic moments, whilst being remembering some that you had forgotten about. However, this set didn't do much for me personally, it's quite clearly chucked together from old interviewers and doesn't attempt to follow a chronology or any other discernible pattern. There also isn't a single match on here that I'd recommend going out of your way to watch and whilst the majority are at least watchable, there's also Briscoe vs. Patterson which no one should ever have to watch. Approach this set with caution.