WWF No Way Out from the Thomas & Mack Center in Paradise, Nevada. Featuring; The Rock Vs. Kurt Angle for the WWF Championship and Triple H Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in an infamous Three Stages of Hell match.
American journalist Finley Peter Dunne once wrote “The past always looks better than it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.”
This is rarely truer than in the entertainment world. Fans often look back fondly on what they were first exposed to, with some finding it hard to build an attachment to anything that follows. Take a look at the argument over who is the “best James Bond” for evidence of this phenomenon. This is especially relevant in professional wrestling. Wrestling is consistently evolving – both with the ability of its performers and the ever-changing world landscape in which to draw storyline influences. The turnover of fans is therefore something companies have to account for. For every 100 fans who tune in when they’re ten, over half of these will probably not be watching when they’re 18, and half again tuning out by the time they reach their 30’s. Some companies have learned to accept and adapt to this – targeting new audiences when existing ones move on. They have learned to embrace certain shifts, and deliver subtle rebranding and repackaging to accommodate new fans.
WWF/E is one of the most successful at this. This is evident in any cross-generational about the company. Even the most loyal fans are drawn to a particular period and tend to see it through rose-tinted glasses. This is hugely evident among those who cite the Attitude Era as their battleground. It’s easy to reminisce positively on key moments and storylines. The rise of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H are a testament to some iconic writing and development. Unfortunately, the Attitude Era also had some of the most cringeworthy, or downright horrible, storylines and character portrayals around. For every superstar who built a legacy, there’s a piece of history that hasn’t aged well and needs leaving in the past.
With that in mind, let’s have a look back at WWF’s No Way Out 2001 – a pay-per-view celebrating its 20th Anniversary this week (yes, that makes me feel old too, you’re not alone), which has its fair share of both aspects of the Attitude Era.