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Wrestling / WWE New Generation Era

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The WWF logo from 1994 to 1997. Much like the WWF "scratch" logo from 1998 to 2002 represents the Attitude Era, this one is usually used to represent the New Generation Era.

In the early '90s, the World Wrestling Federation's image had taken a beating. A steroid scandal had rocked the promotion, and even though Vince McMahon was acquitted, the bad press had damaged his business. What's more, his main attraction, Hulk Hogan, had left the WWF, eventually signing with rival World Championship Wrestling. With Hulkamania and the Golden Era now over, McMahon decided it was time for a new generation of wrestlers to take the stage. Thus began the WWF's New Generation Era.

Younger talent like Bret "Hitman" Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Diesel, and Lex Luger would be pushed into the spotlight. It was around this time that the WWF also launched what would become their flagship television series, Monday Night Raw. It was also coinciding with the golden age of the gimmick; a character each wrestler would try to get over. A great number of whom were silly, and sometimes arguably more cartoonish than the golden age characters back in The '80s, but still featured a bunch of memorable names like Papa Shango, Yokozuna, and Doink the Clown.

However, even with these changes, the WWF's recovery was slow: as a result of many of the old guard leaving the company and diluting the main event, it meant that the world title scene was often extremely shallow as the true workhorses (Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels) were often stuck with odd gimmick storylines from the aces of other companies, or guys Vince made poor bets on, like the failed Lex Luger or Diesel runs at the championship where the runs with the belt rarely lasted long or in some cases never even got off the ground because they'd been hot-shotted into the title picture and, once they were there, were stripped of whatever had made them popular in the first place so they could be rehashed as generic Hulk Hogan clones. Diesel would end up remembered as one of WWF's worst-drawing champions in this era, but it's important to remember that Kevin Nash was over as Diesel when he was Shawn Michaels's badass Anti-Hero bodyguard, but once he became champion and had to be a replacement Hogan, he lost the edge he had been booked with as a contendernote . After he lost the title, he started a slow Faceā€“Heel Turn turn where he was allowed to be himself and got over again before leaving for WCW. And yet more trouble was on the horizon, archrival WCW launched their own Monday night show, triggering the Monday Night Wars. Later, the WCW pulled the trigger on the nWo, which would become one of the hottest angles of the time and would secure a ratings domination for WCW for the next two years. More and more WWF talent would defect to the WCW. And another promotion, Extreme Championship Wrestling, was making waves and snatching even more market share from the WWF. And even worse...Bret Hart, his well-beloved heart of the New-Generation, was becoming a financial drain thanks to his life-time contract.

As such, this is generally considered the WWF/E's biggest Audience-Alienating Era by both fans and WWE themselves, with episodes of Monday Night Raw literally being filmed in high school gyms and the company finishing in the red in both 1994 and 1995, the only two years that happened since the younger Vince took over.note  The only time it's really mentioned on camera today is when someone wants to poke fun at the overuse of Wrestling Doesn't Pay, which was taken to absurd degrees (at one point these gimmicks comprised nearly half the roster.) The smart fan community mainly remembers this time period for The Kliq's backstage politics, which would later spread to WCW (and arguably had a major hand in killing that companynote ) and eventually lead to Triple H running WWE today. Though towards the end of this era the WWF did make two very important acquisitions in a couple guys that Eric Bischoff didn't think would ever draw money. One was Mick Foley. The other was some guy named Steve Austin.

If McMahon was to keep his company alive, he would need something big. It was after a certain incident in Montreal that Vince McMahon knew exactly what it was that the WWF needed: a new attitude.