To wrestling fans, the Attitude Era is one of the most memorable and engaging periods in the history of professional wrestling. Marked by more mature storylines, and breaking out of the kid-friendly, cartoon-like shell of years past, the Attitude Era birthed such controversial wrestlers and factions like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and D-Generation X. Focusing on rebelling against authority, anti-heroes, and only looking out for one’s self, the brand had a much wider appeal than the previous versions of the product.
WrestleMania has been the pinnacle of wrestling, or “sports entertainment,” since its inception in 1985. It’s “the Super Bowl of wrestling,” as the common phrase goes. There is no comparison for the spectacle that is Wrestlemania.
There were six WrestleManias that spanned the general time frame of the Attitude Era, which ran from roughly 1997 to 2002. WrestleManias 13-18 saw some incredible match-ups in this extreme, bloody and dangerous time that still stands as some of the greatest matches, and therefore the greatest WrestleManias, of all time! And as with anything popular, there were, of course, many collectibles and memorabilia commemorating said events. Here are, in my estimation, the Top 10 Wrestlemania collectibles from the Attitude Era.
10. WWF Hardcore Wrestling Ring – WrestleMania 17
One of the more fun aspects of the Attitude Era was the growth of hardcore matches. This era went so far as to see a Hardcore Championship that would comically be defended 24 hours, around the clock. This resulted in matches happening backstage in between other matches and multiple title changes in a single night! This WrestleMania 17 — which saw champion Raven defend against Kane and the Big Show — wrestling ring from Jakks brings to life the ability to pull weapons from under the ring to use against your opponent, thus making it a pretty cool feature for your wrestling collection.
9. Al Snow & Head Fully Loaded Action Figure – WrestleMania 15
Speaking of hardcore, Al Snow was one of the regular competitors in hardcore matches. At WrestleMania 15, he competed in a triple threat match against Hardcore Holly and champion Billy Gunn. Though he lost the match, that was not the most disappointing outcome that year for Snow. Because of complaints by several customers, Al Snow’s action figure was pulled from shelves at Wal-Mart. See, Al Snow used to carry a mannequin head to the ring, which had the words “Help Me” spray painted across its forehead. He would talk to “Head” randomly, argue with it, and get advice from it. At one point, he beat it up, and the audience booed because they loved Head. Unfortunately, for Al, the head was of a female mannequin, and those customers felt it was making light of violence to women, which was not the gimmick at all. So having this figure in your collection may be controversial, but it’s a piece of wrestling history and could provide a pretty great story.
8. Chyna Action Figure – WrestleMania 17
Chyna, born Joan Marie Laurer, was a bodybuilder who rose to fame in the WWF as the valet of D-Generation X’s Shawn Michaels and Triple H in the late ’90s. During her tenure in the company, she mainly competed against men given her impressive stature of 5’10” and 180 pounds of pure muscle. It wasn’t until WrestleMania 17 that she competed for the Women’s Championship, which she won with ease. This is significant because it was the only time she held the title, and it was her last WrestleMania as she left the company later that year. For those reasons alone, having this figure commemorating that fact in your collection is a must for fans. With her unfortunate passing last month, it makes it even that much more special.
This is the first of three items from WrestleMania 18, which is arguably one of the greatest WrestleManias of all time. This assortment of figures highlights several stars of the event, from The Rock and Stone Cold, to the Undertaker and Chris Jericho. Sadly, it is missing Hulk Hogan, who was one of the top billed for that particular ‘Mania, but still contains many of the greats in one nice collection from Jakks.
This is one of my favorite action figures of the time from Jakks. I owned two of them because the head broke off the first. What is cool about this particular figure is the range of motion it possessed. While this series of figures was limited in articulation and included some rubber features, this Shawn Michaels figure was a bit more flexible. You could easily position him for his famous Sweet Chin Music superkick, unlike many other figures in the line. And he just looked cool, with the braid and the zebra-striped hearts. This one is admittedly mainly here because it was a favorite of mine.
5. WrestleMania X8 for the GameCube
Here we are with the second WrestleMania 18 related collectible, and the first of two video games on this list. This wrestling game for the GameCube was built around the characters that headlined WM X8 and featured similar gameplay to that of the Yukes games on the PlayStation 2. Not as strong an offering as the next item on this list, but still a fun, arcade-style game sure to please any wrestling fan. And you can relive some of those iconic battles from Wrestlemania X8 in dynamic fashion!
4. WrestleMania 2000 for Nintendo 64 – Wrestlemania 16
This game was leaps and bounds more enjoyable than the PlayStation offerings of the time for most fans. The controls and engine, which were nearly identical to those found in the WCW/NWO game on the same system, were much deeper and more user-friendly than their competition. The story mode was decent, and the Road to WrestleMania gameplay was fun and provided countless hours of entertainment. Built around WrestleMania 16, which took place in 2000, this game allowed you to relive the first ever Fatal Four-Way match for the World Title at a WrestleMania between Triple H, the Big Show, the Rock and Mick Foley. I personally owned and played this game until I could play it no more! This is a must-have for any wrestling and gaming fan.
3. Mike Tyson Punching Shawn Michaels Photo – WrestleMania 14
One of the greatest build-ups to a WrestleMania main event took place prior to WrestleMania 14. Mike Tyson was done with boxing, the center of controversy, and was suddenly coming to the WWE. It had everyone in the media talking, and the exposure from his appearances was one factor that really began to catapult wrestling back into the mainstream for a time. Stone Cold confronted Tyson on an episode of Monday Night Raw and flipped him off. Tyson responded with a shove, and the two were nose-to-nose as dozens of bodyguards and officials struggled to keep them apart. Vince McMahon was livid, kicking at Austin, yelling that he ruined it.
This whole altercation culminated in a match between Austin and Shawn Michaels, the champion at the time. Tyson was a special enforcer on the outside of the ring. As the match reached its end, Tyson yanked off his shirt to reveal a D-Generation X shirt, the faction which Michaels led. Tyson was in Michael’s back pocket, or so it seemed. In a swerve, Tyson counted Michaels down quickly for a three-count, crowning Austin as champion. As depicted in the photo, as Michaels confronted Tyson, Tyson knocked him out with one punch. Austin then draped an Austin T-shirt on Tyson’s shoulder. It was an incredible moment, and one that is beautifully captured in this fantastic — albeit expensive — authentic photo.
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin & Bret Hart WWE Battle Pack – WrestleMania 32
While this figure set just came out this year, it commemorates one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, which happened at WrestleMania 13. Austin and Hart had been embroiled in a long feud since the King of the Ring event in the summer of the previous year, the event that birthed the Austin 3:16 catchphrase. Austin constantly taunted Hart and wore him down to the point of getting a match with him. The two wrestled at several events and their feud kept getting more and more intense.
When it came time for WrestleMania, Ken Shamrock was appointed the special referee for their submission match because no regular referee could contain these two. As everyone expected, this was a battle for the ages, with both wrestlers taking the other to their limit. Hart won, but not by making Austin tap out. He had Austin in his signature finisher, the Sharpshooter submission hold. Blood was streaming down Austin’s face, but he would not quit. Instead, he passed out from the pain, and Shamrock had no choice but to declare Hart the winner. This match caused a shift in the landscape of wrestling as Austin in an instance was not only over, but he was also a fan-favorite, even though he was the heel, or bad guy. Many consider this the birth of the Attitude Era. The Battle Pack series celebrates key rivalries and other important factors, and this is certainly one of the stand-outs of the time.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock, WrestleMania X8 Print by Rob Schamberger
Arguably the two biggest icons in wrestling history, Hulk Hogan and The Rock had a battle for the ages at WrestleMania 18 in 2002. This was pretty much the tail end of the Attitude Era as the faces and focus was changing in and around the company. That event was important on so many levels for wrestling fans, but you really can’t get any bigger than these two legends from different eras going toe-to-toe. And they did, and they tore the house down. This painting by official WWE painter Rob Schamberger captures that intense moment from the stare down before the match began as the chants for both competitors were deafening. It was such a magical moment and such a magical piece to commemorate it!
Have any WrestleMania collectibles from the Attitude Era you think should have been on this list? I’d love to know what they are! Leave a comment below!