The Attitude Era is the most romanticized period of time for this generation of WWE wrestling fans. Crowds still yearn for the end of the PG-era, missing stables and wrestlers that dripped with edgy temperments. From DX to NWO to the Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, everyone went nuts for the demeanor that these workers brought to the ring on a daily basis.
Those days are a distant memory, replaced by John Cena as a kid-friendly Superman and a glut of other wrestlers who fail to scratch those same itches, fair or not.
The WWE has flirted with some cliques that had a similar attitude to the likes of DX — the Shield sticks out as a prominent example — but they’ve never managed to capture that same essence of cool. Naturally, the solution to this large issue is unfolding in NXT, where the Undisputed ERA is just starting to leave their mark.
Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly took the wrestling world by storm when they attacked Drew McIntyre following his main event victory at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III. The red-hot crowd lost its collective mind as Cole stormed the ring, and there was a moment when Fish looked at Cole as if to say “we’re onto something here” as they towered over a laid-out McIntyre in the middle of the ring.
And you know what? He’d be right. They are onto something.
Getting over in NXT is one thing. Wrestlers are working in the friendly confines of the Full Sail University arena, essentially putting on a show for a home crowd on a nightly basis. As many former NXT stars can attest to, clicking on the main roster — where shows take place in different cities every week — is another thing entirely.
From Sami Zayn to Tye Dillinger and, to a lesser degree, Shinsuke Nakamura, former NXT standouts typically take time to convert their momentum on the main roster.
A debut isn’t imminent for the Undisputed ERA — they’ll likely spend at least a year in developmental if we had to guess — but that won’t be a problem for the trio of veteran workers. That’s because they possess the one thing that so many fans of the Attitude Era crave. They’re cool. Effortlessly and endlessly cool.
Cole has an aura of confidence that few members of the WWE (in NXT or otherwise) can match. He’s only 28-years-old, but has wrestled the world over and comes equipped with a can’t-miss catchphrase.
Fish and O’Reilly are the perfect compliments to Cole, as they don’t shrink on stage next to the big-time personality nor do they overtake him. They, too, have a long history on the Indie scene, and “smart” fans across the globe know and appreciate what they have done. They aren’t going to end up in the same creative black hole that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows did.
Mostly because there’s a ton of money in this trio. Which is because, to reiterate, they’re pretty rad and fun to cheer for. Being cool is a priceless asset, and it’s something that can’t be forced no matter what kind of storylines unfold. Just ask Roman Reigns.
Maintaining that aura on bigger stages won’t be an issue for the Undisputed Era. They are a throwback stable in the sense that they seem like they’d fit right in with the likes of Degeneration-X and the nWo. They don’t care about authority, do what they want and attack anyone who is in their way. And they remain likable the whole way.
The WWE needs an influx of the kind of awesome that adults can get behind on a nightly basis. Not just in flashes during Network Specials. They have that in spades with the Undisputed Era.