Defining the Eras of the last 6 years
An era is defined as a period of time marked or characterized by particular circumstances, events, or people. In other words, an era can be defined by an overall tone - Attitude, an event - The Split, or a person - Shawn Michaels. Here I will define what I consider the different eras in WWF history.
The first era is the Shawn Michael's Era. This started on 03/96 when HBK beat Bret Hart in an Iron Man Match for the title at Wrestlemania 12. This era featured great contests of Shawn defending his title against Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Mankind, and Vader. It ended on 11/96 when Sid won the title from Shawn after hitting him with a video camera. (The same day featured the debut of the Rock, and I was there live at MSG... I rule!!!) That same day at the Survivor Series was when Austin had his first match up against Bret Hart. This was the start of a great feud that began the Attitude Era.
The WWF Attitude Era began on 11/96 and focused on Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was the longest and most popular era in WWF history. The focus was on Stone Cold. He had a bad attitude and would beat up anyone who was in his way. And he would take the action outside the ring beating up Bret Hart in an ambulance, assaulting Vince McMahon in a Hospital, and fighting the Rock on a bridge. He had no friends, no alliances, only enemies. One of his slogans was DTA - Don't Trust Anybody. Many others in the WWF co-opted his "Attitude." Ken Shamrock had an "Attitude" where he would snap and beat up the referees just like Austin. Many wrestlers were "tweeners" not faces and not heels either. They were all heals in that they would all cheat to win. And the matches stole a lot from ECW as far as wrestling style. The wrestlers would brawl into the crowd, hit each other with chairs, and the referees would allow it. They were not strict in enforcing the DQ or Countout rules. It ended on 11/99 at the Survivor Series when Austin was hit by a car on the PPV and forced out of action for almost a year.
The Entertainment Era in the WWF began in 11/99. The star of this era was the Rock. He was "the most electrifying man in Sports Entertainment" at a time when I thought I was still watching wrestling, not sports entertainment. The Rock was the best at entertaining his fans with his mike work. On 12/99 the Big Show was a WWF champion over with the fans. Then he made the mistake of not helping the Rock during a tag match. The next thing you know the fans are booing him and the Rock is making fun of him calling him "The Big Slow." The Big Show has been languishing in mid-card status ever since. In the entertainment era, the wrestler does most of his damage on the mike, not in the ring. Around that time, the Rock and Mankind did a half-hour segment, the longest ever on a cable wrestling show. And it featured zero wrestling. It was called "This is Your Life" featuring the Rock. It featured the Rock and various people from his life that he hasn't seen in years. And when they would come to the ring the Rock would insult them and kick them out in a comedic fashion. All wrestling purists hated it, but it got great ratings and the people loved it. We also saw Chris Jericho making his start here, and he was always great on the mike. He tore into Chris Benoit in a promo showing pictures of Benoit's head on a goat, in a boat, in a wedding dress, and other situations. Too Cool and Rikishi were way over just for dancing in front of their crowd. After their matches, even the wrestlers that just got beat by them would put on sun-glasses and start dancing with their opponents. The Godfather also got over by dancing with his ladies. It was all about the entertainment.
A new era began at Wrestlemania 17 on 03/01. This can be called the Austin Heel Era. Or the let's piss off all of our fans era. While the idea was to piss of all the fans, this pissed off the fans too much and many of them tuned out for good. With the top heel as Austin, his heel stooge as Triple H, and the top face as the Rock out filming movies, the WWF had no top fan favorite. This appeared to free up faces Benoit and Jericho for pushes, but they hit their heads on a glass ceiling. I didn't like this era.
The next era officially began on 07/01 with the Invasion PPV. This is called the Alliance Era. It featured the alliance of WCW and ECW wrestlers against the WWF wrestlers. It was felt that the Alliance lacked "star power," since they failed to sign WCW big name wrestlers like Sting, Goldberg, Flair, Hogan, and Bichoff. So, Steve Austin joined the Alliance as their leader and made all the other members look like jabronies. It should have been the greatest feud ever, but failed to live up to the hype. This era ended on 11/01 at the Survivor Series when the Alliance lost the main event.
The next era was a short one. It is called the Chris Jericho Era. It began at the Vengence PPV on 12/01 when Chris Jericho became the first ever Undisputed Champion and unified the WWF and WCW title. But, Jericho's title reign was marred by poor storylines for him and the weak manner he was portrayed. He was portrayed as winning every match by luck or as a result of outside interference. This was the same way Flair's first WWF title run was portrayed in 1993. Jericho couldn't even get a clean win over Maven, a WWF rookie. Then Stephanie McMahon allowed Jericho to join forces with her and ruined Jericho's title run. Stephanie made Jericho turn into her errand boy and turned his Wrestlemania match into Triple H vs. Stephanie. This era ended the day after Wrestlemania 18 on 03/02, when Triple H defeated Jericho and Stephanie in a handicapped match. It ending Jericho's main event status and getting rid of Stephanie. I didn't like this era either.
The Split Era is the current Era. They split the rosters into two divisions and tried to create two brands. The established stars are on tv less and less. Austin is gone AWOL, the Rock is mostly in Hollywood, Angle, Hogan, and Triple H are only on Smackdown. They like to call it a rebuilding process of trying to create new stars. The casual fans call this "Pushing the No-Names." What they see the WWE doing is pushing the less recongnizable wrestlers down our throats. The ratings are falling lower and lower. And at house shows, attendance is way down. Hopefully the Split won't last very long as it is not a good era. I'd say by Summerslam it will end and a new era can begin.