An excellent feature was given in the WWE.com regarding the top 25 moments that defines the attitude era. Here is the list;
#10 The Montreal Screwjob: Survivor Series 1997
The controversial WWE Championship encounter between WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels and Bret “Hit Man” Hart at Survivor Series 1997 unquestionably remains one of the most talked-about moments in sports-entertainment history to this day. Going into this emotionally charged battle, waged in front of the “Hit Man’s” countrymen, speculation ran rampant regarding Hart’s imminent move to WCW. Would he leave WWE as its champion? If he did, what would be the ramifications? Would he tarnish the legacy of the illustrious title once he began competing for the rival Atlanta-based organization? These questions hung in the air of Montreal’s Molson Centre as the night’s hotly anticipated main event approached.
Waging psychological warfare against the departing “Hit Man,” HBK trapped Hart in his own signature submission maneuver, the Sharpshooter. As The Excellence of Execution persevered, refusing to tap out to the hold, WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon ordered referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell — even though Hart never submitted. Michaels was awarded the WWE Title under the most dubious of circumstances, while Mr. McMahon ensured that Hart would not leave WWE with the organization’s grandest prize. Irate, Hart responded by destroying equipment at ringside and spitting in The Chairman’s face.
The wounds from that notorious turn of events took more than a decade to heal, and the intense, deep-seeded rivalry between Hart and The Chairman lingered until WrestleMania XXVI, when The Excellence of Execution made Mr. McMahon submit to the Sharpshooter. This time, the referee made the right call.
#9 Mick Foley wins his first WWE Championship: Jan. 4, 1999
To realize the full impact of Mankind’s massive upset over The Rock, all you had to do was take a look at the utter anguish on Mr. McMahon’s face as he screamed out: “No! Not him! Anybody but him! Not Mankind!
“Yes, Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy had done the unthinkable — winning a No Disqualification Match on Monday Night Raw to claim his very first WWE Championship. Up against seemingly insurmountable odds, Mankind showed plenty of heart as he endured The Great One’s punishing blows and dealt with persistent interference from The Corporation. After Ken Shamrock’s steel chair attack sparked a brawl between Mr. McMahon’s clan and D-Generation X, an already explosive battle devolved into total pandemonium once the sound of shattering glass ripped through the arena.
With a steel chair shot heard ’round the entire WWE Universe, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin flattened The Brahma Bull and helped cement Mankind’s status as one of the defining Superstars of the Attitude Era. The moment was also a pivotal turning point in the Monday Night War, as WWE seized firm control in the ratings clash over WCW and never looked back.
#8 Triple H marries Stephanie McMahon: Raw, Nov. 29, 1999; Armageddon 1999 & Raw, Dec. 13, 1999
Occasionally, hindsight reveals that some moments play out over the course of several weeks. That was certainly the case in Triple H’s game-changing marriage to Stephanie McMahon.
Step one: the wedding itself. As Stephanie and her longtime beau Test were set to utter their “I dos” on Raw, Triple H emerged and introduced camcorder footage of The Cerebral Assassin cruising down Las Vegas Boulevard. He pulled into a drive-through chapel, and quickly wed Mr. McMahon’s pride and joy in a $40 ceremony while Stephanie appeared unconscious in the passenger seat.
Step two: the fight for justice. Two weeks later at Armageddon, Mr. McMahon battled Triple H in a No Holds Barred Match. If The Chairman was victorious, the wedding was to be annulled. The Game pinned Mr. McMahon and Stephanie ran to the ring to tend to her fallen father, but it was all revealed to be an elaborate ruse. The Billion Dollar Princess smiled and embraced her new husband.
Step three: the betrayal. The night after Armageddon, Mr. McMahon appeared on Raw — sledgehammer in hand — and demanded answers from his opponent, but The Chairman got his daughter instead. With a devilish new demeanor and hairdo, Stephanie declared, “I’m not daddy’s little girl anymore.”
The McMahon-Helmsley Era dominated Raw for years, and the power couple remains a backstage influence to this very day.
#7 D-Generation X invades WCW Monday Nitro: Raw, April 27, 1998
D-Generation X brought the fight to WCW when it stormed the site of Monday Nitro in 1998 in a tactic that WCW head honcho Eric Bischoff would later call an “arrogant, aggressive, ruthless move.” The degenerate swashbucklers Triple H, X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws, accompanied by Chyna, were clad in helmets and fatigues when they drove a tank to the Norfolk Scope in Virginia.
With a megaphone in hand, Triple H rallied the troops outside the arena, who in this case were WCW fans. Leading chants of “DX” and “WCW sucks,” the degenrates effectively turned WCW’s own audience against the company on its home turf. The maneuver helped sway the Monday Night War in WWE’s favor, but it was also perfectly emblematic of the Attitude Era’s take-no-prisoners, gloves-off approach. By ambushing Nitro, DX not only acknowledged the competition — they literally knocked on its door, shattering every rule in the book.
#6 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s first Stunner to Mr. McMahon: Raw, Sept. 22, 1997
You always remember your first, and Sept. 22, 1997, saw plenty of them. It was the first Raw to be broadcast from Madison Square Garden, the first WWE appearance of the legendary Cactus Jack, but most importantly it marked the first occasion that Mr. McMahon was bitten by The Texas Rattlesnake.
On one of his rampages, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was restrained in the ring by members of the New York Police Department. Mr. McMahon — known then as broadcaster Vince McMahon — left the announce desk to attempt to cool down The Texas Rattlesnake. But McMahon’s attempts to calm Austin only riled him up further. The Chairman must have known he was in danger. Austin had delivered “Stone Cold” Stunners to other authority figures including Commissioner Slaughter and Jerry Lawler over the previous two weeks alone.
While the WWE Universe knew McMahon as an announcer, Austin knew him as his boss. The future WWE Champion facetiously thanked his superior for caring, but quickly changed his tune and dropped The Chairman with an emphatic Stunner. New York’s finest slapped on the handcuffs and hauled Austin off to prison.
It was the first Stunner experienced by the boss, but certainly not the last. The blow ignited a four-year rivalry that became the centerpiece of WWE.
#5 Bret Hart snaps: Raw, March 17, 1997
The tirade unleashed by Bret “Hit Man” Hart during a March 1997 Raw was as conspicuous a sign as there could be that the change in WWE toward an edgier, more aggressive style was a fait accompli. For years, Hart was WWE’s wholesome hero with the moral compass that never wavered, never needed recalibrating. After suffering a controversial loss to WWE Champion Sid in a Steel Cage Match, however, a fed-up “Hit Man” opened the release valve on what appeared to be a decade’s worth of aggravation.
Post-match, Raw play-by-play announcer Vince McMahon attempted to interview Hart. He managed to ask one off-point question about “frustration” before the normally even-keeled Hart, in a shocking outburst, shoved McMahon to the mat and declared that “Frustration isn’t the [expletive] word for it!” As soon as he returned to the announce desk, McMahon — also the WWE Chairman then, as he is now — apologized to the TV audience. He’d have more apologizing to do before the night was over.
The “Hit Man” went off on a rant in which he decried the anything-goes mentality that was clearly taking hold in the WWE locker room. Believing his cage match loss to be unfair, The Pink and Black Attack suggested, in considerably more colorful language, that the decision was nonsense. With the verve of Mike Ditka, the dependably scrupulous Hart broke form and began spitting profanities as if it was going out of style. Whether you bought into “Hit Man’s” argument, there was no denying something had snapped inside WWE’s hero.
#4 “Tyson and Austin!”: Raw, Jan. 19, 1998
The pull-apart brawl between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mike Tyson elevated the Attitude Era in the pop culture hierarchy. By entering the wrestling ring in January 1998, “The Baddest Man on the Planet” had ventured into the domain of that year’s Royal Rumble winner, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. As Mr. McMahon proudly welcomed Tyson and his entourage to Raw, “Stone Cold’s” familiar glass-shattering music hit and The Texas Rattlesnake marched to the ring with one thing on his mind: to make sure Tyson knew whose ring he was standing in.
Tyson lunged at “Stone Cold” after Austin took the liberty of flashing a two-bird salute before Tyson’s “beady little eyes.” With that, the brawl was on. Security dragged Austin out of the ring, as an irate McMahon shouted, “You ruined it!” McMahon’s allegation couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Austin-Tyson melee provided WWE a water cooler (and watershed) moment that had expansive crossover appeal. The chaotic scene was covered by news, sports and entertainment media outlets. More than that, the fracas underscored the “anything can happen” unpredictability of the Attitude Era
#3 The Undertaker vs. Mankind – Hell in a Cell Match: King of the Ring 1998
If the WWE Universe can point to one single match that defined everything the smash-mouth Attitude Era was about, it is the shockingly brutal Hell in a Cell encounter between Mankind and The Undertaker — perhaps the most hard-hitting match in WWE history.After starting the bout on top of the cell, The Deadman hurled Mankind off, and Foley crashed through the broadcasting table 15 feet below. The fall remains one of the most iconic sights in all of sports-entertainment. Jim Ross immediately exclaimed, “As God as my witness, he is broken in half!”
Physicians attempted to remove Foley on a stretcher, but The Hardcore Legend was thirsty for more punishment. The Phenom once again gained the upper hand and Chokeslammed Mankind through the top of the Cell, sending Foley tumbling to the ring’s canvas. A steel chair went along for the ride and smashed into his skull along the way. With that, Jerry Lawler declared, “That’s it, he’s dead.”
But Foley wasn’t done. He scattered thumbtacks across the mat, later became a human pin cushion and was even seen grinning ear to ear as Ross theorized that he was perhaps enjoying himself. But Foley wasn’t smiling — The Hardcore Legend was simply attempting to use his tongue to jostle a dislodged tooth.
#2 The formation of D-Generation X: Raw, Oct. 13, 1997
The Attitude Era’s most groundbreaking faction got its start on the Oct. 13, 1997, episode of Raw. The original four-Superstar ensemble of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna and “Ravishing” Rick Rude had been collectively revolting against the system prior to then, but it was during a backstage interview that night that HBK famously anointed the team “D-Generation X.” With DX rivals The Hart Foundation standing in the ring, the often sophomoric group egged on Bret Hart’s contingent from backstage, via the TitanTron.
A royally annoyed “Hit Man” challenged the “two degenerates,” Michaels and Triple H, to face the Foundation in the ring. Instead, The Showstopper and The Game continued slinging insults and dropping double entendres for their own amusement. HBK complained that he was sick of hearing his generation, Generation X, being put down. He turned to Triple H and thoughtfully asked, “Do you think you’re a degenerate? I’m positive I’m one.” Triple H conceded that he, too, was a degenerate, and with that, HBK declared his rogue band “D-Generation X.”
“You make the rules and we will break ’em,” the cocky HBK boasted. As the several subsequent iterations of DX would prove over the years, HBK was right on the money.
#1 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin coins “Austin 3:16”: King of the Ring 1996
At the time it happened, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s King of the Ring coronation speech just seemed like exciting, grade-A trash talk that bordered on the sacrilege. Rarely before had a Superstar spoken so bluntly, let alone with the venomous fury that Austin expressed that night. Years later, it’s plain to see the harangue was game-changing play that set in motion WWE’s gradual shift toward the attitudinal.
Austin had just downed WWE Legend Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the King of the Ring tournament final, Austin’s second match that night. Earlier in the evening, The Rattlesnake suffered a busted lip, requiring a visit to a nearby hospital. He returned to the arena moments before his match with Roberts, and on his way to the ring, was informed that Jake, a born-again Christian, had quoted a Bible passage during his pre-match interview. After dismantling “The Snake,” Austin mockingly spewed, “Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16 … Austin 3:16 says ‘I just whipped your @SS!’ ” That’s the line that caught fire, but the rest of the interview fought against the establishment and faithfully projected “Stone Cold’s” path to the top.
“It was what I was feeling and it was from my heart and from my guts and what was going on inside my brain,” Austin commented years later. “And nothing but attitude.”