Have you noticed an uptick in the, shall we say, "more adult" content on recent WWE shows airing on the USA Network? More colorful language? More sadistic behavior from heels? No, you're not imagining things, as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon himself is keen on bringing his product back to something more in line with its "Attitude Era" content of the late 1990s and has specifically been testing these waters with the recently revamped NXT 2.0, which has seen a boom in the kind of four-letter words and widespread violence that defined the biggest era in wrestling history. But how does the network feel about a more adult-themed WWE product?
According to a report from Fightful Select, the USA Network that is home to both WWE RAW on Monday nights and NXT 2.0 on Tuesday nights is "elated" at the idea of the company returning to a more adult product on their network. They have been fully supportive of WWE's tweaking of the NXT brand, specifically the inclusion of more edgy content, which has been hard not to notice since the launch of NXT 2.0 last month.
And why wouldn't they? During the height of the Attitude Era, the then WWF's Raw Is War was at the forefront of pop culture and brought pro-wrestling and the USA Network's ratings to an unprecedented level of success not seen before or since.
But was that because of the edgy content the show was home to? Partially, sure. Anything with a carnival barker approach and the promise of sex and mayhem will get some curious eyes on your product. But it was the appeal of once-in-a-lifetime superstars such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock in their primes and genuinely interesting character arcs and long-form storytelling that engrossed these curious parties into coming back week after week and made them into invested fans.
So while the USA Network might be salivating at the idea of WWE returning to an Attitude Era-Esque product and the perceived return to the ratings that accompanied that era, the fact is WWE still has their work cut out for them in getting back to what really made that era soar so high and it was not just middle fingers and women in their underwear.
If they could build some characters as compelling as the stars of that era, that fans were wholly invested in and wanted to see more and more of, then sure, they might get some eyes on their shows again. But that's all up to the WWE and unfortunately, that hasn't been their strong suit in quite some time. Here's hoping.