WWE Hall Of Famer Shawn Michaels has likened the recent relaunch of NXT 2.0 to the beginning of the Attitude Era in 1997.
The Attitude Era has become the most celebrated era in professional wrestling history. With each passing year, stories of its greatness, myths, and legends grow with the stars of that era still among the best-known wrestling personalities on the planet.
Throughout 1996 and 1997, WWE embarked on a journey that would lead to edgier content. The emergence of the Vince McMahon character, D-X, as well as the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin, heralded the arrival of more than a new era; it heralded the arrival of a whole new attitude.
WWE officially announced the arrival of the Attitude Era on December 15th, 1997, with an incredible and highly unusual promo from Vince McMahon highlighting the changes in presentation while taking a dig at WCW and Hulk Hogan.
Shawn Michaels was one of the biggest stars in the entire industry at this point in WWE history, and the formation of D-X, which saw Michaels paired with Triple H, Chyna, and Rick Rude, helped usher in this new era.
Fast forward to 2021, and Shawn Michaels is once again leading the charge in another ever-changing wrestling product. In the absence of Triple H, HBK is guiding NXT 2.0 into a bright, multi-coloured, new future.
Shawn Michaels compared the relaunch of NXT to the start of the Attitude Era in a new interview with Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso:
“Doing this now for 35 years, I’ve seen constant change and change is certainly not new to us in WWE. It’s constantly evolving and changing. I’ve heard people call this a refresh, but it’s still the same crew, which is great because they’re so damn talented.”
“It reminds me of the Attitude Era. We had the same roster the day before the Attitude Era started, and I still remember Vince coming into the locker room and making that speech, inspiring us and making us hungry for the future.”
“That’s what this is—turning over a new leaf, restructuring a few things, and putting a brand-new coat of paint on a dominant and incredible brand. It’s chummed the waters, so to speak, and that’s fun to be around.”
Shawn Michaels also mentioned trying to fill in for his long-time friend Triple H during his absence from NXT in the interview.
Since undergoing surgery in September for a “cardiac event,” Triple H has been absent from WWE and his role as the president of NXT. WWE’s Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy & Development, has since stated that he is “recovering well,” but has not yet returned to work.
Michaels called the task “impossible,” before remarking on how much everyone misses NXT’s founding father.