Shawn Michaels has compared the recent relaunch of NXT 2.0 to the start of the Attitude Era back in 1997.
The Attitude Era has become the most eulogised period in the history of professional wrestling. With stories of it’s greatness and myths and legends growing with every passing year.
Throughout 1996 and into 1997, WWE embarked on a journey that would take them towards edgier content and a brand new attitude. The birth of the Vince McMahon character, D-X, the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and many more heralded the arrival of more than a new era, it was a whole new attitude.
On December 15th 1997, WWE officially announced the arrival of the Attitude Era with a promo from Vince McMahon highlighting the changes in presentation while taking a not-so-subtle swipe at WCW and Hulk Hogan.
At this point in WWE’s history, Shawn Michaels stood as one of the biggest stars in the entire industry and with the formation of D-X helped usher in this new era.
Fast forward to 2021 and Michaels once again finds himself leading the charge in the midst of another ever-changing wrestling product. This time, HBK is guiding NXT 2.0 into a bright, new future in the absence of Triple H.
Speaking in a new interview with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Michaels compared this relaunch to the beginning of the Attitude Era.
“Doing this now for 35 years, I’ve seen constant change,” Michaels says. “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 he Attitude Era. We had the same roster the day before he 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.”
Elsewhere in the interview Shawn Michaels also commented on trying to fill in for his long-time friend Triple H during his absence from NXT.
Triple H has been absent from WWE and his role at the helm of NXT since undergoing surgery in September for a “cardiac event.” WWE’s Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy & Development has since said that he’s “recovering well” but it yet to return to work.
Michaels described the task as “impossible” before commenting on how much everyone is missing with NXT’s traditional father figure.