The wrestling industry between the years of 1998 and 2001 are regarded as the most successful period ever. Known in the WWE as the attitude era, this era was the defining moments of the Monday Night Wars and the war started to turn in WWE favour until WWE bought their competition. The Wrestling industry has never been so popular than between these years and the ratings and buy rates were high on a consistent level. We decided to look at how successful WWE pay per views were between January 1998 and December 2001, below is the Top 10 highest grossing WWE pay per views of the attitude era by buy rates.
10. Royal Rumble 2001 – 625,000
The 2001 edition of the Royal Rumble saw Stone Cold Steve Austin win the rumble for a third time to complete his return from injury. Kurt Angle defended his WWE Championship against Triple H and Chris Benoit defended his Intercontinental Championship against Chris Jericho in a epic ladder match.
9. Summerslam 1999 – 650,000
Summerslam 1999 was boosted by the return of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura to be the special guest referee in the WWE Championship main event. Ventura was governor of the host state Minnesota which made headline news across the country. The championship match was contested between Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Mankind, The Rock faces the 1999 King of the Ring Billy Gunn and The Undertaker teams with the Big Show against Kane and X-Pac.
8. Backlash 2000 – 650,000
Backlash 2000 was held on April 30th in Washington, D.C. For this writer this event felt more like the event Wrestlemania should have been as it’s the card that I would have liked to see on the biggest show of the year. The main event was Triple H defending his WWE Championship against The Rock with The McMahon family in his corner. The Rock was benefited by having the returning Stone Cold Steve Austin in his corner and Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho battled for the Intercontinental Championship.
7. Royal Rumble 1999 – 650,000
The 1999 Royal Rumble was built around Vince McMahon being number 1 in the Rumble match and Stone Cold Steve Austin being number 2, This would be Austins opportunity to finally get his hands on McMahon. McMahon also set out a bounty on the head of Austin where he would reward the superstar who eliminated Austin. The show also featured the brutal ‘I Quit’ Match for the WWE Championship between The Rock and Mankind.
6. Summerslam 1998 – 700,000
The highest grossing Summerslam of all time. Held at Madison Square Garden on August 30th it is advertised as the Highway to Hell. The show is headlined by WWE Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin going one on one with The Undertaker. Triple H and The Rock battle for the Intercontinental championship in a ladder match and the New Age Outlaws defend their tag team championships against the team of Kane and Mankind.
5. Invasion 2001 – 775,000
Invasion 2001 is the highest grossing pay per view ever that is not a Wrestlemania. The event is built on the back of WWE buying WCW and WCW and ECW forming The Alliance and invading WWE. This was a chance for fans to see dream matches and the main event was team WWE against team WCW, Jeff Hardy against Rob Van Dam and Edge and Christian against Lance Storm and Mike Awesome.
4. Wrestlemania 15 – 800,000
The build to this event was for Stone Cold Steve Austin to finally get a chance to win back his WWF Championship after months of trying. WWF Champion The Rock has Vince McMahon in his corner and Mick Foley serves as the special guest referee. The Undertaker takes on The Big Bossman in a Hell in a Cell match and Shane McMahon makes his in ring debut as he challenges X-PAC for the European championship.
3. Wrestlemania 2000 – 824,000
Held on April 2nd in Anaheim, California, the event only has one singles match and the main event is consisted in a four way elimination match with a McMahon in every corner. Triple H defends his WWE Championship against The Rock, Big Show and Mick Foley, Dudley Boyz defend their tag titles in the epic triangle ladder match between The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian. Kurt Angle defends his WWE Intercontinental and European Championship against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit in a two fall triple threat match.
2. Wrestlemania 14 – 837,000
The shows success is helped with the mainstream media attention that boxing legend ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson brings. Tyson is the enforcer in the main event which consisted of Stone Cold Steve Austin aiming to win his first WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels. Also The Undertaker finally goes one on one with his estranged brother Kane in a highly anticipated match.
1. Wrestlemania 17 – 1,040,000
The highest grossing pay per view of the attitude era is the only pay per view to be in the top 10 of all time. Highly regarded as the greatest pay per view of all time and the peak of the attitude era. It’s also another pay per view that has the main event of The Rock defending his WWE Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian face off in a TLC match and The Undertaker and Triple H square off in a hard hitting brawl.
It’s no surprise the highly regarded Wrestlemania 17 is the highest grossing pay per view of this era but what is surprising is that 2,3 and 4 on the list are the other Wrestlemania from this era. These were seen as under whelming events by journalists at the time and not remembered for the quality of their shows. Not surprising is that Backlash 2000 is featured on the list as this was boosted by the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
To see the highest grossing pay per views of all time please see this article here.