Since the rise of WWE as the leader in Sports Entertainment back in the ’80s, the pro wrestling juggernaut has gone through numerous changes. Today’s WWE traces back to Vince McMahon Sr.’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and its subsequent takeover by Vinnie Mac Jr. in 1979. Since then, the brand has passed through a number of distinctive eras, like the Rock ’n’ Wrestling Era, the domination of Hulkamania, and the subsequent “New Generation,” which saw stars such as Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, and the 123-Kid fill the void caused by the departure of established talent like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Ultimate Warrior, and even Hulk Hogan himself.

In the late ’90s, perhaps officially kicking off at WrestleMania 13, Vince pulled the trigger on the “Attitude Era”—an edgier, cooler, and more adult approach to the action, storylines, and dialogue the WWE is known for. This drastic change in direction was necessary to compete with rival group WCW, which by this time was handing them some hefty TV rating defeats head-to-head on Monday nights. The Attitude Era provided us with countless jaw-dropping moments, over-the-top Superstars, and a more violent take on pro wrestling. This helped WWE not only reclaim the TV ratings, but it forced WCW out of business in the process.

New stars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and D-Generation X left an indelible mark on pro wrestling history during an era that stretched from midway through 1997 until the company outright bought WCW around WrestleMania 17. But while some fans call for a return to the Attitude Era’s edgier style and direction, the truth is this time period had its fair share of issues that get swept under the rug in favor of nostalgia. We’re here to take an objective look back at this bygone era in WWE history—an era that was too crass, too vulgar, and quite frankly, a bit too overrated for its own good (and why today’s product is better for not copying it).