In the heyday of the Attitude Era, WWE’s entire narrative was the complete polar opposite of what it is today. Think about it from the past for a second.
The two biggest stars, Steve Austin & The Rock, and HUUUUGE anti-authoritarian streaks. Austin was the epitome of anti-authority and Rock was “The People’s Champion” until he became an antagonist, and the he became “The CORPORATE champion”. Now, look at things today. Is it so crazy to think that today, Stone Cold would be doing his thing and he’d be the heel and he’d be characterized as “disrespectful” in the narrative? Wouldn’t he be accused of not caring about the WWE Universe? And wouldn't the once-hated Mr. McMahon only be looking out for the fans and the company's best interests? Poor Mr. McMahon.
John Cena, nearly the literal personification of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Public-facing and aware of it to a fault. Always putting on the right face and always making sure to go out of your way to do what you can to make WWE look the best possible. Always sticking to the talking points. And of course, always being a role model for the kids. Looking “cool” but not too cool so their parents don't get a little upset. CM Punk may have been the last remnants of an idea of “the system” being the problem that we may see in a long time. The pipebomb, the Summer of Punk, all quite literally stopped dead by who else? HHH. I don't care what anyone says, if you don't see the symbolism in that, I have no idea how to even speak to you.
WWE during the late 90s was very good at having awareness of the pop culture consciousness. It fit in when a band like Rage Against The Machine was at its peak, when Office Space was a movie that was still fresh in people’s minds because people hated their jobs and hated working for bosses that were fucking morons.
What changed? What caused the change? When did Stephanie McMahon being a “billion-dollar princess” stop being a bad thing? When did being the company guy stop being a soulless sell-out? What was it that changed WWE’s narrative?
What changed? Was it something in pop culture? Was it real world events? What caused this change?