Even in today’s professional wrestling landscape that includes light tube death matches and occasional f-bombs on broadcast television, nothing has come close to what was being produced on a weekly basis during the attitude era. This infamous time period of the World Wrestling Federation saw Vince McMahon’s promotion shift towards a more edgier product, which meant moving away from “say your prayers and eat your vitamins” and in the direction of middle fingers and telling opponents to “suck it.” These adult antics were initially captained by Triple H and Shawn Michaels, collectively known as D-Generation X.
Like two classroom troublemakers being paired for a group project, chaos ensued any time Helmsley and Michaels were on screen together. Their behavior got so out of hand that the USA Network, the broadcast home of Monday Night Raw, had to step in.
“We were literally getting threatened to be fired every week when we’d come back. [Vince] was getting letters from USA,” Triple H revealed to SPORTbible. “There’s a very famous skit that we did where USA had been on us for weeks. ‘These guys cannot say that stuff. They cannot use those gestures. They have to stop it.’ We would go out and do it the next week and Vince would tear us apart. ‘You guys are going to get us thrown off the air!’ He was p–sed, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. We felt like there was a lot of threatening, but he wasn’t really doing anything about it, and numbers were starting to tick up a little bit.”
Those tensions with the network escalated to the point that USA threatened to remove Raw from its airwaves.
“There’s a moment in time where we had this letter from the USA Network that it literally, the whole letter is, ‘DX has gone too far. Between the 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock hour they are no longer allowed to use these words. They are no longer allowed to refer to their genitals.’ It’s written out. And then from, I don’t remember the time, 10 to 11, they are no longer allowed to say these things, but they can use these words. They can do this, they can’t do that,'” Triple H continued. “Vince brought us the letter. ‘If these demands aren’t followed to a T, you will no longer be on the air on the USA Network.’ Either they get fired, or you’re no longer on the air.”
That letter was infamously transformed into a segment, as DX took to a podium live on Raw to read the network’s demands. The words they could say went through, while the banned words were bleeped. Fortunately for the company, the segment paid off.
“Next day we got a letter from USA,” Triple H said. “‘Congratulations on the ratings last night. What DX did with our letter was hilarious. Congratulations on the success, here’s to many more years.'”