Blood, blading, the juice, call it what you will, but it has been a staple of wrestling for a very long time. Just take a look at Dusty Rhodes forehead. The PG era has seen the end of it in the biggest promotion, but smaller companies still use it. Is there a place for blood in wrestling, our wrestling expert Dmitriy Polovinkin believes so in this weeks opinion.
Let’s set the scene. Two wrestlers are engaged in a bitter rivalry, a lengthy feud. A real ‘barn burner’ with plenty of traded victories, sneak attacks and hatred. Imagine that we’ve already seen the standard match. It has been and gone. Now, we are at the stage of the feud where the participants detest each other. They want to hurt one another. It’s the culmination of an emotional war. I suppose one could say that they are ‘out for blood’.
Slight problem: the company that is promoting their ‘blood feud’ has a strict no-blood policy…. well that sucks.
Since 2009 the WWE has banned their superstars from indulging in intentional bloodletting. What are the effects of this? What impact does it have on the overall product?
There are tales of Vince McMahon taking the matter so seriously that he is prepared to fine people over $100,000 for violating the policy. Feel free to read about Chris Jericho’s experience of this in his third book, ‘The Best In The World – At What I Have No Idea’.
Of course there are arguments for and against the no blood policy.
WWE themselves would argue that crimson masks have no place in the current PG orientated direction of the company. They openly admit to promoting to a younger audience than in previous years. Their target demographic has changed and program content must change accordingly.
However, it is important to remember that the Hulkamania Era was also classed as PG. I distinctly remember Hulk Hogan getting colour in the main event of Wrestlemania V. I remember Ric Flair bleeding like a fountain during the WWF title match of Wrestlemania VIII. Why was it allowed then, but not now?
Here’s a typical WWE approved claim: Due to the age of the current audience, it is important to show appropriate content. Content that doesn’t carry the risk of negatively influencing young viewers via the glorification of violence.
Slight problem here – WWE, and everything they do, is centred around the glorification of violence. It’s people FIGHTING for crying out loud. Fake or otherwise.
It is very egotistical of Vince McMahon to think that WWE is such an influential force when it comes to the morality of youth. It’s almost as if things like Grand Theft Auto, free internet pornography and gangster rap music doesn’t exist, and it is WWE’s sole burden to protect young minds.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. What does the no blood policy take away from the product?
It is my belief that a crimson mask is the ultimate method of creating suspension of disbelief. We are watching a fake sport and we all know this, but when someone gets colour there is a subconscious block of this fact in the mind of the viewer. The fight seems very real. Juice is the best way for a babyface to get sympathy.
Recently there have been two matches in other promotions where blood was used effectively.
The first was EC3 v Rockstar Spud on Impact. The second was Fenix v Mil Muertes on Lucha Underground. As a viewer, I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a wrestling match as I was for these matches in a very long time. Without argument, the stories that were portrayed in these matches would not have been as emotional if the blood angles were not included. The matches were emotional because of the visual imprint left in the fans’ minds by the use of blood.
As a result, TNA and Lucha Underground made people remember. My friends and I are still talking about these matches a couple of weeks later. Compare that to a main event on Raw or Smackdown, which I would probably forget five minutes after it happened.
Before I say my farewells I would like to talk about a personal annoyance when it comes to WWE’s no blood policy… the Cage Match.
A cage match without blood is illogical. Combatants are surrounded by metal, and their faces get rammed into the metal. If I ram someone’s face into some metal, there will be blood. I promise.
Lack of blood in a cage match is an insult to the fans’ intelligence. It almost makes the purpose of a cage match completely redundant. I’ll be honest; I can’t even remember a Hell in a Cell match that happened after 2009, apart from maybe Rollins v Ambrose because it was the most recent. However, I do remember HBK v Undertaker. I do remember Brock Lesnar v Undertaker. I will probably remember them for the rest of my life because they weren’t just matches, they were WARS.
And in wars…. men spill blood.