Should the WWE Bring Back Blood?

1/15/2024 5:42 PM

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Should the WWE Bring Back Blood?

Should the WWE Bring Back Blood?

January 15, 2024 5:42 PM
Should the WWE Bring Back Blood?
WWE News

The Pros and Cons of a Time-Honored Tradition

Should the WWE bring back blood? Some recent matches on TV have led to speculation that the WWE may be changing its longstanding policy of not intentionally showing blood on TV. Becky Lynch’s recent match against Nia Jax on RAW’s 1 January Day 1 special featured a spot where Jax pasted Lynch in the mush, leading to Becky bleeding from the mouth.

Becky Lynch was accidentally busted open in 2018 by Nia Jax

Dave Meltzer discussed this as well as how WWE announcers called things:

“Not only did they do blood in this match and it was obviously not accidental blood but they called attention to it. They used the word “blood bath” during this match. For a long time they shyed away from the blood. They would always do it on certain occasions, like a big pay-per-view match with Brock Lesnar or something but this was on TV and they did close ups of the blood and they talked about the blood. So that whole thing about the other guy doing the blood is bad for wrestling well, I guess they changed their tune tonight.”

H/T Ringside News

That same week, LA Knight’s forehead was cut during his Triple Threat Match against Randy Orton and AJ Styles at SmackDown’s New Year’s Revolution special episode of the blue brand. Once again, the WWE made no effort to take the bleeding wrestler out of the match or patch him up. While it’s unknown whether Knight was busted open the hard way or he bladed, the WWE didn’t take the camera off him.  Fightful Select's Sean Ross Sapp reported:

LA Knight was busted open during the match, but was said to be okay.

H/T Ringside News

These two examples are major departures from past occasions where the WWE brought in medical personnel to patch up WWE Superstars when they were busted open. This was seen at WrestleMania 39 during the Hell in a Cell Match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor when Finn Balor’s head was smashed after Edge threw a ladder at him. The match was paused as medics tended to Balor, closing up the wound.

WWE officials paused many Hell in a Cell Match after this spot injured Finn Balor

While Brock Lesnar was busted open at 2023’s Backlash, many observers felt this was a case of Brock being Brock and doing whatever he wanted. Brock was thrown headfirst into an exposed turnbuckle, allowing himself to be cut open. The WWE made no effort to hide Lesnar’s bleeding or to stop it during the match.

Does Blood Enhance a Match?

The biggest argument favoring the use of blood is that it enhances a match by making it more realistic. Wrestling is simulated violence, no different than in action movies. Fans understand that and suspend their disbelief that wrestling is staged in order to enjoy matches and the storylines around it. Proponents of blood in wrestling argue that it’s hard for fans to suspend their disbelief that wrestling is simulated violence when someone gets their head rammed into a steel post or clobbered with a foreign object, and they don’t bleed.

Most proponents of blood in matches don’t argue that every match needs blood (although that’s different for fans of death match wrestling and other hardcore styles), but there are times that call for it. It can add to a match’s realism and heighten the idea that one or more wrestlers are in trouble. When used appropriately, the visuals can enhance a match.

While blading carries risks (more about that next), it’s not as dangerous as it might appear. Wrestlers don’t have to cut themselves deeply as there are many small blood vessels in the forehead. When a wrestler blades, their sweat mixes with the blood, making it look worse than it appears. Some wrestlers also will take an aspirin (which impedes blood clotting) before a match so they bleed more freely. Wrestlers can also cause bleeding with hardway shots (for example, letting an opponent punch or elbow them until they bleed). These are just two examples.

Promoters used blood in matches for decades (and still do), feeling it’s an important element in wrestling that fans have come to expect. However, it’s not without its disadvantages.

The Disadvantages of Using Blood

There are several disadvantages to using blood in matches. These include health risks, overusing bleeding, alienating certain members of the audience, alienating advertisers, and alienating TV partners.

The health risks are obvious. Wrestlers risk being infected with blood-borne diseases as well as other infections. While these were rare (even when blading was commonplace), the possibility can’t be ruled out. There is also the danger of accidentally blading too deep and slicing an artery.

There should be limits to the use of blood, even if a promotion feels it helps with storytelling. For example, some uses are gratuitous and, at times, stupid. A good example is when Shayna Baszler bit Becky Lynch in the neck during a run-in. This angle served no purpose and hurt the build-up for their WrestleMania match.

That doesn't mean women's matches can't feature blood. As mentioned, Becky Lynch was recently busted open during her Day 1 match against Nia Jax. However, having women blade or do hardway spots to show color is controversial. For example, Dr. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa's "Lights Out" Match featured blood but it seemed to polarize fans. Some fans thought it was time for a major promotion to let women blade since men have done so for decades. However, other fans felt it crossed the line. While there's a case to be made that this is a double standard, it still alarmed many fans.

Dr. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa's "Lights Out Anything Goes" Match  remains controversial

There is also the risk of alienating certain members of the audience. Just as some people enjoy watching buckets of blood spilled in horror movies, others wince at the sight of a paper cut. Likewise, some parents let their kids watch anything, while others might stop their kids from watching the WWE if the company starts using blood on a regular basis.

The WWE needs to be mindful of its advertising and TV partners. Advertisers can be extremely sensitive about content, going out of their way to avoid anything that comes close to controversy. With the WWE getting more endorsement deals, it must ensure advertisers are okay with its content. Otherwise, those big-money deals with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Slim Jim, and Mountain Dew could fly out the window. Blood may not alienate every (or any for that matter) advertising partner but the WWE needs to ensure it doesn’t.

The WWE also needs to make sure that its TV partners (and this includes any potential streaming partners) are okay with the use of blood. This ties in with advertising because TV partners want the best advertising clients they can get. A highly-rated show is good, but it’s useless if no suitable advertisers are willing to pay for time on said show.

Are the Benefits Worth the Disadvantages?

While many wrestling promotions use blood in their matches, that doesn’t mean the WWE should. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages, it’s clear that using blood in matches isn’t in the WWE’s best interests. Fans have been conditioned for years not to expect blood, yet the company is doing better than ever. Will showing blood in matches suddenly send the WWE into the stratosphere? Not likely, so why bring it back given all the risks?

While professional wrestling is still looked down upon by some people and advertisers, the WWE has done a superb job elevating its image. Nonetheless, a case of a wrestler contracting hepatitis through blading or something similar could harm the WWE’s image. Likewise, a small but vocal minority of complaints about blading could lead to advertisers reconsidering working with the WWE, even if they were initially okay with wrestlers blading.

Would the WWE Revisit Blood in Matches?

The WWE may be open to the idea of using blood in matches. In early 2023, Nick Khan was asked about the chance of blood returning to RAW’s third hour, responding:

“Look, when we’re specifically talking about the 10 to 11 hour on RAW, we’re specifically talking to NBCU and ourselves about what we do what that moving forward. We ask, what do we do if we tweak this, that 10 to 11 hour, it is basic cable, it’s not broadcast, as you know. We think that NBCU would be supportive, but we’re not on a final conclusion on that.”

H/T WrestleTalk

While there are advantages to showing blood (especially with older fans who grew up watching it), the benefits are outweighed by the disadvantages. Frankly, the WWE needs to bring back blood as much as AEW President Tony Khan needs more time on social media.

Photo Credits: WWE and AEW