What do you think of when you look at the picture above? Some people think of the dawn of the Attitude Era, or the greatest match in #WrestleMania history. When I look at this picture, I think of the importance of blood in wrestling.
Without blood, I don't believe this match would have been as historically significant as it's become now. Bret Hart believed the same thing. So much so, that he was willing to put his career on the line to make sure there was blood in the finish.
This match took a chance in an era when blood was banned. I think #WWE needs to take that same chance again. A lack of blood & harsh language is holding storylines back from the high stakes & drama it so desperately needs right now.
We live in an era where wrestling has blended into reality through so many avenues. There are YouTube channels where we can watch wrestlers play video games, reality shows to see their relationship problem, and endless amounts of different content on the WWE Network. Yet, for some reason, the actual WWE programming itself seems to be the most PG. The programming that's the most violent of the bunch, where people hit each other with steel chairs, is more PG than a YouTube channel of people playing video games.
When asked about bringing blood & cursing back into WWE, #JohnCena hit the nail perfectly.
“I’m a 38-year-old man. I’d much rather it be a program geared toward me, whether that’s TV-14 or sometimes even more graphic than that, which is what I like. For one thing, profanity brought fire out of people with personalities that backed the language. It’s very difficult to say, ‘Oh, you’re being poopy,’ especially when they’re meant to be fighting words. And now, if someone starts to bleed, the referee intervenes to stop the bleeding. But before, you’d just let it fly. Blood is one of the things that made fights cool. Like, you knew it had gotten serious. I understand why we don’t do it anymore. But, yeah, the blood is one thing I miss.”
I'm not asking for a recreation of the Attitude Era, just for the chance to give this current era a little more edge. Bringing back blood & cursing opens up a lot of possibilities for today's current crop of superstars.
In the words of John Cena, profanity brings out the fire in people. When you think of some of the best moments in recent WWE history, they all have one common thread. They were moments when talent decided to get a little more unhinged, moments like:
- CM Punk's Pipebomb
- The Rock & John Cena's epic encounters
- Miz's Talking Smack promo
The thing about these moments, though, is that they're selective to only top tier talent like John Cena or CM Punk. This type of freedom can really help guys like Baron Corbin or Samoa Joe. It could give a mid-card or bottom-card feud some real intensity. It could even open up an opportunity for a memorable heel-turn Apollo Crews promo. A promo where he really lets the fans have it, similar to a Rocky Maivia turn. The cursing doesn't have to be in abundance, but it just has to be an option for talent to use when they want to amplify their feuds.
Baron Corbin was asked for his opinion about PG programming, and he had this to say:
"Yeah, ya know, I tailor to that ‘PG.’ I mean with anything, emotions get high, we’re very competitive with what we do, everybody wants to be the best, so, sometimes those emotions will get the best of you and you’ll let a word fly and you’ll hear about it later."
I feel like that statement summarizes the problem itself. Superstars are tailoring to the PG programming, instead of being themselves. If there's anything we've learned in the history of wrestling, it's that the best personalities and moments come from being an amplified version of yourself.
I'm not asking for WWE to return to the days of crimson masks and blood baths. What I want is a calculated use of blood, similar to what Bret Hart & Stone Cold did. A use of blood that gives you a character-defining moment, or amplifies a match in a unique way. There are two particular moments during the PG era that utilized blood perfectly.
- John Cena's brawl with Brock Lesnar
- Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31
Cena's Brawl With Lesnar
I remember when I first saw this brawl, and part of me believed it was a shoot. I immediately became invested and I thought #BrockLesnar tried to legitimately bust Cena open. Look at that smirk on Cena's face; it's such a badass & iconic image. That's the type of realism that adding blood can give you, and that's the type of realism that WWE needs right now.
A common complaint I hear from fans & ex-wrestlers is that there are no stakes in matches anymore. Matches on RAW don't matter; even if you missed a Reigns vs Jericho bout, when you tune in next week, nothing carries over. It takes Dolph Ziggler putting his career on the line for you to become truly invested.
The moment somebody starts bleeding in a feud, your emotional investment goes even higher. Think of how much more you would care about Seth Rollins vs Triple H, or Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe if you saw that extra side of viciousness.
Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns
The perfect example of a match made better with blood. For all intensive purposes, this was pretty boring before the cash-in by Seth Rollins. It felt like a squash match mixed in with a couple of spears and superman punches. However, once Lesnar started bleeding, the narrative changed.
Lesnar may have been beating down Reigns, but did Roman finally crack the armor of "The Beast?" You could almost give a detailed story with just that one picture alone. Even if Roman lost, he still looked incredibly strong because of the blood. The blood made a point: Roman Reigns is badass enough to bust Brock Lesnar open and have him reeling. You get an extra layer that you wouldn't be able to see otherwise.
After the Attitude Era, there was an abundance of blood & profanity in WWE. I don't want to see nonstop bloodfests, or another Katie Vick angle. I want to see the art of wrestling maximized to its fullest potential, talent have more creative liberty in their matches and promos and I want to see a good match become a great match.