When announcer Byron Saxton handed Roman Reigns a blood pill on Monday Night Raw, I wasn’t sure what to think. The crowd and promotion seem genuinely enthused over a would-be beat down, likewise the newfound legitimacy of the 2016 Triple H champion concept in the process.
Still, I remain confused. I was relieved this not a legitimate injury, but simultaneously confused over a crowd/WWE that wanted one. Is blood, sweat and tears a handshake between pro wrestling athlete and fan, one which jointly recognizes a sacrifice inherent in staging a gladiator battle that is very real in execution? Is fake blood OK depending on situation, ala’ Su Yung’s zombie princess character?
Extreme wrestling is, of course, a well-respected part of pro wrestling. Many today still perfect the art, notably The Hooligans here in Central/West Florida. Recently – in a Full Impact Pro match with these individuals – I saw a game Kerry Awful survive a stage toss into and through a legitimate table, hand first. This almost broke his hand, and left it split open and bloodied.
As usual, Awful was a champ then and later, finishing the match, acknowledging the injury but passing it off as part of the business. I’m less hardy than Awful; I would’ve ended said match for proper medical attention. All the while, Jason Cade stood by in a sling, dismissing a separated shoulder as zero hindrance.
The topic of blood and wrestling is nothing new for this site. Going deeper, however, is accepting the outcomes and artistry of wrestling as entertainment as the story. It seems – in a suddenly over-crowded and promotion intermarried pro wrestling environment, story lines are trumping actual execution. Excess mic work, 24/7 social media campaign development, and near-continuous plot shifts/character rebrands are exhausting for talent and fans. If it takes blood pills to tell a tale, something is severely wrong.
Much like kabuki theater, the very execution of the art of pro wrestling should demonstrate the story…behind the story. High flyers propel themselves past overcoming odds to soar, big men a steadfast commitment to running through any/all challenges before them. Giants battle to maintain equal stature in the eyes among shorter peers. Inter-gender matches speak of sexual war presented as physical struggle. Once heels and babyfaces are added to this equation, the ability to mix body types and ying/yang is near-infinite.
The New Day rescued themselves from horrific archetypes…only to wear dildos on their heads. They never got to tell their story in the ring outside of comedy, albeit terrific. There are no Divas, only different shades of anti/bitch. Watching a match and not definitely knowing outcome is a lost art. Throwing blood – real or fake – into the equation doesn’t improve matters.
As the dust settles on the cross-promotions and rash of terrible injuries, hopefully the artistry does, in tandem. A loss makes a hero only greater, a bad guy more defiant. As a social experiment, it would be worthwhile to limit promo’s to pre-taped, and cut right to the entrance/action. See what unfolds through sports performance art.