Blood in Women’s Wrestling, Equality or Outdated?
The wrestling world got another dose of bloody action this week. AEW put on what is now beginning to become an annual event, a bloody street fight. Willow Nightingale and Ruby Solo faced Tay Jay in a tag-team street fight to end weeks of feuding.
The match was everything that we have come to expect from an AEW street fight. Blood is the defining feature of these matches, whether they involve men or women. Ruby Soho made a deep cut in her forehead, giving her the “crimson mask” that everyone talks about. Blood stained the dazzling white tee of Tay Melo as Ruby drove her through thumbtacks to get the win.
Inevitably, the graphic nature of a blood-soaked woman has raised questions. The same question is asked when someone goes “too far.” Is there still a place for blood in wrestling? Are we past people cutting themselves off for the sake of drama? Or is blood an integral part of the evolution of women’s wrestling?
Cast your mind back five years ago. Better yet, how about a decade, even further? Now, in that time, name a mainstream women’s wrestling match where there was blood. It’s hard. One doesn’t instantly spring to mind. Even during the Attitude Era, when wrestling was at its bloodiest, the most blood I recall seeing was Lita being hardwired by Ivory at Survivor Series 2000.
The simple reason behind this is double standards. Women didn’t occupy the same role as men. It was unbecoming of a woman to bleed. No one wants their eye candy gushing blood like a demonic water fountain. That was the prevailing thought of the people in control of wrestling at the time. “Women getting color” was brutality reserved for Japan, deathmatch wrestling, and the indies.
However, with the formation of AEW and the continued growth of women’s wrestling, blood has become more of a norm. Blood is a regular part of AEW’s hardcore matches for both men and women. It was a precedent set by Cody and Dustin Rhodes at the company’s first PPV and continues to be part of the AEW brand. It has almost become a point of pride. so much so that Britt Baker’s bloody face is part of her entrance package.
Blood has always been a point of contention, exciting some while irking others. Some people see it as a fantastic throwback to the more bloody style of the 70s and 80s that gives a match a more visceral and realistic tone. Others wince and see it as gross and excessive bloodletting that has no place in wrestling. But wincing is sort of the whole point. Blood is meant to shock and gross people out. It is yet another, albeit extreme, way to work the fans.
Where this most recent street fight may differ is not in the amount of blood but in when and how it was used. Even though the cut on Ruby’s forehead bled like crazy, it didn’t have the effect that was meant. There was little time to dwell on Ruby’s bloody face and let it sink in or play a role in the match’s story. The match continued to move at breakneck speed as they hurried to the next spot.
It was also dampened by a genuinely awful moment. What was supposed to be a neat nod to the Dudley Boyz turned into a horrible bump. As Willow looked to hit Bubba Ray’s patterned sit-out powerbomb, she overshot, sending Anna Jay straight off the stage and onto the floor. That moment—a nasty bump easily avoided with an extra table or two sucked the wind out of the match. All the blood in the world could not draw me back in. Overall, this street fight was no more violent or bloody than any other. It is an example of how blood does not always give a match the juice it needs.
@willowwrestles went to another Level Tonight!!! On #AEWRampage 🏆🧐☝🏽pic.twitter.com/mYdAjoviN1
— Kᴏᴛᴀ ɪRᴀᴅɪᴏ Nᴇᴛᴡᴏʀᴋ*™️ (@KotaiRadioNetWK) January 14, 2023
So should there be blood in wrestling? Honestly, yes. Blood can be iconic. Plenty of wrestlers have a blood-drenched moment that solidifies their star status. There is a weight to blood. It adds stakes and reality to wrestling in a way that few things can. Use it flippantly and frequently, and it loses its potency. Ultimately, with blading being self-inflicted, like many things in wrestling, it boils down to the wrestler’s discretion. It is their body, and if they want to bleed, they will do it. Maybe I’m in the minority. But there will always be a place for blood in wrestling.
Those are my thoughts. But what do you think? Is there a place for blood in wrestling? Did this street fight go too far? Let us know. We love hearing from you.