In the world of professional wrestling, it’s a little surprising that blood doesn’t happen a lot more often. While wrestling is a performance, a lot of the people that like to remind fans that the sport is “fake” forget a some things. Landing on your side from 10+ feet in the air doesn’t feel good even when you plan to do it. Getting hit with a steel chair still hurts even when you’re ready for it and the wrestler wielding it isn’t putting their full force behind it. Unplanned bleeding definitely happens in this sport because it is still incredibly physically demanding despite what some naysayers may continuously preach.
Outside of actual bleeding, wrestlers actually do cut themselves during a performance to add heightened drama to a match. The act is generally referred to as a “bladejob.” A wrestler will usually make the cut around the forehead or scalp because those wounds tend to bleed easily and heavily. The wrestlers will also wait a while into the match to make the cut so the blood can pool with all the sweat accumulated through the match to give the impression that the wounds are much bigger and bleeding a lot heavier than they actually are. This cut to the forehead mixing with the wrestler’s sweat creates an affect known as “the crimson mask”, a situation where the wrestler’s face looks entirely covered in blood.
Whether the blood drawn was accidental (referred to as “juicing the hard way”) or an intentional bladejob, these matches are some of the most memorably bloody events in professional wrestling.
15. Ric Flair and Randy Savage – Wrestlemania 8
During Wrestlemania 8 all the way back in 1992, the WWF had a no blood policy. For the Wrestlemania 8 main event, Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice would wrestle alongside Ric Flair and Macho Man Randy Savage. Going against the policy at the time, Flair and Savage decided to do a blade job to create a bit more of a spectacle. Savage hit Flair with an axe-handle, sending Flair into a barricade. Flair’s blade job was caught on camera and he was hit with a hefty fine by the WWF.
Bret Hart had also performed blade jobs at this time, but his were more discreet and it was deemed that his blood was from a legitimate accident.
14. Joey Mercury – Armageddon 2006
Blade jobs always look brutal when it comes to the amount of blood spilled, but it’s always more jarring when the wrestling injury is totally unplanned and serious.
Joey Mercury found himself in a four-team/eight wrestler brawl at Armageddon 2006. The eight men were in a ladder match for a number of titles. The only way to win was to climb a steel ladder in the center of the ring and release the title belts suspended above. As wrestlers scrambled up the ladder only to be pulled off, Jeff Hardy attempted to jump on the ladder from the ropes, knocking the steel contraption into the face of Joey Mercury causing a very serious injury. Matt Hardy says he’ll never forget the match for what he and Jeff did to Mercury’s face. Hardy compared the blood to turning on a faucet.
13. Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit and Triple H – Wrestlemania 20
At the Wrestlemania 20 Pay-Per-View event, Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, and Triple H would meet in a three-way Triple Threat match for ownership of the World Heavyweight Championship belt. Michaels and Benoit would face each other first before Triple H, the reigning Champion, would intervene. The two men kept the battle clean before Triple H entered the ring. Once the Triple Threat truly began blood started to spill when both Shawn Michaels and Triple H did a blade job when being bashed into the ring posts. When the blood mixed with all the sweat from three individuals, things started to look something out of a horror movie. Michaels was eliminated first and Benoit would eventually put Triple H into a Crippler Crossface, prompting Triple H to submit.
12. Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels – SummerSlam 2005
Most of the blood in this match was from a rather bloody bladejob, with Hulk Hogan sporting a rather horrifying crimson mask in the match at SummerSlam 2005 (this would be Hulk’s first SummerSlam since 1991). Things seemed to be slow going at first but once the match got outside of the ring, things began to pick up. Michaels was thrown into the announcers table, Hulk took a steel chair to the face, both wrestlers performed some high-flying drops, and both ended up bloody. It was Hogan that ended up victorious, but Michaels took it well, shaking Hulk’s hand after the match. However, it’s been said that Michaels intentionally over-performed during the match to make a mockery of an event he was unhappy with.
11. John Cena and JBL – Judgement Day 2005
Cena isn’t known for bleeding much during a match, but during the WWE Judgement Day 2005 Pay-Per-View match, Cena met JBL in the ring for an “I Quit Match” after building up a bitter rivalry across other events.
JBL put a steel chair to Cena’s face which resulted in a massively brutal looking crimson mask. Blood was all over the ring and the intensity didn’t stop there. Cena put JBL’s face through a television monitor, and was nearly ready to hit JBL with an exhaust pipe pulled from a nearby semi-truck. JBL called the match by proclaiming “I quit!”, but Cena hit him with the exhaust pipe after the match anyway.
10. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels – Hell In A Cell
Back in 1997, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker went toe-to-toe during the Badd Blood 1997 Pay-Per-View event in what would be the first ever Hell In A Cell match. Michaels and The Undertaker had built up a bit of a feud across other events. Michaels initially approached undertaker with members of D-Generation X but his posse was forced to leave once he and Undertaker entered the cage and the doors were locked. During the match, an injury to a cameraman caused the doors to unlock and the battle was taken outside of the cage. The Undertaker smashed Michaels face into the side of the cage, causing him to bleed profusely. Undertaker continued to beat Michaels to a pulp until Kane ripped the door from the cell and put the Undertaker down. Michaels crawled to Undertaker’s unconscious body, threw his arm over him to execute a “pin”, and won the match.
9. Eddie Guerrero and JBL – Judgement Day 2004
This match-up was one seriously bloody battle as the bladejob didn’t quite go as planned.
Eddie Guerrero met JBL in the ring for Judgement Day 2004 and during the feud JBL brought a steel chair to Guerrero’s face. It was planned to have Guerrero come up bleeding from the assault. Guerrero made the cut to bring the blood and accidentally struck an artery. Guerrero continued to go through the match, bleeding profusely throughout the entire battle. He lost so much blood when all was said and done that he wouldn’t be able to perform at full strength for nearly two weeks.
8. Bret Hart and British Bulldog – In Your House Pay-Per-View Series
Back in 1995, Vince McMahon wasn’t totally crazy about his wrestlers doing bladejobs. For the fifth In Your House Pay-Per-View event, Bret Hart thought it might bring a little more flare to the match if he were to bleed during his fight against The British Bulldog. McMahon went along with the suggest and said himself that he’d never seen Hart bleed like that before.
Hart went on to win the match, which earned the prolific wrestler a WWF Championship title.
7. Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon – Wrestlemania 19
This match from 2003 during the Wrestlemania 19 Pay-Per-View event was one for the history books as it pitted Hulk against Vince McMahon himself and featured an appearance by the classic Roddy Piper. For many wrestling fans, this match was a dream come true.
During the match, it was actually McMahon who took the chair to the face and performed the blade job to bring the blood. Hulk Hogan would actually reign victorious in his bought with McMahon, but not without some interference from Rowdy Roddy Piper in the form of a clubbing with a pipe on Hulk Hogan.
6. Bret Hart and Steve Austin – Submission Match
At Wrestlemania 13, Bret “The Hitman” Hart took on Stone Cold Steve Austin in a bloody no disqualification submission match. The match was nothing short of intense. A number of foreign objects were used as weapons throughout, including the ring-side bell. Blood spilled when Bret put Austin’s head through the timekeeper’s table.
The match was refereed by UFC fighter Ken Shamrock. Shamrock awarded the match to Hart but Bret continued to beat on the bloodied Austin after he’d already won the match. Shamrock challenged Bret to a fight in response to the bad form but The Hitman declined the offer and left the stage.
5. Bret Hart and Roddy Piper – Wrestlemania VIII
Here’s another bloody battle featuring wrestling great Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
Back in Wrestlemania 8, Hart faced off against Rowdy Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental Championship belt. The match has actually been praised by critics for having been able to showcase elements of amateur wrestling and all out street fighting. Thomas Golianopoulos of Complex Sports considered it one of the 50 Greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time.
Hart was able to get the belt from Piper, but not before Piper opened Hart up and caused one of the biggest blood losses of his career. Piper would take a hiatus after losing the belt in Wrestlemania 8.
4. Undertaker and Steve Austin – First Blood Match
Of course a First Blood match would feature a lot of blood, as the whole point to a First Blood match is that the first wrestler to bleed loses. It was in a First Blood match during the 1998 WWF Fully Loaded Pay-Per-View event that Steve Austin would meet the Undertaker for the WWF Championship belt. In this instance, the name First Blood was a bit of a misnomer as the two wrestlers beat each other mercilessly and both men left the ring bloodied. In the end, Steve Austin would be considered the victor of the battle, retaining his Championship title, and holding on to the coveted belt.
3. Cactus Jack Vs. Triple H – Now Way Out 2000
This match was absolutely insane.
For the main event for the No Way Out Pay-Per-View feature, Cactus Jack and Triple H met up in a cage for a Hell In A Cell Match. The deal would be that if Jack lost, he would retire from wrestling. Obviously blood was drawn considering the cage was ripped open, the fight was taken to announcer’s tables (which rarely ends well!), and a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire was used as a weapon. The 2×4 would be used again in the match, only the next time it was set on fire! The match even moved to the roof of the cell and the two wrestlers fell through it and back into the ring.
Eventually, Triple H would win the match after performing The Pedigree on Jack and executing a pin.
2. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker – Hell In A Cell
You have to figure a Hell In A Cell match will lead to blood, considering a repeated trope to the matches is breaking through the cage and taking the fight outside. In the No Mercy Pay-Per-View event, the match between Brock Lesnar and Undertaker would be no exception. Blood first spilled when Undertaker repeatedly smashed a cast he was wearing into Lesnar’s face. Undertaker would then continuously pull Lesnar’s manager into the cage through the fencing, causing him to bleed as well. Finally, Lesnar beat the tar out of Undertaker with the steel steps, causing Undertaker to begin bleeding profusely. Blood was everywhere.
In the end, Lesnar would retain his Championship title.
1. New Jack and Kulas – “Mass Transit Incident”
ECW was a rather short-lived professional wrestling promotion and its demise is partly due to a televised tragedy that has become known as “The Mass Transit Incident.” Instead of the blood spilling during a Pay-Per-View event, an unfortunate incident during an actual television broadcast led to the cancellation of ECW Barely Legal Pay-Per-View special.
A wrestler known as New Jack did a bladejob on wrestler Eric Kulas at the end of a match. Something had gone wrong and Kulas began bleeding profusely, so much so that he actually died. During the match, Kulas’ father revealed that the Kulas was only 17, a fact that the ECW claims they did not know. Eric’s father alleges this is because they never asked.
New Jack was taken to court for the incident because Eric’s family believed he did it on purpose since the wrestler continued to berate Kulas after the fact. New Jack didn’t realize what had gone wrong and was simply staying in character. New Jack was acquitted when several witnesses revealed that Kulas requested the blade job and had asked New Jack to perform it since Kulas hadn’t attempted the move yet.