How to Regain a Loyal Fan - Bring back the JUICE!
by, 07-06-2012 at 12:33 PM (8011 Views)
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. Yes, I started this week’s blog with a fragment, but my point is sound. If you want to know why and how blood can be used in a way to further character development, enhance an angle, and help build a megastar, look no further than this example. The image of Austin’s last bit of strength being exerted to power out of the Sharp Shooter is on my list of top three moments when using juice in a match. The sight of pain on his face sold the story of his “I am better than the best there is” attitude, but the sight of Austin’s blood streaming down his face is what proved to me that he was willing to sacrifice everything, including his valuable fluid of life, in order to ensure that we all knew he is better than the best. Add to that the “passed out” ending to the match and you have the perfect concoction. This one image, equipped with a crimson mask, sold millions of fans that this man is worth every moment we choose to emotionally invest into him.
Blood shouldn’t be used in order for us to feel that wrestling is more ‘Real’. We all have been subject to seeing guys gig. One of my favorite parts of watching wrestling with my dad was when the camera would remain on a downed wrestler and you could “spot the gig.” My dad and I would always call out when we saw it, whether painfully obvious or a well disguised slice. It was a fun, childhood memory that I still carry out to this day. In relation to the blood, however, it is the imagery that helps sell the superstar as being a legit performer, not that wrestling is real. I remember in 2005 how talented Samoa Joe was, but what made Joe a legit badass in TNA was Genesis. The chair shot that opened up Daniels (Did you spot the gig?), the two muscle busters (Why do Tenay and West insist there were 3?), but the selling point was Joe walking out at the end of AJ Styles vs. Petey Williams, equipped with a towel covered in Daniels blood. Sure TNA was trying to be more like ECW and less like WWE back then so juice was flowing FAR too frequently, but this image gave the “Joe’s gonna kill you” chants authenticity. Joe was coming and he was coming for your blood.
Now I know this is a fine line to walk. There is a niche in the wrestling community that the companies like CZW, JCW, and the former IWA-MS fill. If Jim Ross says that the Hell in a Cell is comparable to watching a car wreck as it happens, then Tournament of Death (CZW), Cage of Death (CZW), and King of the Death Match (IWA-MS) are comparable to watching the Faces of Death as they happen. It has its appeal to a specific demographic, which is fine; I am just not part of that demographic. To me, it is complete overkill when syringes, mouse traps, and cinder blocks are in play. I give respect to Ian Rotten, Mad Man Pondo, Necro Butcher, J.C Bailey (RIP), Scotty Vorteks, Corporal Robinson, Danny Havoc, Drake Younger, MASADA, Ryuji Ito, and MANY others for their ability to take such pain and walk the next day, but these matches cut careers in half, if not shorter. There comes a point when Cactus Jack’s anti-hardcore promos have to ring true to the likes of Dave & Jake Crist (Irish Airborne), Sami Callahan, Devon Moore, and others coming up the independent circuit. Look at “Sick” Nick Mondo and Thumbtack Jack for examples. The fans need to remember your name and match at the end of the show; not how many pieces of glass were shattered and how many quarts of blood were spilled on the canvas.
There are many different levels of what could be considered “Acceptable Juice” in today’s wrestling society. Some hard core fans argue for the likes of ECW to resurface, but I honestly feel that more of a 1980s approach fits better. Allow the juice in your gimmick matches to sell the match and feud. Starcade 86 featured Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard in a First Blood match. It did not take a lot of blood spilling to make the match interesting, but the little bit that did spill made the feud that much more heated. I think that the “E Universe” successfully pulled this move off by accident. Do we all remember the night Cena slapped Lesnar? Well be it Lesnar being legit stiff & Cena took it, or Brock being out so long that he botched (most likely), Cena had a bloody mouth in the wake. This wasn’t a gashed artery or a face full of blood… It was just enough juice to give Lesnar that push of a “Monstrous Force” and Cena that not so “Super” demeanor… Of course, I feel the E dropped the ball with the Brock Contract signing (his speaking skills are horrendous) and the result is that, even though people feel the Extreme Rules beating of Cena (minus the end) was great, Lesnar is already getting old with fans.
In conclusion to this, I have to point out that blood has its place in the wrestling world. The catch is that it has to be used to enhance something. If it be to make an angle more heated, sell the audience on how tough a wrestler is, or give credit to how dangerous a match is, selective blood usage can be your friend. It is a natural sight that pulls at our emotions. Juice, if used right, can get someone over without having to force them to the main event before their time, or giving them a title run that only lasts 2 months. Juice is a tool that doesn’t always have to be used to make a superstar, but then again you don’t always have to use a hammer to punch a nail into a piece of wood either… The tool just makes it easier.
As always, feel free to comment and I will reply as I can. Have a different opinion? Make your valid points as I always enjoy hearing them. Like what you read? Subscribe to this series and follow along as I continue giving my take on how the industry is progressing and regressing simultaneously. If you feel like you’ve missed the direction of this blog, check out the previous blog archives and catch up a bit on where my opinions are based from(this will also help you understand why I choose the word “loyal”) and what the goal of this series truly is; How to regain loyal fans.