Color Me Blood Red: The Black and White Era
by, 08-11-2013 at 01:04 AM (3004 Views)
Note: Thanks to everyone for the wonderful responses to my last entry. I'll write a part 2 in the near future but for now....
"He is wearing the proverbial crimson mask!"
Modern WWE programming isn’t made with me in mind. It took me awhile to realize, but once I did, I was able to better appreciate the product. I am no longer the target demographic. It was weird at first cause that had never been the case. The Hogan era and the (post steroid) family friendly era both coincided with my childhood. I was 12 when the attitude era began (Wrestlemania 13). I’ve noted in previous blogs that I actually stopped watching the modern wrestling product from (roughly) 2003-August 2008. It was in 2008 that the WWE made a shift back to more family friendly programming and entered what many now call the “PG Era.”
If you didn’t get the hint from my title, I don’t actually use the term “PG era” when discussing present day WWE. It all seems a little silly to me. No one calls 1997-2007 the “TV-14 Era.” I prefer to label it the “Black and White era.” The reasons are two fold with the first being more obvious; the WWE no longer rebroadcasts segments with bloodshed without switching the image to black and white. Secondly, it refers to the WWE’s shift away from “shades of grey” wrestlers and it’s return to the old school good vs. evil.
Now there are a number of directions I could head in but I’m going to stick with one key topic for the purposes of this blog: blood. Fans want blood. They yearn for the blade job. They hunger for someone to get “busted wide open.” Me? I don’t really miss blood too much. My opinions on blading actually fall in line with my opinions on unprotected chair shots; nice once or twice a year to add emphasis to an extremely personal feud or a particularly nasty beat down. But that’s it really. That’s all I need. But I understand that on a site filled with wrestling enthusiasts, I may be the exception more then the rule.
People born in the 80s or prior might be able to follow me a bit better then the younger generation on this. Did you ever stay up past your bedtime as a kid and watch HBO or Cinemax after hours? Maybe it was at your place, maybe it was at a friend’s, but somehow you made it happen. Adult programs, both curious and magnificent, awaited you. Then you grew up and the Internet happened. And now late night premium channel programming doesn’t even register. It’s all a matter of desensitization and conditioning. We’re desensitized to the point where nothing is shocking but we’re conditioned to seek out the next level of depravity. And once it all begins to set in, it’s hard to go back.
Blood has been a part of the wrestling culture for decades but it was during the mid to late 90s that things got out of hand. Getting color was no longer reserved for heated rivalries and circus acts. It became a daily occurrence. And the more blood rained down on the mat, the more performers felt the need to raise the stakes. Protected steel chair shots, exposed turnbuckles, and security rail bumps became passé. Hardcore wrestling got taken to the extreme. If it wasn’t thumbtacks, it was broken glass. If it wasn’t barbed wire, it was staple guns. Out came the household appliances, bowling balls, and Singapore canes. Tables were set up, broken, set up again, set on fire, and broken again. An untold number of concussions were amassed as countless unprotected chair shots to the head were delivered.
Hardcore legends were made during this era; the likes of Raven, The Sandman, Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, and Sabu. We saw the reinvention of Terry Funk. Not only that, we saw the reinvention of what a professional wrestler could be altogether. But in that time of excess the scales of humanity shifted perilously away from compassion and towards brutality; the scars of battle large in number and cavernous in depth. It was easy to forget these were real people and not just characters. Their tolerance for pain might be abnormally high, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
I’ve been to numerous wrestling matches where a guy will take a nasty bump and then favor a body part (arm, leg, whatever). We are conditioned (there’s that word again) as fans to think, “yeah, sell that injury.” We’ve become accustomed to thinking everything is a work. Whenever a guy gets busted open, we look for the blade job. We don’t stop to think of the toll these matches take on wrestlers. Mick Foley retired from the full-time wrestling roster in his mid 30s. It used to be that was when a lot of guys hit their prime.
I don’t hate hardcore wrestling and I’ve never been bothered by the sight of blood, but I don’t miss that era of excess where fans turned a blind eye to the pain their heroes endured in favor of celebratory pop. I don’t miss barbed wire, and staple guns, and glass. I think Combat Zone Wrestling is garbage. Do I wish a guy could get cut open from time to time (even if hard-way) and not have the match stopped? Sure. But I understand it’s a different era and aside from the WWE trying to keep their product PG, there’s the health and safety of their performers to consider. It may not be popular with a lot of the fans, but it’s a step forward in my book.
Thank you for Reading. Feel free to leave praise, constructive feedback, or troll. If you're going to troll though, please have some style.
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