To that extent, blood in wrestling can be iconic in ways that are far less, shall we say, glamorous. When a wrestler puts the blade to their forehead or allows themselves to be struck with a jagged weapon, he or she is assuming a considerable amount of risk. As is the case with actual wrestling moves that can concuss brains, twist knees, and contort vertebrae, spilling your own blood in a wrestling match has its share of hazards.
The following list will look at 10 examples of in-ring performers that lost maybe a little too much blood in the course of one performance. It's a little hard to rank these, even with a subjective eye-test, but I've done my best. If you think #4 had it worse than #6, so be it. But we can all agree: the incidents listed here went far and beyond any realistic fan expectations.
10. Vince McMahon (Survivor Series 2003)
Either Vinnie Mac went a little overboard in cutting his own scalp in his Buried Alive match against The Undertaker, or he took enough aspirin pre-match to soothe an elephant's migraine. McMahon subjected himself to the blade off of the first Undertaker punch, and within seconds, his head opened up like the elevator doors at the Overlook Lodge.
Especially harrowing was watching Vince writhe on the mat after getting crotched against the ring post, and seeing about three different rivulets of blood streaming off of his head. As Vince was largely immobile in the latter stages of the brawl, it's not clear how much is him selling the heartless beating, and how much is just him too weakened to do much of anything. But check out how thick the puddles of blood are near McMahon's head as Undertaker cracks his ankle with the ring steps. They made melted nacho cheese look soupier.
9. Necro Butcher (IWA Mid South: Something To Prove)
With a name like Necro Butcher, you'd have to expect that some truly grisly performances would be on tap. The globetrotting deathmatch icon had just returned to the States after wrestling partner and fellow slasher Madman Pondo in a blood-stained brawl in Yokohama, Japan, and was whisked to Philadelphia's famed ECW Arena for a twin-bill, beginning with a rather legendary match against Samoa Joe.
Butcher had sustained a substantial head wound in the match with Pondo that was hanging on by a thread, and Joe's harsh strikes ripped it back open during the course of their unbridled melee. With Butcher calling the spots (per his claim), he allowed Joe to just about beat him to death, unleashing an arsenal of hard drops on the concrete floor, a powerbomb on a length of guardrail, and many kicks to the face, all while Butcher's blood oozed out drop by drop. Hours later, Butcher took part in a falls count anywhere match in the same building for CZW's half of the doubleheader, because even Death knows better than to f**k with Necro Butcher.
8. Blackjack Mulligan (Boston Garden, May 1971)
This amount of blood loss is not due to a nasty gash sustained mid-match, or a bladejob gone awry. In this case, the rough-and-ready patriarch of the Windham/Rotundo/Wyatt/Dallas wrestling clan began haemorrhaging blood before his WWWF Championship match against Pedro Morales, and it wasn't a fellow wrestler that drew the blood.
As Mulligan was getting ready to step into the ring, an overzealous fan charged the ring and stabbed the immense cowboy in the thigh with a knife. Fortunately, the assailant apparently missed the femoral artery, because that could have led to an expedited death for Mulligan. As a written account notes, towels were quickly applied to Mulligan's leg, and quickly turned red from the rate of blood loss. It took more than 100 stitches for Mulligan's wound to be sewn shut.
7. The Great Muta (NJPW Battle Final 1992)
You know you've made it in your field of choice when something gets named after you. In the case of Muta, he is responsible for The Muta Scale, in which the goriest bladejobs in wrestling are measured against the gusher he hit against Hiroshi Hase one night in 1992. To be fair, a number of bloody battles since then have surpassed Muta's spillage that night, but his "output" remains incredibly impressive.
As many have famously noted, Muta's red facepaint eroded away over the course of the match's first 15 minutes, but he would 'gain it back' once he sliced his skin. Muta, Hase, the mat, and the ringside area were left with enough Muta DNA to officially constitute a crime scene. To be the standard by which all future bladejobs are judged is to earn inclusion on this list, even if Muta's blood loss might look tame by later standards. But in 1992, Muta was truly the alpha and the omega of stuck pig bleeders.
6. Bill Alfonso (ECW As Good As It Gets)
It was *supposed* to be a mixed tag team match pitting Tommy Dreamer and eventful wife Beulah against Rob Van Dam and hyperactive, rail-thin manager Bill Alfonso. A (kayfabed) prematch injury to Dreamer functionally turned the match into Fonzie vs. Beulah in one of the damnedest matches you've ever seen.
Early on, Alfonso blades off of a metal tray shot from Beulah and ends up losing a good amount of the blood in his body, staining his black button-up shirt to the point where it actually had a shine. The sight of an enthusiastic Beulah covered in Fonzie's crimson life essence is, in all honesty, one of the most eye-opening images in pro wrestling lore. As a side note, this was supposed to be Alfonso's last night in ECW - he'd allegedly taken part in a silent plot to help talent desert ECW for WCW, and was putting over Beulah before his official termination. As a result of the savage beating he'd subjected himself to, Alfonso was spared; Paul Heyman couldn't bring himself to fire Alfonso after such an untethered performance.
5. John Cena (Judgment Day 2005)
Love him or not (and chances are, you'd boo him as though he'd set fire to an animal shelter), even the biggest Cena hater has to concede that he's one tough dude. John Cena has gutted it out through serious injuries (notably the horrifically swollen elbow he worked through at SummerSlam 2013), and if you've seen Judgment Day 2005, you know that he's not much phased by blood loss, either.
Cena's face and entire front torso were absolutely caked in blood by the end of his I Quit Match against John Bradshaw Layfield, a match that overachieved in the eyes of many, for more than one reason. Even Al Bundy, who once donated every drop of blood in his body to finance a large billiards wager for daughter Kelly, didn't lose as much blood as Cena did here.
4. The Undertaker (No Mercy 2002)
For my money, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels' Hell in a Cell match in 1997 is the best cell match of all time, but I'd argue that Undertaker's loss to Brock Lesnar (the 2002 one, not the 2015 sequel) is a very close second. Part of the reason the match in question has achieved such lore is the fact that Undertaker was reduced to a bloody pulp fairly early on, and pressed onward, even with his forehead still visibly shooting out the juice.
The grossest spot of the match, and therefore most unforgettable, was when Undertaker rolled over Lesnar's body after an unsuccessful pin attempt, dripping blood up Lesnar's torso, with a few drops depositing into Brock's open mouth. Longtime internet wrestling reviewer Scott Keith decreed that dripping blood down your opponent's gullet should obliterate the Muta Scale, and I second that notion.
3. Nick Gage (CZW Tournament Of Death VIII)
Having been to a few of CZW's Tournaments of Death, you come to expect some gory sights. Between the barbed wire, the lightbulb tubes, the thumbtacks, and the various other instruments of pain, every entrant in the field subjects themselves to a few harrowing moments. In the case of CZW original Gage, his participation almost led to Tournament of Death living up to its name.
In the final round of the 2009 tournament, Gage was thrown into a set of vertical light bulb tubes by opponent Thumbtack Jack. Gage's side torso is what made the impact, and the broken glass caused a horrifying laceration beneath his right armpit, reportedly severing a major artery. The match was halted, and Gage had to be airlifted to the hospital for emergency surgery. However, Gage wouldn't be out long: one week later, he re-emerged, attacking Jack at CZW's Best of the Best show in Philadelphia.
2. Erich "Mass Transit" Kulas (23 November 1996)
The "Mass Transit Incident" exists only on handheld camera footage, which lends a certain underground uneasiness to the entire spectacle. Kulas was a 17-year-old super-heavyweight fan who had lied about his age (claiming to be 23) and had successfully finagled his way into replacing an absent Axl Rotten in an ECW Tag Team title match at a live event in Revere, MA.
Kulas (dressing as a disgruntled overweight bus driver, hence the name "Mass Transit") teamed with D-Von Dudley to face The Gangstas, New Jack and Mustafa.
Kulas had never bladed before, and had asked New Jack if he could perform the necessary cutting. During the haphazard brawl, New Jack sat a battered Kulas up and dug at his forehead with a scalpel (some sources say an X-Acto knife). The ensuing act left Kulas with severed arteries in his head, and he began bleeding profusely all over the mat (on-site medics applied gauze pads, which went from white to red in an instant). Kulas later tried to sue New Jack, but New Jack would be acquitted since Kulas himself had asked to be cut.
1. Eddie Guerrero (Judgment Day 2004)
It only seemed like an instant. JBL had just clobbered Guerrero in the head with a steel chair during their WWE Championship match. The camera panned in on JBL as he gasped for air, before panning over to Guerrero seconds later, revealing an alarming amount of blood rushing from a botched bladejob. (The screenshot above was taken roughly five seconds after Eddie took the chair shot to the head... not five minutes, FIVE SECONDS!) Guerrero's entire torso down to his belly button was coated in steams of blood, while his forehead continued dispensing, concealing his facial features.
The match continued for 10 more minutes, during which time the canvas displayed puddles of Guerrero's lost blood. Once backstage, Guerrero reportedly went into shock and had to be immediately hospitalized. He received 16 stitches for the wound, and required two IV bags of fluids in order to rehydrate him.