For years, one of the biggest fan complaints about WWE was the complete lack of gore in their programming. Now, that was understandable since much of their product was aimed at children. At the same time, however, fans weren’t particularly happy that pro wrestling had lost one of its defining characteristics.
After years of WWE being the only show in town, AEW has certainly shaken up the corporate landscape since its inception in 2019.
Tony Khan’s company is geared more towards professional wrestling and less towards sports entertainment and has become a particular favorite with hardcore fans.
The gritty AEW product has been a breath of fresh air from WWE’s ultra clean and overproduced lineup. But at the same time, it must be admitted that the company also has its own shortcomings. One of the biggest of these might be the excessive use of blood in their TV shows.
Almost every major AEW match has blood involved in a fad
When done right, blood can elevate a match or angle. The feud between CM Punk and MJF is proof of that. The trick is not to overdo it, otherwise it just desensitizes viewers. This is where AEW seems to be struggling right now.
Almost every big game in AEW has blood involved in one way or another. In fact, a number of matches are promoted with the promise that there will be blood involved. The recent Barbed Wire Everywhere match between Chris Jericho and Eddie Kingston is a perfect example. Even AEW fans didn’t like it. In the past, Jericho was also involved in a no rules match with Nick Gage.
Of course, Jericho isn’t the only one who relies too heavily on blood. When was the last time a high-profile Jon Moxley match didn’t involve someone bleeding?
The purpose of the blood in the fight is to shock the viewer and show how the violence has reached a new level. But when it becomes part of the formula, it’s just repetitive and just not as effective.
This prevents AEW from growing its viewership beyond a certain level.
One of the biggest worries about AEW is that they’ve struggled to grow their viewership and seem to have hit a ceiling. In fact, their most-watched episode so far remains the first Dynamite.
NXT’s move to Tuesday nights gave their numbers a boost, but since then viewership numbers have stagnated. A big reason for this is the type of product they present.
While blood was a big part of wrestling in the Attitude Age, you have to admit that times have changed since then, and so has wrestling. The extremely gritty style of wrestling might no longer appeal to the casual fan, who grew up watching WWE over the past two decades.
Thus, the excessive use of blood sees AEW confined to a box, where they appeal to a smaller pool of today’s professional wrestling fans.
When used sporadically, blood may be much more effective
In modern WWE, blood is a rarity. While most of the time this is a problem and limits their storytelling tools, on some occasions it can also be a huge plus. For example, Roman Reigns bleeding out in the main event of WrestleMania 34 or Brock Lesnar smashing Randy Orton before SummerSlam 2016, are prime examples of how blood scarcity has been used to make some feel more important.
The greatest example of this might have been what led Becky Lynch to go from an underutilized talent to arguably the most over-the-top female star in wrestling history, when her nose was accidentally broken. by Nia Jax. It turned out to be a star-making moment.
Would something similar have the same impact on AEW TV, where there’s blood in almost every show?
AEW needs to be smarter with its angles and matches involving blood
Anything you use too often eventually loses its effectiveness over time. The suplex was once a finisher. Today, modern wrestlers would be lucky to pull off a two count.
This is because it has been overused to the point where it has become a transitional movement. The same can be said about the use of blood in AEW. But then let’s go back to the classic match between Cody and Dustin Rhodes from Double or Nothing 2019, when fans hadn’t been desensitized by the use of blood and as a result, its usage went high.
AEW needs to drastically reduce the use of blood and save it for its really important angles and matches so that when fans see blood, it automatically elevates the product on screen.