The View From Down Here – 5 Strange Blading Facts

Yes, it’s a list column. Sorry.

About three months ago, I got to talking with a friend of mine about pro wrestling. This friend is a physiotherapist, and he was trying to work how the hell I could still even partially go in the ring with my completely destroyed knees. I showed him a few things, and then we watched a few videos.

One of them was the Bret Hart/Steve Austin match from Wrestlemania 13.

This led, of course, to a discussion that went something like this: “Wow! That’s a lot of blood. Where did they hide the blood capsules? Did the ref have them or something?”

“Uhh, no. It’s called blading.”

“What?”

Out with the copy of Hitman, and the bit where Bret describes where he bladed Austin at WM13. The discussion then turns to:

“No way! That is sick! Why would you do that?”

“Because it looks real.”

“Because it is real! That’s crazy.”

“Why?”

“Because, well…”

And that led to a whole heap of research by both of us.

 

And so, in the vein of teaching you what we learnt (vein… geddit?) here are the five more interesting things about blading we discovered!

 

1) Blading is way older than professional wrestling.

Blood in ancient times was seen as the substance of life – while blood flowed through the veins, there was life in the body. To spill blood and give one’s life in an act of heroism was seen as the ultimate act of valour. As such, apocryphal tales tell of some who deliberately wounded themselves in order to draw blood and appear more heroic.

Of course, later on, this was seen as an act of cowardice, a means of getting out of battle, especially with the advent of firearms. Shooting oneself in the foot was a convenient way to get out of war with an injury that wouldn’t kill you. Allegedly.

Onto other sports, and it was alleged in the early twentieth century that some ‘cuts above the eyes’ that stopped fights were the result of deliberate blading, a way to throw the fight without being knocked out. Of course, again, these stories are without verification, but it does sound pretty damn cool.

 

2) Blading results in scarring from the word go.

Blade once, and you’re scarred. Unfortunately. My eyebrow is a sad testament to that stupid fact. You see, the problem is, the reason blading is so effective on the forehead is that the skin is so thin. It just covers a bit of muscle to move the eyebrows and then a solid chunk of bone designed to cover the brain. But that solid chunk of bone takes up a fair whack of the head.

There are two things which contribute to this scarring. First, the sweat that is used to mix with the blood acts as a cleaning agent (explained a little later), but the problem is this also cleans off the edges of the wound, which means the healing white blood sells are also washed away.

The skin is stretched across the bone and thin veneer of muscle, so that when it is cut open, there is some give in the skin. It relaxes because the tension is off. And so when it heals – which that part of the body does remarkably well – the skin is not quite in the original position it was in earlier. The scar tissue has to make up the difference. And so, hence, a scar.

Straight away.

 

3) Blading can leave you with a numb nose.

As mentioned, the skin and muscles are pretty thin on the forehead. And so that means everything is near the surface – blood vessels… and nerves. Now, most of the nerves just mean all sense of feeling is lost in the skin around the scar tissue. But there are some nerves that run from above the eyebrow down to the nose, especially around the nostrils. One unfortunate blade and the sides of your nose feel like they’re itching and tingling all the time. Go a little deeper and sneezing becomes an experience of odd tickling sensations. Go deeper still and a broken nose becomes no more irritating than a week old scratch.

Which, all told, is probably an advantage in wrestling.

 

4) Blading rarely leads to tetanus.

Even such classic blade jobs as the Mass Transit gorefest or the Muta / Hiroshi Hase match that led to the infamous ‘muta scale’ of blading did not necessarily lead to the desperate need to have a tetanus shot.

This is because of one very simple factor – the sheer amount of blood that flows from the wound. You see, tetanus is caused by a bacterium, a nasty one that causes muscle paralysis. But in the act of blading, one very important thing us done – the blood is mixed with sweat to make it flow much faster and appear much more copious. This actually has the effect of cleaning out the wound. And with sweat being a salty product, it is like cleaning out the wound with a saline solution.

By bleeding like a stuck pig, it’s actually safer in an odd way.

 

5) Mickey Rourke actually bladed in the film The Wrestler.

Yeah, sure, it’s relatively well known, but I still think it’s kinda cool that an actor would gig himself for his art.

Apparently, so the story goes, Aronofsky told Rourke he’d be blading, and Rourke said it was fine, assuming that it wouldn’t happen. Well, when the time came, Aronofsky in fact did say it needn’t happen, but Rourke did it anyway.

 

What about blading nowadays? In the ECW and Attitude eras, everyone bladed and bled all the time. It became passé. In WCW, Ric Flair got to the point where he’d blade in a pillow fight and I’m surprised Hulk Hogan didn’t blade when he took the finger-poke of doom. And now in the PG era of WWE, a guy can be thrown into a Hell in the Cell fifty times, be hit with a sledge-hammer and then have the steel ring steps rammed upside his head non-stop for half an hour with no ill effects. And he’ll kick out at 2 on the pin attempt. However, it must be said, over in TNA it seems they have the mix just about right. Blading occurs in blood feuds (Storm v Roode), occasional beat-downs, but not every single match.

 

Okay, the psychological part – why blade? Well, the answer’s actually really simple. It makes it look more real and legitimate.

 

So, is blading still needed? Do we miss it in WWE? What was the best blade job you saw (not necessarily the goriest)?

 

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