The practice of blading in professional wrestling is a performative act where a wrestler intentionally cuts oneself to inflict a bleeding injury. Audiences in the moment and long after the match invest significant consideration in working out whether blood and injury are a ‘work’, part of the performance or ‘shoot’, an actual injury.
This reaction demonstrates an argument for real and perceived injury to be understood as a popular attraction in the spectacle of pro-wrestling’s performance, and blood in particular as currency in the performer/audience transaction. This paper will focus on the performance of pre-determined injury as modes of communication in the pro-wrestling ring. By employing principles from Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) to explain how pro-wrestling’s lexicon, or kayfabe, is conducive to marketing blood as currency, a codified language system that reads physical sacrifice as inherently masculine is established. By relating this principle to The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven and Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes at Backlash 2023, the paper explores blood as currency in performance. The paper concludes by returning to Hobbes’s Lexicon, debating the fictional systems beyond the ring that shape our attitudes to labour, and that questions the work/shoot; the blurring of the line between reality and the masculine myth that demands an actual physical sacrifice in a fictional performance.
Butler, Lisa S.
"Blood as Currency in Professional Wrestling,"
Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine: Vol. 8:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/vol8/iss2/3