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The 5 Bloodiest Matches In WrestleMania History We'll Never Forget
These WrestleMania matches are legendary on their own, but the addition of blood takes them to the next level!
In professional wrestling, sometimes feuds and rivalries become so personal and bitter that it leads to more naturally violent matches. As opposed to the vast majority of matches on WWE television that involve athletes doing whatever they can to win the bout to move closer to title contention, some matches reach a level where the wrestlers seem to want nothing more than to hurt the other physically.
In these cases, blood is usually shed. For some reason, when rivalries get truly bitter and personal, WWE Superstars have a history of wanting to bust their opponent's head open. A match can be dramatic, engaging, and filled with amazing in-ring action, but it can be taken to a transcendent level when blood is introduced. WrestleMania has hosted many of these matches throughout WWE history. Today, USA Insider will be turning back the clock and looking at a time in WWE when blood was spilled in a significant way.
Of course, WWE famously banned blood (for the most part) on its programming in 2008, so clips we've hunted down for these matches may seem lacking for fans looking to experience the full effects. Luckily, all of these matches can be experienced in their full, uncut glory on Peacock! So, without further ado, here are five of the bloodiest matches in WrestleMania history.
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 23
The intensely personal rivalry between John Cena and Shawn Michaels led to a showdown at WrestleMania, where HBK quickly found himself bleeding buckets all over the ring. Frankly, it was a situation he found himself in regularly during his career. Cena accomplished this by vaulting Michaels into the ring post, causing Michaels to see red for the remainder of the match. Michaels returned the favor by giving Cena a vicious piledriver onto the steel steps at ringside, causing Cena to bleed from the top of his head. The fans were stunned – not just by the bloodshed but by Cena standing toe-to-toe with one of the greatest Superstars on the biggest stage.
This match became one of the decisive wins in the young career of Cena and will go down in history as one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Furthermore, it will forever live on as one of the last genuinely great WrestleMania matches to feature blood, as the WWE's ban went into effect the following year.
Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. McMahon, WrestleMania 19
While not on the radar for the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time, Hogan vs. McMahon in 2003 certainly stands out for being one of the bloodiest!
In the months leading up to this match, Mr. McMahon dredged up some old history between himself and Hulk Hogan, declaring that he always hated him for leaving WWE for WCW in the 90s and testifying against him in federal court when the federal government indicted him. (That's a story for another day). So naturally, this led to a street fight proposed for WrestleMania, a challenge that Hogan happily accepted.
This street fight lived up to all expectations, as neither Superstar figuratively (or literally!) held anything back, especially when it came to swinging steel chairs around like baseball bats. By the midway point of the match, McMahon was bleeding, Hogan was bleeding, and even ringside Spanish commentator Hugo Savinovich was bleeding – all due to some seriously wild chair shots.
It was a match for the ages as the drama intensified once the bleeding started. We'll be honest, some of the steel chair shots to the head are hard to watch even in 2023.
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, WrestleMania 13
For many members of the WWE Universe who were in their formative years during the Attitude Era, this match stands out in their brains as particularly memorable because it was most likely the first time they'd experienced blood during an iconic WWE match.
Fans worldwide agree this submission match between Bret "Hitman" Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would not have left the imprint it made without Austin bleeding profusely from the head during the match's final moments. That bloody moment – immortalized in WWE history as one of the best-directed and well-filmed shots ever – helped propel Steve Austin into the stratosphere popularity-wise. Thanks to the blood dripping down his face, Austin cemented himself as a Superstar who would never say, "I quit," as he'd pass out from the pain rather than admit defeat.
For young WWE fans who witnessed this match live in 1997, Austin's blood and pain were real, and the storyline was real. As a result, it's one of the most iconic images and matches in WWE history, let alone WrestleMania history.
The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair, WrestleMania 18
Taking place right in the middle of the Undertaker's WrestleMania streak, Ric Flair met the Dead Man in a No-Disqualification Match in 2002 and in true Flair fashion, the Nature Boy proceeded to get his butt kicked for the better part of 20 minutes as the Undertaker seemingly toyed with him the entire match.
Some seriously stiff shots to the head opened up both competitors, and even Arn Anderson bled during the match since, as it turns out, the Undertaker doesn't take kindly to allies of Ric Flair interfering on his behalf. This match is another example of blood adding to the drama and mystique of an exciting bout. At that point, Undertaker was 9-0 at WrestleMania and looking for number ten. Although Flair used nearly every trick in the book, he ultimately failed to score a WrestleMania victory over one of the greatest legends ever. Nevertheless, it's a forgotten gem in the annals of WrestleMania history, and it's well worth going out of your way to watch, even Anderson's interference is still highly regarded as one of the best run-ins in WWE history by fans!
Edge vs. Mick Foley, WrestleMania 22
If you're a fan of blood in your wrestling matches (and if you're not, we're seriously questioning why you've made it this far into this article), it doesn't get any bloodier than the hardcore match between Edge and Mick Foley in 2006!
This match had it all for a specific segment of the WWE Universe. Chair shots? Check. Blood flowing early and often? Check. Barbed wire baseball bats? Check. Thumbtacks? Check. A spear through a flaming table? Check. To say that these two men put each other through hell is an understatement. Even Lita got in on the hardcore action by being on the receiving end of a barbed wire-covered Mr. Socko courtesy of Foley. To this day, we don't understand how either Superstar managed to walk away from this match relatively unscathed. It's gory, gruesome and the defining hardcore match in the WWE catalog. If your jaw doesn't hit the floor multiple times while watching this match, congratulations, you've been officially desensitized to violence.
For one night only, WrestleMania was home to arguably the craziest and most extreme match in WWE history. This match is NOT for the faint of heart, so watch it on Peacock at your own risk.
Will the WWE Universe witness more bloody matches at WrestleMania 2023 in Los Angeles? Honestly, probably not. As we've discussed before, the days of Superstars bleeding profusely in WWE matches are long gone. Luckily, fans who think blood has a place in modern professional wrestling can still hold out hope that WWE reverses course on its infamous blood ban. If that never happens, they'll always have Peacock to watch countless bloody WWE matches throughout history.
Besides, with the recent momentum of WWE's storylines, blood is not needed (nor is the Rock, according to Cody Rhodes) to put on an unforgettable WrestleMania!
Consider this is your official two-week warning: WrestleMania is just around the corner. So, WWE Universe, it's time to get excited!
Catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.