Wrestling Bloodbath: The 25 Bloodiest Matches in Pro Wrestling History
To some people, blood is rather gross. The sight of it can lead to nausea, queasiness and feelings of sickness. For wrestling fans, though, blood will illicit one common reaction: Oh, yeah!
Blood in professional wrestling is the cornerstone of a truly violent feud. Often one of the most graphic depictions of violence in the sport, fans have long debated the bloodiest encounters of all-time. More importantly, what type of bloodbath are we looking for?
There are matches where both participants bleed, and some where only one wrestler bleeds. Does quantity of blood replace multiple wrestlers being busted open? Should cage matches count less than regular matches because of the steel mesh? How do you compare wrestling in the United States with the bloody brawls in Japan?
Fans of the WWE, rejoice! If you're looking for old school, blood 'n' guts mayhem, then this is your list. We've compiled 25 of the bloodiest matches we could find. We went through painstaking research to determine which matches were worthy of inclusion, and which just weren't bloody enough.
Think you know what's on the list? You may be surprised...
25. Bret Hart vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper (April 5, 1992)
1992 wasn't exactly the greatest year for blood in the WWE. Yet at WrestleMania VIII, fans were treated to two of the goriest matches of the year. In the first encounter, Bret "Hitman" Hart fought the reigning Intercontinental Champion "Rowdy" Roddy Piper to regain his title.
During the match, Bret Hart got opened up, and bled more here than at any other point in his career. It was one of the more violent matches during the tamer early 1990s era in the promotion, and is quite the memorable match.
24. Steve Austin vs. Kane (June 28, 1998)
Steve Austin has had several memorable grudge matches in his career, with a lot of blood spilled along the way. One of his bloodiest encounters was a First Blood Match between himself and the "Big Red Machine", Kane.
On the surface, First Blood matches aren't as great for truly gory matches as one might expect: you only see blood at the very end, and typically only one man ends up maimed. Yet the main event at the 1998 King of the Ring proved to be an exception.
Austin, obviously at a disadvantage because of the mask, ended up doing a very nice blade job off a chair shot from the Undertaker, and also had some nasty cuts on his back as well. Compared to the other entries on this list, the Austin/Kane match is small potatoes.
But in 1998, more blood was evident in this match than in the legendary match that preceded it: the Mankind/Undertaker Hell in a Cell match.
23. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels (Aug. 21, 2005)
When Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan stepped inside the ring together at the WWE's SummerSlam pay-per-view in 2005, few people were preparing themselves for such a bloody encounter.
Both Hogan and Michaels had waged bloody wars in the past, but this was practically the first time the two had ever stepped inside the ring together. During the contest, Hogan began wearing the "crimson mask", and did one of the bloodiest blade jobs of the year.
Though Hogan reigned supreme, we'll remember his match with "The Heartbreak Kid" as Hulk's bloodiest match in years.
22. Cactus Jack vs. Triple H (Feb. 27, 2000)
Mick Foley has experienced his fair share of bloody battles during his illustrious career. Yet, the former WWE Champion had a series of gruesome confrontations with "The Game" Triple H in 2000 that really stand out from the rest of his WWE career.
Despite losing out to Triple H at the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden, Mick Foley got one more shot at Hunter and his WWE Championship inside the confines of the Hell in a Cell structure at No Way Out the next month.
In a match that saw flaming barbed wire two-by-fours and brutal falls, the two men were bloodied, battered and broken. And we fans loved each and every minute of it.
21. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (Nov. 5, 1997)
At Badd Blood 1997, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker competed in the first-ever Hell in a Cell match. It was a showcase for the match's incredible potential, and the two legends certainly lived up to the hype.
Shawn Michaels had bloodied the Undertaker several weeks before on an episode of Monday Night Raw, and the two of them had been waging an unholy war against each other ever since. The feud would come to a brief climax at Badd Blood, when the Undertaker pummeled Michaels into a bloody pulp.
Michaels, who had rarely been bloodier in his career, managed to pick up the win after interference from the debuting Kane.
20. Randy Savage and Adrian Adonis vs. Tito Santana and Bruno Sammartino (1986)
Four of the WWE's best took center stage at Madison Square Garden in the early months of 1986, as the tandem of "Macho Man" Randy Savage and "Adorable" Adrian Adonis took part in a steel cage match against former Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana and wrestling's "Living Legend," Bruno Sammartino.
Tito Santana and Randy Savage were embroiled in a feud over the Intercontinental Title, which Savage would eventually steal from Santana at the Boston Garden thanks to shoddy officiating from referee Danny Davis. The two brought friends for this bloody encounter.
Despite being ripe with opportunities for blood, this match gained notoriety for the five-alarm blade job performed by Randy Savage, who was quite lucky to have not maimed himself following this gruesome cage match.
19. Hulk Hogan vs. Magnificent Muraco (June 21, 1985)
Hulk Hogan and Don Muraco and a series of violent matches for the WWE Championship in 1985, including several street fights. But it was their steel cage match at Madison Square Garden in New York that served as the cream of the crop.
Muraco and Hogan both got opened up during this classic steel cage match, as the bout thrilled the New York faithful. Considering the rough and vicious nature of the feud these two men had in the summer of '85, the fact that this steel cage match reached the pinnacle of their bloody feud is truly remarkable.
Few cage matches were bloodier in the age than this one.
18. Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Graham (June 27, 1977)
Few wrestlers have had the career of Italy's strongman Bruno Sammartino, who held the WWE Championship longer than any other man in history to date.
In 1977, however, Bruno was on the downside of his career, and was embroiled in a lengthy feud with the man who had taken his title from him for the final time: Superstar Billy Graham.
The two men had already met once, when Graham stole the title from Sammartino. In this rematch, Bruno was out for blood, and he got it in this messy affair. In the less complicated days of the 1970s, wrestling in the WWE was much more visceral.
While the action may not have been as high-flying as today, you could always count on some old fashioned hatred rendering up some incredible, albeit bloody confrontations.
17. Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (Nov. 23, 1983)
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine were in the midst of a nasty feud leading up to the inaugural edition of Starrcade in 1983. To settle their differences, Piper and Valentine decided to have a dog collar match, where the two men were connected by a chain.
This match, unlike most others on the list, didn't feature the traditional facet of blood pouring from a wound on the forehead. Instead, the damage was done to Piper's ear, which had become a bloody mess by the end of the bout.
Piper and Valentine would, ironically enough, mend fences just a few short weeks later when both men jumped to the WWE.
16. The Undertaker vs. Steve Austin (July 25, 1999)
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the Undertaker wrestled nearly 18,000 times while the two men were competing together in the WWE. Out of all those, however, no other match was as bloody or violent as this one was.
Austin and Undertaker beat the tar out of each other in a lengthy First Blood Match. Contrary to most matches of this type, both men ended up bleeding by the end of the night, which is always a positive to our list.
The aggression on display here was thrilling to watch as a fan, and the match remains one of the WWE's bloodiest duels.
15. Abdullah the Butcher vs. The Sheik (Dec. 1, 1980)
When you scour the annals of professional wrestling history, you would be hard pressed to find two men more sadistically brutal than Abdullah the Butcher and the original Sheik. It should come as no surprise then that the pair's legendary brawl in Japan made our list.
The Sheik and Abdullah waged an unholy war on this night, with their battle spilling out into the surrounding area. In a sense, this match was far ahead of its time for its blood content and its violence. Only in the mid-1990s would professional wrestling again touch the level of mayhem on display here.
14. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H (March 14, 2004)
The 20th WrestleMania spectacular in 2004 featured a Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Championship that pitted Triple H defending his title against Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels. During the bout, both Michaels and Triple H got opened up, and had the bloodiest battle in WrestleMania history as a result.
The steel ring post wrought much carnage at WrestleMania XX, with both men dripping blood all over the place. The blood highlighted a vicious battle that swung back and forth between all three men for the duration of the battle.
It remains one of the best Triple Threat matches in the history of the WWE.
13. Midnight Rockers vs. Buddy Rose and Doug Somers (Sept. 2, 1986)
Shawn Michaels makes his third appearance on the list, joining tag team partner Marty Jannetty against Sherri Martell's AWA Tag Team Champions, "Playboy" Buddy Rose and Doug Somers. The match is legendary in wrestling circles as one of the bloodier matches in AWA history.
Michaels and Jannetty had come up short in their first match against Rose and Somers at WrestleRock '86 in Minneapolis a few months before this show. In between that time, Somers and Rose had become the Tag Team Champions, catapulting this feud into a whole new level.
Michaels and Jannetty would eventually defeat the tag team for the title in 1987 before heading on to perform in the WWE.
12. War Games 1987 (July 4, 1987)
Coming in at No. 12 is one of the most memorable matches in professional wrestling history. Before Hell in a Cell and the Elimination Chamber, wrestling's premier steel cage setting was in the confines of "The Match Beyond", the War Games Match.
The very first War Games Match in 1987 (there were actually two) still stands as one of the greatest in the series of them, and featured a who's who of the mid-1980s NWA—Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, the Road Warriors, Lex Luger and Nikita Koloff.
All you need to know is that within the first five minutes of the match, blood was already flowing. The match ended with a bloodied J.J. Dillon submitting after having a spike jabbed in his forehead.
11. The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (Oct. 20, 2002)
With Brock Lesnar in the midst of his reign as the WWE Champion in 2002, his first major challenger came in the form of the Deadman, the Undertaker, who makes his second appearance on this list from a Hell in a Cell match.
Only this time, it was the Undertaker who wore the crimson mask.
In one of the nastiest scenes in the promotion's history, the Undertaker seemed to puncture an artery in his head, causing his entire face to become covered with blood, staining the ring canvas and the floor mats along the way.
The wound was bad enough to require medical attention after the match, which ups the brutality factor that we're looking for in this list. Lesnar would eventually come out victorious, retaining his title.
10. Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL (May 16, 2004)
Eddie Guerrero's career was full of highlights, including the capturing of the WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004 from Brock Lesnar. During his title reign, however, he came up against one challenger who he wouldn't be able to overcome: JBL.
In this match, which took place at the Judgment Day 2004 pay-per-view, JBL took a nasty swipe at Guerrero with a steel chair, prompting one of the goriest blade jobs in wrestling history, even surpassing the Undertaker's own legendary gusher from 2002.
Guerrero would survive the match with the title, but would finally drop the belt at the Great American Bash that same year...to JBL.
9. War Games 1992 (June 17, 1992)
In the first six years of the gimmick, the War Games match produced incredible matches left and right. But arguably the greatest of these was in 1992, when Sting's Squadron (Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes and Nikita Koloff) took on "Ravishing" Rick Rude and the Dangerous Alliance (Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton, Steve Austin and Arn Anderson).
The match was even bloodier than the first, featuring as many stars from the 1990s as the inaugural War Games match from 1987 did the '80s. The match was arguably the greatest in WCW's history, but one thing is a definite: It was by far the bloodiest.
If you need one sentence to describe how great this match is, take this one from commentator Jesse Ventura: "And Barry Windham in the corner is bleeding now, too!"
8. Sergeant Slaughter vs. Pat Patterson (May 4, 1981)
When you mention the name Pat Patterson, manliness isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind. But believe it or not, the French Canadian managed to compete in several high profile street fights during his career. It was against Sergeant Slaughter that his most famous match occurred.
Patterson and Slaughter pounded on each other back and forth, trading brutal shots back and forth. Slaughter was an absolute mess by the time this one finally ended.
Despite the injuries sustained here, Slaughter would obviously receive inspiration from this match in another vicious match of his a few years later...
7. Cactus Jack vs. Terry Funk (Aug. 20, 1995)
Japan has long had an edge over the North American wrestling promotions for the sheer amount of carnage that takes place over there. But the IWA King of the Death Match Tournament from 1995 really makes other garbage matches look like catch-as-catch can wrestling from the Frank Gotch era.
Japan's most famous "death match" tournament saw Terry Funk and Cactus Jack tear each other apart in a ring surrounded by barbed wire, "C-4", the 82nd Airborne and most other offensive weapons. Funk and Foley put on one of the most gruesome matches in pro wrestling history here..
It's funny how two sworn enemies inside the ring can be such great friends outside it.
6. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (March 23, 1997)
The Submission Match at WrestleMania 13 in Chicago set the standard for the many "I Quit" Matches that followed. Yet no match since the legendary struggle in 1997 has ever quite matched the intensity of this one.
Steve Austin and Bret Hart were polar opposites in terms of characters, and hated each others' guts. Austin and Hart battered and bruised each other in a 20-plus-minute struggle, with Hart outlasting the gutsy Austin by making him pass out from the pain of the Sharpshooter.
When a man collapses unconscious into a pool of his own blood, you know you're watching one of wrestling's bloodiest matches.
5. Mass Transit and D-Von Dudley vs. The Gangstas (Nov. 23, 1996)
The fifth bloodiest match in wrestling history cannot have a video attached to it because of the rather dubious nature of the content in question. Seventeen-year old Eric Kulas, wrestling as the character Mass Transit, had lied around his age and his wrestling training to promoter Paul Heyman, who allowed him to take part in a tag match with D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas.
During the match, Kulas was bladed (upon his request) by New Jack. The resulting cut hit an artery in the kid's head, prompting blood to spurt out like a fountain. The untrained fan, basically, was left to be pummeled in the ring for several more minutes before a paramedic crew finally came in to tend to him.
The match put ECW in a bad legal spot, with New Jack being brought up on assault charges and the company sued by Stephen Kulas, Eric's father. Even ECW's first pay-per-view, Barely Legal was pulled from the pay-per-view provider's lineup until owner Paul Heyman virtually begged for the slot back.
Eric Kulas died in 2002 from problems with weight-loss surgery.
4. Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard (Nov. 28, 1985)
Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA were in the midst of a violent, white-hot feud even before Starrcade '85 rolled around. At that show, however, the most violent match in pro wrestling history occured.
There have been bloodier matches in wrestling history, we'll give you that. But it wasn't just the amount of blood that made this match gory, it was the way that it went down. Very little technical expertise was on display during this match.
Instead, it was a lot of vicious shots with the microphone, biting, gouging and clawing at one another for 15 minutes. The venom that the two men unleashed on one another was deeply unsettling at the time, and remains so 26 years later.
The famous conclusion saw Magnum stab Tully in the eye with a wooden spike, causing the blood to spurt and the champion to concede (screaming and convulsing) in the "I Quit" Match.
3. Manny Fernandez vs. Invader #3 (1989)
The "Raging Bull" Manny Fernandez was a mainstay in the National Wrestling Alliance during the 1980s, teaming up often with Dusty Rhodes and Jimmy Valiant. Fernandez was also good friends with the legendary Bruiser Brody—the same wrestler who was murdered at a wrestling show in Puerto Rico in 1988.
Fernandez, looking for revenge, traveled to Puerto Rico in 1989 to wrestle against Invader #3. During the bout, Fernandez delivered a stiff knee drop from the top rope, apparently rupturing the stomach cavity of Invader #3, who began vomiting blood profusely. Fernandez would drop two more knees onto the man before finally leaving the ring, which was by that point covered in blood.
Many people question whether the incident was staged, if Fernandez was intentionally trying to hurt the man, or whether it was merely an accident. In watching the second two knee drops, Fernandez looks to be intentionally lessening the impact of the move, trying to keep from causing further harm to the wrestler. Whether it was intentional or not, we'll never know for sure.
2. Sergeant Slaughter vs. The Iron Sheik (June 16, 1984)
The video clip shown above, from the May 21, 1985 show at Madison Square Garden in New York was a bloody affair in its own right, pitting the Iranian bad man, the Iron Sheik, against the patriotic Sergeant Slaughter.
The next month, however, Slaughter and Sheik would engage in a rematch that was even more bloody and violent than this one. In a rarity for the era, the Iron Sheik and Slaughter would wrestle in a hardcore variant match called a Boot Camp Match, owing to Slaughter's military gimmick.
Slaughter and Sheik both were covered in blood from the battle, with the ring filled with weapons and trash. It was the most violent match of that generation, and stands as the WWE's most bloody wrestling match.
1. The Great Muta vs. Hiroshi Hase (Dec. 14, 1992)
This legendary match set the precedent by which all other bloody matches are judged. The Great Muta and Hiroshi Hase wrestled in a legendary match; legendary in a sense that the Great Muta bled for his art badly.
The cut that opened up on Muta was a bad one indeed, causing wrestler Keiji Mutoh's face to become the proverbial crimson mask. The wound was so messy, and so bloody, that wrestling insiders began to use the match as a litmus test for other bloody bouts.
If you ever hear of someone talking about a match and how it rates on the "Muta Scale", now you know why. It's because all other matches are being measured up to this one—the bloodiest match in wrestling history.