A Monster’s Ball and the Need for Blood

It was with cautious enthusiasm and trepidation that I received the news that Grado would face a returning monster Abyss in a Monster’s Ball match at Bound for Glory. It […]

It was with cautious enthusiasm and trepidation that I received the news that Grado would face a returning monster Abyss in a Monster’s Ball match at Bound for Glory. It set up a much-needed wrinkle to something that otherwise ran a risk of becoming a  comedy match between the rotund Scotsman and Joseph Park. Granted, Impact has been booking the original quite well in most feuds. From the tag match with Jeremy Borash to the matches with The Hardys, but it was challenging to be excited about a pay-per-view match between the former friends.

The Monster’s Ball, long regarded as a staple match for Abyss, was introduced by Monty Brown in 2004 and has been synonymous with violence and carnage. The audience usually loves the idea of it, but as of late it has been a letdown. Over the years the hardcore match has been all but watered down. The reluctance towards showing blood on TV and the move towards PG from the networks has caused the hardcore element to disappear from the hardcore matches. Traditionally a Monster’s Ball match, just like any hardcore match, was a way for wrestlers who hated each other to settle a score. Just go back onto the GWN app and take a look at Raven, Abyss and Monty Brown going at it. Part of wrestling is that we suspend our disbelief for a moment. When a hardcore match, with thumbtacks, glass or barbed wire boards does not cause a participant to bleed then that disbelief is not suspended. It becomes cartoonish, like when Wile E. Coyote keeps coming back after being blown up. Al Snow recently told Pat Buck on his podcast that the only thing that is fake in the wrestling ring is the outcome, everything else is quite real. That is why a Monster’s Ball needs to be ultra violent.

There has always been a desire for realism in wrestling. That is the reason for blading. If one person can cause another to bleed in a match, then I am more willing to believe and the entire show is often perceived as better. That is why I was excited about the Red Wedding match between Taya and Rosemary. I believed it would elevate the show. When Rockstar Spud and EC3 fought each other in a hair vs. hair match, there was so much blood and it lifted the audience and with them the show. ECW knew how important the extreme part of wrestling was. When people chant E.C.W. as an old hardcore wrestlers come out it is the tables, ladders and barbed wire bats they remember, not the classic style wrestling that was more common in the promotion. AIW understands that need, and they have been growing because of it. It all comes down to believability. The audience craves it.

What of the Monster’s Ball at Bound for Glory? I’ll let you be the judge of what effect it had. The fact of the matter is that the signature match has been depleted, much the way all other hardcore matches have. In the beginning, the contestants were forced to be isolated without food or water for 24 hours before the match. That would have been a great storyline vehicle. The brutality and violence that forced TNA to tape the match between Abyss and Judas Mesias in another state is all but a memory and it because of it the value of such a mess has diminished. Impact had a real opportunity to bring it again. To cross the line as it were. Did they? I will leave it unsaid, but I can say that the craving that sends fans to Hell on Earth in Cleveland were most likely not satisfied.

-C. Marry Hultman

C. Marry Hultman runs the Wrestling Guild podcast, as well as the W.A.R.G website dedicated to promoting popular culture in all facets of the world.