Look, I understand why Vince McMahon has stopped wrestlers from blading during matches. Advertisers might not appreciate bloody brawls and a PG-rated WWE probably should side-step such gore.
But I’ve seen enough steel cage matches by now to know we need a break from them in the WWE. Many of us old-time fans equate steel cage matches with blood, and without the “crimson mask,” they aren’t nearly as exciting. Even the hallowed Hell in the Cell has taken a tumble because it has become so tame after making its reputation on bloodbaths.
And few wrestlers can pull off a cage match by just working the crowd well. Bret Hart is among the handful of exceptions to that notion, as he was excellent at fighting cage matches without blood, which was also banned for a time when he was champion in the early 1990s.
There is, however, a gimmick match from the past that would work well today. You don’t need blood, it doesn’t involve any particularly dangerous stunts, and just about any fan can appreciate the match’s perception of pain.
I say bring back the strap match.
If you’ve never seen a strap match, it involves some iteration of either tying two feuding wrestlers together with a length of leather that resembles a long belt or giving each competitor his own strap. From there, the wrestlers whip the hell out of each other.
Most of us at one time or another have probably been smacked by a belt by parents or friends, and you know that it stings. So when a wrestler rears back and cracks a strap on an opponent, it makes you wince. And the sound of the leather hitting skin is effective, too.
I remember well a strap match that aired on TV between Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and the Magnificent Muraco in the Philadelphia Spectrum (the old Boston Garden and Madison Square Garden instead got cage matches between these two to blow off the house show program). Muraco’s selling was great as Snuka whipped him.
The have been other occasional strap matches in the WWF and WWE since then. The Rock squared off against Triple H in a strap match in 1999, for example. Given how ineffective and dull cage matches have become, let’s give the strap match a new name and put it in regular rotation.