Since 2008, WWE has attempted to project a more family-friendly image to earn a TV-PG rating and appeal to a wider demographic. Among the changes the company has instituted, such as milder language and a ban on chair-shots to the head, one policy has vexed long-time fans more than any other: the total ban on urine in matches.
Gone is the old, more adult-oriented WWE, which put on such pay-per-views as “Piss-Poor” and released DVDs with titles like “Pissing Contest: The Dampest Matches.” And with it, argue hardcore fans, has died a beloved bygone era.
Fans fondly recall wrestling’s glory days of the 1980s when rings, especially those of the NWA, would host brutal battles featuring the likes of Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes where urine would stain and even pool on the mat. “How can we have those classic encounters today, now that the wrestlers are basically handcuffed and forced to put on tame so-called ‘brawls,’” complained one fan on an online forum. “There have been some good matches during the PG Era, but if you take away that dramatic element, urine, the wrestlers simply can’t convey the kind of intensity that they used to. And from a realism standpoint, are we really expected to believe that a wrestler can take so many shots to the gut or get knocked out repeatedly, yet never, ever lose control of their bodily functions?”
In days past, the prospect of two wrestlers beating the piss out of each other often took precedence in fans’ eyes over other elements of a match. Indeed, so popular was urine among some circles that the so-called “Muta Scale” was invented, named for The Great Muta, a wrestler who famously peed himself uncontrollably in a 1992 match against Hiroshi Hase. The scale allows fans to describe just how piss-soaked a wrestler is, whether it be a slight trickle down the leg or the proverbial “Golden Trunks.”
Today, the only time fans will see wrestlers wet their pants is when it occurs inadvertently, or “pissing hardway,” according to industry slang. In recent years, stars such as Triple H and Natalya have had accidents after being hit too hard in the abdomen.
Official protocol is to halt a match temporarily should a wrestler start peeing him- or herself. A famous instance occurred in 2012, when Brock Lesnar brutalized John Cena, leading the top star to piss himself twice within the first few minutes of the match. Each time, trainers and referees rushed in with rubber gloves and towels to mop up the urine and make sure Cena had regained continence. Fans were outraged at this and other occasions when in-ring action ground to a standstill, taking the audience’s attention right out of the match and squandering a golden (no pun intended) opportunity to exploit the real-life physical drama playing out in front of them.
The flip side to the argument is that all that urine can be perilous to the wrestlers, referees, and other ringside personnel. “No other employees in the world would be asked to have unprotected contact with urine night after night for no extra money,” said former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. “It’s unsanitary and, frankly, disgusting. Had there been a wrestlers’ union in the 1980s, I doubt we would have seen a fraction of the piss-baths that we did.”
Defenders of the no-urine policy can also point to retired stars such as the aforementioned Ric Flair to demonstrate the long-term damage that repeated in-ring urination can have. In his heyday, Flair would relieve himself in his trunks every night to the delight of fans who wanted nothing more than to see their favorite wrestlers beat the piss out of him. Flair and his colleagues would ingest copious amounts of water (for volume) and asparagus (for color) to make the effect as dramatic as possible. Today, Flair’s body tells an even more dramatic story; after decades of in-ring urination, Flair suffers visible rashes on his groin area.
Other respected names in the wrestling world oppose urination on artistic grounds. “Promoters would overdo it,” says former WWE announcer Jim Ross, famed for his exclamation of “He is spraying all over!” whenever a wrestler had the urine pummeled out of him by his opponent. “‘Yellow turns to green,’ the old saying went. After a while, a wrestler could piss buckets and the fans wouldn’t react. They had gotten used to it. Urine should never be used to create drama, only to add to it.” Ross went on to recommend that urine be used sparingly by promoters and be limited to once or twice a year, and only for big-time, money-making feuds.
Still, legions of wrestling fans pine for the good old days, trying in vain to make their voices heard. After unsuccessfully petitioning WWE with a collection of 5,000 e-signatures, our wrestling fan sounded disappointed, but not defeated. “Urine is as much a part of wrestling as the Irish whip or the headlock. Besides, it’s not like it’s the kind of bodily fluid that can spread diseases like Hepatitis or HIV. Then our objections would just be insane.”