The biggest news in sports entertainment to come out of Monday was the bombshell that the Hardy Boyz would definitively not re-sign with TNA. It was also announced that TNA would lose the services of Drew Galloway, so as a result, Impact Wrestling lost three significant superstars in the same day; all three of whom are former WWE employees.
As if speculation about the Hardy Boyz returning to the WWE in time for WrestleMania wasn’t running rampant already, it was kicked up several notches in the wake of Monday’s news. It’s been noted that Vince McMahon was planning something major for this year’s WrestleMania, and rumors have circulated that an appearance from Matt and Jeff Hardy would count as that surprise, but it’s difficult to ascertain whether there had been any contact between both parties prior to their contracts expiring.
Galloway claimed that he didn’t re-sign because Impact Wrestling officials waited until his contract expired rather than proposing an extension beforehand, and thus he felt somewhat disrespected. What’s most noteworthy about the Hardys not returning to TNA is that unlike many other superstar contracts, they did not have no compete clauses in their deals, meaning they can show up with any other promotion at any time moving forward.
The overwhelming feeling is that both Matt and Jeff Hardy will make their triumphant returns to WWE, but that is far from confirmed at this point. There is one potential hang-up, however, which could certainly be considered significant at this juncture. According to a new report, Matt may not be able to use his ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy gimmick outside of Impact Wrestling.
Apparently, there are ownership issues regarding the gimmick, and there is quite a bit of confusion about who owns the character. According to Impact Wrestling, all creations are intellectual property that belongs to the company. Matt Hardy still retains ownership of the name and the character, but as of now, that would mean nothing if he isn’t able to portray the Broken character on WWE (or other) television.
Matt Hardy created the character, but since it appeared on TNA television, they own the rights to it. It wouldn’t be such a big deal because if the Hardys were to return to WWE, he could simply revert back to the role he played during his time there. However, outside of the Bullet Club in New Japan, the Broken Matt Hardy gimmick is arguably the most over thing in wrestling that isn’t under the WWE umbrella.
In years past, WWE officials would prefer to create their own stars and gimmicks, but they’ve softened their stance lately. The most recent examples of this are AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Gallows & Anderson, Samoa Joe and others. Guys who created a reputation elsewhere, and then the WWE capitalized on it once they signed. Broken Matt Hardy is a brilliant character and one that the WWE would certainly benefit from.
What will definitely be interesting moving forward is how the Hardys and WWE negotiate if they decide to move forward with discussions. Matt Hardy had creative control of his character in TNA, and part of the reason they didn’t re-sign is that Impact officials weren’t willing to put that in writing in a new contract. They told him they’d be willing to let him continue with creative control, but wouldn’t make it official on paper.
WWE is extremely unlikely to offer that to Matt or Jeff Hardy, or anyone else for that matter. The only two stars Vince McMahon ever gave full creative control to were Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan, and both times, it ended poorly.
This is just the beginning of the Hardy Boyz story and certainly worth following as WWE embarks on their road to WrestleMania. The Hardys are scheduled to face The Young Bucks for Ring of Honor the day before ‘Mania. The ROH event hails from Lakeland, which is only an hour drive from Orlando, the site of this year’s WrestleMania, so travel concerns would be negligible.
[Featured Image by Impact Wrestling]