The past two weeks have seen a lot of rumors and speculation about Matt and Jeff Hardy in the WWE, now that they’ve ended a very successful run with Impact Wrestling, aka the former TNA. Many fans would want to see them return to the company where they first established themselves nearly two decades ago. But as far as this longtime Hardys fan goes, it would be a waste if WWE brings them back with a gimmick closer to the classic Hardy Boyz of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras, as opposed to the Broken Hardys gimmick that earned them raves from wrestling fans and critics alike since they debuted it last year.
As I’ve often framed my recent Matt and Jeff Hardy articles, their WWE run started way back in 1994 — back then, Matt and Jeff were a few months shy of turning 20 and 17, respectively. They were short-haired, comparatively scrawny jobbers who did what they were asked to do — take the pin at the end of the match. But their skills were too good for WWE to ignore, and the Hardy Boyz, as they were known, began to take off in 1998. That became especially true when they became Team Xtreme with the addition of talented female wrestler (and future WWE Hall of Famer) Lita in 2000.
High-flying moves, an edgy, “alternative” attitude, and great chemistry in the ring — what else was there to ask for? They also had their share of personal demons to deal with, as well as backstage issues that led to their WWE runs being colorful, to say the least. Jeff Hardy’s previous substance abuse problems come to mind, same with the messy 2005 breakup of the real-life couple that was Matt Hardy and Lita. But as of last year, Matt and Jeff were older and wiser, clean and sober, and ready to take the wrestling world by storm with their new, and extremely entertaining gimmicks, particularly the “Broken” Matt Hardy gimmick.
In the wild and hectic week since Matt and Jeff Hardy left Impact, the WWE rumors have been swirling, even as they beat The Young Bucks to become Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions this past weekend. On Monday, WrestlingNews.co reported that the Hardys’ ROH deal may not be a long-term deal as once thought, and that report cited some reliable sources — Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez. That means the brothers’ WWE return may still be in the works. But would it be worth it, based on what we know about the Hardys and WWE’s top officials?
One reason the Hardys enjoyed working for Impact Wrestling was the creative freedom they got when it came to their characters. The move to Ring of Honor appears to allow them to be their “Broken” selves, and for fans who have grown accustomed to chanting “DELETE!” and hanging on to Matt’s every eccentric word, that’s just how they want to see the veteran brothers. But while ROH is a major independent promotion, WWE is still arguably the “worldwide leader in sports entertainment” as it claims to be, and its fans seem to want Matt and Jeff Hardy back in the WWE.
If Matt can be “Broken” and Jeff can be “Brother Nero,” then why not? The Inquisitr had previously written about some of the potential feuds the Hardys can have if they get to come back to the WWE. And wouldn’t it be cool if we get to hear Matt taunt The New Day, for instance, with “Day of the New, I knew you’d come”? The Broken Hardys in the land of “MeekMahan” has all the potential to be loads of fun.
But we have to prepare for the strong likelihood that if he signs the Hardys, “MeekMahan” himself (WWE owner and chairman Vince McMahon) might want them back as the “classic” Hardy Boyz who captivated late-’90s and 2000s WWE fans with their daredevil maneuvers and “alternative” attitude. If that happens, it’s going to be Shawn Michaels and Triple H’s D-Generation X redux from the mid- and late-2000s all over again — two older wrestlers rehashing a gimmick that had worked best for them when they were younger, but not necessarily in the present. And we all know that WWE loves getting nostalgic by catering to lapsed or casual fans who don’t relate to today’s stars and gimmicks as much as they do with the stars and gimmicks of the past.
Furthermore, there’s also the possibility a Hardys return might look like The Dudley Boyz’ 2015-16 WWE return all over again.
For those who don’t remember, Bubba Ray and D-Von — The Dudley Boyz — were contemporaries of Matt and Jeff Hardy in their WWE runs in the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras, and WWE recognizes them as 18-time tag team champions, including their eight runs with the old ECW’s tag titles. (The Hardys are listed in that same article with seven title runs.) But when they returned to WWE for a one-year spell in 2015, they were mainly used as a nostalgia act, a “jobber to the stars” tag team that would often lose while making their opponents look good. If WWE can do that to a legendary team like the Dudleyz, it won’t be surprising if they do the same to a less-decorated, yet similarly iconic team like the Hardys.
Once again, it will be a lot of fun and very entertaining to see Matt and Jeff Hardy come back to WWE for one more run. But the only way to make that run worth it would be to let them be “Broken” Matt and “Brother Nero,” and to push them as a threat to win the tag team titles, rather than an aging nostalgia act.
[Featured Image by Impact Wrestling]