Matt and Jeff Hardy shocked the wrestling world when they returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33. After a tumultuous and highly publicized exit from Impact Wrestling, the brothers initially ventured to Ring of Honor, and then returned once again to their old stomping grounds.
However, the entire act didn’t come with them.
Matt Hardy’s wife Reby Sky, his gardener (Reby’s father) Senor Benjamin, Vanguard 1, and a dilapidated boat all stayed at the Hardy compound. Matt seemed like he was no longer “Broken.” He was just plain old Matt. And while Matt Hardy in any form is good, it’s not what fans were hoping to see for his return.
At ‘Mania, The Hardy Boyz emerged to an enormous pop. The stadium became unglued as the crowd went ballistic over seeing the stars come back to the place where they initially hit it big. However, the audience didn’t want to relive a greatest hits version of the duo. They wanted to see the new, Broken version that drew tremendous buzz in Impact Wrestling — a promotion that draws a mere fraction of the viewership that WWE does.
When the Hardy’s classic music hit before their tag match, it was hard to not be thrilled. But by the time they got to the ring, something wasn’t quite right. Sure, Matt Hardy still had his “broken” hair, but his over-the-top mannerisms were vastly toned down. The crowd was rabidly performing the “Delete” chant, and Matt responded in kind, just not with the giddy amount of enthusiasm he usually displayed.
For fans who were worried Matt and his brother would go back to their old ways, their fears were justified when they appeared on Talking Raw, as they sounded like regular human beings, just like they did years ago. There was no talk of “premon-eetions” or sentient drones. It felt painfully lackluster to what so many had wanted and imagined for their return.
What first comes to mind with this unexpected transition is the return of the Dudley Boyz to WWE in 2015. While Bubba Ray had done a fantastic job of turning his career around in his mid-40s in TNA, Vince McMahon wasn’t interested in him as a singles star, and he kept him paired with his “brother.” While it was a blast at first, the duo quickly grew tiring and the company didn’t get as much out of them as they should have. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself. But unfortunately, it’s starting to look that way.
Vince clearly has a fondness for Jeff Hardy. The wrestler was briefly positioned as No. 2 babyface in the company, right after John Cena in his last run. The boss may want that version of the wrestler back, and won’t even bother seriously investing in Matt when they are likely split up down the road. That would be a mistake.
Matt and Jeff’s “Final Deletion” episode of Impact remains the most watched edition of the show since its arrival on Pop TV. Even though the ratings didn’t keep up, the duo still remained the most popular act in the promotion. But now, that’s all been thrown away so the “Boyz” can do what they did 15 years ago, but now at a much slower pace due to time and injuries.
Imagine a version of Broken Matt appearing on WWE, and all of the great stuff creative could do with the act. He could be an immediate top star, and provide fresh feuds for guys like Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns. Or, he could have been moved to SmackDown and put forth a bizarre masterpiece of an angle with Bray Wyatt.
Matt would have pushed the limits of WWE’s storytelling. He also would have had incredible production values backing him, the kind that would have made his popular Impact segments look like amateur hour.
Now, if the law prevents Matt from being “Broken,” there’s certainly some variation of the act they could do on the show and not get sued. After all, when Razor Ramon went to WCW, he was Scott Hall, but he still performed all the same trademark mannerisms. It seems WWE isn’t even trying to go that route, and it’s a shame for their audience.
There are countless fans out there who haven’t experienced the Broken Matt gimmick yet who would be in for a treat if he is allowed to perform the act 100 percent. There are many others who just wanted to see it play out on a bigger stage with fresh opponents. So far it’s been disappointing to not see him given that opportunity.
Hopefully Vince changes his mind, as the WWE Universe deserves the chance to have their universe broken.
[Featured Image by WWE]