wrestling / Columns

Matt Hardy Gets A Happy Ending

September 20, 2018 | Posted by Steve Cook
Matt Hardy Broken WWE

Matt Hardy Gets A Happy Ending: Hell in a Cell was this weekend, but it wasn’t the only WWE event that saw some important business go down. Saturday night’s event in Corpus Christi, Texas was the last event that Matt Hardy was advertised to appear at. He’s been off of television since he & Bray Wyatt lost a match to the Revival on the July 30 edition of Raw. Since then, Hardy’s been teasing retirement on social media.

He made it official on Saturday night.

We all know that wrestlers are never really retired until the phone stops ringing. Hardy’s injury issues, along with the fact that he can find other things to do and be happy, makes me believe this one will stick. At least for now. It seems like an appropriate time to take stock of Woken Matt’s career, and certainly if there’s somebody around here that’s qualified to do it, it’s me. Well, maybe.

The thing is, I haven’t liked Matt Hardy for most of his in-ring career.

Keep in mind the fact that I’m an older gentleman and have watched almost the entirety of Hardy’s career unfold in front of my eyes. I remember seeing Matt & his brother Jeff serve as jobbers. I remember seeing them make the transition from jobbers to actual WWE Superstars, and having a problem buying into it because I’d seen them lose in such convincing fashion. That’s how big a mark I was back in the day, y’all. If somebody lost repeatedly for years on end, I had an issue buying into them as actual Superstars. To me, Matt & Jeff Hardy had the same amount of credibility as Barry Horowitz or the Brooklyn Brawler. Which is to say not much.

They kept working their way up the ranks, and by the time the TLC era rolled around, I couldn’t deny their ability. Did I like them? Nope. As somebody that also watched ECW I was a pretty big Dudley Boyz fan. I also got into Edge & Christian once they developed their characters that reeked of awesomeness. Matt & Jeff were a distant third place for me. They were a decent enough tag team, but I didn’t see the potential for much else. Neither one was a particularly good talker. Ring psychology wasn’t something they would have majored in if they went to college. They were good at killing themselves taking bumps, but that didn’t seem like a skill that lent itself to longevity.

The Hardyz didn’t need me as a fan. They had plenty of other fans. I knew a ton of them in my high school. Freshman & sophomore year were the apex of wrestling’s popularity during my school years. Everybody wanted to talk about Stone Cold, Goldberg & the NWO. It was a welcome change of pace from middle school, where my elementary school friends shunned me for still watching the stuff. Junior year was when WCW & ECW died, WWF got invaded and wrestling lost its coolness factor. After that, there were two types of student still watching: the geeks like me, and the freaks that would wear their purple & green Hardy Boyz t-shirts all over the place. Let’s just say that I didn’t really mix in well with that crowd.

Eventually Matt & Jeff split up & got to do different things thanks to the brand split. (I’m glossing over their singles matches at this time, which weren’t exactly great.) This led to probably my favorite time period of Matt’s career, when he was hanging out on SmackDown as Matt Hardy Version 1.0. The self-deluded Sensei of Mattitude with his Mattitude Follower, Shannon Moore, and his Matt Facts that would appear during his entrances was a pretty good piece of business.

I don’t think I would have classified myself as an MFer, but I was cool with Matt’s act at the time. Then he went back to Raw and I lost interest because Raw in 2003-04 was a pretty rough time. If you think the three-hour shows of today are tough to watch, try that 03-04 era & some of the nonsense they had going on then. That included Matt getting involved with the Kane/Lita angle that also involved Gene Snitsky, miscarriages & many other things not worth remembering. Any goodwill Matt had built up with me through Mattitude faded away at this point.

It was around this time that I got into the whole “writing about wrestling on the Internet” thing. If you’re a longtime 411mania reader you remember the days where we had daily news columns. I did one off & on for several years, and it seemed like I spent an inordinate amount of time writing about Matt Hardy. Certainly in comparison to where he was in the grand scheme of things. It seemed like Matt was always in the online news during the 2000s.

-He got into it with former 411mania writer Asteroid Boy over a column written about his television relationship with Lita. This went down in August 2004, right when I debuted with the site. I was so confused on a number of levels. For one thing, I was told not to use an obvious gimmick name, and Asteroid Boy was right over there. Like, what? It also made me wonder if I’d be hearing from upset wrestlers all the time, which ended up not being the case. I certainly never heard from them *all the time*.

-He was released by WWE in April 2005 largely due to some things he posted online after he found out Lita was having an affair with Edge. Fans largely sided with Matt over this, which worked out pretty well for Edge’s heel turn that ended up getting him over on a main event level & helped shape the rest of his career. Matt wound up getting his job back and got a feud with Edge & Lita out of it, so all wasn’t lost. Eventually public opinion started to turn against him, which is pretty messed up when you think about it. But at the end of the day, human beings’ ability for empathy will often be drowned out by our inability to tolerate what we perceive as whining. Matt crossed the line over into whining in the eyes of heartless people like me that thought he should just get over it.

He did, eventually. I’d say it worked out pretty well for him. (Hi Reby!)

-2010 saw Matt leave WWE in controversial fashion. It didn’t get any better through 2011 & his TNA run, which involved a variety of drug-related incidents that forced even TNA to wash their hands of him. He got arrested three times between August 20 & September 20, 2011, twice for DWIs & another time after a search of his property resulted in drugs being found.

It was during this time period where Matt fatigue set in with me. When you write a weekly wrestling news column & every week involves some new stupid story involving the same stupid person, it gets to the point where you just want them to go away. It was something every week with Matt Hardy. The guy was heading down a bad road of drugs & despair, and it looked like it was going to end the same way countless wrestlers of Matt’s era met their end. There weren’t many jokes to be made about it, and I preferred writing about wrestling news that could be laughed at.

Matt still had his fans, of course. They insisted that everything was fine & seemed to be in denial about the whole situation. Matt said everything was fine, and if we’ve learned one thing about America in the 2010s, it’s that people are willing to believe whatever their favorite celebrity tells them. Even if all evidence points to them being lying sacks of excrement. Hardy fans have always been among the most loyal subsets of wrestling fandom. It’s tough to present things to an audience that won’t believe anything you write.

When I took a hiatus from writing about wrestling, I didn’t have to pay attention to all the news. I didn’t have to worry about coming up with something else to say about whatever Matt Hardy was doing. I could ignore Matt’s antics, along with everything else I hated about pro wrestling at the time. It was like the world was taken off of my shoulders. While I was off doing other things, Matt was getting better. His personal life got far less newsworthy. He had a successful run in Ring of Honor as a despicable heel that still had the longest autograph lines. He returned to TNA & got a World Title reign. More importantly than all that…he got Broken.

The Broken Universe was when I finally jumped on the bandwagon. After all these years, Matt Hardy had successfully reinvented himself. He was no longer a derivative of his brother. In fact, Brother Nero was now in Broken Matt’s shadow. Matt created something that got people talking about Impact Wrestling in a positive way for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t for everybody, but as somebody that enjoys stuff that’s different, I was intrigued.

After years of being irritated by Matt Hardy, his followers and everything they stood for, it was nice to reach a place where I could finally get down with what they were selling. I never thought it would get to that point. First impressions are usually lasting. My first impression of Matt was as a jobber. My second impression of Matt was as a tag team lifer. The third impression as Version 1 was ok, but that was followed by being Lita’s sidekick, then Lita’s ex-boyfriend. The impression of Matt as a drug addict could have stuck for good, but from all accounts he’s kicked the habit. It took nearly two decades, but his Broken Brilliance finally won me over.

Eight years ago, I would have guaranteed that Matt Hardy’s career wouldn’t have a happy ending. I’m glad to say that I was wrong.

article topics :

Matt Hardy, WWE, WWE Raw, Steve Cook