The Hardy Boys were great. They were a gigantic part of wrestling’s success for 20 years. I respect the hell out of both Matt and Jeff. That said, I’ve never been big fans of either of them. I just wasn’t into their style, or presentation. I didn’t hate them, but it just wasn’t for me. As they aged they became less and less relevant, as is the norm for nearly all wrestlers. Such is the wrestling business, but thank you Matt and Jeff for all you gave the business! But wait….Matt came up with a plan, an idea, and a gimmick that would allow him to be relevant again. Something that would allow a man in his forties to be over, and get main event matches, and money again. Enter “Broken” Matt Hardy. The eccentric, if not insane, man that just snapped, and lost his mind, after an injury while in Impact (then TNA) wrestling years ago, feuding with his brother Jeff, whom he dubbed “Brother Nero.” I’m not here to discuss the Broken angle story. It’s out there if you want to read about all of those details. I’m here to discuss my thoughts on AEW bringing “Broken Matt” into the company, and instantly placing him in a hot, main event angle between The Elite, and The Inner Circle.
As “The Wrestling Snob” I obviously hate the “Broken” gimmick. It’s corny, stupid, over the top, and 100% unrealistic. However; when I chose to cover All Elite Wrestling, I accepted that it’s the modern day, “evolved” product. It’s not, nor will it ever be, Jim Crockett Promotions,” no matter how many names Cody Rhodes drops on commentary, or how many of those wrestlers they bring in to be managers, or coaches. So how I do try to set aside my disgust, and disappointment, over Broken Matt joining AEW? I have to break down what he does as logically as possible. Matt now not only is “Broken,” but he’s added a new “persona” to what he does. He’s claiming that Matt Hardy is only the vessel, and that he is really a 900 year old man named Damascus. This clearly adds an element of the occult to the gimmick, making it even stranger than it was.
Being weird, odd, strange, crazy, etc. is one thing. We’ve seen that dozens of times in wrestling. What annoys me with Hardy doing it, is that it comes off stagy, like an act, or a performance. Matt Hardy is actually intelligent, and can be well spoken, so seeing him “broken” just doesn’t work for me. It makes me roll my eyes. That said though, it’s teleportation that I struggle most to get past. I can accept “Broken Matt Hardy” as a weirdo that can wrestle, but teleporting at will….ugh. So how do I look at that rationally? How can I keep watching with this nonsense? How do I “explain” this inside of today’s “evolved” wrestling, while still keeping some kind of dignity in the business I’ve loved for over 40 years?
Well, Matt Hardy gave me the answer in his promo with Chris Jericho. At one point, Matt looked at Chris and said “I am magic!” That’s your answer. Matt Hardy, no longer able to fly around, and bump like he did 25 years ago, decided that he would be a “magic” act! Being the intelligent person that I’ve admitted that he is, he surely knew that being wrestling’s David Blaine, wouldn’t be over. He knew that would be eye rollingly bad. Anyone with an ounce of sense would also know that professing to be any kind of “magician” inside a wrestling ring would bring mocking comments, and flop quickly. So what could Hardy do to make being a “magical” person acceptable in today’s professional wrestling? That is where the Broken idea came in. After being injured, Matt would return as a weirdo. He would be off the wall, like another person even. Returning to the popular idea of feuding with his brother Jeff (now dubbed Nero, by Matt) would be a safety net, as that has always been over with the fans, so Broken Matt was a hit. Hyping their Hardy compound fight” as “changing wrestling forever”, was simply a strategic move from the mind of Matt Hardy that also did wonders for the gimmick. So why did Vince McMahon, and the WWE kill Broken Matt? I’m sure mainly because it wasn’t a WWE, or Vince McMahon creation, but likely also because Vince didn’t see money in where it was going, if where it was going was this, what we have in AEW today.
Today, in AEW, we have an over the top exaggeration of the old Kevin Sullivan gimmick. No, Matt doesn’t claim to be a Satanist, but he is claiming to be possessed. He is claiming to be “magic.” I am convinced that Sullivan would have teleported, had the technology to do so existed, and had been readily available to him, back in his day. Matt has found a way to bring the kind of “tricks” you see on a show like “Penn and Teller, Fool Us,” into the wrestling world. I give Matt Hardy credit for figuring out how to do that in a way that he isn’t booed out of the building. I give Matt Hardy credit for creating an idea to do something pretty lame, and stupid, in such a way that today’s “evolved” fan accepts, and many even embrace. It’s still eye rollingly bad to me. It’s not “Wrestling Done Right”, but rather An Old Man’s Last Effort To Be Relevant, and sadly, he didn’t fool us!