Will Vince McMahon extend an offer to the Hardy Boys in time for a WWE WrestleMania reunion?
It goes without saying that the reinvention of Matt and Jeff Hardy has been the best thing on TNA for the past several months and is single-handedly responsible for keeping the promotion relevant at all. In the latest round of missteps by the company, the contracts for both Matt and Jeff Hardy will expire this week, allowing them to sign with another promotion. This means they may be going back to WWE, as the Wrestling Observer reports that a Hardy Boys scenario is possible for WrestleMania 33.
The “broken” angle Matt employed in the early 2016 series of matches against his brother gifted us with the now infamous chants of “Delete!” that permeate even WWE arenas. His faux British accent became the new running joke and his intentionally ham-fisted statements also found their way onto fan-made signs on RAW, Smackdown, and several pay-per-view events including “I knew you’d come”, “I despise mustard”, and numerous references to his semi-sentient drone, Vanguard 1. Matt’s brother Jeff played a major role in this experiment, completing a transformation of his own into Brother Nero (“Nero” being Jeff’s real middle name) following his defeat at “The Final Deletion” in July 2016.
To say that this angle has been a success for all of professional wrestling is an understatement. To their credit, TNA gave the Hardys the creative control necessary to make this gimmick work because, well, what choice did they have? Neither Billy Corgan or Dixie Carter had been in a position to dictate the storylines and direction of TNA for quite seem time, even before the company’s financial difficulties came to light late last year.
The promotion was never a threat to the WWE; it was simply there. The WWE scouts routinely visit other promotions in search of seasoned athletes to mingle with the up and coming stars of NXT, but there has to be something more than just talent in the ring.
The “broken” characters were the life preserver TNA so desperately needed, even if it only delayed the inevitable and somewhat ironically is the reason why WWE now seems so interested in signing the Hardys and pulling them away.
This make it all the more puzzling as to why TNA would play coy with their contracts and let the two men slip through their fingers. On its face, the entire “broken” angle is completely ridiculous to the point of almost being cartoonish and therein lies the genius. There are plenty of professional wrestling storylines that don’t take themselves seriously and those tend to be the most fun for fans. But does Vince McMahon agree?
This is the problem I have with completely buying into the rumor from the Wrestling Observer of a Broken Hardy Boys return at WrestleMania 33. While in TNA, they enjoyed creative freedom over their characters and gave us entertaining matches as well as unique (and often hilarious) segments out of the ring. My concern is that this freedom will disappear under the thumb of “MeekMahan” and will be replaced by writers and executives who are more concerned with protecting their investment than they are with letting the Hardys dictate their own creation. Much to the frustration of many fans, WWE is notorious for having a tight grip on their talent and very few stars rise to a level where they are given a much wider berth for their own creativity. Another company such as ROH or even NJPW may give the Hardy brothers more flexibility than McMahon ever would.
If Vince wants the Hardy Boys to have another successful run in WWE, he needs to give them the freedom to explore their creations in new and exciting ways. If Stone Cold ever made a surprise return to WWE, fans wouldn’t want to see Stunning Steve Austin. In that same vein, the WWE Universe wants to see Broken Matt and Brother Nero, not the vintage fishnet and neon Hardy Boyz.
If Vince truly wants the fans to be excited about such a homecoming, he has to trust that Matt and Jeff are going to put out an entertaining product for the good of the WWE brand but it has to be done their way.