When the Hardy Boyz returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33, they instantly became one of the hottest acts in the company once again–seriously, just listen to that pop. But this was more than just a nostalgia reaction for a couple of WWE legends who have been missing from the biggest stage for years. Rather Matt and Jeff (particularly Matt) have been doing easily their most memorable work of their careers in Impact Wrestling as the BROKEN Hardys, one of the most creative and unique acts in pro wrestling today.
So far, however, there hasn’t been much more than glimpses of Matt’s Broken Brilliance on WWE television. WWE has instead been playing the Hardyz’ return as a straight nostalgia act, not unlike the Dudley Boyz’ lackluster return in 2015. There have been nods, and they aren’t exactly discouraging the “delete” chants, but by and large Matt and Jeff have been acting most like the Team Xtreme days of the late 90s/early 2000s.
For the uninitiated, over the course of 2016 Matt Hardy started acting a little … differently in Impact Wrestling. Sporting a blonde streak in his hair, outrageous clothing and a bizarre accent, Matt blamed his brother Jeff–who he was now calling “Brother Nero,”–for “breaking” him. What resulted is an insane series of events including fights on the Hardy family compound, a battle drone named Vanguard 1, a violent groundskeeper named Señor Benjamin, and plenty of meme-worthy quotes as Broken Matt vowed not to rest until he DELETED Brother Nero. Since returning to WWE, however, few components of this persona have been present, making the Hardy Boyz’ return feel somewhat incomplete (OBSOLETE?).
The most interesting aspect of this return is actually taking place on Twitter–Matt Hardy the television character is acting a lot differently than Matt Hardy the social media personality. On Raw, Matt has barely said a word one way or another, but has been dressing like it’s 1999. On Twitter, Matt Hardy is showing signs of multiple personality disorder. It’s actually adding a welcome wrinkle to the Broken Universe, as now Matt is able to incorporate his past WWE personas into the character. There are Matt Facts about Broken Matt Hardy, for instance. And the references to his past life are too overt to think they are happening without the blessing of WWE.
Matt employs a personal gardener who is well-versed in many varying fields of work. pic.twitter.com/nGW9CODXMr
— #CONFLICTED Matt (@MATTHARDYBRAND) April 26, 2017
The CELESTIAL voices have started coming to me AGEEN. pic.twitter.com/XXdPmP5XTY
— #CONFLICTED Matt (@MATTHARDYBRAND) April 25, 2017
The prevailing theory right now is that WWE wants to use the Broken gimmick but they can’t because Matt Hardy’s former employer and owner of Impact Wrestling, Anthem, is in the middle of a bitter legal feud with Hardy over the rights to the persona. Dave Meltzer, the most respected journalist in pro wrestling, has recently confirmed this is the case, saying on Wrestling Oberver Radio “The plan is to do the BROKEN character, and they’re doing this right now. The delay is that they’ve gotta work out the deal, and the deal is not worked out.”
Matt’s constant flirting with cornerstones of the gimmick on air and especially on Twitter lend credence to this. And WWE, for their part, are even playing along on official channels:
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) March 29, 2017
References to the Broken Hardys have also slipped into the Twitter feeds shown on reaction shows on the WWE Network such as Raw Talk. This may seem minor, but WWE is extremely protective of what it presents to its viewers. So if they didn’t want Broken or DELETE references on their programming, there wouldn’t be any.
If WWE didn’t want to tease fans that BROKEN BRILLIANCE was coming, it’s unlikely tweets like these would make it to air.
So as is often the case in professional wrestling, the most interesting aspect of this whole ordeal is what’s going on with it backstage. All signs point to WWE wanting to use the Broken gimmick, and with a legal team as strong as theirs, it may only be a matter of time. It’s extremely rare that WWE even has interest in using an idea that they didn’t create, but it’s also rare that there are gimmicks outside of WWE that are this popular. The most hardcore of pro wrestling supporters are obviously privy to Matt’s Broken Brilliance, but even casual fans have a passing awareness of the crazy stuff the Hardyz have been up to in the other company.
It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Seven Deities visit Matt Hardy once again, but until then, keep your eye on Matt Hardy’s Twitter. The Hardy Boyz’ current storyline with Sheamus and Cesaro may seem like it’s straight out of a randomly generated WWE 2K17 Universe mode angle, but there could be ways to get to #BROKEN Brilliance from there (concussing Brogue Kick to the head, anyone?). It would likely behoove WWE to introduce their audience to the character through story anyway, rather than assuming that everyone is already intimately familiar with it. If they are able to use the character, don’t be surprised if they retread Matt’s breaking–it’s for the best of the character.
One thing’s for sure though: if and when the time finally comes, it will be absolutely…