Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A DELIGHTFUL Anniversary

The Broken delight of Matt Hardy first became known today in its full glory
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
One year ago today, back before Global Force Wrestling usurped the rotting husk of TNA, the company presented its last piece of critically groundbreaking material before losing its prior identity and becoming merged under Jeff Jarrett's newer brand name. Broken Matt Hardy invited his then-estranged brother Jeff to his compound for one final match between the two. What transpired was a fantastic voyage of mayhem, drone warfare, dilapidated boats, and yes, actual wrestling. Impact Wrestling's July 5 episode was dedicated to The Final Deletion, and it was both the elder Hardy's masterstroke in wrestling as well as a reminder of its artistic nature in addition to its sporting one.

The Final Deletion begat a series of matches in the same oeuvre during the rest of Hardy Boys' tenure in the company, all the way through the literally insane Tag Team Apocalypto where Ricky Morton was suspended over a volcano (and is probably still there for all anyone knows). But The Final Deletion still remains the peak because it just took so many people by surprise. TNA was never known for doing bending the artistic rules of wrestling, and its days of in-ring innovation pretty much died when it signed Kurt Angle. But on allowing Hardy creative license, it brought the idea of esoteric storytelling and match-working to American television. Dramatic Dream Team in Japan and Chikara on the US indies proved it could work, but wrestling television executives still seem poisoned by the old school nerds like Jim Cornette who still think it's 1979 and the "marks" think it's real. Even with Lucha Underground bending reality, it's still met with resistance from those oldheads, and one could argue that a show on Robert Rodriguez's vanity network isn't indicative of change.

But just like LU has clearly influenced the industry all the way up to WWE, the Hardys have helped turn perceptions around. Ring of Honor brought the Hardy Boys in their interstitial period between TNA and WWE, and even the corporate giants in Stamford wanted them back on the strength of their gimmick. If one believes the rumors, then WWE is close to getting the rights to the characters from GFW/Anthem, and the Hardys will reprise their Broken selves sooner rather than later. Will it work as well in WWE, where Vince McMahon is far too handsy with his product? No one will know until it happens, but hey, it couldn't be any worse than McMahon's other attempts to rip off the Hardy mystique with Wyatt Family adjacent angles over the last year, right?

Now, I didn't watch The Final Deletion as it happened, but I did catch up with it on YouTube. If you haven't, it's not too late. Watch it for yourself and be prepared for when Broken Matt finally arrives in full in WWE.