Is it too late for Broken Matt Hardy?
On the May 17, 2016 episode of then Impact Wrestling, Matt Hardy attacked his brother Jeff, and introduce to us a weird British-like accent, a part of his hair bleached blonde, and the persona of a "broken" man.
At over 42 years of age, Hardy managed to independently get his new "Broken" persona over with the indie fans. He, along with "Brother Nero", the new incarnation of Jeff Hardy, took the independent circuit by storm, with raging "DELETE" chants across any arena he wrestled in.
How Matt managed to get a rampant following with such an over-the-top gimmick, is a discussion for another day. But Matt and Jeff were unstoppable after Matt's face turn, running through Impact's tag team division, finally beating Decay at "The Great War" to win the Impact tag team championships
Fast forward to April 2017, and the brothers shock the world when New Day, the hosts of Wrestlemania 2017, came out to announce the surprise fourth tag team for the tag championship match. While everyone was expecting the New Day to join the other three teams in the ring, the all too familiar intro to Zack Tempest's "Loaded" rung across the arena, as Matt and Jeff arrived to thunderous applause from the Orlando crowd.
A lot of the cheers came from WWE nostalgia fans, who were excited to see the brothers back, and others cheered because the hottest independent gimmick has come to WWE. While the brothers were not "broken", the crowd chanted "DELETE" throughout their entrance all the way through the match. The night got better as the Hardy Boyz then won the match, crowning them tag team champions on the night of their return.
But sadly, as with all nostalgia pops, they do fade out over time. They dropped the belts to Sheamus and Cesaro at Extreme Rules, which was followed by a few lacklustre feuds with the Miztourage, Gallows and Anderson, and Elias, most of which ended in losing efforts. Throughout this run, Matt has made repeated references to the "broken" gimmick, occasionally talking in his over-the-top accent and shouting "DELETE" in his matches.
A few weeks earlier, Jeff Hardy was sidelined with an injury leaving Matt a little directionless. Matt teamed up with Jason Jordan for a few weeks, but given Jordan had little to no heat back then, it didn't do him any favours. Matt and Jeff had lost a lot of steam, and Matt felt like any other mid-carder on the roster, with little direction or purpose.
The on-air commentary or the interviews never made any references to the "broken" gimmick, which we now know was due to a prolonged, dirty legal battle for the "broken" gimmick, which delayed the arrival of "broken" Matt to the WWE. Matt did his best to keep the gimmick alive on his social media accounts, announcing multiple times that "Broken" Matt Hardy is coming to WWE soon.
However, like most things that are "coming soon" for a long time(stares at Emmalina), the interest and hype around the gimmick had fizzled out over time.
Last night, on 27th November, 2017 edition on Monday-night Raw, it became evident that during his match with Bray Wyatt, that the gimmick is final being debuted on WWE. The on-air commentary kept giving away the transformation during the match, reminding us of Matt's recent losses.
After Bray Wyatt pinned Matt with a Sister Abigail (which is good because Bray never wins), the camera focused on Matt sitting on the corner of the ring, as he started maniacally screaming "DELETE" repeatedly.
Matt followed this up on his Twitter account, where he made multiple tweets suggesting the transformation is finally complete.
However, the pop from the crowd was nothing compared to the pop post Wrestlemania. The lukewarm reception from the crowd, followed by a quick pan out to the next segment downplayed the transformation even more.
It has always been evident that while Vince McMahon has seen a main eventer in Jeff Hardy, who is a 4-time Intercontinental champion, and has had a run with the WWE Championship has well, Matt Hardy has not been given the same treatment from the company. Matt's single pushes have been mostly mid-card, with a run with the US championship back in 2008.
The lukewarm response to the "broken" gimmick on Monday night, coupled with Matt's history with the WWE raises concerns over the future of the gimmick in the company. While it's evident that "broken" Matt Hardy is going to get somewhat of a push over the coming weeks, the extent to which that'll happen is uncertain.
He can't go after the IC title, as it appears Roman and Joe are going feud over it. Brock is out of the question.
While a feud with Bray Wyatt seems to be the most likely scenario here, Bray has little to no heat at this moment, having lost most of his feuds over the year. Win or loss, feuds with Bray have done little for people this year.
It's sad that one of the hottest gimmicks on last year now struggles to catch on with the crowd, but that's what legal battles and time do to you.
Let's hope good things are ahead for "Broken" Matt Hardy in the WWE, but things do not look too good right now.
What do you think? Will the broken gimmick enjoy the success it has enjoyed in the independent circuit in the WWE?