During the mid to late 1990s, there were many singles competitors who were in their prime, bringing in a new wave of pro-wrestling. However, the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) seemed to go through a lull as far as the tag team division was concerned. There were still tag teams such as the Legion of Doom and the New Age Outlaws(with their affiliation to DX) who commanded a huge fan following, but the rest of the teams were ,at best, mid-carders in wrestling terminology.
Real life brothers Matt and Jeff Hardy began teaming together in 1993, in independent wrestling promotions, as was the norm ,with an aim to one day join the big league. After spending five years wrestling across North America, they were finally signed by the WWF in 1998, at a time when the ‘Attitude’ era had just begun.
During their early months in the WWF, both wrestled in singles competition, and lost bouts to more established superstars. However, their tag team career began to take off when they beat Kaientai in September 1998. They brought to the ring, charisma and exuberance and their daredevilry won over many a fan in a relatively short amount of time. Micheal Hayes was their manager, as the Hardys quickly rose up the tag team ladder and were soon in the hunt for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Their time came, when they defeated the Acolytes(Faarooq and Bradshaw) on an episode of Monday Night Raw, to win their first WWF Tag Team Championship. Their joy would be short lived as the Acolytes defeated them in a rematch at Fully Loaded. They Hardy Boyz , then turned ‘heel’ as they dumped their manager Micheal Hayes and joined Gangrel as part of The New Brood. They then began a rivalry with another talented tag team Edge and Christian which would go on for many years.
They earned the services of Terri Runnels after winning a Terri Invitational Tournament, and dumped Gangrel soon after, turning faces again. Lita joined forces with them soon after, and the trio were nicknamed Team Xtreme, for their high flying moves and risk taking style. The name also gelled extremely well with the Attitude era, and a match which is famous in wrestling folklore and which quite possibly, defined the legacy of the Hardy Boyz, was the triple threat tag team match at Wrestlemania 2000, which involved Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz. Putting their bodies on the line, they entertained the audience with moves that were rarely seen before in WWF Tag team matches.
Other tag teams shot to prominence after this match, as the WWF seemed to give due importance again to this division. Thus, the Hardy Boyz faced competition from teams such as Too Cool and T&A. At Summerslam 2000, there was another spectacular Triple Threat Tag Team match, however this was a first ever TLC(Tables, Ladders and Chairs) match. Their high flying style cost them matches, as they had not won the tag championships in over a year. However, at Unforgiven 2000, they beat Edge and Christian in a steel cage match to win their second championship. Like their first reign, they lost it in under a month to Edge and Christian at No Mercy, but regained it the next night on RAW. They lost the titles again , this time to Right to Censor, soon picked up a fight with the Radicalz.
But a feud with Edge and Christian and the Dudleys were never far away, as the teams competed in yet another Triple Threat Tag team match at Wrestlemania 17, known as TLC 2. They then became victims of the Two man power trip (Triple H and Stone Cold) on an episode of RAW, and later that year, they beat Booker T and Test, once for the WCW Tag Team Championship and once for the WWF Tag Team Championships, and losing them both within a month.
At Wrestmania 18, they competed in a Tag Team Turmoil match also involving APA, the Dudleys and Billy and Chuck. As the Attitude era wound down, and WWE moved to a PG era, their ‘extreme’ style was curbed down, and the duo split soon after as Jeff Hardy began establishing a single career (starting with an Undisputed WWE title match with the Undertaker on RAW) while Matt Hardy was relegated to a mid carder as he began his ‘Version 1’ and ‘ Mattitude’.
After that, they were released from the WWE and then reunited in 2006, and were involved in a lengthy feud with MNM. They won a sixth WWE Tag Team Championship in 2007, a day after Wrestlemania, winning a ten team battle royal. They feuded with Rated RKO, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch and John Morrison and the Miz during this period, but none of the matches would reach the great heights of TLC matches.
The team split up for a final time in 2007, and Matt went on to win the US Championship and the ECW Title, while Jeff main-evented pay-per views feuding with Randy Orton and Triple H. He won the WWE Championship at Armagedd0n 2008, and lost it to Edge after Matt knocked him out with a steel chair. Jeff won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules, but lost it inside 2 minutes to CM Punk, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. In his final match in the WWE, Jeff lost a match for the World Heavyweight Championship against CM Punk.
For all their singles accolades in their later part of their careers, Team Xtreme continue to be remembered for their sensational and often jaw dropping maneuvers in the Tag team division. They elevated this division to a ‘must-see’ status along with other tag teams during the Attitude era. Since the early 2000s, the tag team division is in rapid decline, and one doubts whether the division could sustain interest in future.Published 10 Nov 2012, 13:20 IST