79. MATT HARDY
Aliases – Version 1.0; Angelic Diablo; High Voltage; Surge; Wildo Jinx
Debuted – 15th October 1993
Titles Held – WWE World Tag Team; WCW World Tag Team; WWE European; WWE Cruiserweight; WWE Hardcore; NWA 2000 Tag Team; OMEGA Heavyweight; OMEGA Tag Team
Other Accomplishments – six year relationship with Amy
‘Lita’ Dumas ended publicly in 2005; created and ran OMEGA
Wrestling with brother Jeff in 1997; PWI Tag Team of the Year in 2000; Wrestling Observer Best Gimmick in 2002; participated in first ever “TLC Match” with brother Jeff vs. the Dudleyz and Edge & Christian at Summerslam 2000
A darling of the Internet Wrestling Community, and a perennial midcard wrestler, Matt Hardy gets billed as underrated so often that eventually the powers that be in WWE will have to come around and give him the high level push that many feel he deserves. He has been with WWE since 1998, which means he has one of the longest tenures with the company, and is one of a dozen or so stars that have been with the company since the peak that was the “Attitude Era.Ã¢â‚¬Â His employment was almost entirely consecutive too except for several months in 2005 when he was fired, but more on that later.
The man that many figured would turn out to be “Hardy JanettyÃ¢â‚¬Â got his start as a self taught wrestler and founder of the North Carolina based OMEGA promotion (OMEGA standing for Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Art) that also gave rise to the likes of Gregory Helms, Shannon Moore, Joey Abs, Joey Mercury, Christian York, and of course his brother Jeff. After working in another promotion and being made fun of for not working properly Matt and Jeff sought training in the capable hands of Dory Funk Jr.
It was not long after, that Matt and Jeff made their way to the then WWF making their debut as the Jinx Brothers typically getting squashed on programs like Jakked and Metal. The eventually started wrestling as the Hardy Boys, the z would come later, wearing awful plaid gear and still putting over more prominent superstars. Eventually, they would don equally ridiculous looking mesh shirts and cargo points, add a Z and a tag team phenomenon was born.
The Hardyz first became a force to be reckoned with during the Terri Invitational tournament which was a best of five series in which the winner would gain the managerial services of Terri Runnels, and a bunch of cash. The series culminated in the ladder match that made the stars of Matt, Jeff, and Edge and Christian. In fact the two Canadian brothers would be one third of the best three way tag team feud possibly ever. The Hardyz, Edge and Christian, and the Dudley Boyz feuded in a series of table, ladder, and TLC matches that were the hottest thing going in WWE in 2001 and 2002.
Matt and Jeff had eventually went there separate ways after having a short feud at the end of 2002. During the brand extension Matt went to Smackdown and Jeff went to RAW. It was on Smackdown that Matt had some of his greatest success. He was reborn as Matt Hardy Version 1.0. His entrance now featured a Windows Media Player style graphic and featured Matt Facts including, “Matt usually exceeds the speed limit,Ã¢â‚¬Â and “Matt strongly dislikes mustard.Ã¢â‚¬Â He was incredibly over with the fans which he called his MFers (Mattitude Followers). His biggest success as Version 1.0 was winning the cruiserweight title and feuding with Rey Mysterio.
All through this period he was in a serious relationship with Lita who had played his valet when they were part of Team Extreme with his brother Jeff. He got a switch from Smackdown to RAW in order to spend more time with Lita, but while he was recuperating from knee surgery, he discovered that Lita was having an affair with Edge. He publicly acknowledged this and was fired from WWE for his behavior. He used that opportunity to wrestle for Ring of Honor and had decent if not outstanding matches with Christopher Daniels, Homicide, and Roderick Strong. During this period he also “invadedÃ¢â‚¬Â RAW and tried to attack Edge. Eventually he was resigned and had a feud with Edge that turned the Rated R Superstar into the top heel on the roster, and made Matt into another midcarder.
Matt spent the next year or so in purgatory until his brother cleaned up his act and became a member of the WWE roster once again. It was not long before the Hardy Boyz were reunited. They even won the tag titles again despite being on separate brands. It seems now that they are going their own way as Matt is contending for the United States title on Smackdown while Jeff feuds with Umaga on RAW.
Matt definitely deserves to be considered among the top 100 wrestlers of the modern era. In a time when almost everything seems lifted from somewhere else, Matt created a very unique gimmick with Version 1.0. He is also one half of one of the most successful tag teams of all time and has been a part of some of the riskiest matches in WWE history. I personally would have put Matt a bit higher on the list, but number 79 still is a good place for the Sensei of Mattitude.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.