Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: The Terri Invitational Tournament

Yes, we know what the initials spell.

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: The Terri Invitational Tournament – WWF, 1999

Throughout 1999, the WWF’s tag team division was blossoming, and there were two tag teams that were leading the charge – the Hardy Boyz and the Brood. In summer of 1999, the Brood’s members of Edge and Christian had begun chafing under the control of Gangrel and eventually split from him. In retaliation, Gangrel had convinced the Hardys to attack their manager, Michael PS Hayes, and join forces with him.

On the September 30, 1999 episode of Smackdown, the saga took another twist. The Hardys faced off with Edge and Christian again for match one of what was called the “Terri Invitational Tournament.” Terri herself (who’d been dumped by the Mean Street Posse on Raw) joined Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary to explain what was going on.

The premise of the tournament was that it was a best of five series. The winners would receive $100,000 and Terri’s managerial services. Christian wound up hopping onto Edge’s shoulders to superplex Jeff and Christian and Edge took the lead 1 to nothing.

Round two took place on Raw. The start of the match was notable for Gangrel’s absence. In the end, Christian dropped like Matt Hardy would for the Poetry in Motion. Edge stepped on Christian’s back and speared Jeff. A cover put Edge and Christian up two to nothing.

The next match took place on Smackdown, and Terri decided to switch things up a bit. This time the match would be Texas Tornado rules. Edge and Christian quickly took control, but the Hardys battled back. Matt and Jeff gained the advantage after a barricade run from Jeff left Christian lying on the outside. In the end Edge speared Jeff, but Matt made the save. Edge and Christian superplexed Matt off the top rope, but while they were on the way down, Jeff was on the way up. Jeff hit his senton bomb, the Hardys pitched Edge, and both covered Christian to finally make it onto the scoreboard.

The fourth match was set for the next episode of Raw, and it was also contested under Texas Tornado rules. The action was fast and furious and referee Tim White soon lost control of the match. He wound up stopping the match as all four men brawled outside the ring with a double DQ decision.

On Smackdown, Gangrel accompanied the Hardys to the ring for match five. This proved to be a wise choice for the Hardys, as Gangrel wasn’t shy about inserting himself into the action when the fight went to the outside (and when Teddy Long’s back was turned). Finally all four men wound up fighting inside the ring and Long counted the pinfall while Jeff pinned Edge and Christian pinned Matt. However, this would not be another draw. Jeff and Edge were the legal men, so the Hardys tied things up 2-2.

No Mercy had the tiebreaker – a tag team ladder match. The match was red-hot throughout and the crowd was definitely into it. The match ended with Jeff getting the money and the Hardys getting Terri.

The next night, the Hardys came out and addressed the crowd, officially rejecting the Brood name and announcing that they were the Hardys. Edge and Christian then joined them in the ring and the four shook hands in a show of sportsmanship as the fans gave them a standing ovation. That brought Gangrel and Terri out. Gangrel informed everyone that he’d been the only one healthy enough after the match to take care of Terri’s needs the night before, so the Hardys, Edge, and Christian attacked him to break all their ties with him.

This was a can’t-miss proposal for the WWF. You’ve got two talented young tag teams (that have been feuding with each other anyway). You’ve got Terri Runnells, an attractive manager who’s not doing anything. Why not throw them all together?

Needless to say, the tournament was a great success. It made even the most casual fans sit up and take notice of the four competitors and made stars out of all four of them. The ladder match which closed the series served as a mark that all other ladder matches would try to live up to (much like the Shawn Michaels/Razor Ramon ladder matches from 1994 and 1995).

The ongoing matches between the Hardys and Edge and Christian soon added the Dudley Boyz into the mix as well. The result is what many have called the greatest period of tag team wrestling in WWE history.

Where Are They Now?
Jeff Hardy left the WWE in May of 2003. Reportedly he had failed a drug test and the company wanted him to go to rehab. He refused. Jeff vanished from the wrestling scene for nearly a year. He competed under his old Willow The Whisp gimmick in a match for OMEGA, and made a single Ring of Honor appearance in July. In June of 2004, Jeff signed a TNA contract. After a two year stint that contained a few potholes (including a suspension for missing a pay-per-view), Jeff left TNA and returned to the WWE. Jeff was suspended for a wellness violation in March of 2008 and just returned to action on Raw after serving his sixty day suspension.

Matt Hardy remained with the WWE after Jeff had left. However, in late 2004 rumors began circulating that Matt and Lita (a longtime couple) had broken up. By March the truth was out – Lita had been cheating on Matt with Edge while Matt was out recovering from knee surgery. With Matt so furious he’d gone public with the situation, the WWE decided to release him in April. Matt spent the next few months making a few independent appearances before returning to the WWE in July, where he found himself in a feud with Edge. After that feud ended, Matt made his way to Smackdown. He is still on Smackdown today and is the current United States champion after winning the belt from MVP.

Christian left the WWE in November of 2005 and jumped to TNA under his old ring name of Christian Cage. In February of 2006 Christian defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the NWA World Heavyweight champion. Although he lost the title in June, he regained the belt in January of 2007 by defeating Abyss and Sting. He lost the title in May. He remains with TNA today and is currently teaming with Rhino.

Edge remains with the WWE today. He is a former two-time World Heavyweight champion and also a two-time former WWE champion. He is currently on Smackdown where he is allied with Vicki Guerrero and has his own tag team of lackeys known as the Edge Heads.

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