Monday Morning Backlash on Matt Hardy’s Release: One WWE De-Push and How TNA Should Debut Him

When Matt Hardy first took to twitter to badmouth the WWE, he did so while pretending to be speaking of other things as Jeff Hardy was just signed to TNA. In response to Matt, I wrote the following, which hasn’t ever been seen on Pulse and is entirely the point of the man’s problems with WWE:

Matt Hardy has always been over with fans. Whether as a remnant of his excellent Hardy Boyz days or an innate connection, fans want to cheer him. When he decided to help Jeff out against the dastardly CM Punk, the fans were happy to be able to cheer Matt again. The problem arose when Jeff left and Matt had to carry his portion of the feud alone.

The first Smackdown without Jeff had Matt Hardy vs. CM Punk in the main event. This was meant to be a grudge match, wherein Matt would try to destroy the man that chased his brother from the WWE. Instead, after Punk fed Matt another of his awesome, righteous promos, Matt responded weakly, much like he did with his heated Edge feud years earlier.

Then we went to the match. The match they had on that first Smackdown wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t very good, either. The main problem was that Matt went about it like a normal wrestling match with no added intensity or change in style at all. That would work were this just another match or just for the title, but in a match built around revenge, it didn’t ring true. A skilled enough wrestler can make even normal wrestling feel more intense and personal with facial expressions and well-timed little things, such as a cheap shot to get over that he’s trying to wear down and hurt his opponent. Matt did none of this and, as such, disappointed in his shot at the main event.

The next week, more by Punk needing an opponent than as a reward for such a weak effort, Matt got another shot at the main event of Smackdown. This time, the match had to be more intense. It was a submission match, giving Matt the perfect opportunity to get over how badly he wanted to hurt Punk. Hell, the story even tells itself- Matt wants to hurt Punk and make him suffer, but Punk just needs a win, so he can be more focused and thus come away with a victory. In this case, that isn’t what we got. Matt wrestled a more submission focused and better match with Punk this week, but still managed to wrangle up no intensity whatsoever. Matt spent the match working Punk’s legs, but never went the extra step necessary to look like he was trying to hurt the champion. After this second lackluster performance in a row, Matt Hardy was clearly out of his depth in the main event.

Now, Matt being out of his depth in the Main Event didn’t have to mean he was off the Smackdown show. What it did, though, was make it easier to keep him off the show. Matt has an outstanding issue with CM Punk and if he’s on the show, he should be addressing that. He proved in two weeks that he was not capable of addressing that issue over Jeff in a compelling manner, so, rather than nonsensically be pushed down the card and letting that issue die without a big blow off, the character is being kept off television and allowed to rest. Some fortuitous timing (for the WWE, not Matt) made it so that him being off television coincided with avoiding any bad publicity due to Jeff’s impending trial.

Does anyone actually believe that the WWE, as desperate for new stars as they are, wouldn’t have latched on to Matt Hardy had he stolen the show with CM Punk for two weeks in a row? If Matt showed the slightest inkling of the capability to replace his brother Jeff Hardy in top matches and thus keep the merchandising machine going, he’d still be on television in main events now, short of his brother doing anything like Chris Benoit. It is his own lack of rising to the occasion and becoming a true main event player that makes it so easy to keep Matt Hardy off television and he should look no further than himself for who to blame.

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And so we come to today, with Matt Hardy released from WWE and acting the fool about it, as usual. Irregardless of his personal issues or of the fact that he’s not a great worker or talker, TNA should sign and push the hell out of Matt Hardy.

Matt Hardy has got a huge number of fans talking about him and following him on twitter. What’s more, many of these are his blind-mark type fans that bought all that Jeff Hardy merchandise and were crazy for him. With Jeff now a heel, odds are that merchandising factor goes down. Grabbing Matt and pushing him with the same type of merchandise, grabbing the same type of fans that Jeff just alienated, while battling his evil brother, should be an easy way to recoup the loss of merchandise and fans that Jeff just caused. The WWE seemed inclined to try this when Jeff left, but, as discussed earlier, gave up due to Matt’s poor performance. TNA is unlikely to care nearly as much, as evidenced by Ken Anderson (a great talker, not much of a wrestler) is in their main events.

So, how does TNA debut Matt? First, give him time to get into shape and recover. Next, instead of as a surprise on television, they should hype Jeff bringing in his brother who’s tried so long and hard to get away from WWE. Let Matt be debuted by Jeff a week later, preferably live, as an Immortal, coming out in the last segment only to turn on the rest of the group and leave everybody but Jeff lying. Keep Matt on twitter and youtube through all of this, promising answers.

The next week, Jeff could demand answers, and Matt could insist on talking to Jeff alone, in a cage. Matt should insist all his antics to get out of WWE were to save Jeff’s soul and remind him why they got into wrestling- to save it from the dinosaurs that were in charge in the late 90s like Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Jeff could agree and the reunited Hardyz would be set up against AJ Styles and Jeff Jarrett (representing Immortals and two TNA Originals) on Pay Per View.

The hype for a televised Hardyz reunion match should sell the show (since Jeff will have to face Kennedy at the PPV to defend his title and we can even make a big deal of Jeff and Kennedy reconciling), and then Jeff should turn thanks to Ric Flair and beat his brother down, letting AJ and Jarrett win. This is obvious, of course, but still, if executed well, should put great heat on Jeff.

Jeff can then explain he has fully bought into Hogan’s stardom as he was always the real talent of the brothers and explain that he could never pass up working with his hero, Ric Flair. An injured Matt would then be led to want to dismantle the Immortals and Fortune. Off of the Pay Per View, he could be a shadowy figure that attacked members of both groups throughout the night, stopping interference.

Matt could then ally with Sting and become a mysterious figure. At this point, he would start wearing his brother’s old facepaint and no longer talk, as an analogue to both Jeff and the Crow-Sting of WCW. Matt would suddenly have matches at PPVs with AJ Styles and then Abyss, speaking through Sting that he wants to destroy the evolutionary Flair and Hogan. Building to these matches with Matt against both men, with Sting, Flair and Hogan involved, should do great business while Jeff avoids his brother and is freaked out constantly.

Finally, now four months down the line, Matt should get his match with Jeff. That match should be hyped to high heavens and put together by the best free-agent retired wrestlers they can find, like Mick Foley and Ric Flair (maybe even call in Terry Funk) and put it in a cage- brother vs. brother for the soul of not only TNA, but their own family.

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