All right, before we get all crazy here, that’s definitely some hyperbole in action in that title above. To be fair, Matt Hardy never really blew my mind. I thought his moveset was weak, I never understood the connection he had with wrestling fans, and as wrestlers went, I assumed “permanent midcard.”
Which, in my opinion, is an amazing place to be. I very, VERY briefly tried pro wrestling as I just got out of high school. I was not physically cut out for it then, nor am I now. So when I say “permanent midcard,” I do hope that anyone who reads this doesn’t find me being dismissive. I mean, seriously, how many of us, in whatever we choose to do with our lives, can say that we’re firmly in the middle of the very best talent that industry has to offer? How many people can not just think that, but truly know it? And most importantly when it comes to a pro wrestler like Matt Hardy and a writer like myself, how awesome is it to do what you love to do as a fruitful career that affords worldwide travel & recognition, television stardom and throngs of fans who truly adore what you do and what it means to their lives? I can’t say those things; Matt Hardy definitely can.
Last I’d truly heard, Matt was having some troubles in his last World Wrestling Entertainment tenure, maybe health-related or maybe substance-related. When a person has literally no place to obtain truly solid information on a subject, because that subject just so happens to be an industry that was forged in deceit, tempered in lies and given the tongue of The Serpent upon final testing, it’s hard to really know what’s what. All I could tell is that the Matt Hardy who already worked a loose style was working even more loosely, almost sloppily. He’d put on what, for him, was a gut. And he honestly looked burnt out on the whole wrestling thing.
A little while later, some videos surfaced of a WWE European tour where Matt was very under the influence and very in possession of a camera. So anyone who wanted to see a man’s demise could get on YouTube and see it. I’m not posting that here because this article isn’t at all about that; if you want to see it, you know where to go. I just want to give a little bit of the background to why I’m shocked that Matt Hardy might have just become my favorite wrestler.
Soon after leaving WWE, Matt landed in Total Nonstop Action, or TNA, and wrestled for a short amount of time there. As a person with previous substance issues, I’d say with almost complete certainty that he was still using, and I’ve heard rumors from the circus that is professional wrestling that, although WWE is rather strict on drugs in the wake of the Chris Benoit double murder/suicide tragedy, TNA is the place to go if you still want to work, still have something to offer (or have friends in high places, right Nasty Boys?) and still don’t want to get clean.
And to be fair, I liked a little of what I saw of him there. There wasn’t much to see, to be fair, but he had a couple of matches with AJ Styles that were really interesting. Hardy actually tried employing a new style in these matches, and I thought it was a fairly successful transition. But within a few months of arriving, behavioral issues cropped up again, and as soon as Matt Hardy arrived, Matt Hardy was gone.
A DWI (or two? or three? How many was it?), going to rehab, flunking out of rehab, going back to rehab, a retirement, a personal recharge and a rebuilding of his career from the ground up later, Matt Hardy is now one of the top heel characters in Ring of Honor (ROH), the #3 US pro wrestling company. As a pretty die-hard news junkie, with a lifelong interest in pro wrestling on the side, I’d been following Hardy, as he’d promote each of his matches, from Veterans’ Halls to high school gyms, to small-town civic centers and all the way back to the larger halls that ROH runs in its touring circuit. He was one of the very few wrestlers using social media really well…to be honest, he always has been, and this is likely why he’s always had the support that I’ve never truly understood. That’s to say, I didn’t understand until yesterday.
Then, I saw this:
I don’t know about you folks, but this kind of stuff makes me laugh. And even more, it showed me something kind of inspiring. Matt Hardy could’ve died in a garbage fire 3 years ago, and most wrestling fans would piss in the other direction while screaming “Fuck Fatt Hardy!” until their throats were hoarse.
But he took every bit of that Internet hate against the guy they perceived him to be, turned it on him, and became a true shit-heel, in the very best sense of the insult. If I didn’t know who this guy was, knew nothing about him, but watched ROH and saw his weekly antics, I’d be dying as a young wrestling fan to throw down money and see this guy get the shit kicked out of him. Even more so after this:
These videos drive me nuts with laughter, but I’ve always been a fan of the heels, anyway. Basically, though, they just make me proud. I really like that this guy pretty much just took a giant dump on his whole career, then started again from scratch. And you know what? Whereas before I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d see this guy on prime-time cable ever again, now I’m not sure of that at all. Matter of fact, not only do I think he could make it back, I think he could own it all. Any company that gives him the chance to be this character, Matt Hardy Version 2.0 perhaps, and just let him run with embracing all of the very worst things anyone on the Internet ever thought of him, will be a company that makes a fat chunk of change off this guy. And Matt Hardy will get even richer…and he’ll continue to fuck in piles of cash.
Matt Hardy, you have won me over, sir. Well done. Now go get your ass kicked!