By tapping in to the craziest impulses a wrestler can have, “Woken” Matt Hardy has become one of the most talked about superstars in the WWE Universe today. As his tag team partner and a former WWE Champion, Bray Wyatt is proudly standing at Matt’s side. Not that long ago, the two were bitter enemies, yet Matt’s slowly helped Wyatt to “wake up” as well, leading to a union that could potentially eclipse Matt’s earlier duo with his brother, Jeff.
Truth be told, while both men are similar in the fact they seem to be completely off the rails mentally, Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt actually have very little in common. The “Woken” Hardy boy is a high flyer who plays mind games by digging in to his own eccentricities. Wyatt is more of a brawler, using intimidation and fear as his primary weapons. With their powers combined, the two are able to psychologically manipulate any wrestler or team who challenges them.
Because Wyatt and Hardy have both been around the WWE Universe for quite some time now, fans already know more about them than the average newcomers to the scene. Still, their tag team is already bringing both sides all sorts of younger fans who may need a refresher course on their histories. If that’s you, keep reading to learn 10 things you never knew about Matt Hardy, and 10 about Bray Wyatt.
20 MATT HARDY: He Lost His Mother At A Young Age
Especially for the Hardy Boyz, professional wrestling can be viewed as a family business. This trend began way before either Jeff or Matt got in the ring, starting with the McMahon family’s construction of the WWE Universe itself. Nonetheless, perhaps because Vince McMahon identifies with anyone who keeps it all relative, the Hardyz benefitted from their shared bloodline from the moments their careers began in earnest. Unfortunately, unlike his partner Bray Wyatt’s largely positive family history, Matt and Jeff went through a tragedy from a very young age. When Matt was only 12 years old and Jeff just 9, their mother passed away from brain cancer in 1986.
Obviously, losing a parent at such a young age can have a devastating effect on pretty much anyone.
The Hardyz were no different, yet in a way the disaster did help their careers, as Jeff claims wrestling brings them closer to their mother. Speaking to Slam! Sports in 2003, Jeff explained, “When we’re in the ring, we know her spirit is with us.” Later on in life, the experience inspired Matt to choose the American Cancer Society as his charity when appearing on Fear Factor. Tragic as the story is, it’s nice to know the Hardyz were able to turn an awful experience into a positive and honor their mother’s legacy through their careers.
19 BRAY WYATT: He Played College Football
Born into a family of wrestlers, explaining his career path, Bray Wyatt once told USA Today, “From as early as I can remember, this was the only thing I ever wanted to do.” Granted, the mere fact a kid wants to become a WWE superstar doesn’t mean they don’t also occasionally pursue outside interests. In addition to forming a foundation as an amateur wrestler, Wyatt also developed as an athlete on academic football teams. During high school, he was actually pretty good at it, scoring a total of 147 tackles.
Initially, Wyatt locked to continue his football career in college, starting with a stint at the College of the Sequoias. After completing junior college, he transfers to Troy University in Alabama, but it was here that Wyatt’s interest in football started to fade. After two years on the team, Wyatt decided to walk away from the gridiron and make his way to the wrestling ring. Part of his decision related to the fact his younger brother was already training to wrestle, and he also claimed there were issues with the coaching staff that deflated his passion for the sport. Whatever the reason, it quickly became clear that Wyatt was indeed better suited to sports entertainment than he had ever been with football.
18 MATT HARDY: He And Jeff Owned Multiple Wrestling Companies
Everyone has to start somewhere, and very few wrestlers get their first ever job working for Vince McMahon. Almost everyone in the WWE Universe has had at least one or two other gigs for another company, and before that could happen, a few of them even created their own promotions to try and gain some early experience on their terms. Matt and Jeff Hardy actually did this twice over, first forming the dangerous sounding Trampoline Wrestling Federation as teenagers, followed by the more serious Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts, aka OMEGA.
Alongside the Hardy Boyz, other notable members of the OMEGA roster included Shannon Moore, Joey Matthews, and Shane Helms.
Established in 1997 and folding in ‘99, OMEGA only lasted a few short years, but the impact it had on the Hardyz and the other wrestlers who competed there would forever change their careers. In fact, the nostalgia for OMEGA was so strong that decades later in 2013, when Matt and Jeff were two of the top names in Total Nonstop Action and the independent scene, they revived OMEGA for a series of reunion shows. By and large, OMEGA closed its doors for a second time when the Hardyz re-signed with WWE, but there’s always a chance it could make another comeback when their mainstream careers wind down.
17 BRAY WYATT: His Brother Bo-Lieves In Positivity
When the average WWE fan thinks about The Wyatt Family, the first people to come to mind are Bray and his lackeys Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. His real family is arguably even more impressive, containing several generations worth of wrestling excellence. In the modern era, the family member coming closest to Wyatt’s fame is his brother, Bo Dallas. Initially, the younger sibling by three years looked like he may become the more successful of the two, reigning as the third NXT Champion. Since getting called up to the main roster, Dallas hasn’t been doing quite so hot, but his positively unforgettable character still makes him a relevant force in the WWE Universe.
While Bray and Bo haven’t interacted all that much on Raw or SmackDown, the brothers actually formed a tag team earlier on in their careers.
In fact, said team brought them both success in Florida Championship Wrestling, the WWE training ground prior to NXT’s formation. Together, the Rotunda Brothers won the FCW Tag Team Championships twice, and again, Bo seemed like the bigger star as a solo. On top of those tag belts, Dallas also held three FCW World Championships, making one wonder where all the potential went after he got called up to the main roster…not that it seems to effect his positive outlook.
16 MATT HARDY: He Appeared As A Jobber For Years Before Breaking Through
Every wrestler works at their own pace, and not everyone can become a WWE champion overnight. For some superstars, it takes nearly a full decade before they can truly capitalize on their potential, and both Matt and Jeff Hardy fell into this category. Starting in 1994, both brothers made multiple appearances on Raw and house shows as completely forgettable jobbers. Matt was at least usually lucky enough to use his own name, while Jeff was forced into random monikers like Keith Davis. In one instance, both brothers masqueraded as Ingus and Wildo Jynx for a match against The Grimm Brothers on WWE Superstars.
Despite the indignity of constantly losing and sometimes not even being able to use his name, Matt Hardy nonetheless wrestled a veritable “who’s who” of opponents during this time frame. People to beat him into submission in three minutes or less include Nikolai Volkoff, Razor Ramon, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, all of whom would eventually earn induction to the Hall of Fame. Other marquee names like Owen Hart, Razor Ramon, and Hakushi also caused Matt to suffer plenty a twist of fate. Of course, the constantly losses hardly dissuaded the Hardyz from chasing their dreams, and eventually the agony of defeat paid off with full-time jobs. From there, they actually started winning a few matches, too.
15 BRAY WYATT: A History of Embarrassing Early Names
Called the Eater of Worlds, the New Face of Fear, the Man of 1,000 Truths, or simply the leader of the Wyatt Family, it’s clear the former WWE Champion has gone by many names in his short career. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with any of these monikers, and Bray Wyatt sounds like the name of a superstar, he hasn’t always been so lucky about what Vince McMahon thought he should be called. At first, like many wrestlers, he went by his real name, Windham Rotunda, which actually wasn’t all that bad. For whatever reason, though, someone decided that Bray should use fake first names like Alex or Duke when teaming with his brother Bo Rotunda and winning FCW Tag Team Championships. Still, there was nothing all that bad about getting called these things, since at least they were real names.
Next up, he was saddled with the truly terrible name “Husky Harris,” with which he made his first official WWE appearances.
Unsurprisingly, few people saw the WWE Championship or any other gold in Husky’s future, making it a lucky break that he was written off television to revamp his image. He almost came back as the hockey mask wearing Alex Mulligan, but someone must have realized the mixed sports references didn’t make much sense, finally allowing the creation of Bray Wyatt.
14 MATT HARDY: Fear Is Not A Factor For Him
Constantly putting their lives at risk for the entertainment of the WWE Universe, every pro wrestler needs to be at least slightly fearless in one way or another. Of course, this doesn’t exactly mean they could lock themselves in a coffin with a bunch of rats, or whatever other wacky stunts Joe Rogan dared people to attempt on Fear Factor. Turns fear truly isn’t a factor for Matt Hardy, though, a fact he proved in 2002 when he appeared on the reality/game show competition and won $50,000 for the American Cancer Society.
To earn the money, Matt defeated five fellow WWE superstar contestants, including Test, Molly Holly, Lita, Jacqueline, and his brother, Jeff.
Their first stunt involved climbing a ladder into a moving helicopter, which Matt greatly excelled at. Jeff, on the other hand, fell off the ladder into a body of water and got eliminated right away. Next up was a challenge to consume a particularly gross yet drinkable beverage, during which Matt channeled “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and quickly chugged it down without thinking. Finally, he won a flag collecting challenge atop very high, difficult to navigate wooden pillars, bringing the ACS that grand prize. While Jeff won, all six WWE superstars deserve credit for trying their hand at one of the most uncomfortable game shows on TV.
13 BRAY WYATT: His Character Was Inspired By Waylon Mercy
For as original and creative as Bray Wyatt’s character has always felt, he’s far from the first creepy cult leader type to show up in the WWE Universe. In fact, many fans immediately noticed the character was heavily inspired by an earlier character performed by Dan Spivey, known as Waylon Mercy. In turn, the Mercy character was based on Robert De Niro’s performance as Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear. That’s not to say Wyatt didn’t add plenty of his own creative touches to the idea, but the fact remains he had lots of help and inspiration in devising the role.
Spivey actually got involved in the process when Wyatt was still in FCW, giving him tips and pointers on how to reach maximum creepiness. It’s hardly surprising Spivey would choose to help out in this way, considering he and Wyatt’s father Mike Rotunda go way back—Spivey made his WWE debut by replacing Barry Windham in the US Express. While there’s no doubt Waylon Mercy had a huge influence on Bray Wyatt, it also didn’t take the Eater of Worlds all that much time to define himself as an original. After all, Mercy only lasted a few short months without finding much fame, and Wyatt is a former WWE Champion with a wide family of supporters.
12 MATT HARDY: The Unforgettable Lita-Edge Triangle
Unfortunately for Matt Hardy, his career has gone through many ups and downs, and usually his personal life also takes a tumble when things aren’t going all that well. This was definitely the case in 2005, when Hardy discovered his real-life girlfriend Lita had been cheating on his with his friend Edge. Hurt and angered by the affair, Hardy complained on his blog about what happened, leading to his dismissal from WWE. There was a silver lining, however, in that fans immediately took Hardy’s side, loudly chanting his name whenever Edge or Lita were on screen. Eventually, this lead to Hardy making a huge comeback several months later.
It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing from there, as the subsequent inevitable feud was likewise a bit shaky.
There were occasional good matches, but not the violent blood wars fans were expected for such a heated, personal feud. Matt’s microphone skills took some of the blame, explaining why Edge and Lita used the situation as a catapult to the main event, while he meandered in the midcard. Another bright side is that all three involved parties have now been able to move on from their past and seem to harbor little bitterness about it today. That’s not to say they couldn’t have handled it better at the time, but at least it appears behind them.
11 BRAY WYATT: His Father Has A Long History With WWE
It’s not entirely unusual for two brothers to become wrestlers, especially when they have a long history of the sport in the family, as is the case with Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas. Going back one generation further reveals at least three wrestlers, most notably his father, Mike Rotunda. A veteran of the scene for many decades, Rotunda has also earned fame in WWE, WCW, and the NWA when known as Captain Mike, V.K. Wallstreet, and perhaps most notably, Irwin R. Schyster, or IRS.
Much like his sons, Mike Rotunda used a solid foundation of amateur wrestling to kick start a highly successful wrestling career.
For the most part, Rotunda couldn’t match Bray or Bo’s efforts in the solo division, rarely raising above the ranks of a Television Champion in NWA. That title in particular was earned with the help of his friends in The Varsity Club, and involved a very memorable feud against Rick Steiner. Later on, he found plenty of gold in the doubles ranks, including two WWE Tag Team Championships with his brother-in-law Barry Windham, plus three more with Ted DiBiase after switching names to IRS. Rotunda continued working for WWE as a road agent well after his in-ring retirement, surely helping his own boys learn the ropes alongside plenty of other newcomers.
10 MATT HARDY: The Deeply Concerning YouTube Post
Imagine logging on to the YouTube or Twitter page of your favorite celebrity and finding the following message: “Goodbye world…My time here is almost complete. I only have a few hours and minutes. I loved you all…Regardless of how you felt about me…I’ll miss you all.” That’s exactly what happened to fans of Matt Hardy on August 31, 2011, which was also included in the post as his “date of death.” To make things perfectly clear, by all appearances, Matt posted what many fans viewed as a suicide note, understandably causing lots of heartbreak and panic amongst his community. Fans weren’t the only ones worried, as Jeff Hardy’s wife Beth Britt also saw the message and believed it to be real, calling the police to have them check on Matt’s well being.
Obviously, almost seven years removed from this incident, Matt Hardy is still alive and well, not showing any particular signs of depression or mental anguish.
When it started coming out this was all just some sort of stunt related to his wrestling career, many commenters were outraged, feeling suicidal thoughts are something no one should ever joke about. It didn’t take long for Hardy to apologize, claiming the whole thing had been misinterpreted. Whatever the case, this was clearly too serious a topic to use in a wrestling angle.
9 BRAY WYATT: His Uncles Were Horsemen
Having a famous father can definitely help a wrestler get a leg up on his or her career, and further family ties are even better. Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas were in particularly great shape, as not only did was their father a former WWE superstar, but their uncles Barry and Kendall Windham also found fame working for Vince McMahon and the NWA. Barry especially was once a huge star, known for wrestling hour long marathons against Ric Flair. When he couldn’t beat the Nature Boy and take his title, Barry decided to join him as one of the Four Horsemen, a decision that eventually brought him to the Hall of Fame.
Less remembered is the fact Kendall was also briefly a Horsemen, not to mention a one time WCW Tag Team Champion with his brother. That’s because these short-lived designations were Kendall’s only noteworthy achievements in the business, while Barry’s career went significantly better. Before teaming with Kendall, he also tagged with his brother-in-law and Bray’s father Mike Rotunda as The U.S. Express, twice winning the WWE Tag Team Championships. Barry is also a former NWA World, United States, and Television Champion, truly making him one of the most decorated men of his era no matter which company hired him.
8 MATT HARDY: He And Jeff Built The Final Deletion Set
After a rollercoaster filled with ups and downs, Matt Hardy’s rocky career finally got back on the right track in late 2015, when he began telling audiences he was “Broken.” Turning his crazy up to 11 made Matt an entirely different type of wrestling star, one built primarily through the Internet and absurdity, celebrating the weirdness of wrestling while also making fun of it. The ultimate culmination of his madness was Total Nonstop Deletion, a special episode of Impact Wrestling that took place at Matt’s home.
En route to that landmark event, Matt and “Brother Nero” also wrestled a handful of matches from the location in a feud they largely built on their own.
Once the Hardyz jumped back to WWE, there was talk about legal wrangling between Impact and the McMahon family over who owned the rights to the Broken gimmick. It’s somewhat unclear who deserves all the credit, but it’s obvious Matt put a lot of personal thought and energy into the idea from the very beginning. He also spent lots of money on his vision, later Tweeting, “Myself, Jeff & Reby spent $2500 & 4 days creating The Final Deletion set, with ZERO help from TNA.” It’s this dedication that explains how, regardless of who wrote what, Matt remains powerfully in tune with the character.
7 BRAY WYATT: His Grandfather Also Found Fame
All right, just one last trip down the Wyatt Family tree before Bray’s full parentage is completely rounded out. Long before his brother, uncles, or even father ever stepped foot in the ring, Bray Wyatt’s familial legacy in wrestling began with his grandfather, best known as Blackjack Mulligan. Early on in his career, the mountainous cowboy was an early rival to WWE Champion Pedro Morales, leading to such vitriol from fans that one audience member actually leapt out of the crowd and stabbed him. Terrifying as an experience like that is, back in the ‘70s, it was the sign of an incredibly good heel, predicting the success his generations of successors would attain.
Unsurprisingly, with that sort of character work, Blackjack Mulligan was also able to reach a good deal of fame and fortune all on his own.
After his recovery, Mulligan’s rise back to the top began alongside Blackjack Lanza in a duo that soon won the WWE Tag Team Championships. 30 years later, the Blackjacks also wound up in the WWE Hall of Fame. Along the way, Mulligan also won a bevvy of solo titles including four turns with the NWA United States Championship, proving he could excel with or without a partner. Interestingly, that same quality has seemed to follow each subsequent member of his family.
6 MATT HARDY: His Whole Family Got In On The Joke
Long before getting involved with the Wyatt Family, Matt Hardy was using his own relatives in various storylines for Impact Wrestling. During his insane and over-the-top feud against Brother Nero, Broken Matt’s wife, Reby Sky, infant son, King Maxel, and father-in-law, Señor Benjamin all made regular appearances at the Hardy Compound. There was also a high-tech drone Matt called Vanguard 1, which apparently had a mind of it’s own.
Believe it or not, Maxel participated in a few matches despite his extremely young age, somehow even managing to defeat Rockstar Spud during The Final Deletion, unsurprisingly with a great deal of help from his mother and grandfather.
Since making his return to WWE, Matt has largely left the wife and kids at home. Part of the reason could be that a second child has since joined the fold, with Maxel getting a baby brother named Wolfgang in early 2017. There’s always a chance both second generation Hardy Boyz could one day make an appearance, though, especially now that Reby made her WWE debut during The Ultimate Deletion match between Matt and Wyatt. Knowing how these superstars tend to combine business and family into one, it’s also possible the kids could become wrestlers themselves one day, but any such speculation is probably getting way ahead of itself at this point.
5 BRAY WYATT: A Romance With A WWE Announcer?
Plenty of male wrestlers wind up in relationships with females working for WWE, and most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with this. They live and travel in close quarters and often have little free time apart from the company, so of course some superstars would find comfort in one another’s arms. Of course, there is a snag in this time honored trend when one of the two parties are married to another person, which was the case when Bray Wyatt allegedly started hooking up with WWE ring announcer JoJo Offerman. That’s what Wyatt’s ex-wife seems to believe, anyway, and it was likely the primary reason she filed for divorce in early 2017.
Hopefully, things will eventually work out between Wyatt and his ex, at least to a point where they can peacefully ensure their children’s happiness together. It’ll probably be some time before that happens, though, with Wyatt’s ex appearing progressively more annoyed with his behavior as the story develops. Wyatt has largely remained quiet about the situation and, for that matter, his personal life in general. Of course, silence alone won’t stop the divorce from happening, so he’ll eventually need to speak about the situation in one way or another. Hopefully, it won’t have any effect on his career.
4 MATT HARDY: His Time At Impact Wrestling Was Filled With Ups and Downs
Chances are some wrestling fans are somewhat confused about what the Hardy Boyz had been doing between the years 2010 and 2017, when they made their long awaited WWE returns. The short answer is that they worked for various independent promotions and Total Nonstop Action, which later became Impact Wrestling. It was in that second, larger company where both Jeff and Matt were able to reach arguably greater heights than they ever had in WWE up to that point. Jeff achieved this almost immediately, shooting into the main event scene upon arrival and eventually winning three TNA World Championships.
After beginning to redefine himself, Matt followed Jeff to glory with two TNA World Championships, yet even these accomplishments were somewhat shaky.
Things started falling apart mere days after Hardy won his first TNA World title, when the company had him post a video to YouTube where he vacated the belt. A couple months after that, Ethan Carter III defeated him in a tournament final to recapture the gold. Just a few days later, Hardy defeated Carter for the gold yet again, bringing the scenario right back where it started. Why exactly all the complication was necessary for Matt to get crowned champion is still unclear, as it only managed to make his accomplishment look weaker in retrospect.
3 BRAY WYATT: He Has Two Children
Despite how prevalent it is in modern society, divorce is never an easy thing for couples to go through, and it only gets harder when there are young children involved. Unfortunately, that’s the case with Bray Wyatt and his ex-wife, as they also have two young daughters, aged seven and five. Little is known about the kids aside from the fact they currently live with their mother after she split from their father. Young as they are, given Wyatt’s family history, it already seemed possible that his daughters could one day be part of the women’s revolution, but only if Wyatt continues to play a big role in their lives.
It’s always difficult for a wrestler who spends 200+ days on the road to connect with his or her children, and the struggle gets even harder when they don’t get along with the other parent.
Hopefully, things will eventually work out between Wyatt and his ex, at least to a point where they can peacefully ensure their children’s happiness together. It’ll probably be some time before that happens, though, with Wyatt’s ex appearing progressively more annoyed with his behavior as the story develops. Much like with the divorce in general, Wyatt has been quiet about these claims against him.
2 MATT HARDY: Unfortunate Run Ins With The Law Mar His Past
With all due respect to Matt Hardy, there are definitely fans watching his work since becoming “Broken” and wondering exactly how much alcohol he had to drink when making the transformation. All jokes aside, Hardy clearly was drinking heavily at one point, as there were at least two DUIs in his past, plus a third arrest for assault, all shortly before the gimmick was devised. The most troubling part about the DUIs is that they happened almost immediately back to back in August and then September of 2011, with only a few short weeks between them. His third arrest didn’t come until 2014, but that hardly took away the sting fans felt when seeing yet another bloody and waxy-eyed mug shot.
On the plus side, it looks like these arrests were finally a wake up call that stopped Matt’s downward spiral and gradually brought him back to fame. Never before has a person “breaking” their mind paid off so well, though it should always be acknowledged that it wasn’t the downfall that made Matt who he is, but rather the way he picked up the pieces. While Matt’s larger issues appear to be behind him, it looks like his brother Jeff is still struggling, with his most recent DUI arrest occurring quite recently, in March of 2018.
1 BRAY WYATT: Critics Hated The Randy Orton Saga
Overall, it could probably be said that Bray Wyatt has suffered less career issues than his current tag team partner, with no unfortunate police record or TNA history to bring things down. However, he hasn’t been without his problems, and in fact, Wyatt may be the rare wrestler to have experienced his peak and nadir at the exact same time. It all began when he won his first WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber 2017, which should have been the highlight of his career. Instead, it led to a feud with Randy Orton that nearly spelled the downfall for the entire Bray Wyatt character.
The first mistake was Wyatt and Orton’s match at WrestleMania 33, which was more about Wyatt’s weird light tricks casting dozens of fake bugs onto the mat than anything to do with wrestling.
Their inevitable rematch was even worse, taking place in Wyatt’s “House of Horrors” compound, resulting in a mess so bad it nearly killed both men’s careers.
Mere months removed from the WWE Championship, Wyatt’s standing on the roster was lower than ever, with the Wrestler Observer Newsletter claiming his gimmick had become the worst of the year, and his matches and feud against Orton were similarly lambasted. Suddenly, a weird feud with Matt Hardy blossomed into a partnership that brought him back to the top, and fans of both men can't wait to see what comes next.