On Monday night, fans were treated to something they’ve been waiting for since WrestleMania—Broken Matt Hardy in the WWE. Sure, it was under a different moniker, “Woken” instead of “Broken”, but almost everything—save for some characters that will surely be rolled out—was there. But that is the sword WWE needs to live and die by, and so far, “Woken” Matt Hardy is working because they’re seemingly allowing Hardy to go all in with it.
For those unfamiliar with “Broken” Matt Hardy in TNA, he was pretty much a bright spot in a very dark time for the company. After a run as “Big Money” Matt, Hardy snapped and began his transition to the weird Broken character. Claiming to be a spirit trapped inside a vessel, Hardy changed his appearance, the way he spoke, dressed, and everything. He set his targets on his brother Jeff and even fought for the rights to the Hardy name. Soon, he was the centerpiece of TNA, and it seemed like everything was clicking. He took part in unique matches—that the WWE tried to imitate— he spoke differently, he attacked a fan, and most importantly, no one could replicate his Broken Brilliance.
The entire gimmick is really hard to explain, but it really is Hardy’s magnum opus, and something he clearly cares about. He produced a large portion of his segments himself, brought inanimate objects to life, and he went to war against Anthem who claimed they had the rights to his creation. With all that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise us if WWE is letting Hardy go wild (within certain confines) to make this work. That’s the only way it will go over with fans.
When Matt and Jeff Hardy made their way back to the WWE at WrestleMania, fans who followed their TNA run were both excited and scared to see how the WWE would handle such a strange departure from what we are normally presented in Vince McMahon’s promotion. But due to an unfortunate legal battle over the gimmick, we were presented with Team Extreme.
But that was the perfect way to bring the Hardyz back. While we’d love to think that Broken Matt Hardy, Brother Nero, Vanguard One, Skarsgard The Dilapidated Boat, Senior Benjamin, and everything else from the Broken Universe were mainstream knowledge, their imprint in popular culture was limited at best. To just bring back two iconic WWE names who are so far removed from what fans remembered them as would have been too much too fast. By bringing back the Hardys as the risk-taking daredevils we loved from years past, WWE fans were given a nice nostalgic pop while WWE waited to finally break Matt Hardy.
Once they pulled the trigger there was no going back. A week after going crazy because of a defeat at the hands of Bray Wyatt, Matt Hardy premiered his “Woken” persona, and it’s working because WWE is embracing its absurdity. Nothing was held back, and outside of a slight name change, it appears there were no tweaks made by Vince McMahon.
The pre-recorded promo against Bray Wyatt was the perfect introduction. His silly mannerisms juxtaposed to Bray Wyatt’s ultra-serious gimmick along with his simple low budget set up against Wyatt’s highly stylized background made for a promo that at least seems like Hardy is given his ball to run with.
While it’s only been one segment, WWE needs to continue doing just that. Now that the cat is out of the bag and WWE has shown its hand, anything short of going all in with the Woken One will reduce him to a weird comedy act, which isn’t what the character was ever intended to be.
Yet, even with that potential option looming over him. The fact that WWE is staying true to Hardy’s vision of the character is a very good sign. It’s hard to tell how far WWE will go with this, or what kind of push he will receive, but in the meantime, fans should strap in because it will be a hell of a ride because if Hardy is given as much freedom as it seems. This will get really fun.