The debut of one of the most unique characters in the wrestling business is the most interesting thing in WWE right now. I’m talking about a veteran of over 20 years in wrestling, “Woken” Matt Hardy.
On WWE Monday Night Raw two weeks ago, Hardy lost a match to Bray Wyatt in clean fashion. After the match was over, Hardy backed his way into the turnbuckle, made some crazy faces and shouted “Delete” repeatedly with the crowd saying the word with him.
That’s because, eight months after returning to WWE, Matt Hardy is finally bringing his “Broken Matt” character to WWE — except that there’s a twist because he’s “Woken Matt.”
Confused? Me too, but I’ll get to that later.
The Origins of “Broken” Matt Hardy
I’ll be honest with you in saying that I thought the “Broken Matt” character in TNA/Impact Wrestling in 2016 was stupid at first. The gimmick started in around May 2016 with Matt adopting this completely new look from what people knew,
while also changing up his hair and eventually using the word “Delete” as a catchphrase.
It just didn’t look like it was going to be anything worthwhile, yet as time went on, it became more ridiculous and led to some hilarious clips.
Another of his catchphrases was: “I knew you’d come!” He would always say it in a big way that made it really stand out. Good for a laugh.
There were also things like he would mention Vince McMahon except he would say it (and spell it) as MEEK-MAHON and it was so stupid. I can’t wait for him to do a skit with Vince where he pronounces his name wrong. Not saying it will happen. It would be funny, though.
I stopped watching Impact Wrestling regularly a few years ago, but when Matt and “Brother Nero” Jeff Hardy were doing their gimmick, I would always try to seek out clips to see what they were up to. I’m not going to summarize everything he did in Impact because I didn’t watch it regularly but if you want to see more of it, there are plenty of clips out there. Their biggest moment was the Final Deletion episode on July 7, 2016 that was later copied by WWE and a lot less impressive than what the Hardys did.
Could Matt and Jeff be Broken in WWE too?
When The Hardy Boyz returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33 earlier this year, it was a secret. People were whispering about it being a possibility because their deals with TNA/Impact expired earlier this year and then they wrestled some matches for Ring of Honor. Nobody really knew if they were going to be welcomed back to WWE, where they made huge names for themselves starting in the late 1990s through the 2000s. Plus, Matt is 43 now and Jeff is 40, so they don’t exactly fit in terms of bringing a youth movement to WWE.
At WrestleMania 33, the Hardys were the highlight of that show by far. I don’t think anything else came close to it, although The Undertaker possibly retiring was a big deal too. In terms of excitement, I think the Hardys’ return was arguably the best moment of WWE in 2017 too. (That might be a future column later this month, by the way.) It was just so cool to have the New Day on stage to announce another team was joining the Tag Team Title Ladder Match, then there was this long pause and then we heard the Hardy music as Matt and Jeff made their triumphant return “home” to WWE.
Here’s the clip of the Hardys’ return to WWE. Please note that this video has over 22 million views on YouTube. It was a huge deal.
As you saw in the clip there, Matt Hardy was doing the “Delete” hand gesture on his way to the ring. The announcers didn’t mention it (although Michael Cole did say “things are about to be broken” referencing Broken Matt) and during the weeks that followed, it was never really addressed by WWE because of legal reasons. The Hardys went on to win the Raw Tag Team Titles that night.
The legal reasons were due to the Hardys trying to legally perform as “Broken Matt” and “Brother Nero” in WWE, but the Impact Wrestling bosses at the time, Ed Nordholm and Jeff Jarrett (who has since been fired by the company), did all they could to fight it. There was a point in July where it appeared as though the Hardys agreed to a deal, but then Anthem (the company that owns Impact) backed away, leading to Matt’s wife Reby going on a Twitter rant about Jarrett being weak. Reby even sold a “F**k That Owl” shirt about Anthem’s owl logo earlier this year because of an infamous tweet that she did.
After the reported agreement fizzled out, the story kind of went away while Jeff suffered an unfortunate shoulder injury that required surgery in September that will keep him on the shelf for about six months, so right around WrestleMania next year.
Everything changed two weeks ago on Raw. Reports came out that Impact was no longer going to fight it and Matt was free to use this persona that he created. That led to those “delete” chants from Matt after the loss to Wyatt and things got even better this week on Raw.
One Raw segment shows how much potential “Woken” Matt has
The key to any successful wrestling character is being different. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was a badass who said and did things nobody else did, so he got over. The Rock talked in the third person while delivering some epic promos full of comedy. Everything about The Undertaker was unique. John Cena may look like a regular guy, but he got over in the beginning because of his rapper gimmick, which also led to him doing a lot of comedy and it allowed him to stand out. Guys who are boring or bland can often times fade away if they lack greatness in the ring. Being different is what works.
I loved Matt Hardy’s promo on Raw with Bray Wyatt. Each man was seated somewhere backstage as they unleashed their form of trash talk. Wyatt spoke about the darkness like usual while Hardy said some crazy thing about how he’s “Woken” because he was trapped in the “vessel called Matthew Hardy.” In other words, he was calling the regular version of himself a vessel, which is just weird. When Matt ended the promo saying that he sentenced Wyatt to “deletion,” it led to a huge ovation. It shows that a lot of people were aware of this gimmick before he was in WWE (gotta love social media and YouTube), so it’s smart for WWE to capitalize on that.
My favorite part of the video was the last 45 seconds. Wyatt went into this maniacal laughter only for Hardy to begin his almost comedic laughter. You could hear the crowd laughing as soon as Matt was shown on the screen. Wrestling is supposed to be fun, remember. This is fun.
The “Delete” catchphrase is huge for this gimmick too. Think of one-word catchphrases that are still over huge. We have Ric Flair’s famous “Woo!” yell whenever there’s a chop or people see Ric or his daughter Charlotte Flair. Steve Austin’s “What?” was done as a heel thing to try to be annoying to babyface wrestlers. It started in 2001, yet here we are 16 years later with fans still chanting it. I know some people hate it, but it’s still over. Then there was Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant that he started doing in late 2011 as a heel (he stole it from UFC fighter Diego Sanchez with Sanchez telling him he could do it). By the time he turned face two years later, it was a rallying cry for fans to support him.
By using the “Delete” chant, Hardy will have some of the loudest crowd reactions during his promos and matches. Fans love chanting it with the hand gesture. Easy to do. So simple, but it works.
“Woken” Matt will be a success because he’s different
I’m intrigued to see what’s next. If you follow Matt on Twitter, you can see he is really pushing the gimmick hard. You won’t see him break character. He’s probably not going to complain about security at the airport being a pain or his latest workout like most wrestlers tweet. He’s going to stay in character all the time while making up words along the way. Just look at some of these tweets.
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) December 7, 2017
The #GreatWar is the oldest battle known to mankind, the war that has been waged for ETERNITY..
LIGHT vs DARK
We must fight as INDEFATIGABLE PALADINS, #WOKENWarriors.
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) December 6, 2017
I shall sentence all VILLAINS & DEMONS to the Darkness of DELETION. pic.twitter.com/vHU0RUV7Sc
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) December 6, 2017
Oh, Consumer of Terrestrial Entities..
Our SOULS have known one another for EONS, you just aren’t aware…..YET.
The Great War is upon us.
As well as your impending DELETION. https://t.co/mZQRIweJ8g
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) December 5, 2017
When Matt was in Impact, he had some supporting characters that could be used in WWE, although it’s not known if they will be.
Brother Nero – Jeff Hardy’s middle name is really “Nero” so when he was a part of Matt’s Broken Universe, that’s the name they used. I can see him adopting the persona again when he comes back to action in April.
Queen Rebecca – That’s his wife Reby Hardy, who is also a wrestler that met Matt in the indies. They have two sons together, Maxel and Wolfgang. It wouldn’t shock me if she appeared on WWE TV in the future.
Si necesitas un jardinero, tengo muchas habilidades. Llamame ahora! pic.twitter.com/8EH1v74NCy
— Señor Benjamin (@BenjaminSenor) July 5, 2016
Senor Benjamin – Matt said that it was his groundskeeper at his house (for the character), but it is really Reby’s dad and Matt’s father-in-law. He could be a part of the presentation.
King Maxel – It was hilarious to see Matt using him as part of his act when he could barely walk. Matt has also posted videos of wrestling with his son in an empty ring at the Hardy Compound. Normally, WWE doesn’t feature kids on their shows, but perhaps they might make an exception here.
Vanguard 1 – I’ll let this video tell the story.
If you have time to kill, just search YouTube for more “Broken Matt Hardy” clips, throw your brain out the window and enjoy some silliness.
Give Matt Hardy a lot of credit. If he was just regular Matt Hardy who we have seen on television for 20 years, he might have a tough time getting huge reactions. By creating this new and completely different persona, he’s a much bigger star. At 43 years of age, he might not be wrestling full-time for that much longer. However, as “Woken” Matt, he has a new final chapter that could propel him to greater heights than he’s ever seen in WWE.
Is he going to be a WWE or Universal Champion? I would guess no because of his age but if the gimmick is over enough, they might do it. This is also a character that is about being silly and over the top, so it’s not like he has to be competing for titles that often.
Ask yourself this. When you tune into Monday’s Raw next week, are you more excited to see Braun Strowman vs. Kane or do you want to see what “Woken” Matt might do or say? I’m going with Matt. We know Braun is going to beat Kane. We don’t know what Matt might be up to and that’s why this persona is going to work so well.
Thank you, Matt Hardy, for this “Woken” character and reminding us how fun wrestling characters can be. Don’t take it too seriously. Have some laughs. That’s what it is all about.
Here’s hoping WWE’s creative doesn’t screw it up. Can we delete them? No? Okay, then. Please don’t screw it up.