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The End Of The Matt Hardy Pro Wrestling Era
The pro wrestling world is still buzzing about Matt Hardy’s DWI arrest and his subsequent firing from TNA Wrestling. In a matter of two years Matt Hardy has gone from WrestleMania to the unemployment line. Is this the end of the line or will we see another chapter in this intriguing novel?
I can’t think of another pro wrestler that has ruined such good will with fans and reputation in such a short time as Matt Hardy. For about ten years, Matt had the fans on the Internet in the palm of his hands. They loved him! He was often regarded as underrated and underutilized. They had his back when he was fired a few years ago during the Edge-Hardy-Lita love triangle and many times over throughout his career.
Today, most of those fans have left Matt in the dust throwing their hands up in disgust and shame. He is generally regarded as a big joke among those fans who felt cheated with every lie that Matt has laid on them in the last 10 months. For the last ten months Matt has been the subject of many controversies, most of them surrounding his sobriety and better judgment. In every single case Matt has mocked the media, claimed his innocence, and attacked the world of social media with more arrogance than anyone in pro wrestling. The second his fans saw their former hero glassy-eyed and slurring his speech in a European hotel proclaiming his innocence was the second those fans knew something was wrong.
It only got worse for Matt. As more stories leaked out about his questionable sobriety, he did everything he could to get himself fired from the WWE. He mocked the company and told fans to buy tickets to upcoming TNA Wrestling shows. But something weird started to happen. Matt got so wrapped up in the world of Twitter, that he lost sight of what the fans loved about him. He also seemed to get engrained in a wacky fascination with pro wrestling newsletters and websites. He began what he called his war on the “dirt sheets.”
He wasn’t angry at the WWE, he wasn’t angry at the fans who mocked him, and he certainly wasn’t angry at himself for the turn of events. He was most angry with the dirt sheets, who he repeatedly said were liars and had all of the stories wrong, every single one of them. Yet as everything turned out to be true, Matt continued to wage this silly war, which seemed to entertain nobody but himself.
Matt then started tweeting and posting videos about controlling his own destiny. Quite frankly, the only way anyone in pro wrestling is going to control their own destiny is to open a company and book themselves on top. So I assumed that he was going to start his own company. Nope, instead he joined TNA Wrestling where he openly bragged about making an impact and becoming the headliner he barely became with the WWE.
It was apparently immediately that he was in big trouble without the structure and accountability of the WWE. He soon hit the autograph signings and got a reputation for either showing up late or looking like he was asleep during interviews. One interview I remember in particular was with my old friend Bill Apter. There was no question about Matt’s sobriety in this interview, he looked absolutely wasted. Bill did his best to defend Matt, but there is no denying what two eyes can clearly see whether they were looking for it or not.
TNA Wrestling shockingly signed Matt after he was released. Anyone who followed Matt between gigs could see that he was in a bad place and that this wasn’t going to end well. Matt made his impact with TNA when he started with the company in January. It was apparent immediately that he didn’t have the same discipline in TNA that he had for years in the WWE. He showed up out of shape and while he had some good matches, he appeared to think more highly of them than most.
His arrogance was at an all time high. TNA had a big week of ratings and he took credit for them. He went to war with anyone who dared not call his matches great. He continued posting videos on You Tube, sometimes several in a week which featured Matt slurring his words, drinking alcohol, and looking like he had not slept for weeks. This was hardly the comeback his fans had hoped for.
A healthy, motivated Matt Hardy that most of us saw in the WWE for years could have made that big impact in TNA Wrestling. Instead, the new version of Matt Hardy struggled to find a consistent spot with the company. He eventually wound up in Immortal, but it was hardly the big push he promised people he would get with a new company. He was back to being a bit player in a smaller company, likely making less money than he did with the WWE. Remember, he pushed their hand and probably could have been a lifer in the WWE if not for his outside of the ring issues. His destiny was putting over Beer Money?
The honeymoon didn’t last long. Matt got a reputation for showing up late to TNA events, which should have surprised nobody since he barely showed up for his appearances before he joined TNA. He continued posting creepy videos but it hit an all-time creep factor when he posted a video that featured his brother Jeff Hardy using a taser gun on Matt’s girlfriend Reby Sky. Even then, TNA didn’t action. It was not until TMZ.com picked up on the story when TNA finally suspended Matt indefinitely. The rebirth of Matt Hardy in TNA lasted a total of six months, chump change compared to the twelve years he was a part of the WWE.
Of course Matt originally denied the reports of being suspended and told his followers on Twitter that he was taking a “vacation.” Matt then proceeded to get on Twitter and tell TNA Wrestling fans that they should ask for refunds if they paid to see him. Of course he never offered to pay for those refunds, ironic since he was the one that got himself suspended. This reportedly infuriated TNA officials and members of the locker room, some who even went on Twitter to attack Matt for such a selfish request.
And then there was August 20. On August 20 Matt Hardy wrecked his car and was charged with a DWI. It only took about an hour, but TNA officially released Matt once they found out about the arrest. Dixie Carter reportedly made the call. You can praise her for finally putting her foot down but at the end of the day she signed Matt clearly seeing his condition on You Tube videos at the time, and continued to employ him after telling fans to ask for refunds, showing up late, and tasering a woman on You Tube. A little too late if you ask me.
What is funny is that if you really think back on the Dixie Carter era of TNA Wrestling, nobody has brought them as much trouble as Matt and his brother Jeff. Even with reports of low morale, you rarely hear of anyone causing trouble such as blatant no-shows or drug or alcohol related items. Whether it is kept in-house or not, I do give her a lot of credit for running a tight ship in that regard, sans the occasional Ric Flair story here and there. Yet even though most of us knew how this was going to end, she took a chance on the Hardy brothers anyway. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned by Mrs. Carter.
So what is next for Matt Hardy? At one time he was one of the most underrated and hardest workers in pro wrestling. Today, he seems to have left all of that behind, including the passion that endeared him to a loyal legion of fans. Quite frankly I don’t know if that talent is ever coming back after all of the self-induced destruction that Matt Hardy has wrecked on his life. It could be well past the point of no return.
Matt could learn a lesson from the late Eddie Guerrero. Eddie went through a similar situation, although he was much less arrogant than Matt about it. Eddie Guerrero was fired from the WWE in 2001 after being arrested for drunk driving. I don’t think anyone would argue that Eddie had more talent in the ring in his pinky than Matt has. Yet the WWE had enough and Eddie learned the hard way about discipline and responsibility.
Unlike Matt, Eddie responded with humility. Eddie took the firing as a wakeup call and changed his life around. Eddie made a new commitment to reinventing himself and saving his career. Eddie began working on the independent pro wrestling circuit and quickly earned a reputation for being one of the hardest workers on the indys. Eddie would work his tail off for $500 a night the same he would for $15,000 in the WWE. He cleaned up his life outside of the ring and the WWE eventually gave him a second chance, rewarding him for his efforts after about five months.
Or Matt could be the next Scott Hall. Scott Hall was another guy with more talent than Matt, who threw his career away in favor of drugs and alcohol. Scott never got the message and continued putting his personal demons in front of his career and family. Scott eventually got to the point of no return, where even the least business savvy pro wrestling promoters wouldn’t book Scott for their shows. He has burnt every bridge in the business and has turned into a viral video sensation for his drunken escapades in pro wrestling rings as opposed to the talented, young star that once stole the show at WrestleMania, and helped rejuvenate and entire business in 1996.
As far as his pro wrestling career, it is over for the time being. Yes, you’ll still find those bright-eyed pro wrestling promoters still willing to take a shot on Matt. But his days wrestling in front of thousands of people or being watched by millions on television are over. It wasn’t politics that did this, it wasn’t a lack of talent, it was Matt Hardy that did this to Matt Hardy.
It is truly the end of an era. Matt could turn it around but I’d be shocked beyond belief if the WWE ever takes another chance on him. He had his spot in 2010 because of loyalty, not the amount of money he was drawing. TNA could take another shot on him as everyone loves a good redemption story, but even that would surprise me. Unless Matt finds a corporate backer to start his own company, I just don’t see it happening.
Everyone says that all they want is for Matt Hardy to get better. I wish no harm on the man, but I could care less. He has continually thumbed his nose at anyone who doesn’t worship the ground he walks on. I’d much rather see a hard working kid on the independents making a few hundred bucks a week get that spot in a national company before I see him take it. Getting himself help won’t make my life any better, but for the people around him that care about him, I hope it happens.
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