Viewers of Monday Night Raw were privy to the biggest tease of the Broken Hardys gimmick since the Hardy Boyz returned to WWE at WrestleMania earlier this year. Then you take into consideration all the outside factors recently and they seem to be pointing in the same direction.
Coming off Great Balls of Fire, the Hardys came out on Raw for a promo. They addressed their loss from the night before against Sheamus and Cesaro. Jeff began, saying they knew what the other tag teams were thinking; that the Hardys’ current run of success was over and the nostalgia pop was gone. “And maybe we should just fade away and classify ourselves as obsolete.”
The quote drew a big pop from the crowd who had paid attention to the Hardys’ run in TNA where the Broken gimmick originated. The line was a direct quote and reference to Jeff’s Broken character of before.
Since the Hardys left, TNA (later changed to Impact Wrestling, and now being rebranded as Global Force Wrestling) and its owning company Anthem Sports and Entertainment have claimed intellectual rights to the Broken gimmick. WWE being a lot more cautious nowadays compared to years past makes sure not to trespass on territory which could find itself in legal trouble.
Jeff using such a blatant quote was reason to raise eyebrows, to say the least.
However, since the Hardys’ returned to WWE, WWE has been in business negotiations with Anthem in order to acquire the rights to the Broken gimmick. WWE has had every intention of bringing the gimmick to its promotion, hence why Matt has continued to keep the gimmick alive in the most subtle manners possible. Mostly through body gestures to get crowds chanting what Matt himself could not legally say.
A week ago, though, Dave Meltzer reported some good news for fans awaiting the gimmick. “The Hardys are real close to the resolution with Anthem. So they may be getting the gimmick pretty soon, they’re very close to getting that gimmick,” he said on Wrestling Observer Radio.
The day before that, Matt wrote a somewhat vague message on Twitter. The general consensus was that Matt was referring to their ventures in getting the intellectual rights from Anthem. And based on Matt’s perspective, things were looking awfully good.
— REBORN by FATE (@MATTHARDYBRAND) July 2, 2017
Following Jeff’s promo, Matt began speaking. As noted, up to this point Matt had been brief and subtle in his reference to the Broken character. Here, though, a lot of that subtlety was absent.
As he spoke, his body language and gestures were as strong as they had ever been in WWE. The actual language he used was certainly a play on the colorful language of Broken Matt Hardy. And he even utilized some of the phrasing and accent of his Broken character.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson interrupted, setting up an impromptu tag match. Matt opened up the challenge saying, “Neither of us are 100 percent. We’re a little stitched up, a little bruised and somewhat broken.”
The Hardys lost. Usually, that would not be much of a detail to dwell over, but it is in this case. Matt and Jeff were basically untouched in their first two months back with WWE. Whether together, individually or in bigger multi-man tag matches, they did not lose one time for two months straight.
Then the Hardys lost the tag team titles to Sheamus and Cesaro at Extreme Rules. They failed to recapture the titles in a 2 Out of 3 Falls match the following week. Then they lost the 30 minute Iron Man match at Great Balls of Fire, and the next night to Gallows and Anderson.
If that were not enough, following their loss on Raw The Revival came out to beat down the Hardys even further. After being kept spotless, now the Hardys are on a blatant losing streak. The setup to becoming Broken again is all there.
It is the only place it could have gone. If the return run of the Hardys was going to be anything, the Broken gimmick had to be introduced eventually.
Like Jeff acknowledged in his promo, those nostalgia pops are only going to last so long. That is the whole point of nostalgia acts. They work for a little while, playing off the cheap pops. But since, by their very virtue, they are acts of the past, eventually that shine wears off.
When you consider the Hardys have been feuding with Sheamus and Cesaro for three months straight now, it would be hard to see it as anything more than stalling on WWE’s part. The feud was basically kept alive off of decent matches and the nostalgia pops of the Hardys as they play their late 90s/early 2000s gimmick.
There is a reason the Hardys became hugely popular again in 2016 and 2017, and it sure was not because they were playing the old Hardy Boyz gimmick. It was the Broken gimmick, and everyone knows it. WWE did not re-sign the Hardys without the intention of taking full advantage of that and planning to utilize the gimmick under its own wing.
If the business dealings are not already complete, it looks like WWE is confident enough in its completion that these teases are getting as blatant as we saw on Raw. Then you look at the foundation being laid and you would be hard pressed not to see one destination ahead. Matt and Jeff are beginning a downward spiral after their triumphant returns and success so that they may once again be Broken.
And then the real fun may begin.