“Brother Nero, I knew you’d come.”
Those five little words have become rather infamous in wrestling, in an era where memorable catchphrases are few and far between and rich, deeply-woven, long-term storylines are practically extinct. We watch wrestling to see two men (or women) who truly despise each other, so few feuds are ever better than those involving real family members. While the McMahons actually get along behind the scenes and the Hardys don’t truly hate each other off-camera, you know these wrestlers are channeling some real turmoil that is inevitable in any familial unit.
This isn’t the first time we saw the Hardys fight. In late 2001, Matt Hardy got jealous of the risks Jeff Hardy always took in the ring and separated from his brother and then real and on-screen girlfriend Lita (their true breakup would come years later and be far uglier). However, neither Hardy was truly gifted on the mic – only in the ring. The whole storyline fell rather flat.
Who would have thought that the Hardys’ renewed battle would excel in TNA ,of all places? It’s no wonder the wrestling world can’t stop talking about it. It’s also no wonder WWE is already allegedly trying to copy it with its Wyatt Family and New Day feud. However, Matt and Jeff brought a certain unique charm to their antics that WWE won’t be able to touch for a multitude of reasons.
15. It Got People Talking
When people talk about wrestling these days, it’s often for all the wrong reasons. It’s typically because someone got arrested (Jerry Lawler or Adam Rose, take your pick), suspended (Roman Reigns), or did something else equally nefarious. Since wrestling is far from the popular sport it once was, when it begins appearing on Facebook news feeds and elsewhere, you almost feel a little nervous. What horrible thing happened now?
Luckily, this time it was not the case.
14. It Got People Watching TNA Again
Everyone who watches wrestling is sort of stunned that TNA is still around. It’s hanging by a thread, mind you, but it seems to be a fairly strong thread. What once started as a great source of potential competition for WWE in its inception in the early 2000s (and a handful of stars like Kurt Angle, both Hardys, Christian, and Bubba Ray Dudley were employed by the company after their respective WWE runs came to an end) sadly became a laughingstock of a wrestling promotion.
We won’t get into all the reasons why, but let’s face it – the fact that people were tuning in to watch TNA is nothing short of a small miracle, and we have the Hardys to thank.
13. It Played Up On But Didn’t Rely Exclusively On Nostalgia
Okay, so maybe you’ve followed the Hardys since their respective WWE departures. However, we’re going to take a bet that most people reading this stopped tracking their careers after the North Carolina brothers were out of WWE for good. That’s what happens sometimes. If you just saw the Hardys again in TNA some 10 years later, you might be surprised at this storyline now.
After all, it would have been easy (probably too easy) to play up the old days of Team Xtreme because that’s what people best remember the Hardys for. TNA didn’t do that though. These new Hardys, the reinvented Matt and Jeff (more on that later) don’t need to wear mesh colors or dye their hair to stand out. They have a lot more than that going for them.
12. It Became An Accidental Meme
Ahead of the Hardys final battle on the July 5 edition of Impact Wrestling, which is also known as The Final Deletion, the brothers did a segment where at one point Jeff is looking for Matt inside his home. Matt is playing the piano and, when he sees Jeff enter, utters the beloved line: “Brother Nero, I knew you’d come.” It was part of a longer segment, but fans zeroed in on this one bit.
What followed were tons of people uploading a 10-second clip of Matt playing an assortment of songs, overdubbing the audio with everything from the sad Hulk music, to “Chocolate Rain” to John Cena’s theme song covered on piano. The meme became big enough that it came to Matt’s attention, who swore vengeance against those who were mocking him (but was secretly probably tickled).
11. The Hardys Became Relevant Again
When was the last time the Hardys have truly been relevant for something positive? There was Matt’s weight gain and terrible reaction to his breakup with Lita; there was Jeff’s continued drug problems, and there was that one unfortunate video of both of them high on something and talking crap about CM Punk.
But that’s changed now. No matter what you think of the current TNA storyline, you have to admit that both Hardys are sober, both are coherent, and both are entertaining as hell.
10. TNA Became Relevant Again
Above, we mentioned how people actually watched TNA for once to check out The Final Deletion. Just how many people? 410,000. Okay, so those numbers seem low for WWE viewers who were used to viewing numbers in the millions, but it’s big news for the smaller company. In just one night, and one week, they gained nearly 100,000 additional viewers from the Hardys match alone.
We’re not sure how long it will hold up, but for just a bit, TNA has become relevant again and has showed that it can produce some entertaining wrestling.
9. It Knew When To Be Funny
For a company that relies heavily on its younger audience, WWE is pretty bad at being funny. We’re sure you remember the times Cena would come out and start talking like Scooby-Doo or that night Roman Reigns began reciting nursery rhymes to the Big Show (not to mention that horrible tater tots thing with Sheamus). The result? Cringeworthy. The New Day, on the other hand, are hilarious, mostly because they’re not trying.
That’s WWE’s only successful instance of creating actual humor on Raw or SmackDown. From the beginning, the Hardys feud and The Final Deletion was intentionally bombastic. It was designed to get a chuckle or two out of viewers, but it wasn’t so painfully awful that no one could stand to watch.
8. It Had Movie-Like Quality
The Final Deletion itself took up most of the July 5 episode of Impact Wrestling, starting the show and cutting to segments between matches before culminating with the big battle at the end of the evening. That was a smart move by TNA; they knew fans who only wanted to see the Hardys fight would tune in at the end, so they set up the match during the whole show so people felt more inclined to watch.
The quality of The Final Deletion was quite impressive. It was almost movie-like—albeit it, B-movie-like—with its own soundtrack and engaging camerawork. It also proved you don’t need 100 LED screens to produce quality television, something we wish WWE would remember.
7. There Were Actual Stakes
Matt and Jeff were fighting for use of the Hardy name. Whoever didn’t walk away from The Final Deletion could no longer call themselves Hardy. It’s a silly storyline, sure, but so often feuds are just patched together for no reason and with no payoff. If you put on any random episode of WWE Raw or SmackDown, you might wonder, what are these guys fighting for? Most of the time, nothing at all.
So yes, for TNA to have the foresight to give the Hardys a reason to want to end one another was wise. If they were fighting just because, it wouldn’t have been as good. Even though we doubt Jeff Hardy will have to drop his surname forever, the stakes were still high.
6. Fans Didn’t Have To Pay To See The Big Blow-Off
Smart wrestling booking dictates starting a feud at the beginning of the month, escalating it in a few weeks, and then having a big match for a live Pay-Per-View event. If you have a really good feud, you might keep the momentum building for two months before that big match. TNA does still have paid live events. The company could have just as easily kept The Final Deletion from us and made us pay for it, but they didn’t. Why?
Probably because viewership meant more than money, which seems to evaporate in TNA anyway. It was a good faith effort to let fans see The Final Deletion for free. If they had had to pay, far fewer people would have probably tuned in. However, letting fans get a good blow-off match for free helped TNA’s viewership tremendously.
5. It Provided Room For Lengthy Character Development
For the duration of this feud, we got to see Matt Hardy’s home in Cameron, North Carolina, the hometown of the Hardys. We got to see his family. We got to meet his gardener. We got to see Jeff’s music skills (where he played guitar before being attacked by Matt’s air drones), Matt’s music skills (as mentioned above), and months’ worth of back-and-forth by both brothers. This wasn’t a feud that was just slapped together. It had a story, a purpose, and supporting characters.
In the end, all parties involve win because they were involved in such a feud. It allows for character developments so neither Hardy will be totally lost once they start battling with others.
4. …And Character Reinvention
Granted, Jeff Hardy has always pretty much been Jeff Hardy during his time in TNA. However, Matt became “Broken” Matt Hardy, who wears black and looks like he’s stuck his finger in an electrical socket. His long, wavy black hair has been replaced with a shocked hairdo with a blonde streak, a la Seth Rollins. As mentioned, he has a Spanish-speaking gardener named Benjamin, and he’s had no problems involving his wife Rebecca and son Maxel in the storyline.
“Broken” Matt Hardy is quite a change. Matt definitely took the bigger risk here, trying out a new persona, one in which is dark, brooding, kind of creepy, and plays up his frailties. Yeah, sure, it’s easy to make fun of, but it’s a huge departure from the usually tough, high-flying Matt Hardy of yore.
3. Matt Hardy Has More Personality In His Little Finger Than Most Of WWE Talent Combined
We’re not necessarily saying WWE’s roster is boring or talentless. A lot of those guys have great personalities that we just never get to see because of the writing staff. That’s to the fans’ and WWE’s detriment, as their sinking ratings can attest to. TNA, on the other hand, had nothing to lose, and so Matt Hardy’s been given free rein to explore his Broken character to the fullest.
Whether it’s the creepy theme song (what is it with all those pianos?), his sometimes wheelchair-bound state, or—and it’s worth mentioning again—that strange but compelling drawl, Hardy is a new man, one who is unpredictable and thrilling to watch. He’s like everything WWE’s Bray Wyatt could have been, which is probably why they injected the star into a WWE copycat storyline.
2. The Actual Wrestling Didn’t Matter
When it came right down to The Final Deletion, there weren’t many holds, or submissions, or standard leaps from the top rope. What there was in spades were flaming turnbuckles, weapons, piles of dirt and gravel, fireworks, and a burning Hardy Boyz symbol, an effigy that represented the end of their epic battle.
So yeah, the actual wrestling—what little there was, that is—wasn’t greatly choreographed. It didn’t matter. No one’s talking about The Final Deletion because of the wrestling. They’re talking about it because it was a spectacle, a must-see event in an era of fewer and fewer must-see events.
1. It Didn’t Take Itself Too Seriously
What made The Final Deletion so utterly captivating that thousands of people who normally never give TNA a passing thought suddenly couldn’t resist tuning in? What made Matt and Jeff Hardy the most important men in wrestling again, albeit for a week? It was the perfect balance between humor and seriousness, between somber and silly.
WWE wrestlers are often unintentionally funny, but they’re supposed to be portrayed as toughened warriors. There’s little room for laughter, as mentioned, unless it’s The New Day or one of Roman Reigns’ unfortunate jokes. WWE chooses when it wants you to laugh, and most of the time, the fans don’t. With The Final Deletion, the entire thing was ridiculous. The Hardys knew it, TNA knew it. And they ran with it. No one was treating this like it was the end-all, be-all of wrestling. They were just doing something that we’re not sure WWE knows how to do anymore: having fun.