Looking At Matt Hardy’s TNA Return

After it was reported that longtime veteran, Matt Hardy allowed his All Elite Wrestling contract to expire, there was some speculation about if he would eventually re-sign a deal with Tony Khan since his brother Jeff still had at least a few months left on his contract, or if he would test the free agency market. Last weekend, Matt Hardy not only returned to TNA at their Rebellion event, he also brought back the “Broken” gimmick.

It’s a testament to Matt’s longevity, as he somehow managed to jump between organizations, and more often than not, keep himself in the conversation one way or another after a thirty year career. Give credit where it’s due, there was a time in the early-2010s that Matt’s career could’ve become a cautionary tale, but thankfully, he recovered from a bleak period in his life.

That being said, I’m not sure what there was left for him to do in All Elite Wrestling because after four years on the roster, he was completely lost in the shuffle and was more or less irrelevant over the past year or so. The combination of Jeff Hardy’s DUI arrest in mid-2022 and injuries he suffered, including the concussion that currently has him on the sidelines, ruined the chances of a Hardy Boys reunion or retirement tour in All Elite Wrestling. When Jeff was off of television following the DUI arrest, the momentum of Matt’s AEW tenure was completely stalled because his direction in the organization was shifted toward a Hardy Boys run that wasn’t going to happen. Furthermore, with another reckless decision to drive intoxicated and the legal consequences of it, it was difficult for management to truly invest the TV time and promotional dollars into the Hardy Boys as a team because you don’t know if Jeff will be available for television. In that respect, you can’t blame the office for regulating the Hardys to Rampage prior to the concussion that put Jeff on the shelf because at some point, it becomes a risk to promote him.

That basically left Matt Hardy without anything of importance to do on the show, and unfortunately, that can be said for a lot of talented athletes on the All Elite roster.

According to Matt Hardy, All Elite offered him a new deal, but he didn’t discuss details. Sure, Hardy could’ve continued to take the money, which isn’t a terrible idea at this point in his career, but he might want to take the final years of his career to wrestle matches rather than watch the show from catering each week. In truth, if Matt was going to go anywhere else, TNA was probably the place for him, as it will allow him to retread the broken gimmick that he started there years ago, and it’s also a way for him to work the character rather than continue to take bumps at almost 50 years old. It works well for the Anthem-owned company as well since they will take what they can get in terms of star power, and there’s no doubt that The Hardys’ fan base has continued to follow their careers over the years. With TNA touring more often, albeit in smaller venues, The Hardys can definitely be a draw for the live audience, even if they’re passed their in-ring prime. That’s nothing wrong with that either, using the cache that was build over the course of a career to add a few more years is one of the perks of being a star, and it’s a decent business move.

Obviously, Matt Hardy will be a big fish in a relatively small pond, but it’s another fresh run to make decent money and he’s getting the chance to compete again. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff isn’t too far behind his brother when his AEW deal expires, but for now, the question is, outside of the artificial return pop, what will Matt Hardy do in TNA?

As much as I will acknowledge that Matt Hardy tapped into something that found a niche with the cinematic matches and the broken gimmick, it’s just not for me. It’s too hokey and too phony. At the time that it got fans talking years ago, it seemed more like “LOL wrestling” rather than some revolutionary concept. But, that’s not to take away from the fact that Matt added a completely new chapter to his career and it was popular enough that he used a version of the character when he returned to WWE.

However, I’m not sure that “Broken” Matt Hardy should be teleporting around the arena or appearing in cinematic segments with roman candles in 2024.

When Matt did the deletion matches in TNA eight years ago, the company was on the brink of collapse, and in truth, the organization looked for anything to try to get them some hype as the future of the promotion was in doubt. As far as the promos, the mannerisms, and the chants, those are aspects that can probably still work within the current TNA product, but aside from being too goofy, even the teleportation stuff is “been there, done that.” Considering that the company rebranded back to its original initials and landed a few free agent signings, should they really take the presentation of the product back almost a decade with more cinematic content? For an organization that put a lot of stock into a new era at the start of the year, recycling those niche concepts might actual hinder its attempt to bring something new to the modern wrestling landscape.

We’ve heard rumblings of TNA and the WWE possibly working together, and it makes sense, as the Anthem product isn’t a threat to the TKO corporation’s market share, and there could be certain opportunities that can be a win-win for everyone involved. For example, Jordynne Grace appeared in the women’s Royal Rumble match earlier this year, and it added an extra spotlight to both the segment and TNA as a group. So, it might not be too difficult for Matt Hardy to be able to appear for WWE, even if he’s technically under a TNA contract. With the vignettes that seem to imply the return of Bo Dallas, and speculation that Erik Rowan and Alexa Bliss will join him to form a Wyatt-inspired stable, it’s possible that Matt might be added to the faction since he had a tag team run with the late Bray Wyatt. In some ways, the broken gimmick might work really well with the Wyatt stable.

Overall, Matt Hardy resurfacing in TNA isn’t really a ground-breaking story, as it was probably the only place that he’d get the chance to have a fresh run. More than anything to do with TNA, it speaks volumes about Matt’s ability as a performer to land another national contract. While Matt Hardy doesn’t necessarily move the needle in 2024, it’s still a wise signing for Anthem because as mentioned, it’s definitely a boost for live event tickets. The biggest takeaway might be the current status of the industry and the options that the talent has on the free agent market.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and Facebook.com/PWMania.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail [email protected] | You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, & Threads @jimlamotta89