When Matt Hardy looked to re-emerge as his "BROKEN" self on RAW, we were left asking if it was just an apparition. Well, Anthem Sports and Entertainment supplied the affirmation we were looking for when they released a statement that legally freed Hardy to use the intellectual property. The news came as a huge win for Hardy and his family, but now we have an entirely new set of questions to ask.
We know that Hardy and WWE will be using "Woken" instead of "Broken." We know that Hardy rebooted Vanguard 1 and Señor Benjamin. But what we don't know is if "Woken" Matt Hardy will actually work in WWE.
So, will he?
Jack Snodgrass: Success is a highly relative concept, but 'WOKEN' Matt Hardy will be a hit in WWE. While he'll never main event WrestleMania, we can safely expect him to become the darling of WWE's mid-card.
If WWE is guilty of anything, it's that they've become too realistic. With the ubiquitous usage of government sounding names, flat pre and post-match interviews, and a presentation style that was built to mimic professional sports, WWE is starved for one of its core elements: Hyperbole.
Given WWE's current environment, Woken Matt Hardy and his slew of idiosyncrasies will look like "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Even more, Hardy's eccentric character is interactive, something Finn Balor's Demon is missing and the very thing that keeps Bray Wyatt's fireflies ignited. Fans have been shouting "DELETE" well before Hardy snapped on RAW, and now, they and Hardy are legally free to do it as much as they like. Crowds have loved to chant since the days of the Roman Coliseum and the WWE Universe haven't struck a harmony since the YES! movement.
Even more, there's no one in his way. At best, RAW's mid-card is arbitrary and Hardy's metamorphosis is the interesting thing to have happened since Jason Jordan reunited with Kurt Angle. While some of WWE's more casual fans may be out on the joke, the die-hards and nostalgics could drum up enough support to give Hardy the swan song he deserves.
Connor Casey: Let me be clear - I loved Broken Matt Hardy during his Impact run. I loved the creativity he brought to it, I loved the utter goofiness he and Jeff brought to their matches at the compound, I loved that the promotion gave them free reign to grow and expand the story as months went on and I loved all the hilarious memes of drones, xylophones, Roman candles and dilapidated boats it provided.
But it won't work in WWE.
Here's a reality every WWE conversation eventually reaches - what does Vince McMahon think? Even though Triple H is gaining more control inside the company, McMahon still has the final say on everything that airs on TV and the network. And since Hardy is on his premier show Monday Night Raw, he'll have Vince's full attention.
And if there's one thing Vince has been consistent about since he took over the company, it's that he likes every creation to be his own. If somebody comes into the company with a well-known gimmick or creates one themselves, he'll either change it or not know what to do with it. Think back to every WCW guy that came along post-2001 and how badly they were handled. Think of Zack Ryder and how far he was pushed down after gaining popularity via his own YouTube Channel. You can even look at Bray Wyatt, the man Hardy will likely feud with first as "Broken" (or is it "Woken" ?). The majority of that gimmick was Wyatt's own creation, and yet so often his character acts nonsensical or is booked to put over Vince's own creations. It's not the Wyatt did anything wrong, it's just that McMahon and his writers don't know how to use him.
The same will happen to Hardy. Sure, we'll get a new entrance music and he'll bring back to promos. But do you really think McMahon - Mr. PG-rated, budget-cutting, milquetoast product McMahon - will want anything to do with the matches at the Hardy compound? Or Vanguard 1? Or King Maxel? Or Señor Benjamin? Or visiting spot monkeys at the zoo? Of course not.
Here's what will happen. Hardy will come out as Broken/Woken on Raw. He'll immediately start a feud with Wyatt and fans will be excited. But as the weeks go by fans will expect more and more of Hardy's original creation to be on TV, and it won't. Hardy will come out, cut promos, chant "DELETE," have some matches and that will be it. Give it two months and fans will lose interest. Then Vince will go "Aha! See, I told you! I told you this idea was junk! Let's give Matt's time to somebody will real potential, like Roman Reigns or Kane!"
And that will be all. Hardy will be right back where he is now, same with Jeff. "Broken" Matt Hardy will make the list of "WWE's Biggest Squandered Opportunities" next time somebody decides to write that, and fans will move on to the next big thing.
Sorry folks. I hope I'm wrong.