Are The Hardys BROKEN No More?
Hey folks, welcome to this week’s edition of the STUpid Thoughts Newsletter! The big story coming out of last week is the ongoing saga of Matt & Jeff Hardy. They left TNA, they popped up in ROH, and then Impact Wrestling sent out cease and desist letters to everyone they could think of to try and claim ownership of their gimmick. Lots of moving parts here, so let’s follow the bouncing ball:
-Two weeks ago, both Matt and Jeff Hardy’s contracts ran out as Impact Wrestling was preparing to begin their latest round of TV tapings. According to a series of (very colorfully worded) Twitter posts by Matt’s wife Reby, the contracts were not only not to the Hardys’ liking, but also delivered too close to the beginning of the tapings to allow for any meaningful dialogue.
The Hardys opted not to sign the contracts, but offered to come to the Impact tapings in Orlando and drop the World Tag Team Title before leaving. Impact Wrestling declined, requested that the belts be returned, and sent the Hardys on their way. Since they were now free and clear from their Impact Wrestling obligations…
-The Hardys made a surprise appearance that weekend at ROH’s Manhattan Mayhem event and defeated the Young Bucks for the ROH World Tag Team Title. They were quickly added to this past weekend’s 15th Anniversary Show in Las Vegas, defending the title against the Bucks and Roppongi Vice in a three way Las Vegas Streetfight. However, they didn’t make use of the BROKEN gimmick on the show because…
-In the day or so prior to the ROH 15th Anniversary Show, Impact Wrestling (who had been claiming ownership of the BROKEN gimmick since the Hardys left) sent cease and desist letters to not just Matt and Jeff Hardy, but also to Senor Benjamin (aka Reby’s father, whom she says was never paid to appear for TNA), Ring Of Honor, and all the providers who were carrying the ROH 15th Anniversary Show. As a result of those letters…
-The Dish Network removed the ROH show from their lineup the day of the event, despite advertising it up until only hours before the show was scheduled to begin. The Hardys did appear as scheduled, though ROH made the call to avoid an issue and not use the BROKEN gimmick that night. Other than Matt’s physical appearance and a few mannerisms, they were back to being the “regular” Hardys for the evening.
For all we know, Impact Wrestling may very well have a legal claim to the BROKEN gimmick if the language in the contracts that Matt and Jeff signed supports that. They also may not, and we can’t know that without seeing the contracts (which we probably aren’t going to).
That said, having a legal right to do something doesn’t always make it the right thing to do. The Hardys created a gimmick that became key to keeping TNA afloat last year at a time when they were having major money issues and Billy Corgan was suing Dixie Carter over a controlling ownership stake in the company. There may not have been a TNA for Anthem to buy if it weren’t for the Hardys, and the least they could do, even just from the perspective of not wanting to burn a bridge with two really popular stars they may want to do business with in the future, would be to let them take the gimmick with them.
Now Impact Wrestling is so intent on not letting the Hardys use the BROKEN gimmick outside of their auspices that they’re threatening legal action against anyone who may be involved with giving it another platform, including ROH and its distribution partners. That may end up backfiring on Impact Wrestling and land them in a fight they’ll wish they didn’t pick.
I’m no lawyer, but by causing Dish Network to drop the ROH PPV over the cease and desist letter, then Impact Wrestling just potentially cost ROH revenue because of something they were worried that they *MIGHT* do with a gimmick that Impact Wrestling *MIGHT* own. I’d be shocked if the folks at ROH and Sinclair weren’t already talking the situation over with their lawyers, and Anthem better hope they don’t end up getting sued over this. Sinclair has a HELL of a lot more resources and legal firepower than they do, and this isn’t a fight Anthem needs when they were just laying people off last week.
And all this for what? Matt and Jeff ARE the BROKEN gimmick, it’s not something Impact Wrestling could give to anyone else and expect it to work. All the stuff that was filmed in those vignettes at the Hardy Compound really were on the property of Matt & Jeff Hardy, so it’s also not likely that the family would give them access to do more filming there. There is literally no benefit to Impact Wrestling to claim ownership of the gimmick if they aren’t going to have the Hardys there to run with it.
This is just my own opinion, but it seems to me like this is all just a case of Impact Wrestling and Anthem Media holding the Hardys’ gimmick hostage over sour grapes. Great move for a company with new ownership that was just trying to rebuild its connection with all the fans who have given up on them over the years. Well, if they really wanted to find a way to endear themselves to all those fans they’re trying to win back, I think it’s probably safe to say this wasn’t a good start.