Matt and Jeff Hardy Better off Avoiding WWE Temptation and Staying with TNA
Matt and Jeff Hardy are TNA royalty, masters of a self-created kingdom. Should they venture back to WWE, their standing would shift. There's no guarantee that they wouldn't slide down to commoner status.
A bigger paycheck would await The Hardy Boyz in Vince McMahon's company. Artistic freedom and autonomy await Matt and Jeff should they re-sign with TNA.
And the six-time WWE tag team champs may soon have to choose between those prizes.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Bill Hanstock of UPROXX), both Matt's and Jeff's TNA contracts end in February. The report also noted that WWE is interested in bringing the Hardy brothers back into the fold.
That second item is no surprise. A Hardys run would generate huge buzz, tapping into WWE's fans' appetite for nostalgia.
The Hardy Boyz made their name on the WWE stage in the late '90s. They were one of the most popular acts during WWE's hottest period.
Plus, Matt and Jeff have been thriving creatively of late, diving into reimagined versions of themselves. The screwball megalomaniac Broken Matt Hardy has been one of wrestling's most compelling characters over the past year.
But that's where issues may arise with a WWE return.
With TNA, the Hardy brothers have been allowed to explore the outlandish and the bizarre. In the three Hardy-centered specials on Impact Wrestling—The Final Deletion, Delete or Decay and Total Nonstop Deletion—Matt and Jeff have reimagined the medium.
Opponents shot fireworks at each other. A boat prevented a wrestler from making a pinfall. A volcano swallowed a man.
TNA has welcomed this experimentation and made the Hardys' vision one of its cornerstones.
That's not going to happen with WWE. McMahon may look to transfer some of Broken Matt Hardy's brilliance to his own product, but things aren't likely to travel so far off the beaten path anymore. Raw isn't likely to dedicate a full show to a battle at the Hardy Compound, as TNA did.
And it's a safe bet Jeff won't get to toy with the alter egos he has on Impact Wrestling.
In 2013, he slipped on an eerie mask, twirled an umbrella and become Willow, an enigmatic madman. Two years later, he debuted another personality, the weed-whacking goofball Itchweeed [sic].
WWE is going to want plain old Jeff Hardy. There will be no room for morphing into one of his multiple personalities.
And sticking it out with TNA could result in more tangible benefits than creative space.
Matt and Jeff can demand much more from TNA, as they are more vital to that company than they would be to WWE.
During a recent appearance on The Ross Report with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, Matt said, "If the Impact Wrestling, and the TNA, if they want to retain our services, it will cost these Anthem men, many, many dollars, and it is going to cost them a percentage of the company, because I have to steer the ship, I have to drive."
There will be no stake in the company with any WWE deal. That's something he could negotiate with TNA, though.
He and his brother can be assured of more spotlight where they are now, as well.
That's not the case with a move back to WWE, as we saw with The Dudley Boyz during their return run from 2015 to 2016. Once a top-tier tag team during the Attitude Era, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley resided lower on the card this time around.
The Dudley Boyz wrestled on the SummerSlam 2016 pre-show rather than the main card. And as James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch pointed out, WWE often slotted them on its two lower-rung shows:
In the end, WWE made The Dudley Boyz look ordinary.
The Hardy brothers won't have to worry about that with TNA. They have been key stars on the show.
And now new management is taking over. Richard Morgan of the New York Post reported that Anthem Sports & Entertainment acquired majority ownership of the company, pushing former president Dixie Carter out in the process.
A new era is underway at TNA. And the Hardy's offbeat brand of wrestling can be at the forefront of that.
Matt has expressed interest in being a part of TNA's rise. He told Josh Barnett of USA Today, "I want to play a bigger part and be instrumental in helping Impact Wrestling reach its fullest potential. That is the most paramount thing to me and all-important."
Even with the prospect of fewer zeroes on his check, Matt should seek to elevate TNA as he mentioned. He and Jeff will certainly have the freedom to do so in their own way, composing their own squared-circle circus.
WWE is bound to be a disappointment in comparison.