It was questionable whether or not it would ever happen. Would WWE go all in with “Woken” Matt Hardy? Tonight we get our answer. Hardy’s feud with the “consumer of terrestrial entities,” Bray Wyatt, takes a bizarre leap forward when the two do battle at the Hardy Compound. So far, it seems WWE is going to allow Hardy’s woken brilliance to take shape on Raw; a risk that drags the WWE Universe out of its usual comfort zone.
The “Broken” Matt Hardy character and vignettes in TNA were the best programming the company had produced in many years. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when they stop caring about how it will be received and give the audience something unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Creating a mythology all his own, the vessel in which Matt Hardy inhabits comes accessorized with a cast of nonsensical characters. Last week, the WWE was introduced to Matt’s Woken Family: Senor Benjamin, and a drone named Vanguard 1. WWE.com released some more footage from the Hardy Compound, including a giraffe which houses the spirit of George Washington. The premise lives in a space all its own and doesn’t fit with the normal tone of WWE.
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It’s actually surprising and uncharacteristically experimental for WWE to fully embrace the Woken one. It’s certainly not a safe bet. However, since some of the content surrounding the mythos of Matt Hardy is only available on WWE.com, time will tell if they become comfortable enough to air the short segments of Hardy at home; consulting his boat and other non-human characters. But for this gimmick to be successful, WWE can’t hold back. Pulling punches and proceeding with caution doesn’t work for the being known as Matt Hardy. To truly achieve Wokenness, you must allow the floodgates to open and the full story to unravel. Due to his condeeeetion, we have yet to see all that Matt Hardy can offer WWE and Monday Night Raw, but considering we are nearing WrestleMania, expect an attempt to boost ratings with some weird and silly content.
Since the Wyatt/Hardy feud has been riding out for months now, we need to explore Hardy for all it’s worth to keep things fresh. To make this last until WrestleMania, we need Matt to be more and more over-the-top. It’s obvious that WWE has faith in the character, especially considering they had ripped off the idea entirely back when The New Day faced the Wyatt’s at their compound. The execution was poor, and most fans saw right through the fact that they were mirroring the popular TNA storyline. Without the ridiculously elaborate backstory and spiritual implications of the Hardy Compound, the “Wyatt Compound” match fell flat, and would probably be best if forgotten. That’s just what happens when you try to replicate someone else’s completely original idea, proving the WWE’s version to be OBSOLETE!
Now that the Hardys are back with WWE, they can finally do it right. And even though Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt have been battling eternally over and over for millennia, this will be the first time it’s televised. Come WrestleMania, we’ll see how successful this story arc was. The “so bad it’s good” formula may have been a good fit for TNA, but the mainstream WWE Universe might not register the woooooonderful campiness of “Woken” Matt Hardy. This leaves us wondering of Matt Hardy will continue to be Woken after WrestleMania and going forward, or if WWE will have to DELETE the concept entirely. But if it’s going to get over, Matt Hardy will need his creative freedom, which is generally not something Vince McMahon is interested in. Let’s hope it’s done well and with an open mind. For now, it’s certainly refreshing to see something that’s just different, and not just superstars pointing at the WrestleMania sign.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke