"Matt Hardy is taking control of his destiny."
"Does it look like I was sent home?"
Matt Hardy has a lot to say these days and unfortunately for both himself and his fans, he's not saying the one thing he should be saying to his fan base.
Matt Hardy has always had a really unique, cult-like connection to his fans, particularly die-hard females who grew up watching Matt and brother Jeff go from being undercard nobodies to bonafide WWE stars before their eyes. For lack of a better analogy, the Hardys were to wrestling what the Jonas Brothers are to Walt Disney - those likeable, hard working talents, good looking guys that girls loved for being so damn cute and daring and high flying and dynamic. The guys didn't mind them either - once they got over their Hot Topic tween look - because the reality was that beyond the straggly hair and babyfaces were two good damn workers in the ring who also went out of their way to take crazy bumps, crazier risks and against the likes of The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian, carved their corner in wrestling history.
While the other two teams went back and forth in their roles, there was no denying who the true babyfaces of that three-way war were. The Hardys were loved to a ridiculous degree and it was a deserved love as the two brothers from North Carolina worked their tails off to rise from undercard enhancement to signed players to rising stars after their series of matches with Edge and Christian. From TLC matches to Team Xtreme to The New Brood to Wrestlemania and beyond, the Hardy Boyz were a unique attraction for the WWF - and in reality - one of the last drawing tag teams in the wrestling business, period.
Like all good things, the run eventually ended, although they always had their die-hard followers. The team was split up and quickly put back together. Then Jeff was released for refusing to go to rehab. Matt got injured. Lita, Matt's then-girlfriend, took up with Matt's friend and on-screen rival Edge. Matt went public with the relationship and ended up fired.
From there, Matt Hardy's singles career really took off, because those same fans, the women that wished they could be with him and the men that knew he got screwed over, took up his cause. From chants to online petitions to signs to blogs to message board forums, those fans took up arms for Hardy. It sounds completely melodramatic, but they really were his soldiers, to the point that just days before he would have (allegedly) signed with TNA, WWE called Hardy and told him not to.
On the 90th day of his no compete, Hardy returned, attacked Edge and a new war was forged. Well, not really. Hardy was killed off faster than you could say Barry Horowitz and shipped back off to Smackdown. But in many ways, he had won - he had used the power of the Internet and his followers and Matt Hardy got his dream job back, even if he didn't get his ex-girlfriend back in the process.
If Matt Hardy owed his career to anyone, it was to those fans - the diehard fans that wore those silly Hardy armbands and made Hardy finger poses and cheered for the team even before they were getting pushed and even after their prime run was over. Those fans willed Hardy back into gainful employment as a WWE Superstar, the one job he ever wanted.
In the years that followed, Hardy had fun runs against MVP for the United States title, a reunion with his brother Jeff, a run with the WWE version of the ECW title that was better than anyone will give him credit for and more. Then, Hardy moved to Raw and turned heel on his brother, launching a feud that ran through Wrestlemania XXV.
During most of that run against Jeff, Hardy had been dealing with a torn abdominal muscle, which he later publicly admitted and finally underwent surgery for. Hardy had been struggling with maintaining his physique since that surgery. In a cosmetic business, it's never easy to have the spotlight on you when you don't look your best, and Hardy, after that surgery, was unable to bounce back and regain where he was. For that injury, it's not uncommon and it's a hard one to recover from. It's understandable he isn't where he was and his fan base certainly understood that.
"Today is a new start for me.. Sometimes things happen in life that are unexpected but are signs-I am officially back on the right track now. God works in mysterious ways. When I'm sent a message, I listen.. End of story. Everyone who has stuck with me, I'll give everything for US." - Matt Hardy via twitter, September 5, 2010.
That same day, Hardy arrived at the Westchester County Center. He was supposed to wrestle. Instead, depending on who is telling the story to you, he either walked out on the show or was sent home after speaking to WWE officials about his alleged condition backstage.
Hardy's removal from that show was the talk of most of the roster, some of whom had been rolling their eyes at him already and some of whom were his friends. He worked Smackdown and put over Alberto Del Rio, clean, but with some offense. Those same wrestlers began to wonder if Hardy was on the way out. One performer kept refreshing WWE.com for two hours after Smackdown aired, confident a release was about to be announced.
Instead, Matt Hardy went on the European tour. Again, questions about his condition. Again, he is sent home. This time, PWInsider.com broke the story after confirming with officials he was being "sent home."
"Oh Yeah! Hello World, hope everyone is doing great! Just checked the headlines in my hotel room in the UK-how the dirt-sheets entertain me.." Matt Hardy via twitter, September 12, 2010.
At that point, Matt Hardy went on to commit the cardinal sin. He went online to those same fans that championed him, cheered him, supported him, loved him and he told them the stories weren't true. He blamed a "Punk" and claimed the Internet writers (Hardy was apparently so mad, he blamed the wrong guy for reporting he was sent home) were wrong, just a day or so after he was writing about ones that he respected and liked.
Hardy ranted and raved - glassy eyed, it would certainly appear - that he was OK and still in England and it was just rumors. With just five minutes of Youtube video, Hardy outed himself as completely full of sh** to the one fan base that for years unwaveringly had walked through fire for him with their love and money - and would done it again if and when they were asked.
That same fan base took up the cause for Hardy. One emailed me, "Matt Hardy will never die, but I hope you do."
Days later, WWE confirmed that Hardy was sent home. Right now, WWE stars are suiting up for Smackdown and Hardy is nowhere to be found. Instead, he's home in North Carolina, because, as was reported here Sunday, he was sent home.
I don't know what the future is going to hold for Matt Hardy. I don't know - although I suspect, like everyone does - what his personal issues are. I certainly hope he gets his act together and goes on to work lots more Wrestlemanias, but there's one thing I do know. Matt Hardy chose to play with words and skirt the issues and misrepresented the truth to his fans at best - and at worse - out and out lied to them.
Hardy, no matter what you think of him personally or as a performer - owes those fans one hell of a profound apology for lying to them and making them question just how long he really has been working them as a means to his own end.
"Hope everyone is doing great all across the Earth.. Some changes to my life are definitely coming, which I think will be good-cuz I hustle!" - Matt Hardy via twitter, September 6th.
That first change should be an apology to those he treated with disrespect this week - his fans.
Then, he needs to go get his life, his health and his career together, in that order. Here's to hoping he does.
Mike Johnson can be reached at Mike@PWInsider.com.