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MAJOR UPDATE ON THE HARDYS' APPARENT TNA DEPARTURE

By Mike Johnson on 2017-02-27 14:02:00

Unless there is a major change over the next two days, TNA Tag Team champions Matt and Jeff Hardy will have departed the company, PWInsider.com has confirmed.  

Similar to Drew Galloway's situation, we are told that the Hardys did not physically receive new contracts until just a few weeks before their current deals were set to expire.  One TNA source acknowledged that the contracts were late in arriving, explaining that they were behind due to the changeover involved in shifting TNA from its former parent company to the new infrastructure under Anthem Media.   We are told that the Hardys were not happy with the last minute rushed nature of having to sign and some of the language in the contract, leaving all sides at an impasse.

So, the two sides, despite verbally coming terms on a new contract back in December 2016, have yet to sign and ratify a new deal that would see the brothers remain with TNA, where their "Broken Universe" has been far and away the greatest highlight of the last year of the company.  It's an interesting turn of events because there's no argument that the Hardys were the lone act that were able to take their TNA run and cultivate some buzz and attention for the company - even turning that attention into a very lucrative run on the independents, especially when merchandise money is factored in.  If you remove the Hardy content from Impact as it existed in the last year, 99% of the material that got fans talking or excited about the company - as well as a fresh take on how pro wrestling TV could be produced, would never have existed.

Another factor we have heard that Matt Hardy had extreme creative control over his character and the "Broken Universe" and under the new regime, that likely would not have continued.  So, signing would have meant not just signing a new deal, but signing off on how much he could control his direction and characters.  The irony there is that at one point last year, there had been talk about Matt Hardy coming on board creative himself, with the idea of putting his wrestling mindset  towards helping other storylines and talents in the company while continuing to develop and perform the Broken Hardys act.  Instead, Anthem brought back Jeff Jarrett as the new Chief Creative Officer and Jarrett began installing his own booking team, including Dutch Mantel and Scott D'Amore.  

We are also told that new contracts being offered by TNA management include a clause that would require talents to have their outside appearances approved by the company and would require the talent to pay TNA 10% of those earnings.  Multiple TNA sources declined to comment on whether new contracts indeed featured that clause.

So, from the perspective of the Hardys, they were looking at signing deals that would curtail their creative control (and leave them open to being broken up as an act, as Jeff Jarrett has been said to be keen on pushing Jeff Hardy as a top singles talent) and require the Hardys to pay a percentage of outside earnings to TNA after not receiving their deals until pretty much the last minute.  So, the Hardys haven't signed and time is running out for the two sides to come to terms.

The TNA management side appears to be that the company is looking at rebuilding the entire company and from their perspective, no one is irreplaceable if they don't want to be on board with the regime.  The mindset appears to be that since the company viewership has been so low in comparison to the Spike days, that they are left in a rebuilding phase and that rebuild will not be changed if any of the current talents exit.  One TNA source stated the company made what was described to PWInsider as a "big money offer" that would have seen the Hardys be one of the top paid, if not the top paid act, in the company, and if the Hardys didn't want to come to terms, then it was time to move on.   If the Hardys indeed depart, we are told it will free up a lot of money for other potential signings under a regime that is very much about the bottom line financially, as opposed to spending money frivolously. 

We are also told that the Hardys have offered to come to this week's TV tapings and drop the belts if requested, but as of right now, there's been no agreement that could or will be happening.  There is a chance they will not work TNA's Impact Wrestling TV tapings, which are scheduled for 3/2-3/5 in Orlando at Universal Studios.  

The belief is that the Hardys did not want to leave TNA, as the schedule and the ability for Matt to travel with his family was a huge benefit personally and there's no sign that sort of thing would be able to continue.  If the Hardys do indeed leave the company, they are left in the position of being one of the hottest acts on the independent scene with a gimmick that has added longevity to their careers, especially in the case of Matt Hardy, who has done an amazing job of remaking himself as a talent.  Rebecca Hardy, Matt's wife, was signed to her own deal, but all signs are, obviously, that she would leave with him.  Senor Benjamin and King Maxel (obviously) were never under TNA deals.  So, the entire act could be transferred elsewhere, with the possible exception of Jeremy Borash, who has had an influential hand in making the segments look so unique as the producer and editor of the Hardy content.  Obviously, the look wouldn't be the same if it's taken elsewhere without Borash involved. 

If the Hardys leave, the obvious question among fans will be how long before they return to WWE.  It's obvious WWE has been watching the pair and their gimmick, as WWE once produced a New Day vs. Wyatt Family vignette that was obviously inspired by the battles on the Hardy compound.  One would think WWE would be more than receptive to the idea of bringing the Hardys back, but whether that would see the Hardys come back in their current form or reprise their old "Team Xtreme" personas from the Attitude Era would remain to be seen.  It could be that going back to WWE would also require giving up the ability to work with his family and his creative control, but it would also pay Matt and Jeff Hardy a lot more money than they could conceivably make elsewhere.  WWE, as seen with Sting and Goldberg, has no problems with putting nostalgia acts into major roles and in the case of the Hardys, they are a nostalgia act that would immediately be bigger stars just by returning to Raw or Smackdown - but there's also money to be made with the "Broken Universe" by exposing it to the masses that watch WWE.  Whether WWE would be willing to have it presented as it has worked in TNA or whether the act would be subject to WWE tweaks, some of which might hurt the act long-term, remains to be seen.   None of the sides involved have crossed that bridge yet, but the road for that could be open in the days ahead.

If WWE isn't an option for whatever reason, the very nature of the "Broken Universe" could allow the Hardys to continue their antics online via Youtube or their own subscription streaming platform.  It's entirely possible they could just continue a run on the independents and attempt to promote themselves via their vast social media following, something Matt especially has always been at the forefront of dating back to the MySpace era.  Obviously, there will also be a demand for them on the indy scene and internationally.

The Hardys' current TNA storyline featured them going out on an expedition for Tag Team gold, traveling to different independent promotions and winning their Tag Team straps with Jeremy Borash traveling with them to film material for Impact.  If the brothers leave, it's likely whatever material hasn't already aired would instead just be dropped.

The Hardys are also scheduled to wrestle The Young Bucks at the 4/1 ROH Supercard of Honor event in Lakeland, Florida over Wrestlemania weekend, a deal the two teams pushed to put together despite the obvious promotional boundaries involved.  Now, if the Hardys exit TNA, that bout would still take place but without all the political red tape that had previously existed around it.

This morning, Matt Hardy, possibly in character, tweeted that it was going to be an intriguing week for pro wrestling.  Whether he was working or shooting, he wasn't kidding.

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