WWE Flashbacks, Volume 7: The Ultimate Twist of Fate for Matt and Jeff Hardy
Welcome to the seventh ever edition of WWE Flashbacks.
Flashbacks is where I go back in time and remember some of the better feuds in the recent history of World Wrestling Entertainment. So far, it's reminded us of classics all the way from Shawn Michaels versus Chris Jericho to John Cena versus Dave Batista.
Today, I recap the shattering of a brotherly bond. For the first time ever, I review the events that unfolded when Matt and Jeff Hardy were at the center of WWE's bizarre universe at the start of 2009.
It was yet another WrestleMania battle for the ages.
The Hardy Brothers are the most famous brothers in professional wrestling history.
They flew their way into the hearts of wrestling fans around the globe, picking up much championship gold along the way.
After their split, however, Jeff became a multiple-time WWE Champion while Matt Hardy's crowning achievement was headlining the now-defunct C show—ECW.
Matt one day decided he was jealous, so he ruined the life of his younger brother. This culminated at the 2009 Royal Rumble, where a single chair shot would send the entire WWE into a state of shock.
The Buildup, the Betrayal
Jeff Hardy's personal life was spiraling out of control; he was attacked in a stairwell, his car was run off the road, an accident with his pyro resulted in him being taken off on a stretcher and his house burnt down (also causing his beloved dog to die).
Many wondered if this was a pure coincidence, or if a sick, twisted soul was pulling the strings for a cruel act of revenge.
So at the 2009 Royal Rumble, Jeff Hardy was set to defend his WWE Championship against Edge.
Matt Hardy, however, intervened and pulled out a chair to seemingly help his brother take out his longtime rival. Instead, Hardy hit his own sibling in the back of the head.
On SmackDown, Matt admitted he was the man behind all of those aforementioned events. He claimed he had done it to show that he was no longer in his brother's shadow.
He did it, because he believed he was the superior Hardy.
What Made It Great?
Jeff Hardy's house legitimately burnt down in Cameron, North Carolina on a night in late 2008, and his beloved pet dog really did die.
I think the WWE did the best they possibly could with making real-life events trigger a storyline, and explain Jeff's short absence.
Matt played his role perfectly as well, as a very evil and envious heel.
WrestleMania 25: A Shared Childhood Dream Is Accomplished
It had finally arrived: WrestleMania 25.
Matt Hardy was looking to finally be known to the world as the best the Hardy family had to offer. Jeff Hardy was just looking for revenge and closure to what had been the living hell of the past number of months.
Once a tag team, once brothers with an unbreakable bond, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy were now looking to physically dissect and destroy each other on the Biggest Stage of Them All.
The match took on a tone of Jeff beating down his brother, with Matt getting in slight glimpses of hope.
Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole told the story of the two growing up with their father, after their mother passed away when they were just young boys. Now their father could only watch as his boys' relationship had gone up in flames along with Jeff's house.
With the dad working, and being the only siblings in the family, one could only imagine how close Matt and Jeff grew. And with the hard times both had fallen on, that only made them closer.
Jeff slapped Matt in the back of the head with a steel chair in the early-to-mid portion of the Extreme Rules bout to send him out onto the floor—eerily similar to the chair shot that sparked the entire thing.
Later on, even more symbolic, Jeff placed his unconscious brother on a table. He then put a chair on his chest, stacked another table on top and hit his signature Swanton Bomb. Just eight years earlier, these two competed in the first-ever tables, ladders and chairs match to revolutionize World Wrestling Entertainment forever.
For the third part of the perverse equation, Jeff pulled a ladder from under the ring. Jim Ross uttered "Uhh-oh," as he was just one of the millions wondering what this sick, tortured man had in mind.
Just seconds later, Hardy's spine came crashing to the mat as Matt rolled out of the way—avoiding obvious disaster.
Jeff recovered with his brother stalking him. His head was placed in an unfolded chair, perfectly positioned for Matt to hit the Twist of Fate to win it.
The eldest brother had allowed his younger brother to wear himself out, just awaiting a sole mistake to take advantage of.
Once Jeff made that mistake, Matt Hardy was declared your winner.
SmackDown Stretcher Match
Just days after their WrestleMania moment together, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy were at it again; this time in a Stretcher Match on Friday Night SmackDown.
"Simple rules, drastic results." —Jim Ross
This match kept the same vibe as their previous one, with Jeff doing the majority of the work from the opening bell.
Matt, who called Jeff a disappointment earlier on that night, must have figured his brother's high-flying style (one he also sported, although to a lesser extent) would be his undoing. After all, it was at WrestleMania, and Jeff was far too stubborn to change his ways.
Just think how far that had gotten Jeff—why would he? Dying by the same sword that was the key to your success is just a fact that fliers in pro wrestling must accept. In fact, it's a fact that many must accept in life, too.
Matt locked in a unique version of the sleeper hold, wrapping his legs around the abdomen of Jeff, with his arms hooking Jeff's arms.
Matt Hardy was the leech, methodically sucking the life from Jeff Hardy. When he finally incapacitated his brother, he would roll him onto the stretcher and win the match.
This didn't work, though. Jeff had too much fight to be beaten that easily. It took a failed dive to the outside, with his tailbone smashing against a steel chair lying on a stretcher.
Matt was far enough away to not be dazed by this, and perhaps the shots to the head had discombobulated Jeff so much he thought he was going to hit Matt.
On a second try, Jeff again crashed and burned, landing neatly on the stretcher, awaiting his brother to take full control.
Despite a valiant fight afterwards, Jeff was turned off like a light when Matt grabbed his trusty chair to bash his opponent in the head with. From there, it was only a matter of pushing the stretcher over the finish line.
What Made It Great?
The WWE wasted little time in keeping the simmering rivalry hot by putting this match on SmackDown.
I think it showcased the amazing ability of both men to compete in a grueling Extreme Rules match, only to turn around and wrestle in a stretcher match just two days later.
The match itself was fantastic—something long expected from such talents like the Hardy boys.
The use of the steel chair was perfect, with Matt using it to turn on his brother, then beating him in the first two matches (as a heel should.)
In the third match, things ended a little differently.
One Last Match
After months of thrilling encounters and years as one of the best tag teams of all time, the final chapter was ready to be written in the book of the Hardy bothers.
This match revolved around one of the two men having to verbally submit to the other, uttering the words "I quit."
It's not a proposition for mere mortals, either. I Quit matches have pulled out some of the most violent scenes in wrestling history, making it perfect for these two innovators of extreme to put an end to all of their problems.
Jeff—for the third and final time—got the edge to kick things off. He used the protective barrier on the outside as his primary weapon to weaken his brother.
He used a traditional sleeper hold to do even more damage, but to no avail. Matt broke out and his facial expression changed dramatically. He threw his brother to the outside to catch his breath and realized his brother may have tweaked his knee.
To the offense Matt went, picking apart Jeff's knee as if he was in science class dissecting an animal.
The crowd grew silent, with groans from his loyal fans briefly interrupting the silence.
Matt smirked, proud of what he had done, before he locked in the devastating Figure Four Leglock. The referee asked Jeff the question, and he said, "Forget it, no!"
The crowd woke up suddenly, roaring with approval. They knew Jeffrey Nero Hardy was determined to emerge the victor.
Frustration visibly built on Matt following Jeff's vehement refusal to quit on multiple occasions. His face was a dark shade red—screaming, stomping around the ring, begging for his younger brother to just give up already.
Matt questionably put Jeff on the top rope, attempting a superplex. We instead saw a Whisper In the Wind from Jeff, who didn't seem to be quite as vulnerable now.
Maintaining control, Jeff utilized the Texas Cloverleaf, the Twist of Fate and two Swanton Bombs all within the span of about two minutes.
Jeff rolled out a table and placed his brother on it, having to fight him off a little beforehand.
Next was duct tape. Jeff taped Matt's arms and legs together, rendering him unable to move. Last was a rope. He tied the rope around both ends of the table, tying down Matt.
Jeff, back outside, grabbed a ladder as his brother refused to quit. Matt pleaded with Jeff to not do what he was about to do. Jeff began to climb the rungs of the ladder anyway, after glancing in the eyes of the guy that previously guided his life and protected him.
Matt, pleading to his brother once more. Apologizing, telling him that their mother in heaven was looking down in approval, vouching that their dad was at home sick and disgusted, despite the storyline dictating Matt had cut off all connections to him.
He said that being brothers was the strongest bond two could ever have.
Jeff was still ready to do it, as he stretched his arms out in the air on top of the ladder. Matt, realizing there was no changing his brother's mind, spoke the unspeakable.
Jeff came off the ladder, jumping on the turnbuckle and opting to leg drop Matt through the table, more the less declining the apology.
What Made It Great?
This was a great way to end this feud.
Matt came across as a bratty, bitter and jealous older sibling, while Jeff reclaimed the WWE Championship a month later.
Matt did return, reuniting with Jeff, as both decided to bury the hatchet. He helped his brother take on CM Punk, although he did not succeed in the very end. Punk beat Jeff Hardy in a Loser Leaves WWE Match, and Hardy has never set foot in the company since.
Today, Jeff is in TNA's World Heavyweight Championship picture while Matt is recovering from troubles with drugs, much like Jeff has suffered from in the past.
Jeff is said to be in good spirits, with many in TNA claiming he's a new man after being married and having a child of his own.
For more, you can visit EnigmaticWrestling.com, and look for WrestleMania Celebrations here on Bleacher Report beginning Monday, February 27.