The 15 Greatest Moments in Matt Hardy's Legendary WWE Career

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2018

The 15 Greatest Moments in Matt Hardy's Legendary WWE Career

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    Woken Matt Hardy on an episode of WWE Raw.
    Woken Matt Hardy on an episode of WWE Raw.Credit: WWE.com

    The Hardy Boyz are all but guaranteed to end up in the WWE Hall of Fame, but it looks like Matt Hardy may already qualify for admission after seemingly retiring on September 15.

    Hardy posted a video to his personal YouTube channel after wrestling at a WWE live event talking about how he had likely worked his final match.

    He has been working with WWE on a possible backstage role, but it's still sad to think we might never see Matt and Jeff compete as a tag team again.

    As someone who started his own backyard wrestling promotion a teenager, Hardy has spent most his life dedicated to professional wrestling, and he has earned the respect of fans around the world.

    This article will look back at the top 15 moments in his legendary WWE career.

His WWE Debut

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    For any WWE Superstar, it all starts with their debut match. Some people are brought in with a lot of hype and video packages, but many begin at the bottom as enhancement talents.

    This was the case for both Hardy brothers, with Matt having his first televised match on May 23, 1994, against the late Nikolai Volkoff.

    The WWE Hall of Famer made short work of the rookie, but Hardy showed a lot of promise early on. His agility was on full display, and his energy was off the charts.

    He was a reliable jobber for four years before getting his first victory in a tag team match with Jeff against Kaientai on an episode of Sunday Night Heat.

1st Tag Team Championship

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    The Hardy Boyz are one of the most decorated tag teams in WWE history, and it all started when they defeated JBL and Ron Simmons to win their first set of Tag Team Championships.

    It all went down on the July 5, 1999, episode of Raw. Simmons and JBL were still working as The Acolytes, while the Hardys were being managed by Michael "P.S." Hayes.

    It was still early in their careers, but WWE obviously saw something special in the brothers. Matt and Jeff wound up losing the titles back to The Acolytes less than a month later, but the WWE Universe had already decided it was on the Hardy hype train.

Being Chosen to Appear on 'That '70s Show'

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    When WWE was at the height of its popularity in 1999, four WWE Superstars were chosen to represent the company on an episode of That '70s Show.

    Ken Shamrock and The Rock were two of the talents picked because of their mainstream popularity, but WWE also chose Matt and Jeff to appear in the episode.

    Shamrock and The Rock had more comedic roles, but the Hardys were the workhorses. They had to do several wrestling moves instead of saying a few funny lines.

    The reason this is important is that at a time when WWE was trying everything to get new fans to watch Raw, the Hardys were chosen to represent the physical side of the product to sitcom fans who did not already watch pro wrestling.

    It might not sound like a big deal, but for two guys who were in the early stages of their career, being picked to appear on a popular sitcom out of everyone on the roster was an important milestone. 

    WWE kept its affiliation with a couple of the sitcom's stars over the years. Danny Masterson and Ashton Kutcher even appeared on Raw in 2016 in a few segments.

Innovating TLC

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    If it weren't for Edge, Christian, The Dudley Boyz and the Hardys, we wouldn't have the Tables, Ladders & Chairs stipulation at all.

    The concept was born of a Triangle ladder match the three teams worked at WrestleMania 2000, which saw tables and chairs brought into the mix.

    This saw WWE book the same teams to compete in the first TLC match four months later at SummerSlam. It was so well received that WWE put the same teams in the same match a few more times.

    The first TLC match was a violent spectacle featuring death-defying stunts and carefully choreographed action. The fans ate it up, and the stipulation became popular enough for WWE to name an entire pay-per-view event after it.

Defeating Eddie Guerrero for the European Title

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    Eddie Guerrero as undisputed champion.
    Eddie Guerrero as undisputed champion.Credit: WWE.com

    Matt and Jeff would often engage in singles feuds while continuing to team together during their Team Xtreme phase, and one of Matt's biggest victories happened on April 26, 2001.

    The older Hardy brother challenged Eddie Guerrero for the European Championship, and after several instances of outside interference on both sides, Matt pinned him to win the title.

    This was a major upset because Guerrero was beginning to gain steam as a main event player in WWE.

    The European Championship doesn't have the best legacy, but matches like this one helped it seem important.

Winning the Cruiserweight Title

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    Rey Mysterio in a WWE 2K19 ad.
    Rey Mysterio in a WWE 2K19 ad.Credit: WWE.com

    Unlike brother Jeff, Matt has worked as a heel several times throughout his career, with his first villainous stint beginning in 2002.

    After turning on Jeff and being drafted to SmackDown, Matt adopted his Version 1 gimmick and began trying to cut weight so he could compete for the Cruiserweight Championship.

    His friend, Shannon Moore, helped him lose the necessary pounds in some entertaining segments before Matt finally won the title from Billy Kidman at No Way Out 2003.

    This led to a high-profile match against Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania XIX. Hardy successfully defended the belt, but Mysterio ended up defeating him for it in the main event on the June 5 episode of SmackDown a few months later.

Beating Edge at Unforgiven 2005

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    The real-life drama between Hardy and Edge over Lita played out on WWE television like a soap opera, and the WWE Universe was along for the ride.

    Everyone has moved on and worked together since, but the animosity between the two men led to one of their best feuds.

    After being released earlier in the year, Hardy returned on July 11, 2005, to attack Edge and set in motion their epic story.

    At Unforgiven in September, Hardy defeated Edge in a Steel Cage match. It wasn't the last time they would clash, but the win gave Hardy a small measure of redemption.

Pioneering Social Media Usage

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    Before Zack Ryder created his YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story and before The Rock had more than 115 million followers on Instagram, Matt and Jeff were ahead of the curve with The Hardy Show in 2005.

    The brothers, along with friends such as Shannon Moore and Shane Helms, filmed and distributed a web series. It was part-documentary, part-Jackass and part-sketch comedy.

    This was before YouTube was a platform for creators to make their own content and get paid for it, so the Hardys put the show on their own website and sold DVDs.

    Hardy was a pioneer when it came to using the internet to get over before WWE realized how powerful social media would become. If anything, the company learned from Hardy how much fans wanted to see their favorite wrestlers in non-wrestling content.

His Feud with MVP

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    Hardy has mostly been known for his tag team work in WWE, but he has been quite successful as a singles competitor too.

    One of his best feuds happened in 2007, when he began chasing the United States Championship held by Montel Vontavious Porter.

    They won the tag titles together during this storyline, but the best moments in this feud had nothing to do with wrestling inside a ring.

    They competed against each other in a series of challenges, including a free-throw contest, a drinking contest and a game of chess. Each segment was more entertaining than the last, and they allowed both Superstars to show off different sides of their personalities.

    Hardy won the U.S. title and held on to it for three months before dropping the belt to Shelton Benjamin at The Great American Bash 2008.

Becoming the ECW Champion

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    Whether or not you liked WWE's version of ECW, some big names held the ECW Championship. Kane, CM Punk, Big Show, Bobby Lashley, Christian and even Vince McMahon all held the title.

    Hardy won the belt at Unforgiven 2008 in a Scramble match with Henry, Finlay, Chavo Guerrero and The Miz, marking the only time Matt would hold a top title on any brand in WWE.

    Jeff won the WWE Championship around the same time, making them the only brothers to hold two of WWE's top titles at the same time in the company's history.

Brother vs. Brother at WrestleMania XXV

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    The Hardys are a beloved tag team, but Matt and Jeff have also done some great work as rivals. Their most famous encounter took place at WrestleMania XXV.

    The leadup to this match was intense. After turning on Jeff at the Royal Rumble, Matt claimed responsibility for several incidents that happened to his brother, including a house fire that killed Jeff's beloved dog, Jack.

    Since their feud had become so personal, the only logical decision was to put them in an Extreme Rules match so there wouldn't be any count-outs or disqualifications.

    Matt defeated Jeff at WrestleMania and again on the following episode of SmackDown in a stretcher match. It was a bittersweet moment for fans, as it seemed to signal the end of one of the greatest tag teams of this generation.

WrestleMania 33 Return

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    In the era of social media, WWE is rarely able to keep anything a secret. That is why the surprise return of The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33 was so much fun.

    Everyone knew the Hardys were in the same city, making an advertised appearance at a viewing party for the pay-per-view, so few expected them to show up at the event.

    When the familiar opening notes of Matt and Jeff's entrance music played throughout the stadium, everyone in attendance cheered their heads off.

    The warm homecoming showed that not only had the WWE Universe not forgotten about them but also that it was happy to see them come back where their careers took off after spending several years in TNA.

Winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

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    The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is one of the few accolades a WWE Superstar can win other than a championship belt.

    WWE has dropped the ball on turning a victory into a major push with a few past winners, but Hardy is one of the exceptions.

    Jeff was out with an injury during this time, so fans were unsure of how Matt would be used on his own. Thankfully, WWE had a plan.

    Hardy is one of only five competitors to win the trophy, and it's a safe bet that the moment will be featured in his Hall of Fame highlight reel.

Getting WWE to Use Ultimate Deletion

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    McMahon doesn't like to use concepts developed outside of WWE too often, so it came as a surprise to many when he allowed Hardy to use the Ultimate Deletion match in his feud with Bray Wyatt.

    The stipulation was developed during his time with TNA and featured Senor Benjamin, Reby Hardy, a drone called Vanguard1 and a dilapidated boat on the Hardy compound.

    The match was shot entirely on location at Hardy's property and once again featured several members of his family. It was pre-taped and aired during the March 19 episode of Raw.

    For Hardy, having WWE use something created outside the company was validation that his hard work on the Broken/Woken universe was worth it.

    It took McMahon 17 years to bring back the WarGames stipulation, but Hardy was able to convince him to use Ultimate Deletion less than a year after he returned to the company.

Winning a Last Tag Team Championship

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    Matt and Jeff will always be thought of as each other's best tag team partner, but the elder Hardy has won tag gold more recently with Bray Wyatt.

    Once their feud had wrapped up, management united the two after declaring Hardy had rid Wyatt of Sister Abigail during their Ultimate Deletion match.

    A tournament was held to crown new Raw tag team champions at the Greatest Royal Rumble. After going through Titus Worldwide and The Revival, Hardy and Wyatt won the titles by defeating The Bar.

    They ended up losing the belts to The B-Team at Extreme Rules, but the partnership did more to reinvigorate Wyatt's run during that time than anything else WWE had tried with him.

                    


    What is your favorite moment from Hardy's career?