Quick Takes on Jeff Hardy's WWE in-Ring Return, AEW's Moxley vs. Lee and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2020

Quick Takes on Jeff Hardy's WWE in-Ring Return, AEW's Moxley vs. Lee and More

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    After a long layoff, Jeff Hardy is ready to shake up SmackDown's main event scene.
    After a long layoff, Jeff Hardy is ready to shake up SmackDown's main event scene.Credit: WWE.com

    With the final SmackDown before WWE Money in the Bank in the books, it's full steam toward Sunday night, and it isn't a stretch to say that it's shaping up to be a must-see show based off what's on tap.

    Conspicuous by his absence on the event lineup is Jeff Hardy, who is fresh off his return to the ring on Friday night. Beyond his current program with Sheamus, it remains to be seen what his ceiling is on the blue brand and if he's destined to return to the main event scene sooner rather than later.

    Thankfully, it will be easier for Hardy to climb up the card than Zelina Vega's new heel stable. The trio of Andrade, Angel Garza and Austin Theory have been losing left and right to the point where it's difficult to take them seriously as a threat to anyone else on the Raw roster.

    Elsewhere in the WWE Universe, Adam Cole successfully defended his coveted NXT Championship on Wednesday night against Velveteen Dream. Although Dream was riding a wave of momentum until recently, it was ultimately the right call for Cole to remain champion for a little while longer.

    What the future holds for Cole as champ will be discussed in this week's Quick Takes along with Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee being announced for the All Elite Wrestling World Championship at Double or Nothing, injuries sidelining Kevin Owens and Jimmy Uso from action and more.

Is One More Main Event Run in the Cards for Jeff Hardy?

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    The rise, fall, redemption and comeback of Jeff Hardy have been well-documented in a series of strong vignettes in recent weeks on SmackDown. In his official return to the blue brand on Friday night, he seemed genuine when he said that his worst days are behind him and that he's fully focused on making the most of this latest run with WWE.

    Of course, he made similar comments when he re-signed with the company three years ago and appeared to be at the peak of his popularity before having multiple run-ins with the law. It's far from a guarantee that this time will be any different, but for his sake, fans can only hope it will be.

    One more world title win for Hardy would make for an incredible story. He hasn't held a top title since 2013 when he was with IMPACT, and in WWE, it's been even longer.

    His current rivalry with Sheamus will allow him to pick up a few credible victories right off the bat before he sets his sights on a more important prize: the Universal Championship.

    With Roman Reigns gone for the foreseeable future, the main event scene on SmackDown these days is fairly depleted outside of the usual suspects. Hardy gunning for the gold would both freshen things up in that area and give Hardy one final opportunity to prove himself as a world-championship caliber competitor before calling it a career.

Zelina Vega's New Stable May Already Be Dead in the Water

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    Coming out of WrestleMania 36, Zelina Vega's new stable consisting of Andrade, Angel Garza and Austin Theory appeared to be primed for a prominent push on Monday nights. They wasted no time in targeting WWE champion Drew McIntyre and attempting to assert their dominance over the entire Raw roster.

    Unfortunately, within one month, they've already been booked to look like a legion of losers.

    It hardly helps that, despite being the reigning United States champion, Andrade tends to lose far more often than he wins. Worse yet, Garza and Theory have lost a majority of their matches as well and aren't off to a strong start as allies.

    Raw could have benefited from having a top heel faction to build around. At this point, however, they might be better off going their separate ways because the damage has been done.

    Andrade and Vega are the only pairing that truly matters. Garza was doing just fine for himself on NXT before being called up to the main roster, so a face run and feud with Andrade could be a blast. As for Theory, he had no business being called up to the main roster as early as he was and should report back to NXT for more seasoning.

    If this is how WWE views villainous stables, Undisputed Era would be wise to stay put on the black-and-gold brand for as long as possible.

Adam Cole Retaining the NXT Championship Was the Right Call

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    NXT had been building to Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship for many months, and at one point, Dream was virtually a lock to end Cole's historic reign as champ.

    As soon as the coronavirus pandemic started to impact the wrestling world, his character started to suffer (largely because he could no longer play off the audience) and his chances of taking the title grew slimmer. When the bell rang for his championship bout with Cole on Wednesday night, it became clear that he wasn't going to win.

    Truth be told, Cole retaining his title was for the best.

    A case can be made for the NXT Championship needing some fresh faces considering Cole has been in possession of the prestigious prize for the past year. However, the overall quality of his matches has been so strong that it's hard to argue against him holding on to the gold for at least another month or two.

    It's entirely possible that Dream remains in chase mode and challenges for the championship again in the near future, but it would be smart for NXT to move on from the feud all together seeing as how it hasn't lit the world on fire thus far.

    Keith Lee could work as a potential contender with it being a champion vs. champion situation, and Karrion Kross could be an interesting opponent for Cole despite recently arriving on the scene. Regardless of who steps up to the leader of Undisputed Era next, it won't change how Cole has officially cemented his status as the greatest NXT champion in the title's near-eight year history.

Kevin Owens, Jimmy Uso Injuries Hurt Midcard, Tag Scenes on Respective Brands

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    Even with a significantly reduced schedule, Superstars aren't immune to getting hurt, and injuries recently suffered by Kevin Owens and Jimmy Uso are proof of that.

    Interestingly enough, it was during their respective grueling matches at WrestleMania 36 that both men were injured. Owens reportedly injured his ankle and shouldn't be gone too long, whereas Uso will out anywhere from six to nine months with an undisclosed injury.

    Regardless of how much time they miss, both are blows to the midcard and tag team divisions on Raw and SmackDown.

    Leading into WrestleMania, Owens had been a staple on the flagship show in his rivalry with Seth Rollins. Uso, on the other hand, had just returned to SmackDown alongside his brother Jimmy and were in the hunt for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

    As stacked as Raw's roster is, Owens' absence has been felt since the Show of Shows, so here's hoping he'll be back before long. As for Uso, SmackDown's tag team division will suffer considerably without one of their top tandems around for what could be the remainder of the year.

    On the bright side, not too many other Superstars are sitting on the sidelines with injuries at the moment. In fact, more talent is slowly resurfacing, so at least the reduced schedule has had some benefits.

Why a Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee Program Is Premature

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    After Wednesday's episode of AEW Dynamite, we know now that the main event of Double or Nothing will see Jon Moxley defend his AEW World Championship against Brodie Lee.

    Similar to Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt over on WWE SmackDown, it's a premature program right now. As exciting as it is to see Lee contend for a top title after all these years of being relegated to the tag team ranks, it's too soon for him to be beating Moxley for the belt.

    That means he'll have to lose, and it's too early in his run for that to be happening, either.

    As a result, AEW has found itself in a precarious position with these two. Booking a non-finish on the biggest pay-per-view of the year would be a letdown, so it's basically a lose-lose no matter who emerges with the title in tow.

    To his credit, Lee has looked impressive any time he's stepped in the squared circle over the past two months. His Mr. McMahon-esque character needs work, but otherwise, he's off to a solid start in his new home.

    That said, AEW shouldn't be rushing to put the top title on him at this point. The Dark Order needs to be established a bit more before they can completely dominate the company, not to mention that Moxley's reign coming to an end in under three months would be extremely underwhelming. 


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.