Since the Hardys' return back at WrestleMania, fans have been clamoring for the return of Broken Matt Hardy, the gimmick he started in TNA. On Monday night, those fans got what they wanted, as Hardy emerged as the bizarre character to cut a head-to-head promo with Bray Wyatt.
For a long time, Anthem Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns Impact Wrestling, had insisted that it owned the Broken Matt Hardy gimmick. However in recent weeks, Ed Nordholm, the executive vice president of Anthem, announced that wrestlers on Impact would own their own characters going forward, and that there wouldn't be any challenges to the Broken Universe.
Thus, as teased last week with Matt Hardy screaming, “DELETE,” Hardy was free to revert to his TNA form. So, when Bray Wyatt came on screen to cut a promo, it surprised nobody when static hit the screen, and there was Broken Matt — odd outfit, wild hair and all. And the two went back and forth. First Bray would say some lines, then Matt, not broken but “woken” cut promos on each other, while Matt loosely explained how Bray's beatdown had caused his “condition” to re-emerge. And finally, Matt sentenced Bray to DELETION at the end of the back-and-forth.
So WWE has jumped straight into their version of the Broken Matt gimmick. No introductions, no build. Matt is just woken now. Most who loved the gimmick in TNA loved the segment Monday night. It was him in his purest form, down to calling Bray Wyatt, “the consumer of terrestrial entities (the eater of worlds).” Bray is a perfect person to debut the character against, as they can take turns trying to one-up each other in the weirdness factor.
I do have to wonder though: by rushing this, did they confuse fans who hadn't seen the gimmick before? There was no gradual build, there was no multiweek explanation, just simply Matt dropping a line about his condeeeeeeshion being woken. Could that jump end up hurting Hardy's popularity as there's a divide between those who get it and those who don't? It's possible that the character will get over with its lunacy regardless, and win over those who might be confused. But it could take a few weeks or months.
It will be interesting to see how far they let Matt Hardy go in this one. It was clear in TNA that Hardy had full control over everything, and the “Final Deletion” and “Delete or Decay” episodes showed that. It's hard to see WWE giving up full creative control to Hardy. Will that impact how over the character gets? Will we get a full “Final Deletion?” If there's one person to feud with that would require a blowoff match like that, it's Bray Wyatt. Will Señor Benjamin and Vanguard 1 get involved? There are so many possibilities now that there are no legal barriers. The big question is simply how far WWE will let him go.
The rest of Raw:
>> There was some concern when Roman Reigns won the Intercontinental title that the title would become less relevant as Reigns would get involved with bigger things, similar to what happened when he held the US title last year. This week helped assuage those fears. While Hardy's emergence was the big story, the overarching story on Raw revolved around the IC title scene.
Kurt Angle started the show, but quickly was interrupted by Jason Jordan, who demanded another shot at Roman Reigns. Reigns rejected the idea that Jordan deserved a title, and basically told him to win a match before challenging him again. He did challenge Samoa Joe though, which brought Joe out. As Reigns and Joe jawed at each other, Jordan attacked Reigns from behind. This prompted a long match between the two, which Reigns eventually won. After the match, Joe came down to attack Roman, but Jordan made the save and stared down Joe, before Reigns once again hit Jordan with a Superman punch. Expect a triple-threat between the three in the near future.
>> While Roman successfully defended his IC title, his Shield brethren weren't as successful in trying to regain the tag titles from The Bar. In their main event match, The Bar would eventually get disqualified for continuing to attack Rollins despite the ref's instructions to stop while he was in the ropes. Angle would restart the match, making it No DQ, but Samoa Joe, and then Roman Reigns, would get involved, which allowed The Bar to take advantage of the distraction for the win.
>> Absolution continued to wreak havoc on the women's division. Paige had her in-ring return against Sasha Banks, as the rest of Absolution was at ringside for Paige, and Bayley and Mickie James were at ringside for Sasha. At the end of the match, Sonya Deville and Mandi Rose attacked Bayley and Mickie, which distracted Sasha. That allowed Paige to nail her with a kick and the RamPaige for the win. After the match, the three continued to beat down Sasha. Later in the show, after Asuka beat Alicia Fox, the three came out again. Once again Asuka backed away with a slight, almost condescending grin, as the three were careful not to attack. However, once she left they did attack Alicia.
>> Drew Gulak won a fatal four-way match. He'll face Rich Swann next week, and the winner will face Enzo Amore for the cruiserweight title. Speaking of Enzo, he had an interesting segment where Nia Jax showed up and started flirting with him.
>> Elias came out to start to sing, but he was interrupted by Braun Strowman, who wrecked Elias. Elias tried to fight back, even smashing his guitar over Braun's back, but Braun was unfazed. The destruction stopped when Kane's music hit, and Kane showed up on the screen. He challenged Braun, saying that while he was the monster among men, he didn't know what it was like to be in the ring with another monster.
>> Finn Balor beat Bo Dallas.