AEW Has Huge Plans For A Former WWE Star
Article originally from Forbes.com
WWE has recently parted ways with a number of standout stars who ultimately made their way to All Elite Wrestling, and many of AEW’s WWE-linked signings have had their careers be reinvigorated by the move to the world’s new No. 2 promotion. Current AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, a.k.a. Dean Ambrose, and Brodie Lee, a.k.a. Luke Harper, are two of the most high-profile stars who have made a huge splash in AEW after falling down the card at the end of their tumultuous WWE tenures. After rejecting a deal to remain with WWE not due to money but rather because of creative concerns, Matt Hardy is one of the latest former WWE stars to jump ship to AEW and reinvent himself in the process. Hardy recently revealed that one of the biggest factors in his decision to leave WWE was indeed creative freedom, telling fellow former WWE star Chris Jericho on the Talk is Jericho podcast (h/t Wrestling Inc) that his ideas were constantly rejected and so he turned “good money” from WWE because he didn’t expect Vince McMahon to consistently utilize him on TV. As noted, one of the main reasons why Hardy chose AEW over WWE was because the latter, in particular McMahon himself, didn’t seem interested in pushing Hardy or his “Broken” character at this stage of his career.
But once again, WWE’s loss may be AEW’s gain. According to PWInsider.com, “There are lots of plans [for AEW] to utilize the Broken Universe in the days ahead.” At the very end of his most recent run with the company, WWE utilized Hardy to help establish Randy Orton as a ruthless heel, but it unexpectedly backfired. Hardy’s involvement with “The Viper” turned out to be a huge ratings hit for Monday Night Raw, and Hardy was heated back up on his way out of WWE when the intention was undoubtedly to cool him off instead. WWE never really capitalized on the “Broken” gimmick, instead renaming it “Woken” and toning it down to the point where it lost much of the uniqueness that made it so popular in the first place. It was really in Impact Wrestling back in 2016 when the “Broken” character exploded in popularity, and that’s because Hardy was the driver of the creative direction of the gimmick at the time. Hardy’s epic but bizarre “Final Deletion” match set a viewership record for Impact on its TV Network at the time, and Hardy was widely praised for developing such a unique gimmick and then hitting an absolute home run with it in that very unique bout. A year later, Hardy was in WWE, but the watered-down WWE version of his wildly popular character didn’t take off the way it should have. By 2019, he was largely off TV altogether, and it became clear that he was probably on his way out of the company sooner rather than later. Now, Hardy has found the perfect home in AEW, which has thus far done a great job of highlighting the “Broken” character and only figures to improve in that regard in the future when AEW is able to once again host shows with fans in attendance. For now, it’s going to be difficult to judge whether Hardy will be a true draw for AEW because viewership is down across the board for both AEW and NXT due in large part to the quality of their shows dipping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But AEW will air live this week for the first time in several weeks, and Hardy is finding himself in prime position to reclaim his spot as one of the most popular and entertaining acts in all of pro wrestling. If this was “Woken” Hardy, that probably wouldn’t be happening. But “Broken” Hardy may very well reassert himself as a top star in the near future.