The Final Deletion and Wrestling's Future

One of the most tiring tropes in wrestling is how a certain match "changes the business." From a certain standpoint, every match changes the business, in that somebody wins, and somebody loses. Yet we often hear how Lucha Underground either has, or will, change wrestling as we know it. Ricochet and Ospreay would change wrestling as we know it. To this list we can add last night's "Final Deletion" (Directors cut version from TNA incoming!), the culmination of the feud between Broken Matt Hardy and "Brother Nero" Jeff Hardy.

Unlike the previous matches mentioned, I think there actually is potential to change the industry in the future. I think last night's match was on the cutting edge of wrestling. I don't think it will do much for TNA's fortunes (they are a billion times better than they were two years ago, and they still can't catch any breaks), but I do think you will see some people play off of the success of last night's match.

While some may hate the name, today professional wrestling is "Sports Entertainment." It just depends on where the emphasis is. Seeing a focus far too much on the entertainment side, a lot of indy promotions started focusing more on the "sport" aspect of it all. This could be personified in EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher. He's socially awkward as all hell in his promos, as he talks about "not being a sports entertainer, but entertaining you with my sport." WWE has picked up on this trend the past few years, as actual ring ability has taken a higher place on the totem pole of things that are required. Even the promotion of Brock Lesnar taps into this vein, returning wrestling to where it had a more legitimate vibe to it.

When Lucha Underground launched, it had a stated aim of being an alternative to WWE. They were interested in ultimately creating movies with their characters. They abandoned legit realism for mysticism, crazy storylines, dragons, cannibals, etc. While they had this aim, they surprisingly still did their actual wrestling more like the wrestling of old, albeit with a few camera tweaks. There was still a crowd, still announcers, and still a general match structure.

Last night's TNA match pushed this envelope even further. Forgoing the sport aspect, they plunged deep into the entertainment part, and initial indicators are they succeeded. Let's examine why

1.) No Announcers

One of the most surprising things about the match is how there was no commentary. Josh and Pope were not tuned in via satellite. We were not invited guests into this event. Rather, it seemed that we were peaking in on something going on. The contestants gave zero indication they were aware the audience was watching, as is so often the case with these types of vignettes/videos. In place of the commentary was music, lots of music. The music even changed its tempo according to certain points of the match.

In this sense, it felt far less like a wrestling match, and a lot more like a movie. All the stated aims LU has claimed the Hardy brothers were actually accomplishing. Far from taking away from the experience, I'd say the music added to it greatly. While Josh Matthews and The Pope are generally considered the worst commentary team in wrestling, this was not a match that was meant to be narrated. You could have JR, Ventura, or any of your favorite announcers, and they would have probably done a disservice to this match.

2.) No Crowds

Another way they parted from the conventional wrestling atmosphere is no crowds. There was no piped in crowd noise, no keeping the crowd reactions audible. This gave them greater freedom in telling a story and sticking to it. We see week in week out what a crowd does to attempts at telling stories. (See Reigns, Roman.) Final Deletion showed that you can make an experience without a crowd, and still have it get over. Even if the match was polarizing, it was still an overall positive experience for most, and even its critics often admit the match needs to be seen so you can make your own judgement. Since they didn't have a crowd to play off of, they didn't need to build in spots that either cools down the crowd or amps them up. In roughly 17 minutes of footage, they told a more coherent story than most 25 minute matches.

3.) The Story

Another innovation was the way in which the story was told. They are not the first promotion to use out of ring video in relation to a match. These are normally done to provide a justification for the match, or to heighten your interest over time. In the directors cut version of the match (which was for some reason marked private by TNA after releasing it last night), all the vignettes from the night were added in before the match, showing one complete story. If you watch the match without those vignettes, the finish probably doesn't make sense. Matt Hardy, in his insanity, hatched this elaborate plan to lure Jeff to his house, where Jeff engaged him on terrain favorable to Matt. Matt made the most of that, and his control of the terrain played directly into the finish.

They even used a lot of symbolism. He refuses to light a candle for his sons birthday until the moment of Brother Nero's extermination. That moment comes when Jeff is a top a Hardy Boys simple. At that moment, he is given the candle and ignites the gasoline stained ground (gasoline laid out earlier for this trap). This causes an explosion which knocks Jeff off the symbol, leading to his demise. Jeff falling off the symbol was itself a symbol of Matt being the only Hardy left, and now that he had control of that legacy, he could pass it along to his son.

People may have not seen this nuance because they were too concerned with firework guns, trash can lids as shields, etc. As silly as these were, it was shot in a way that called to mind a movie. When one attacked with these weapons, the other defended themselves while making a retreat. In the world of professional wrestling, one weapon normally leads to another, and there is little retreating. They attempted to create a movie, and they succeeded.

What does this mean for the future? Nobody should expect WWE to adopt some, or any, of these innovations. Doing so might actually be damaging to their brand. Yet the world of wrestling is a large place, and there is a lot to go around. What if future matches on the indy scene were filmed not in front of a live audience, but as a movie a later audience can consume? Since so many indie feds lack competent announcing (if they have them at all), what if future companies incorporate music into the match and the storytelling? What if, instead of releasing promos to hype a match, vignettes to promote it, and then the match itself, everything is released as a packaged deal on youtube? A lot of indie wrestlers aren't very good at promos. Could something like this mask their deficiencies?

While TNA might be a major wrestling company, the expenses involved in this were not as high as one might think. Financial concerns might prevent every match from being done in this way, but what if major ones were done as a way of trying to get the attention of other companies? What if you get a company that doesn't care about making a profit like Lucha Underground, and they start integrating this kind of stuff into their match storytelling? What if you get a movie guy who is a money mark, and he drops millions into making this kind of show for a streaming service?

There is no guarantee this would work. It probably isn't even certain. Yet there are exciting possibilities that any wrestling fan should welcome. New opportunities for wrestling mean new opportunities for wrestlers. These guys can get paid and better their lives. We get more content to consume, and that content is different to avoid things being stale. Whatever one thought of last night's match, both Broken Matt and the Deleted Brother Nero should be praised for willing to take a chance on freshening up the same old boring formula. This isn't the future of wrestling, but it is a future.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.