TNA Impact returned last night (Dec. 15) from Cameron, NC with Matt Hardy’s opus: Total Nonstop Deletion. You can follow all of the happenings at the live blog here.
Matt Hardy has used his 2016 to continue trying new things with his own character and the larger world of wrestling. First was his Broken character. While crazy characters aren’t new to pro-wrestling, he immersed himself in the kayfabe of it like we don’t often see in this day and age. Then came the off-site contract signing between he and his brother that went viral. That lead to a match filmed in the same style, completely in Matt’s back yard, The Final Deletion, which added more crazy characters such as Vanguard One the drone and Skarsgard the boat. Each time, Hardy went and expanded what the pro wrestling world could include, testing the waters and finding there were plenty of fans who were receptive to the idea of more fantasy in their wrestling.
Tonight, Matt pushed the limits further. He took his little world - which had been presented to us for maybe 20 to 30 minutes at a time, max - and decided to take it to two hours. There would be no break from his wild world. We were going to be a part of it for the entire time without the chance to come up for air and get our senses.
Because of that, you had to be ready for continued overt silliness and few matches with any consequence to the rest of the TNA world. If you’re someone who thinks a drone firing fireworks, a boat breaking up a pinfall, or a man getting shot from a volcano has no place in wrestling, then this was absolutely not for you. But people who weren’t into the Final Deletion already knew not to tune in tonight and knew that well in advance.
The idea of the show was that Matt Hardy was his own promoter of his own promotion in the magical deletion lands. The first hour of the show was in the Dome of Deletion (where the original contract signing was held) in a six-sided ring. There was a small crowd behind guardrails. They even had Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash announcing the action in the ring. The first hour was like we were checking in on a different promotion instead of TNA, but it was still wrestling.
It needed to be this way. They couldn’t do two hours of a bunch of teams brawling outside. So we got matches, but they weren’t serious matches early on. They had Vanguard 1 accepting a match against Sienna in order to be a Knockout (he was ruled ineligible and ODB showed up to take the match, but he was still integral in the finish). We saw Rockstar Spud lose to Maxel because Señor Benjamin immediately tazed him. There was Itchweeed having a match where he weedwhacked the guy post-match.
These were almost comedy bits more than matches and while there were some funny moments, the first hours felt like it was there for something to check out as we waited for the second hour.
Eddie Edwards and Bobby Lashley had a fun match inside the Dome as the first hour came to a close. Then Lashley speared Edwards out of the barn and it was no longer just a really weird indie. That was the moment that the outside world, the full deletion, was introduced into the show.
Matt ruled that the title match would continue but tag team Apocalypto would start, an open invitation, falls count anywhere, elimination match. And that’s when the true Deletion-esque event started. This being their biggest event yet, they tried to up the crazy as much as they could. Jeff Hardy locked up with Ricky Morton of Rock N Roll express fame on dueling cranes (poor Ricky was left up there, and may still be up there, and Road Warrior Animal walked by just to see what he had gotten into). Abyss and Crazzy Steve literally killed a bunch of indie tag teams trying to compete.
They gave this match 45 minutes. That may have been biting of just a bit too much. There definitely were lulls between action. Even though they used quick moments to check on different aspects of the match, there was a decent amount of drag to the early components where we just checked in on people brawling in different locales.
Of course, it heated up towards the end as the teams started getting eliminated and we worked our way to the finish. The final two teams were Decay against the Hardys. The Hardys won when Abyss took his board of nails Janice in the gut and Steve was shot out of a volcano to get pinned (he writes nonchalantly on his wrestling recap). As the Hardys celebrated, Reby let Matt know she’s pregnant while fireworks go off in the background, leaving me to wonder if this entire thing was the Hardy’s creative pregnancy announcement.
I learned tonight what my personal limit of the Broken Universe in one sitting is. I didn’t dislike this 2 hours and there were parts I definitely laughed at and appreciated. But for me, this works better in smaller doses, either 5-10 minutes throughout the show or 20 - 30 minutes. I need this intermixed with traditional wrestling and wrestling stories to keep things grounded. It almost feels as if the Broken Universe needs the traditional one to give it that pop and that point of comparison to highlight how crazy it is.
While I’m a fan of the Broken Universe and what Matt Hardy has tried to with expanding the meaning of pro wrestling, I need my Deletion in smaller doses. Two hours is really stretching it for me.
But that’s the thing about this new corner of wrestling delivered into the mainstream courtesy of Matt Hardy. Some people probably loved all two hours. Some can’t stand it at all. In that sense, Total Nonstop Deletion and the Broken Universe isn’t different from wrestling at all.
- Throughout the night they played a fake news report with an anchor (and a fake on-scene reporter) who spoke about how Cameron was closed down due to Apocalypto. This was a great bit to run throughout the show to illustrate how the Broken world fits into the real one and to reinforce the fact that in their kayfabe, this could be a world changing event.
- The Decay really were legitimately murdering people. As potential tag teams would enter through the gates of the Hardy compound, they would be announced by a mysterious announcer and then immediately destroyed by Decay. Steve snapped the neck of the first guy he came across. Abyss crushed another’s skull with a rock. While certain players don’t fit well in this world, Decay sure does.
- Unfortunately, Rosemary wasn’t there, which is always a downer. This must have been something that came about later because at the taping, they announced she would defend her title. But they cut that out. Early on, Jeremy Borash explained she’s banned from the compound for trying to abduct Maxel.
- Rockstar Spud didn’t just lose to King Maxel. He had a partner for Tag Team Apocalypto as well, someone he advertised as a big dude. It was Hornswoggle. But Swoggle couldn’t stand Rockstar Spud just like everyone else. Too many short jokes lead him to powerbombing Spud when he was standing on the second rope. Horny then allowed the Helms Dynasty to pin him. That was a good comedy spot.
- My favorite moment of the night was when James Storm arrived with a bunch of guys in DCC masks. The Decay neutralized all of the guys quickly asides for Storm and one other. That other was my favorite character in the Broken Universe: The guy that Decay keeps stealing trucks from (and sodomizing). He was in Delete or Decay. He was in the Great War. And he would finally get his revenge.... or not. He was immediately laid out and pinned before James Storm could even realize the ref was counting the dude as his partner! Storm tried to plead that he didn’t even know the dude, but it didn’t matter. He was eliminated before he even got started.
- I caught myself wondering, as this world continues to expand, how it will balance with TNA regular universe. When Greg Helms transformed into the Hurricane and attacked Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett, the members of his Helms’ Dynasty, did that mean that this team is done? Or at least that Helms is no longer their coach? Will this be addressed as part of the normal TNA world? It pretty much has to, right? All these questions have me wondering what amount of the TNA Universe should be exposed to the Broken one. That’s something TNA will have to think about as the enter the new year.
- After the Hurricane and Matt Hardy buried Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee in their graves, they look at the camera and Matt said “Even the man with three Hs would be proud of how we buried this promising young talent!” Then they both gave a thumbs up. Superb.
- The title match between Edwards and Lashley continued throughout Apocalypto but never had a finish in an odd storytelling malfunction for the Broken Universe. Are they still fighting in Cameron right now?
Total Nonstop Deletion is the definition of “Your Mileage May Vary”. For mine, two hours is a bit too much for this world. Without regular in ring action to cleanse the palate, this becomes a bit too much stupid, whacky, crazy without any balance.
However, major credit goes to not only trying something different, but creating a feel of a backyard indie in an fantastical universe. And they still had plenty of fun moments that may be even more fun to relive in gifs and short viral videos than it was as part of two hours. It was something different and it continues to open up possibilities for TNA.
Sound off below.