Last night (Mar. 19), WWE tried its hand at their own Broken/Woken Matt Hardy special when they aired the Ultimate Deletion. This was to be their version of the original Final Deletion that Matt and Jeff Hardy participated in during the summer of 2016 that was the talk of the wrestling community at the time.
There was always some concern that the wildness of the TNA version would never be realized in WWE and therefore, the Woken Universe wouldn’t really hit. Last night was their first real test. Did the WWE version of the Final Deletion live up to the original?
It did not. At least not for me.
WWE was always going to behind the 8-ball in comparison to the original. When TNA ran the Broken Matt Hardy angle, it was a long arc of a story that could be traced back the better portion of a year. Matt Hardy went from true blue babyface that kept getting screwed because of his values, to an arrogant heel who finally broke bad despite his brother Jeff’s misgivings, to Broken when his brother put him out of action in an I Quit match. That was almost six months right there and that was just to introduce Matt Hardy as Broken.
That’s when Matt started slowly introducing the wild and weird that the Broken Universe was known for. We met his wife, Reby, and his trusty gardener Señor Benjamin early on, first in smaller roles and then larger ones as fans positively responded.
Compare that to the way WWE introduced Woken Matt Hardy, which was just by rolling him out there after he lost to Bray Wyatt a couple times. It was an RKO style of weirdness in that it really was outta nowhere. So those WWE fans who weren’t indoctrinated into the Broken Universe by TNA, and that’s likely most of them, were left asking “What the hell?”
Those were the issues going into last night. But the video itself lacked the essence of the Final Deletion: That it was bats#!t crazy.
Sure it started in a ring, but it wasn’t long that Brother Nero was firing a Roman Candle at Matt, who had to take refuge behind a dilapidated boat. Jeff got tossed into the Lake of Reincarnation and came out as his alter ego Willow. Señor Benjamin, who everyone knew by that time, used a taser on Jeff. And the final moment was when Jeff fell off a twenty foot high flame Hardy Cross that was set on fire by Maxel’s birthday candle handed to Matt by the spirit of Reby.
Again, bats#!t crazy.
Last night had a few of those moments but a lot of random WWE style brawling in between. Sure, Matt finding a great deal of pleasure from riding his lawn mower over Bray, who then responded with his spider stance was fun, as was Bray searching for Matt in his Field of Obsolete Men. But there weren’t enough of those moments.
And it surely didn’t help when Michael Cole, the person introducing the segment who is often a mouth piece for Vince McMahon, apologized for it before it started. That’s not a good tone setter. At all.
The Final Deletion got over because it was a combination of the culmination of a long story and out of this world insanity. Fans could enjoy it on different levels, whether it be watching a character descend into madness or to just marvel at the next outrageous stunt they’re going to pull.
The Ultimate Deletion didn’t have that same charm. It felt like when a once hot band gets back together for a reunion tour but the spark is no longer there. Sure you still enjoy the hits but they’re missing the magic that made them great. Here we still got to see Matt Hardy playing his role like we remember and we still saw all the stars we enjoyed from the first one. But it wasn’t the same. It was trying to do what made it popular the first time without really doing it.
The Ultimate Deletion had its moments, but it couldn’t recapture the same magic that made the original work so well. Perhaps when Bray Wyatt emerges from the Lake of Reincarnation, they’ll take this in a direction where they can make the new version similar but different.
And if they can add their own spin that works better in the WWE, perhaps they can find a new kind of crazy magic for everyone to enjoy.