The Ballad of Matt Hardy

Mark Madden

matt hardyMatt Hardy is the No. 1 pro wrestler in America today.

Matt Hardy has got it figured out.

Hardy works as much as he pleases. He gets high dollar on the independent circuit because of his WWE past and because of his continued TV exposure on ROH, the internet’s current “cool promotion” and whose fans are most likely to patronize indie shows Hardy might appear on. Hardy has made his wife, Reby Sky, part of the act/package. She earns the family a few dollars more, and there’s less time apart.

I don’t know how much Hardy makes. But I’d bet he makes more than almost every TNA guy, and most of WWE’s lesser lights. He dictates his own schedule and puts up with a minimum of backstage politicking, if any.

Hardy is flirting with TNA. Good idea. Options keep your price up.

Hardy is smart. Wrestling smart, and real-life smart.

His current situation, dollar-wise, won’t last forever. But what does?

I’ve seen Hardy work indie shows. He’s real good. He doesn’t work PPV level, or Monday night level. But he comes closer than most, and close enough. Hardy has star power.

His ROH gimmick is the best. He’d never admit it, but it’s real. He means it.

Hardy is the big-time guy doing a small-time promotion and its small-time fans a favor via his mere presence. Who among ROH’s full-time roster has even half the star power? The best gimmicks are real. This is real.

It’s reminiscent of one of my favorite gimmicks: Mick Foley in ECW. Foley called out ECW fans for being bloodthirsty SOBs who had no regard for the safety of the performers. He grabbed rest holds to bust their chops. He declined to wrestle because he “got drunk at a friend’s wedding.” He praised WWE and WCW. Foley’s “Cane Dewey” promo was amazing, legit and heartfelt.

ECW fans turned on Mick’s act. But most never quite figured out that it was no act. Mick made the marks think a shoot was a work. That’s perverse brilliance.

It’s the same with Hardy. Does he really think ROH is beneath him?

Boy, I’d love to hook him up to a lie detector and ask him.

Fake wrestling is about maintaining your lifestyle, and maintaining your life. Hardy is able to do both on his terms.

The next step in Hardy’s ROH angle is to turn Mike Bennett babyface by having Maria, another “big-time star,” dump Bennett to go with Hardy. But that won’t happen because Bennett and Maria insist on being one of those cutesy wrestling couples both on- and off-screen. That hurts Bennett, and he just doesn’t get it. It’s a shame, too. He’s decent. But Bennett won’t allow that to matter.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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