Real Feuds: Matt Hardy vs. Edge
Welcome to yet another installment of Real Feuds! What? It’s been so long since the last edition that you no longer care for the series? Well nuts to you, I have nothing else better to write about this week. So just shut up, leave that mouse alone, and pretend to enjoy the following. This week, I’ll be discussing Edge and Matt Hardy’s feud. As always, we’ll go over the story of their feud, who was more talented in the ring, who was the bigger draw, and finally, who will have the greater legacy. By the end of this article, we’ll be able to draw a reasonable conclusion as to who ultimately won this feud.<!--more-->How the Feud Began
Animosity between Edge and Matt Hardy, not to mention the beginning of the fall of Matt Hardy in general, all stems from a woman. Matt had developed a real life relationship with Lita, and the two were nearly inseparable. In the early 2000s, Matt most often worked tag matches with his brother Jeff against rival tag team Edge and Christian. The four became good friends, and had some of the best matches in all of wrestling during the time. All you had to do was watch a couple of their matches to understand their camaraderie. All four guys (as well as teams like the Dudley Boyz) put their bodies on the line every night, and they relied on each other to make it home safe.Like all great tag teams, the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian eventually disbanded. Matt made the best of the split, and introduced his Matt Hardy: Version 1 character. People often give Matt a hard time these days due to poor life decisions, but credit given where credit is due: Matt was a rising star in the mid 2000s. Unfortunately, Matt suffered a serious knee injury in late 2004, sidelining him for an extended period of time.It was during this time that Lita developed a relationship with Edge (Adam Copeland). Hardy learned of the relationship when he stumbled upon a text from Edge on Lita’s cell phone. Lita first denied the relationship when Hardy confronted her, but soon broke down and admitted to the affair. Hardy was obviously devastated, he would not only be losing his girlfriend, who he considered to be his soul mate, but one of his best friends as well. The shot to his pride shouldn’t be understated.Word of Edge’s affair with Lita spread through the WWE locker room. Because Hardy was justifiably heated over Edge and Lita’s actions, WWE made the decision to release Hardy, deciding that Edge was the more valuable asset between the two. This led to a fan backlash; Edge and Lita - already portrayed as heels - were hated more than ever. Support began to swell around the jobless Hardy, and eventually the WWE listed to their fans. Hardy was brought back to the WWE, now at the peak of his popularity, and he was put into a program with Edge and Lita.I don’t know about you, but the one time I had my heart broken, I couldn’t stand to be around my ex, much less work with her (and her new boyfriend) on a daily basis. Was it healthy for Hardy? Probably not. But as a business decision, it was brilliant. Fans knew of the real life animosity between Hardy and Edge, and they tuned in to see how the two would work together. To both of their credit, they were professional throughout the entire program. But Hardy hasn’t exactly been silent about his feelings since the affair took place. Although he claims to have made up with Lita in recent years, both he and his brother Jeff seem to still harbor ill feelings towards Edge.Unlike every other feud we’ve discussed in this series, Edge has never seemed interested in adding to the overall animosity. His actions kicked off this feud, and they were terrible things to do to a close friend. But they weren’t born out of malice. And while that’s sometimes difficult to see, especially in Matt Hardy’s case, it’s nevertheless important. People occasionally make bad decisions, but that doesn’t make them bad people
. After the affair was made public, Edge’s disparaging remarks towards Hardy were done in character.Who Was the Better Worker?
As key members of the tag team renaissance in the late 90s and early 2000s, Edge and Matt Hardy worked similar styles. Both were highly athletic, could perform high flying maneuvers, and could call good matches. Edge has a size advantage over Hardy, which allowed for more believable matches against larger opponents, but due to his body type, the difference isn’t a glaring one.The biggest difference between the two would ultimately be versatility. Hardy was athletic and most interesting when working a fast style. Edge, on the other hand, could also work a power style when required. He was also better with in-ring psychology, being able to tell a story through mannerisms, match-flow, as well as actual moves. Take away all of that, and Edge is just a good worker. Keep it, and he’s a hall of famer.Who Was the Bigger Draw?
For a time, Matt Hardy and Edge were equals in drawing power. In the early 2000s, they represented the absolute best in tag team wrestling. And unlike today, tag team matches were a big deal. Their infamous Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches are as influential as anything else in modern wrestling. Fans loved both men, their tag teams, and regularly gave them standing ovations after their matches.After leaving the Hardy Boyz, Matt Hardy succeeded in cultivating a new character. He had enough popularity to draw fans in, and had the ultimate opportunity to get over during his feud with Edge. Unfortunately, Matt never lived up to that potential. He had a memorable feud with MVP after his program with Edge, and then somewhat fell off the face of the earth... in WWE terms at least. Fans simply lost interest in him. When he eventually moved on to TNA, he was no longer considered a draw.After his feud with Matt Hardy, Edge moved on to bigger and better things. He stayed in the limelight with a program with Ric Flair, and then moved on to the WWE Championship. His first title win - a Money in the Bank cash in on John Cena - could have been seen as a fluke, but when he repeated less than a year later, it was clear: WWE saw Edge as a reliable ratings draw. It doesn’t hurt that his “live sex” segment with Lita scored the highest Raw rating the WWE has seen since the Attitude Era (a great argument point for anyone anti-PG). Edge ended his career as Smackdown’s anchor superstar. Certain more popular wrestlers may have been on Raw, but you tuned into Smackdown as well because no matter what, you knew you were going to be entertained by Edge.Who Will Have the Greater Legacy?
Sadly, this is a very easy question to answer. While Edge established himself as a top superstar for the WWE, Matt Hardy gave in to his demons and went in to self-destruct mode. It’s unfortunate because somewhere inside of Matt Hardy, there’s an intelligent wrestling mind. He’s just held himself back by abusing alcohol and drugs, and making really stupid decisions. It’s hard not to wonder how much Lita’s affair affected him. Before it happened, Matt seemed happy and well adjusted. Of course, his brother Jeff has gone through similar issues, and he doesn’t have Lita as a scapegoat to fall back on.One of the greatest tragedies in life is an early demise. In professional sports, that means early retirement. When Edge was forced to retire due to life-threatening injuries, he immediately became a legend, and one of the most beloved figures in modern wrestling. And how did he go out? With a Heavyweight Championship title defense at Wrestlemania. It may not have been under his terms, but it’s about as good as he could have asked for, considering the circumstances.Edge will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Meanwhile, Matt Hardy is out of wrestling thanks in part to legal troubles. There’s no sign of WWE bringing him back, and he didn’t exactly part ways with TNA amicably. Fortunately for Matt, he still has time to salvage his career thanks to his relative health. But at this rate, it doesn’t seem likely. No question, Edge wins out in every way in this feud.But hey, we can still enjoy both of their work:http://youtu.be/fG_lBqZEq2I-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thoughts and opinions? Share them with me!Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @thjbriggsBlog:soundthecharge.com
Thanks for reading. Any Matt Hardy fans out there who disagree with my assessment? I tried to be fair when talking about his problems. I really do think he had a ton of potential. He just never capitalized on it. Hit me up in the comment section, and let me know what you think. Also, follow me on Twitter, and be sure to visit The John Report on Thursdays for my spot on Headlines!