One of the stand-out storylines from TNA this year – from a creative perspective, at least – has been the feud between the Hardy brothers. Going in, it’s easy to see how fans would have been cynical, given how badly their prior attempts at a feud bombed. But this time, it was different, and it was glorious.
After what felt like a weekend of nothing but hype, the Hardys had their blow-off match… and it took place in front of zero fans. No, it wasn’t an empty arena match, but instead, a mini-movie that seemed to be the complete works of the Hardys, with the only thing TNA seemingly doing was press play on the finished work.
Called “The Final Deletion”, the 15-minute plus segment on Impact focussed on “Broken” Matt Hardy’s quest to erase Jeff Hardy – “Brother Nero” – from his life. For this review, I’m watching the director’s cut, in case there were any differences between what was on POP TV.
My thoughts will follow at the end, if you want to scroll down to avoid the spoilers!
We start outside the Hardys family home, and we’re inside an outhouse – the same one from the contract signing video where Matt dumped Jeff through an antique-looking wooden table – and here the ring is set up for the birthday party for Matt’s son, Maxel. Senor Benjamin (who apparently is Matt’s real-life father-in-law) wanders in with a gift for young Maxel, before he and Reby speak as only a father and daughter do: in Spanish! Fortunately it’s subtitled…
Matt is pleased with the “extraordinary xylophone” for Maxel – the first of many wondrous statements that would sound inane in anything but Matt’s crazy accent. Matt tells us that his present to Maxel is to restore honour to the Hardy name, by extinguishing Brother Nero. This is pure soap opera, almost like a telenovela, with the Spanish music playing in the background.
Our next scene focuses on Jeff mowing his own symbol into a lawn, along with other bits of Jeff’s artwork. He sits down on a sofa and starts strumming away on a guitar, when all of a sudden: drone attack! The doorbell goes, and Jeff answers it… to another drone, this time greeting him as “Brother Nero!”. Three minutes in and this is so different, it’s gone beyond awesome.
A swarm of drones enters the house, leaving Jeff with no choice but to use his guitar as a baseball bat to destroy them. We get some cool slow-mo footage of Jeff hitting home runs with the drones, except he’s missed one, and out pops a hologram of “Broken” Matt to taunt his brother. Hologram Matt challenges his brother to a match for the rights to the “Hardy brand” (which has to be worth more than the Miz brand, right?), in what he called The Final Deletion!
Angered, Jeff hops on his dirt bike and chases the drone, before we cut to Matt on a ride-on lawnmower, laying waste to Jeff’s prized lawn art.
After a recap, we see Senor Benjamin setting up the ring, and stuffing weaponry under it… and fireworks?! Reby asks what he’s doing – “preparing the battlefield” is the answer (in Spanish, naturally). Matt comes along with a can of gasoline, and demands that Senor Benjamin applies it liberally to the battlefield.
We return at dusk, and a TNA referee drives up to the scene. He enters the ring, and is told to only count the pin or record the submission, along with a request to not resuscitate Brother Nero. Matt then summons the “evil enigma” (I guess Jeff) is by playing a violin. Badly. Sure enough, Jeff pops up on a dirt bike (does he not travel any other way?)
And our match is on!
I should note that this was filmed at night, with seemingly only car headlights and floodlights on the ringposts being used for lighting. A tower bell signifies the start, and they trade shots before Matt sends Jeff into the corner with a clothesline. Jeff fights back with forearms, then lands a superplex, then bounces off the ropes with a diving headbutt for a near-fall.
Jeff goes under the ring for a bit of garden fencing, and ends up setting it up in the corner before tossing Matt through it. Hopefully the weaponry later on looks more impressive!
Matt kicks out at two, before landing a Twist of Fate onto the broken fencing panel for another two-count. That enrages “Broken” Matt, who grab a Singapore cane and lays out Jeff with shots to the leg. In comes a ladder for more punishment to Jeff, who gets choked with the bottom end of the structure.
Matt bites Jeff’s hand, then goes for the Side Effect, only for Jeff to land a Twist of Fate of his own, before hitting a Swanton bomb for a near-fall. Jeff sets up the ladder across the corner, and drops Matt onto it, before he slides out of the ring… and climbs up a tree? Jeff goes up about eight feet higher than the top rope, and does the Swanton bomb off it, only for Matt to roll away to safety. Somehow, Matt gets a pinned for a two-count from that, before rolling outside and grabbing a steel chair and setting fire to a firework cannon, which he aims at Jeff.
Jeff uses a trash can lid to use as a shield as Matt fires the pyro at him, before coming back with a garden hoe. As the smoke clears, we see Matt walking towards Jeff, but screams “oh ****!” – Jeff’s returning fire with fire(works), and he has a cannon of his own! Matt seeks shelter under a handily-placed boat by a lake, before he catches Jeff in a sleeperhold and finally tosses him into the water.
Matt emerges from the lake and proclaims that “Brother Nero has been flushed”. You knew that wasn’t going to be the end of it, and of course, that’s the signal for Willow to emerge from the briny depths of Lake Hardy. Willow chokes Matt with an umbrella, but he gets tasered by Senor Benjamin, and that’s the end of Willow?
Using a flashlight, Matt finds the downed Willow and makes the cover… and that’s it. Matt Hardy wins by Taser. Just like how Goldberg’s streak ended! Except he doesn’t… Willow’s unmasked as a corpsing Senor Benjamin, and the pinfall’s waved off.
The hunt for Brother Nero continues, and Matt’s blindsided by the same dirt track that Jeff broke his leg on last year. A rear naked choke by a Jeff Hardy symbol downs Matt, and leaves him in perfect position for a dive off the symbol, with a handily placed ladder helping Jeff climb up. Matt’s life flashes before his eyes, and in amongst all of that he somehow gets the candle that was from his son’s birthday cake.
Matt sets fire to the dirt track, engulfing the Jeff Hardy symbol in flames, as Jeff takes a bump to avoid getting burned. Tossing Jeff away from the fire, Matt makes the pin, and that is it. Broken Matt Hardy has deleted Brother Nero!
And we fade to black…
(I’m not rating the match, since it was edited to hell, but the entire segment, as a spectacle: *****)
“Unique” is the word to describe this. From start to finish, I was engrossed in the segment, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say anything like that about TNA.
Wrestling is all about variety, and if Impact (or even wrestling in general) was nothing but these kind of mini-movies, even just for blow-offs to matches, it’d get old quick, but it was certainly an interesting blow-off to the feud, and instantly made it something that’ll be remembered for years to come.
As a standalone segment, this is something you could watch without having to spend too much time figuring out what was going on. You didn’t need to know the full history of the two brothers, their years as a successful tag team and their singles runs thereafter. You instantly got the gist of the story: “Broken” Matt Hardy wanted to erase Jeff from this world, and the evil genius was willing to do anything to get his wish.
TNA helped build up interest for this match by leaking copies of the match to online journalists beforehand – and also posting a “reacts” video featuring guys like Ryan Satin from ProWrestlingSheet (which could open up an ethical can of worms down the line), along with current roster member Grado and former TNA star Shark Boy amongst others. However, it’s interesting to note that this was something that the Hardys (and, as it turns out, Jeremy Borash) did by themselves, with minimal (if any) creative involvement. Now, isn’t that an indictment of the American scene in 2016, when the performers pull off a better show than anything a “creative team” can produce?
Of course, not every wrestler has the same level of creativity as the Hardys, but if there’s any legacy from The Final Deletion, it’s that the performers should be given a little more say in what they do, rather than just being paid actors who read badly written scripts and take bumps.
It’s a crying shame that TNA no longer has a replay for Impact, so unless the show hasn’t aired in your country yet, or until this segment is uploaded to the TNA YouTube channel, I’d implore you to find this online and watch it for yourself. It really is that good!