There were a lot of surprising moments at “WrestleMania 33,” WWE’s biggest annual show. The Undertaker likely wrestled his last match, Brock Lesnar beat Goldberg in stunning fashion to become the WWE Universal Champion — and John Cena proposed to longtime girlfriend Nikki Bella in the middle of the ring, after winning their match against The Miz and Maryse.
Perhaps the most shocking moment though, was the return of Matt and Jeff Hardy, the brothers from Cameron, N.C. that got their start in WWE back in 1998. While it was great to see the Hardy Boyz return to what many think of as their “home” franchise, you can’t help but notice something missing.
Anyone who has been keeping tabs on the Hardys since they left WWE likely knows about the “Broken” universe they created in 2016 during their time on the “Impact Wrestling” roster. The complete reinvention of their characters is practically unheard of, at this point in their careers — unless you’re Chris Jericho, who constantly recreates his image to keep things fresh — and it worked better than anyone could have expected.
In doing so, the Hardys once again became one of the most popular tag teams in wrestling — no easy feat, without the WWE promotional machine behind you. And yet, upon their return to professional wrestling’s top company, the “Broken” versions of their characters seems to be gone. Naturally, nobody has told the audience, who just can’t stop chanting “Delete” and “Obsolete” — two trademarks of the Broken Hardys — at the brothers.
Unfortunately, that’s likely as close as WWE is going to get to the Broken universe, at least for now. After leaving “Impact Wrestling,” the Hardys appeared in Ring of Honor under their broken monikers, capturing the ROH Tag-Team Championships… At which point Impact’s parent company Anthem Sports & Entertainment issued a cease and desist, claiming ownership of the Broken characters.
That’s where things get messy, as the brothers themselves claim they created and own the characters. The true owner of the Broken Hardys is likely to end up decided by a court — and until, then you can’t blame WWE for staying out of it.
That said, our inner fan truly hopes the WWE Universe gets a chance to see Broken Matt and Brother Nero — two great characters, who’d shin in the world’s top wrestling company. With an overabundance of creativity but very few resources, the Hardy brothers were able to turn a wild idea into something special… Can you imagine what these same characters would look like through the WWE lens?
Hopefully it’s something WWE is able to explore, especially given their recent track record with nostalgia acts. The Dudley Boyz returned to WWE for a year in 2015 and once it was clear that they were simply playing the older version of their characters, the novelty of what they were doing quickly wore off. Now’s the time for WWE to learn from its own mistakes, and let the Hardys evolve. It’s clear they know how to do so — they just need to be given the green light to make it happen.
Until then, we’ll sit with bated breath, waiting for the return of the Broken Hardys.