The story of "Woken" Matt Hardy's rushed existence.
When Matt and Jeff Hardy returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33, fans were very excited to see the return of one of the greatest tag teams of all time to WWE. At the time, Matt and Jeff Hardy were riding a huge wave of momentum as “Broken” Matt Hardy and “Brother Nero.” During their entrance, Michael Cole even exclaimed, “Things are about to be broken.”
However, it would take nearly a year before shades of the "Broken" characters appeared on WWE television and it would not be “Broken” Matt Hardy, but “Woken” Matt Hardy, who would appear on television.
Of course, with a much-anticipated character like that making their presence felt on television, one would think that this took many hours of planning. However, anything can happen in WWE and Matt Hardy is now telling the story of how he found out just hours before the debut that the character was even being brought to WWE television.
“So here's how that goes. So I'd had this idea I talked about a lot of the writers seem to be on board with it and I was ready to do something that was going to be a WWE creation. ‘Matthew, the foolhardy,’ you know, we'll try this thing, try and do this reinvention again. I have to try and turn out new things,” Matt explains on the latest episode of his podcast, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy. “So I get to Raw a little late that day because I ended up driving from the town — I ended up staying halfway between where the house show the television was. I remember getting to TV that day, and I start pulling up and I may have been a few minutes late, or whatever. Then, all of a sudden, Bray walks out to his car to get something. He says, ‘Oh shit. Are you excited about today?’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You haven't heard?’ About that time I see Michael Michael has text me. He says, ‘I need you to text me right now. I need you to call me. I got to get you some face time with Vince.’ I text him. I said, ‘I'm here. I'll be in just one second’. He said, ‘Yeah, today, we're starting the whole Bray Wyatt and ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy angle is starting today here on TV.’ I said, okay. Then, I walk into the building and Michael was standing there and said, ‘Where were you?’ He said, well, but you got some time. Vince wants to sit down. He wants you to explain all this ‘Broken Matt Hardy shit to him from beginning to end. He wants to know everything about it. You're going to have probably 20-30 minutes of face time with him. You need to tell him the origin of this character. ‘Tell him what it's all about because they are ready to do the shit,’ and that's how I found out that was happening that day. I had no clue.”
So, of course, Matt Hardy goes in to have a meeting with Vince and explains the whole character to him. Matt explains that he is drawing inspiration from the HBO series, True Blood, which falls on deaf ears because Vince McMahon doesn't typically watch television. One thing Vince McMahon is concerned about, however, is where the character will cut promos. Specifically, Vince McMahon is very intrigued by the idea of the character cutting promos in a planetarium
“So we get in there and I talk with Vince, and this is probably my favorite interaction with Vince ever. He says, ‘Okay, Michael has told you what we're doing? We're going to try and do this… It’s ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy, right? Is that the thing? Let's do something. I have some ideas and I think this is going to be good. let's see what we can do about the name, though. I know that there was an issue with that. I haven't seen it, so I want you to tell me all about it. I don't know, I don't know anything about it. I just know that these people, these fuckers, keep saying ‘DELETE.’ Every House show report says, ‘DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.’ It's been almost a year and they keep saying ‘DELETE.’ so let's give them what they want,’” Matt Hardy recalled.
In an effort to change the name, Vince McMahon thought about the potential name of “Shattered” Matt Hardy but Matt Hardy says that he thought about this before and he chose the name of "Woken" because of how similar it sounds to broken and how trendy the word “woke" is in pop culture.
Matt Hardy then explained how the character of Eric Northman from True Blood inspired this character and explained how he wanted to take the idea of all of the times you've been reincarnated into the world of professional wrestling.
“They live in these different time periods and they have different looks and they are immortal, but they don't change,” Matt recalls explaining to Vince. “Obviously, I'm not immortal. So, I can't do that in real life and in real-time. So what if I could say that I was cognizant or aware, and I'm telling Vince, explaining the whole lore behind “Broken” Matt, and he's very attentive. I said, So what if I'm aware of where my soul, which I have now coined as my essence to make it a little different and put my own spin on it, what if I'm aware of where my soul has been? It's a big thing. In religion, your soul goes on to heaven, or some people believe in reincarnation, your soul goes into something else. So let me start with that. What if a couple of thousand years ago see, there's this very powerful soul created, and it's called the Zenith? that's the name of the soul and it's in this one body and then when this body dies it goes onto another body and then continues to go into these different bodies and then all of the sudden, he came into mine, into Matt Hardy's body. But now, I'm aware of my soul because of this injury that happened and what I will use [to tie this character into a program with Bray Wyatt], because Bray is like a supernatural being, his touch and Sister Abigail, could be someone I've known in my past. His touch could wake up the soul inside of me. So I become woken. Zenith becomes awoken.”
Vince McMahon then began to ask questions about the character, mainly concerned about where the character will cut promos. Matt Hardy then explained that he tried to create a different venue for this character by saying he exists in all of space and time. To Vince McMahon, this means planetarium.
Matt Hardy continues, “Vince is like, ‘Whoa. Okay, all right. So where would this character do promos?’ I said, ‘The whole thing, too, when Jeff and I were winning all of the Tag Team Titles, I was saying that we're the greatest tag team in all of space and time. I tried to create a different venue for myself where it wasn't just normal wrestling, the thing was definitely out of the venue of wrestling. I feel like the more remote locations that I shoot things, the better it feels, the more natural it feels. I feel like that’s how this character is the most successful if you want to get the most out of it. So, space and time is kind of the concept I've attached to it in the lore.’ Vince goes, ‘Oh, space and time? So this character would do promos in a planetarium.’ I said, ‘Oh, well, I don't know.’ Vince said, ‘Space and time sounds good. Maybe a promo in a planetarium.’ Then I said, 'Well, maybe. I feel like, too, there could be a kind of good versus evil, if Abigail touches me and brings the light out in me and that darkness is like the basic concept of good vs evil. I feel like that's a good play on it.’ Vince says, ‘So you think we do promos in a planetarium?’ He hit me with that like three or four times. I'll never forget, man. It was so funny.”
Matt Hardy tried to move on and explain Jeff Hardy's involvement in the story, of course, Vince McMahon continue to circle back to one main issue, the planetarium.
“Then we went to a couple of other things and I was telling them why I do this and why do that and I was telling him this whole character, in the beginning, because Jeff is so passionate and thinks he has to please his fans, I wouldn't let him jump off the top rope. That's because he was being a spot monkey and I said, 'Your essence can go anywhere but if it does go into a spot monkey, it's lost forever.’ He goes, do you think this character would do a promo in planetariums?’
“So anyway,” Matt Hardy continued. “Like 32 minutes is how long we were in there having conversations about all of this and I really tried to explain things. I said, I'm aware of my other characters and I've lived in different places all over the world and I know how many cycles of essences I've been in, whatever it was. I have a great appreciation for Vince because he sat back and listened to all of it. He seemed open to all of it. Half the time, he's looking at me like I was a fucking raving lunatic, but he listened to every single minute of it.”
As for why Jeff Hardy was never included, Matt believes that's because Vince McMahon understands the popularity that comes with the enigma of Jeff Hardy.
“Are you kidding me? Vince wants Jeff Hardy. He understands the popularity of Jeff Hardy and he's not going to mess with him. Unless we did a Jeff Hardy run, and he thought he would need kind of a reinvention, then, I could see him doing a Brother Nero thing but, especially when he's coming back off of injury, he wants Jeff Hardy because Jeff Hardy is one of the most popular wrestlers of all time,” Matt Hardy explained.
Ultimately, the character would go on to hold the tag team gold with Bray Wyatt, but “Woken” Matt Hardy never spent much time in a planetarium.
Matt Hardy would revive the “Broken” character in AEW but, unfortunately, it was during the early days of the global pandemic and there was no audience to play to. For now, Matt and Jeff Hardy are happy just being The Hardy Boyz in AEW and they are looking to cement their legacy as the greatest tag team of all time. Learn more here.
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