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Following WrestleMania, what does WWE do with the Hardys now?

Hardys | WrestleMania

What does Matt & Jeff Hardy's return mean for WWE and the act that was formerly the hottest on the independent scene the past few months? Here's eight post-WrestleMania thoughts.

1) It's Nice To Have A WrestleMania Surprise

I remember back in 2012 when news leaked that Brock Lesnar was in Florida in preparation for re-entry into the WWE Universe. And yet, when the show that everyone had paid for (yes, those were the days) finished, the big surprise was yet to happen. Instead, it was saved for the next night on Raw.

This has become a pattern when the big developments of the weekend are saved for the television show after the supposed highlight of the promotion’s year. So, the WWE not saving the return of Jeff and Matt Hardy for Raw was a welcome deviation from the norm.

2) The Hardy Boyz Are Lunatics

This was their second ladder match in as many days. In a sane world, no wrestler would do more than one in a year. Good on them for making sure to put over the Young Bucks before they signed with WWE, but wow, what a physical way to spend a weekend.

3) This Needs To Be A Clean Slate 

None of the teams the Hardys defeated should long stay in the division, so thoroughly have they be defined down as second-rate acts. Cass would be better as a singles act with Enzo as his manager, Cesaro and Sheamus both need to go down to NXT to rehab their rep as singles acts, and The Club needs to (finally) become the henchmen of either AJ Styles or Finn Balor.

Even if none of that happens, if the Hardys spend the next few months defending against joke acts, the buzz from their return will be wasted. Just as those who fight monsters become monsters, those who wrestle midcarders become midcarders. 

4) Place Your Bets On The Revival Going To Raw

NXT TakeOver made it clear that The Revival were about to go to the main roster, and the assumption was that they would go to SmackDown to breathe life into that brand’s tag team division. However, the Hardys' victory makes it far more likely they end up on Raw. The Hardys would surely have asked for reassurance that they’d be in a creatively satisfying environment, and being immediately matched with Dash and Dawson would be an obvious act of reassurance for the promotion to make.

Given that the Hardys began as a ersatz Rock'n'Roll Express, they would perfectly slot into The Revival's formula. 

5) SmackDown Would Have Been A Better Fit

It’s hard to see how the Hardy Boyz break out of the midcard considering how focused Raw is on The Authority, Roman Reigns, and Lesnar. One cannot help but wonder whether two men who in any other non-Japanese promotion would be genuine headliners as a tag team may be lost in the shuffle due to Vince McMahon’s disinterest in tag teams.

One also cannot help but wonder whether they’d have more long-term success on SmackDown due to the brand having to carry less of the heavy lifting for the WWE’s major storylines and its beng (alas only) one step removed from McMahon’s idiosyncrasies.

6) Should They Have Returned As A Tag Team?

It’s easy to forget, but Jeff Hardy is one of the few superstars in the post-Attitude Era that was successfully pushed to the point where he legitimately became a money-drawing headliner. Given the promotion’s lack of headliners, it’s hard not to wonder whether it’s a waste to put such a popular superstar in what they see as a mid-card division. Jeff could easily headline PPV events as a singles star, and even in the Network Era, it's hard to see the Hardyz doing that as a team.

Likewise, Matt is one of the most inventive minds in the business. His tastes are not the same as mine, but I appreciate that he’s thinking outside the box. Reprising the daredevil tag team babyface act he outgrew in 2002 seems like a poor use of his creativity. Maybe he would have been better as a single in NXT, a setting that would have given him the freedom to continue to push the boundaries of pro wrestling storytelling. NXT could certainly use somebody of his stature on their roster.

Of course, WWE could always build a main event tag team division around them, but then again, I could win the lottery.

7) Back in Bland

Matt still has the skunk-esque dash of grey hair but otherwise, what we got at WrestleMania was the classic Hardy Boyz. The problem, of course, is that after so many years, the standard demanded of tag teams has risen, and their bodies have degraded. Robbed of their outlandish Broken Characters, they may not be able to build on the momentum coming out of their return. 

8) Indie-Disaster 

It's easy to obsess about whether WWE will make the most of the Hardy Boyz to ignore the promotions that did properly utilise them. Just this weekend, Ring of Honor drew 4000 fans off their fame, and either brother has successfully headlined independent shows as a single or together as a tag team.

Them leaving the independent scene robs the grassroots of a headliner act that can make their shows economically viable. If WWE keeps snatching headliners from the indies, they're going to rip out the roots of the ecosystem from which their current superstars grew. The sad fact is that unless they overturn the McMahon family's multi-generational disdain for tag team wrestling, the Hardyz could have done more good for the business on the indies than in WWE.

Will Cooling writes for Fighting Spirit Magazine, the UK's biggest and best full-colour pro-wrestling and mixed martial arts newsstand magazine. This month, he interviews Travis Banks about what it takes to successfully manage the business side of the pro wrestling business. FSM is available in print from all good British and Irish newsagents, and the digital edition is avaiable worldwide.