Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 491 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: April 30 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
WWE has changed its perspective on many things over the last few years. We’ve seen scaled-down versions of the Bullet Club, direct acknowledgements of the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring Of Honor, and even Triple H turning up at an ICW show last November. But perhaps the most surreal WTF moment occurred a few weeks ago, when Kurt Angle name-dropped TNA (the company is now Impact Wrestling) during a backstage segment on Raw, something that would have seemed unthinkable not too long ago.
I mention this because, for the DVD under review here, the most important reason why Matt and Jeff Hardy returned to WWE last year was because of the Broken Universe/Broken Matt Hardy/Brother Nero shenanigans over in Impact, and this DVD actually includes some video footage of such segments as The Final Deletion. It’s a sign of just how much things have changed, and it raises question as to whether WWE and Impact will work more closely together in the future. Could a WWE vs. Impact supershow be a reality one day, despite the depleted roster of the latter? It’s more likely than it was a few years back, that’s for sure.
Aside from Impact, then, Twist Of Fate: The Best Of The Hardy Boyz is essentially an anthology for the careers of the brothers Hardy, with some singles highlights thrown in for good measure. It’s a very entertaining set containing some classic matches, but much of the content is very familiar, and even the name has been used on a past WWE DVD set. Let’s break it down further to see whether a purchase is justified in spite of the repeated matches.
The DVD (which has occasional comments from Matt and Jeff to provide context towards pivotal career moments) opens with the duo facing The New Rockers combo of Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy from a 1996 episode of Superstars. Far from an established team, Matt and Jeff were “jobbers” from 1994 up until around 1998, appearing solely to take losses or beat-downs in the days when squash bouts comprised much of the WWF’s televisual output. Not so coincidentally, around the time that the brothers were signed to full-time contracts, they picked up their first televised win over Kaientai on Sunday Night Heat, which is the next match of the DVD.
Over the next few months, they slowly gained some notice, and eventually formed an alliance with Michael Hayes which led them to a rushed bout with The Acolytes, where they became WWF Tag Team Champions for the first time. But it was their ongoing feud with Edge and Christian which truly established both teams. After a snapshot of a tag match from SmackDown as part of the Terri Invitational Tournament (consider the initials … this was the Attitude Era), we revisit a landmark match, the Ladder bout from No Mercy 1999 which was named the WWF’s best match of 1999 by almost everybody, and went a long way towards launching the careers of all four.
A forgotten Matt vs. Jeff bout from December 1999 (as part of the dictatorial storyline control by Triple H and Stephanie; yes, the Authority were ruling the roost nearly twenty years ago) is followed by a Hardyz vs. E&C rematch from No Way Out 2000, which is good but understandably can’t compare to the aforementioned No Mercy contest.
From there, we enter familiar territory, as all of the next four matches that close disc one have been released before on many occasions. Fortunately, three of them are classics, and the fourth is still very good. The Triangle Ladder Match (which allowed The Dudley Boyz to join the Matt/Jeff/Edge/Christian club) from WrestleMania 2000 is followed by the epic first TLC match from SummerSlam 2000, a strong Hardyz vs. E&C Cage bout from Unforgiven 2000 and the outstanding TLC II from WrestleMania X-Seven.
This marked the apex of the three-way rivalry, so it’s no surprise that their hostilities largely cooled following WM X7. The Hardyz remained in the mix, though: they team with The Undertaker and Kane against Edge, Christian, Steve Austin and Triple H in the next bout, followed by The Hardyz and a babyface Edge facing Test and The Dudleyz (so much for the triple threat tag feud ending) and a Hardyz vs. Dudleyz Cage match from Survivor Series 2001, which again has been released on so many occasions that I couldn’t muster any excitement towards seeing it again. This is inferior to the Cage match from earlier in this DVD, and yet this battle of real-life and storyline brothers has now been released on three or four DVDs in the last few years alone.
In hindsight, this match was the last hurrah for the original form of The Hardyz. Shortly thereafter, Matt appeared to turn heel on Jeff and Lita, leading to a brief rivalry that was soon followed by a reformation. However, The Hardyz appeared depleted of all energy and freshness, and 2002 was a rough year for the team. Jeff did have a great Ladder match on his own against The Undertaker, which hinted that singles adventures would be the recommended way forward for the twosome, and so it transpired when Matt again turned heel on Jeff and jumped to SmackDown (the first brand extension was under way at this point), and became Version 1.0 in a forgotten highlight of the Ruthless Aggression era. Jeff didn’t last much longer on Raw, being burned out and having some issues away from the ring; a match against Chris Jericho shortly before his first departure from WWE is up next, followed by two Matt vs. Rey Mysterio bouts from WrestleMania XIX and SmackDown respectively. The latter was a big achievement for Matt, as it marked the first time that a Cruiserweight Championship match headlined a WWE broadcast.
It’s not a surprise that 2002 was not covered in a match form here, but it is strange that the DVD does not include any of Matt’s key matches from 2004 or 2005. In particular, the real-life affair between Lita and Edge which led to WWE firing Matt, only for him to return and target Edge in a memorable worked-shoot rivalry was unforgettable television, yet we don’t get any entries from that feud here. After that portion of Matt’s career ended, he largely filled time on SmackDown for the next year or so, until WWE rehired Jeff in the summer of 2006. Though Jeff shone in singles bouts against Johnny Nitro, it was more important that this feud paved the way for an on-screen Hardyz reunion.
Their clash against MNM from the disastrous ECW December To Dismember 2006 is the next match on the DVD, and it’s a really good showcase between two similarly-aerial combos. The brothers remained together on-screen for a few months (the rules of the brand extension were very relaxed by this point, since Jeff was on Raw and Matt was on SmackDown), and they captured further WWE tag gold in April 2007. Their exciting battle with Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch from Backlash 2007 is featured, as is a hidden gem of a doubles Ladder match against Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin from One Night Stand 2007. Shortly thereafter, both brothers focused on their singles runs: in 2008, Matt won the United States and ECW Titles, and at the end of a very productive though occasionally turbulent year, Jeff won his first WWE Championship at Armageddon.
However, this DVD doesn’t feature anything from that period, a vital time in the careers of both men from a singles perspective, despite the compilation featuring one-on-one matches from other periods of their multiple WWE tenures. Indeed, the next match on the DVD features Matt vs. Jeff after another heel turn by Matt, in the form of a fun but rushed Extreme Rules contest from WrestleMania 25. Their I Quit rematch from Backlash ended their feud rather quickly, and Matt’s profile dropped significantly after that. For the next 16 months, his status in WWE was not exactly “WONDERFUL!”, and some questionable online outbursts amongst other problems led WWE to release Matt from his contract in October 2010.
Jeff remained a main event act for a few more months, but he decided to leave WWE in August 2009 to recharge the batteries, with the goal of returning in early 2010 with the potential to become the company’s top babyface; Jeff was THAT popular at that point. Unfortunately, an arrest and legal issues led WWE to understandably distance themselves from the Rainbow-Haired Warrior, and so Jeff made the surprising decision to join TNA in January 2010. Matt joined him there a year later, but shortly thereafter came the notorious Victory Road incident that most assumed would have brought a screeching halt to Jeff’s wrestling career. Instead, after a few months away from the spotlight, he was able to rebound and became a reliable act in the company from 2012 to 2015. Matt, too, had further issues which led to his departure from TNA, but he returned in 2014, and for a good 12-18 months, the Hardyz were together on TNA television, perhaps a step off their prime, but healthy and seemingly able to wind down their careers in the way that they wanted fans to remember them.
But they had a surprise up their sleeves. Yet another Matt heel turn led to him becoming Big Money Matt, and feuding with Jeff once more. A defeat to his brother truly damaged Matt, to the point that he became … BROKEN. The contract signing at Matt’s home with Jeff was more cinematic than sports-entertainment, and it had some fans almost crying with laughter at the ridiculousness of it all; this and the Final Deletion led some to wonder what on earth TNA/Impac were thinking. But it was part of a master plan to demonstrate Matt’s creative energy; the Final Deletion was the most talked-about match outside of WWE to occur in years, and it led to renewed interest in both the brothers and the company, as well as strong ratings. This buzz led to the follow-up, Delete Or Decay, and an entire episode of Impact filmed at the Hardy Compound (Total Nonstop Deletion). Matt had finally become an equal to his brother in terms of popularity, having thought completely outside the box to promote his gimmick, and as 2016 ended, the Hardyz and their wackier-than-ever adventures seemed set to provide a bizarre yet totally different and compelling alternative to WWE.
That was, until the news broke in February 2017 that the ongoing ownership issues with Impact would be leading to Matt and Jeff leaving the company. Given that their act had become one of the hottest in the industry, the rumour mill was that WWE were not only interested in rehiring the brothers, but in using an act that had been the focal point of Impact for months. Times, they were-a-changing, but surely these were just whispers, and that it was based on hope more than expectation (not to mention that the Hardyz’ image in the eyes of the WWE brass had been sullied based on their differing problems from 2010). That was, until the next match on this DVD (yes, we’re finally back on track with this review!), where a planned three-way Tag Team Ladder bout at WrestleMania 33 was changed by WM hosts The New Day, who said that a fourth team had been added to the contest.
Yes, it was Matt (who had become a hybrid of his old Hardyz self and his Broken character) and Jeff, and if the Camping World Stadium/Citrus Bowl Stadium had a roof, it would have been blown off by the almighty pop for their shock returns. The match itself was a quick-fire showcase of all involved, and The Hardyz ultimately left with the Raw Tag Team Titles. Their latest reunion was reminiscent of their 2007 comeback, with Sheamus and Cesaro now in the roles of Cade and Murdoch. Their Cage match from Extreme Rules is compelling, and their 30-minute Iron Man match from Great Balls Of Fire is excellent, with some truly great storytelling at the finish.
The Bar’s repeated wins temporarily left Matt and Jeff without a direction, though both challenged The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship in separate battles from Raw that close this DVD (I had completely forgotten about Miz vs. Matt until it was on this DVD). Jeff went on the shelf with a serious shoulder injury that he has only recently returned from. As for Matt, he went on something of a losing streak, until he snapped after a loss to Bray Wyatt that led to him becoming Woken. Anyone who has been watching Raw for the last six months will know how entertaining this has become (the Ultimate Deletion was a creative triumph, and a personal win for Matt himself), and it looks like Woken Matt will remain a key part of WWE programming as 2018 rolls on, as will Jeff who has resumed singles duties on SmackDown, with another main event run likely in his future.
This has been more of a career retrospective than a DVD review, but that’s because Matt and Jeff have had such fascinating lives. They have been a vital part of the wrestling business for more than 20 years (I didn’t even mention their OMEGA promotion from the mid-1990s), and the lifelong fans have had Hall Of Fame careers which have featured the highest of highs (the TLC matches, Jeff’s World Titles wins, Final Deletion) and the lowest of lows (multiple releases, legal problems), but have always bounced back stronger and better than ever. And just when it looked like the Hardyz were winding down, they – Matt, in particular – completely transformed public perceptions with the Broken/Woken adventures that have breathed new life into their personas, making them as popular as ever, and extending their careers by a good few years. Who knows how or when their story will end, but all of the evidence suggests that they may just be the greatest tag team of all-time, and yet they will be remembered just as fondly for moments of greatness within a singles environment. That is some achievement.
As for the DVD, then: much of their story is told through the in-ring action on display. The gaps for 2002, 2004-2005 and 2008 do hurt it, though, because some crucial events are omitted, from championship wins to classic rivalries. I can understand WWE wanting to have the brothers linked on this DVD as much as possible, but there are a few exceptions to the rule on this collection, so I don’t know why WWE couldn’t have added some more, not least Jeff’s first WWE Championship win. And though there are a lot of great matches on display, the best of them – the early TLC contest, in particular – have already been released multiple times. Any fan from the Attitude Era will surely already own these bouts, making the DVD less appealing as a result. Despite this, there are some odd match decisions; for instance, why not replace the Hardyz-Dudleyz Cage bout with their superior Tables war from Royal Rumble 2000?
Despite these grumbles, though, this is still a really entertaining round-up of matches and moments from two of the most memorable performers in WWE history. Indeed, it effectively gives us the biggest highlights from their three separate and equally enjoyable runs as a team (their 2007 stint was probably the worst, and even that was very good), with some cracking matches all across the DVD; in fact, there are hardly any poor contests on any of the three discs. The lack of singles exposure from the mid-2000s is disappointing, and had the producers waited a few months, the recent Woken adventures (in particular the Ultimate Deletion) could have made for a fitting finale to the DVD, but it’s still plenty of fun. It speaks volumes that the brothers fill three discs so easily, and yet so much more worthy content could have been added.
So yes, it’s largely familiar, and there are some odd omissions, but overall, this DVD should provide hours of enjoyment for any Hardy Boyz fans, and it provides strong evidence as to why Matt and Jeff are amongst WWE’s best acts of the 21st century. Anybody who can’t gleam some form of entertainment from this compilation may find themselves rendered OBSLETE!
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent