Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twist of Fate: The Matt Hardy Story

1. Matt Hardy vs. Kane - No DQ, No Count Out Match - (WWE Vengeance '04) - 5
2. Matt Hardy vs. Edge - Steel Cage Match - (WWE Unforgiven '05) - 8
3. Matt Hardy vs. Joey Mecury - (WWE SmackDown! 3/2/07) - 6
4. Matt Hardy vs. Mr. Kennedy - (WWE SmackDown! 5/4/07) - 7
5. Hardy Boyz vs. Serial Thrillaz - (OMEGA 1/29/99) - 6

The documentary portion of this DVD was tremendous. With so many different Hardy-related videos circulating around, be it sit-down interviews or compilations, even WWE-produced fare, I wasn't sure I'd learn anything new or find it particularly worthwhile. What I discovered is that I identify with Matt Hardy more than I do with any other wrestler alive today. As a kid, starting with taking bets on WrestleMania IV, his love for wrestling began which lead to a lifelong passion for it that's truly admirable. We get to see the genesis of Matt and Jeff's first backyard federation, the TWF (Trampoline Wrestling Federation), their desire to take it further, the conception of OMEGA (Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts), etc. All of this was fueled by Matt's desire to be involved in wrestling in any capacity, but most desirably, as future tag team champions of the WWE alongside his kid brother, Jeff.

The documentary also deals with the trials and tribulations Matt has went through. He talks about feeling overshadowed by his brother's daredevil antics, and having always felt he was just as good if not better in the ring, and considers himself the "glue" that held them together. The other most prolific segment of the documentary showcased how his real life and on-screen girlfriend Lita started seeing one of his best friends (Edge) behind his back. It was really heart wrenching stuff, and while we all know or are at least familiar with the story, this DVD provides details and footage that I'd never encountered previously. We see how Matt was there for Lita when she broke her neck; sitting next to her while she's in her neck brace, Matt is all smiles undeterred, talking about how he's not concerned that she'll miss a year of action, just so long as in "20 years we'll be able to walk around the zoo together eating popcorn."

Then we get details about his actual discovery of the affair. Lita was living with Matt at his house, one he pretty much built with the goal in mind it'd one day be the home of their family. One night Matt was having difficulty sleeping due to a sore throat so he went downstairs to get a drink of water. While down in the dark kitchen he heard Lita's cell phone vibrating in her purse, a phone bought and paid for by Matt, so he got to the phone only to see a new voicemail had been left by Adam Copeland. Matt immediately listened to it only to discover a man's biggest fear, that his longtime girlfriend had been sleeping behind his back, and him being left out in the dark about the whole ordeal.

So he pulls the covers off her and says, "We're going to play a little game called telling the fucking truth!" and proceeds to boot her ass out of his place. Abbreviating some of the proceeding details, Lita left Matt for Edge, while he was recuperating from a knee injury none the less, and then the cherry on top, he was fired as he finished recovering before he got a chance to make his return. Now he'd lost his life's love and was jobless. To quote James Storm, "sorry about your damn luck!" Matt Hardy. One of the more uncomfortable bits of footage was a joint interview done on WWE's online Byte This program with Matt Hardy at one location, and Edge and Lita at another, where the bad blood was brought to the forefront and the hatred was palpable. If you couldn't sympathize with Matt Hardy in this situation you're as heartless as Rob Feinstein.

The documentary does take a turn for the positive in Matt's life, his rehiring, the whole "V1" and "Mattitude"-era which a lot of people commented on as being great stuff, his successful feud with MVP on SmackDown!, etc. More than one interviewee stated they could see Matt Hardy as a future world champion.

On to the extras, which were all matches, the first being a payoff to a violent feud from '04 against Kane. They were battling over who was the father of Lita's unborn child, as Matt was her boyfriend, but in some sick, twist of fate (pun certainly intended) Kane ended up "marrying" her and forcing her to do presumably many perverse things. The story of the match was great, as Kane was established as this diabolical beast, and Matt was obviously fired up so the fireworks were exploding and from the opening bell they were going at it non-stop. Matt's very specific style of selling is great for Kane's stuff, as Matt does a good job of making stuff look like its devastating subtly without doing any kind of over the top theatrics, etc. He'll just fall over like a tree, these slow, lumbering spills that look like he's out on his feet, etc. Lita ran down at the end, distracting Kane enough to allow Matt the chance to use a chair to block a shot by Kane with steel ring steps that reversed the monster's momentum sending the steps back onto a falling Kane's face.

The Matt versus Edge match wasn't the payoff to their feud, that'd come when Matt would lose a "Loser Leaves Raw" match later, but it may have well been, as it was a huge, emotional victory for Hardy. Thus far in the feud Edge had always founding a way over getting one over Matt, just like he'd done in the battlefield of romance. But here Edge got his due, as Matt beat his ass unrelentingly, bloodying up Edge, etc. This match is so good because it packs such an emotional wallop (not to be confused with the word dollop, i.e. "the dollop of peanut butter you put on your dick to get your dog to suck it", etc.) and is very fulfilling in that regard. A testament to Matt's professionalism, Edge, even with all the personal heat, said that Matt was one of the only people in the industry he'd have trusted dropping a legdrop off the top of the cage on him, which is exactly what Hardy did in the thrilling conclusion to this epic match.

Next is a "Money in the Bank" qualifying match with King Booker doing hilarious guest commentary at ringside. I liked this a lot, these guys go way back, all the way to OMEGA, so they know and respect each other and that usually type of dynamic usually results in supberb stuff. They also give it some time, around thirteen minutes total, so Matt and the future Age of the Fall member Mercury get ample time to craft a decent little story. They do a good job throughout teasing finishes, and the end itself was great, as Hardy removed the protective facial mask of Joey's (from the grotesque in-ring injury he'd suffered weeks before) and gave him a "Twist of Fate" which Mercuy sold face-first like a true pro.

The match against Kennedy is just fantastic, it was during this time of SmackDown! that none of my friends were watching, completely sleeping on some of the best American TV wrestling in the past decade, and I specifically remember after seeing this match wanting to call them each up individually and ask them what the hell they were thinking? This is similar to the Mercury match in how uniformly solid it is, but then takes it one step further, with Kennedy bleeding hard-way from the nose, getting more time, and Ken being a better heel foil to Hardy. There's some great near fall excitement, enthusiastic commentary by Cole and JBL, and the finish, a "Twist of Fate" is executed perfectly and a great topper to one of the more competitive WWE TV matches of that year.

The OMEGA match was, as mentioned by both Hardy bros., Helms, and Moore who do special audio commentary, voted as "Best Indy Match of the '90's or something" referring to a DVDVR poll. The guys ham it up throughout their commentary, tossing kayfabe out the window, and chatting about the in-ring work amongst themselves. It is good, but definitely not great. Still, one thing I will give them tons of credit for, the 1,200 (biggest OMEGA crowd ever) in attendance in this high school gymnasium were just going insanely crazy for every second of this. You know how on most wrestling video games the generic crowd all have their hands raised above their heads, swaying back and forth, as if they're continuously ecstatic? This crowd nearly replicates that. The Hardy Boyz, longtime faces, were on their way out going to greener pastures in Stamford, so role-reversed and played heels here. Helms, who attended the high school the show was held at, was the workhorse for his team (his partner donned in "Thug Life" trunks has since disappeared from the wrestling zeitgeist) and the crowd was eating from his palm (just like Lita did like a dog once when she was drunk at a Hardy house party). The heat for this match is incredible, thus the recommendable status, and they don't overdo it like many indy main events are prone to do.

Overall, with almost every match making it over into the prestigious recommended category, you don't need to just see this, you owe it to yourself and Surge to own this DVD.

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