Sunday, November 9, 2008

Twist of Fate: The Jeff Hardy Story

1. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudleyz vs. - Tables Match - (Royal Rumble '00) - 6
2. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H - (Smackdown! 4/12/01) - 5
3. Jeff Hardy vs. John Morrison - Cage Match - (New Year's Revolution '07) - 6
4. Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin - (Raw - 2/26/07) - 4
5. Hardy Boyz vs. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch - (Judgment Day '07) - 7
6. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H - (Armageddon '07) - 4
7. Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga - Cage Match - (Raw 1/07/08) - 5

The documentary is good, not as thorough as Matt’s, but still an enjoyable forty-five minute look into the unique individual known as that charismatic enigma, Jeff Hardy. My favorite portion is a look at Jeff’s bizarre property, including a large area titled the “ImagiNation” where he’s built his own motocross track, showcases his paintings, etc. It looks like wreckage in a post-apocalyptic world like the background from a scene in Cyborg. He also builds, get this, “Aluminummies” which are these giant, outrageous sculptures built from milk jugs, duct tape, etc. We also get a glimpse into his creative side musically, hooking up with a local (Cincinnati represent) guitarist, Jeff wrote lyrics and vocally performed on some recordings. There’s a video for one such track as an extra, titled “Old Grow” which the name alone makes me chuckle, and the vocals are so cringingly bad that you really feel like the producers and others didn’t have the heart to tell Jeff how shitty it was and just let him be oblivious, as even as a child recording songs on a boombox in my bedroom I honestly feel my stuff sounded better than this.

The match with the Dudleyz is a great throwback to that era, as WWE’s tag team division was hot, spearheaded by these four hungry guys, and this was an exquisite example of how good their work was then. The whole match is done in overdrive, just non-stop action and big bumps and shots, especially some really gnarly chair shots that were traded by everyone throughout the match. You have to offensively put both of your opponents through tables, so there are a lot of neat set-ups, some pulled off successfully and others resulting in crashing and burning. It’s just a fun, fun match, overshadowed by all the TLC hoopla but equally as entertaining without all the excesses. The match-ending spot, Jeff doing a swanton bomb from a second story balcony on D-Von through a table, is a picturesque ending to the carnage.

The first match against Trips is the first-ever major singles win for either Hardy brother, albeit he only held it for a little over a week. Triple H was a hot heel, working alongside Austin, and this was designed to feel like Hardy didn’t stand a chance as Hunter just fired away and dominated this fast-moving TV bout. Jeff is resilient if nothing else, and his courage (and a Matt Hardy chair shot while the ref was down) earned him the big victory.

The cage match is pretty good, seems like an odd stipulation for two high fliers, not sure what the background there was, but the end result was alright. Morrison has Melina with him at ringside, barely fitting into a tiny, pink top; reminding me how good their dynamic was together. Morrison largely controls, Hardy is happy to oblige and bump around for him, proving his line “I shine when I sell” from the audio commentary on the OMEGA match from the first disc accurate. I didn’t like Morrison’s back suplerplex from the buckles, looked lazy as he kept his feet down, so they touched the mat before anything else, not how that spot is supposed to go. He makes up for it later with a sunset flip/powerbomb from the top of the cage. The finish is innovative as while Jim is climbing out, Hardy dropkicks the cage door, which swings open crotching Morrison on it, so he’s stuck on the door while Jeff escapes to the floor in a creative finish.

The Benjamin match was a Money in the Back qualifier and actually pretty good. Shelton started off controlling Jeff on the mat, just schooling him in the way of amateur style goodness. It was relatively short and on Raw, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking, but it actually probably would have got one more point, had Benjamin not brutally botched a springboard spot, slipping on the rope and falling right on his face in a real awkward botch.

NHO co-creator Jessie gave the tag match against Murdoch and Cade an “8” when he originally watched it live and reviewed the show. It’s really great, old school, tag team wrestling, and the likes of which we rarely see these days, especially in the WWE. I noticed that the Hardyz really brought it, typically they are the underdogs that rally and make big comebacks, but here they looked confident and in control. The match is very physical, highlights being Jeff missing a sommersault plancha to the floor and splatting on the ground, and a sickeningly stiff back elbow Matt drills Cade with that lets out a sound reminiscent of a shotgun blast (and I should know, I took part in many drive-by shootings in my younger, more dissolute gang wars days).

The Triple H match is one where they were marketing Hardy a bit too much, more or less down everyone’s throats, priming him as the next World champion but it was clear here he wasn’t ready for the ball and seemed to honestly be under the effects of intoxication as his work was real off. He just seemed gassed and uncoordinated, and even after a bitchslap across the face Jeff still couldn’t muster up any energy or emotion. These two would however later go on to have a very good match together at No Mercy ’08.

The last match, another cage, isn’t as good as the earlier one. I hadn’t seen Umaga work in awhile so that was a treat, even though most of this consisted of him working a laughable nerve pinch to my disdain. Hardy sells well for the Samoan, but save for a spectacular spot (a rolling senton off the top of the cage) this match is real forgettable. Overall, it’s a decent disc, around the “B” range, whereas the Matt disc I’d give an “A-“ so in conclusion I’d heartily recommend this two-disc set as it takes second place in my all-time favorite WWE commercial released behind the brilliant Pick Your Poison Jack Roberts release.

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