“The Missed 3:16 Moment”: Matt Hardy (Part One)

Pro Wrestling Diary




NOTE: The following is part one of a two-part editorial by Andrew Khellah.  Part two will be published on Monday, exclusively here on WrestleZone.com. 

Before I get started with my first article for WrestleZone, I’d like to thank Chris Cash and WZ for this opportunity. Pro Wrestling is my first love—from the time Greg Valentine “broke” Tito Santana’s leg and sending him to the hospital and winning the Intercontinental title, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for Santana to come back and reclaim his title, which he did as the feud culminated in a steel cage in Baltimore.

When Chris posted that there is an opportunity for any aspiring writers for WZ, I felt it was a great opportunity to write again about something I am passionate about. From 1996 through 1999, I was the editor and only writer of a free weekly newsletter that I am sure no one will remember being it was over a decade ago—called AcE’n the InFo (yes, just the way it was spelled!). It started with about fifteen subscribers that I pestered through the AOL wrestling chat rooms and grew to over three thousand subscribers at the time I was starting college, which is why I stop writing.

So here I am a decade later and happy for the opportunity. Enjoy.

3:16 Mo·ment (mmnt)

1. The rise to superstardom

2. A particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a series of events or developments

3. The wrestling promo that can make you a legend

su·perstar (spr-stär)

1. A widely acclaimed star, as in movies or sports, who has great popular appeal.

2. One that is extremely popular or prominent or that is a major attraction.

The 3:16 Moment originated from the legendary ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, as his rise to superstardom began at the 1996 King of the Ring Austin where he defeated Jake “the Snake” Roberts in the tournament finals. At the time, Roberts was portraying a born-again Christian and following Austin’s victory he cut the promo of a lifetime. Now although Austin received the push originally intended for Triple H at the time, it was what Austin took full advantage of where others failed: opportunity. Up until that night in Milwaukee, Austin had a gimmick that was doomed for failure (:::cough::: The Ringmaster) and a manager (Ted Dibiase – not Ted’s fault) that took any mic opportunity away.

Austin cut a promo that was original, spontaneous, un-scripted and something special that will be remembered forever—a 3:16 Moment: "You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16… Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!".

No Hollywood writer wrote his King of the Ring speech, nor did a road agent tell him what he should say. Austin had the opportunity to sink or swim on his own and you can see the end result. “Austin 3:16” was born and Stone Cold took his ball and ran all the way to six WWE World titles, three Royal Rumble victories (1997, 1998 and 2001), WrestleMania main-eventer and show stealer (WrestleMania 13, XIV, XV, XVII and XIX), and most recently Hall of Fame inductee.

Call it a fluke; I call it paying dues, drive and dedication after a starving career of hardships, injuries and misery. Austin broke the ceiling (not referring over X-pac’s head) and soared through the heights only few in history have climbed.

That’s the problem today with the WWE are wrestlers for the most part, are not given the opportunity to sink or swim on their own—to take their destiny into their own hands. But what about the times where wrestlers are given that golden opportunity at greatness? When one promo or a five-star match can transform a career from mediocrity to excellence? Where Austin succeeded, most have failed at their “3:16” moment. And one specifically comes to my mind, Matt Hardy in 2005.

Matt Hardy was in a real-life off camera relationship with Amy Dumas (Lita) for approximately six years. In February 2005, internet reports quickly circulated (which were later confirmed) that Lita had been having an affair with Edge as Matt found out from Edge’s ex-wife, while Lita was still in a relationship with Hardy.

And due to the fallout—including Matt’s outspoken online blogs and WWE management stopped Matt from confronting Edge backstage, Matt Hardy was fired by the WWE in April 2005. Now, some say he was fired because of his inability to remain professional “in the workplace” (although he is the one who got cheated on), garnered a lot of criticism from others who believed Matt was released because Edge is ultimately the more valuable asset in the company.

The WWE then decided to use his real-life situation and turn it into a storyline. Hence, Glen Jacobs (Kane) takes the place of Matt Hardy as the cheated spouse, while Edge/Lita are painted as the hated villains. Fans didn’t buy it with the sounds of “We Want Matt” and “You Screwed Matt” (at Edge and/or Lita) filling arenas week after week, however it was at three particular venues (two of which yours truly attended) that captivated the attention of everyone, including Vince McMahon.

 

  1. WWE RAW: Madison Square Garden, April 2005. We know how well Vince McMahon values the Mecca that is MSG and its fan reactions.

***And real quickly I can tell you the things that still stick out in my mind that night: Hulk Hogan walking to the ring as HBK is getting beat up, Nelson Frazier (Viscera) kissing Trish Stratus, and Melina, John Morrison and Joey Mercury winning the tag titles in their debut as ‘MNM’.

 

  1. ECW One Night Stand PPV, June 2005. In front of a rabid crowd, the chants of “We Want Matt” filled the Hammerstein Ballroom directed towards Edge after Paul Heyman’s mention to him in two words: Matt freakin’ Hardy.

 

  1. WWE RAW: Vince decided to test the waters following ECW One Night Stand and have Matt Hardy’s entrance music interrupt the on-screen wedding of Edge and Lita on Monday Night Raw. And if teasing fans that night into finding out whether Matt should be re-hired, then it worked! Fans went absolutely insane as Hardy’s theme music played.

So now, after WWE wished Matt “best wishes in all of his future endeavors” and with the fans so very much behind him, Matt Hardy had something not many stars have had over the Billionaire with the ‘balls the size of grapefruit’ Vince McMahon: leverage. Matt had options. Matt had the decision to return to the WWE or to make a fresh start with TNA—a hungry, young company looking to find their niche and hopefully a top superstar in their own right.

And in the end, Matt decides to return to the more financially secure of the two companies.




Andrew Khellah can be reached at ace17nwo4@aol.com.

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!