Every Version Of Matt Hardy, Ranked

On the May 23, 1994 edition of "Monday Night Raw," emanating from Struthers Fieldhouse in Struthers, Ohio, fans in attendance witnessed a quick squash match to kick off what would prove a rather unremarkable show. A veteran of the squared circle and a WWF mainstay, Nikolai Volkoff, took on a young unknown by the name of Matt Hardy — handily defeating him in less than three minutes. While he wasn't much of a superstar at that point, by the end of the decade, this fresh-faced, neon tights-wearing enhancement talent would become a fan-favorite across the globe.

After spending a fair amount of time as a jobber alongside his brother Jeff, Matt Hardy would become a staple of the WWF tag team division throughout the final years of the 1990s and into the 2000s. The Hardy Boyz engaged in storied rivalries with legendary teams, won loads of championship titles, and came to be recognized as one of the defining teams of WWF's Attitude Era. However, that's not to say that they've merely coasted on this popularity in the years since their rise to prominence. In fact, Matt alone has tried out several personas in his decades-long career.

Across generations and several promotions, Matt Hardy has successfully — and unsuccessfully — reinvented his in-ring character. Here they are all of his efforts ranked from worst to best.

11. Immortal member Matt Hardy

In September of 2010, Matt Hardy was sent home during a WWE European tour on grounds of health issues. However, as it turns out, there was more to the story than fans initially thought. Not long after the news broke, he made a concerning video and uploaded it to YouTube regarding the situation. Creating more questions than answers, by the end of October, Hardy was granted his release from his WWE contract, making him a free agent shortly thereafter. By January of 2011, he made his debut in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at Genesis as the surprise opponent of Rob Van Dam, kicking off a brief and disappointing first tenure in the company.

Now a member of the Immortal faction alongside Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and more, Matt Hardy worked as a heel in the ensuing months. This put him against TNA talent such as Mr. Anderson, Sting, and Beer Money Inc. (Robert Roode and James Storm). Sadly, though, Hardy's work in the company during this run didn't amount to any memorable matches or feuds, and he didn't win any championship gold, though he did have a handful of title shots. All in all, he served as an additional famous name to fill out Immortal's ranks and nothing more. Following a DUI arrest, Matt Hardy was released from his TNA contract on August 20, 2011.

10. ECW Champion Matt Hardy

2008 didn't start out too great for Matt Hardy, seeing as he spent the first few months of it recovering from various injuries, including a burst appendix. As a result, he missed Survivor Series 2007 and didn't land a match at WrestleMania XXIV. Thankfully, once he returned to the ring the night after the "Show of Shows," his luck started to turn. He captured the WWE United States Championship under a month later and was drafted to the ECW brand in June, bringing the title with him. Though he eventually lost it to Shelton Benjamin at the Great American Bash, it wasn't a big deal. He had his sights set on a different prize anyway.

At Unforgiven, he defeated then-champion Mark Henry, the Miz, Chavo Guerrero, and Finlay in one of the only championship scramble matches in WWE history to kickstart his sole reign as ECW Champion. He proved himself a fighting champion by overcoming several challengers in the coming months, enjoying a rather lengthy run in the process that ended just shy of 130 days. A young upstart named Jack Swagger — who had bulldozed the competition throughout his time on ECW — proved to be his undoing when he defeated Hardy on the January 12, 2009 edition of "ECW" for the title. 

Sure, it was great to see Hardy wear a world championship for a while, but his time as ECW Champion is forgettable at best. He became a generic, bland champion who didn't get a whole lot to do on a brand that didn't have much steam left in it anyway.

9. 'Woken' Matt Hardy

Matt and Jeff Hardy returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33 to an incredible ovation, though their time as a tag team wouldn't last long. A few months into their run, Jeff Hardy suffered a shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for months, meaning that Matt had the chance to become a singles competitor. On the bright side, this gave him an opportunity to try out his widely-acclaimed and highly eccentric "Broken" Matt Hardy character in WWE. Legal struggles had previously prevented him from bringing the gimmick and the universe surrounding it to the company. Thankfully, such issues were resolved by early 2018.

Now dubbed "Woken" Matt Hardy, the now-singles star embarked on a feud with Bray Wyatt in the early months of 2018. The rivalry culminated in a match known as "The Ultimate Deletion" – a cinematic-style match that brought Hardy and Wyatt's conflict to the Hardy Compound, complete with holograms, Skårsgard the Dilapidated Boat, and all kinds of bonkers hijinks. In the aftermath, Wyatt disappeared following a dive into the Lake of Reincarnation, setting him up to return at WrestleMania 34, help Hardy win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and form the Deleters of Worlds tag team. After a stint as Raw Tag Team Champions, the team disbanded.

"Woken" Matt Hardy wasn't a complete failure, as the character offered up some enjoyable moments and matches. That said, it lacked that spark of brilliance that came with the "Broken" incarnation and fizzled out too soon.

8. Matt Hardy of the Hardy Family Office

A mere few months into 2020, Matt Hardy's time in WWE once again came to an end. Unlike his previous exits, his departure came as a result of creative differences, and he made it clear that he held no ill will toward the company. With that, he was officially a free agent, allowing him to make his debut in All Elite Wrestling, which had been around for just over a year at the time of Hardy's arrival. For some time, he wrestled as a babyface and clashed with Sammy Guevara, Chris Jericho, and other members of the Inner Circle faction, but by the time 2021 rolled around, he took his character in a vastly different direction.

Having left his face character behind in favor of a more pompous, arrogant, and grounded version of himself, Matt Hardy began to assemble a stable of up-and-coming AEW stars. He, the Butcher and the Blade, the Bunny, Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen), and later The Hybrid 2 (Angélico and Jack Evans) became collectively known as the Hardy Family Office. This heel unit would feud with names such as Christian Cage, Orange Cassidy, and Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta). In early 2022, Hardy's reign as the faction's leader would come to an end, just in time to reunite with new AEW signee Jeff Hardy.

The Hardy Family Office didn't last too long, nor did it become AEW's biggest attraction during its time in the limelight. Nevertheless, putting a veteran like Matt Hardy with a bunch of rising stars wasn't a bad idea at all.

7. The Multifarious Matt Hardy

Before he'd turn his back on the AEW fans and spearhead the Hardy Family Office, Matt Hardy continued on with his "Broken" persona for a short while after his debut. After all, it had worked for years at that point, so why wouldn't he keep up with it? Well, as it turns out, the COVID-19 pandemic, which left AEW no choice but to run shows without a live audience for the sake of health and safety, didn't lend itself to the gimmick. As Hardy told Asbury Park Press at the time, "It needs a crowd, it needs an audience, and it just was not in the cards to be 'Broken' Matt Hardy." So, he tried out something new yet familiar.

To make the most of a bad situation and spice things up for the audience at home, the "Multifarious" Matt Hardy persona was born. This character saw him go back through his career and revert to several different gimmicks he made famous over the years, much to the delight of fans who'd followed his wrestling journey since the 1990s. The most noteworthy moment of this stint came during Double or Nothing during he and the Elite's Stadium Stampede match against the Inner Circle, where Proud and Powerful (Santana and Ortiz) repeatedly dunked him into a pool, and every time he'd resurface, he'd change to another character.

Compared to the gimmicks it encompassed, "Multifarious" Matt Hardy didn't stick around too long. It was just a fun idea and a nice bit of nostalgia during an uncertain time in the world, and there's nothing wrong with that.

6. Matt Hardy: The Superior Hardy

In hopes of getting his lost ECW Championship back, Matt Hardy challenged Jack Swagger to a rematch at the 2009 Royal Rumble event. He ultimately lost the bout, but him taking the three-count wouldn't be the last image fans had of Hardy at the pay-per-view. Later in the night, he'd cost Jeff Hardy his WWE Championship by hitting him with a chair during his match with Edge. In the weeks that followed, Matt showed a much darker side and implied that all of Jeff's recent misfortunes (his house burning down, the faulty pyrotechnics that burned him, the death of his dog, and so forth). In his eyes, he was better than Jeff in every way, yet he didn't attain a fraction of his success.

On the road to WrestleMania 25, tensions would continue to rise between the two brothers until it was decided that they'd finally go one-on-one in an extreme rules match at the landmark event. Matt — who adopted an all-new set of ring gear to go with his despicable, jealous heel persona — walked away victorious in a surprising win and would defeat Jeff again on the proceeding episode of "SmackDown." Jeff wouldn't get a measure of revenge until Backlash, where he defeated Matt in an "I Quit" match. Matt remained a heel until he endured an intestinal injury that took him out of commission for months.

Matt Hardy's drive to prove himself as the "Superior Hardy" made for a fascinating change of pace, seeing as he spent most of his WWE career up to that point as a babyface. Not to mention, his WrestleMania 25 and Backlash matches against Jeff proved quite entertaining. It's just too bad this persona dissipated before it could really take hold.

5. Big Money Matt Hardy

After leaving TNA and making sporadic appearances on the independent wrestling circuit, Matt Hardy made his way to Ring of Honor in 2012. Suffice to say, the promotion's fans weren't the most welcoming toward him when he arrived, soon prompting the creation of a brand new persona: Big Money Matt. Filthy rich and not afraid to shove it in everyone's face, this new version of Matt Hardy got under everyone's skin as any good heel should. He'd align with S.C.U.M., come close to earning the ROH World Championship, and feud with the likes of Kevin Steen and Adam Page before heading back to TNA.

Even though his original run in TNA didn't make waves in the wrestling world, and the way in which he left was far from glamorous, Matt Hardy was destined to return. Initially brought back to work alongside Jeff Hardy in the tag team division in 2014, Jeff sustained a leg injury midway through 2015. As a consequence, Matt had to figure things out as a singles competitor. Instead of remaining a babyface, however, he brought back Big Money Matt Hardy in 2016 — a smart decision, considering it made him a main event player and the TNA World Heavyweight Champion less than a month into the year.

Regardless of the promotion, Matt Hardy made the absolute most of the Big Money persona. He provided fans with a character that they couldn't help, but hate while building on his already impressive legacy and trophy cabinet.

4. Matt 'I Will Not Die' Hardy

On April 11, 2005, Matt Hardy was released from his WWE contract for the first time while dealing with some serious personal turmoil. It came to light around the same time that his romantic partner and fellow WWE star, Lita, had begun a real-life affair with another WWE talent and one of Hardy's personal friends, Edge. Fans didn't hold back when it came to their anger toward Edge and Lita, as well as the WWE brass for not bringing Hardy back after all that had happened. However, those atop the company were listening, prompting Hardy's return a mere few months after his firing.

Upon his return, Matt Hardy entered an on-screen feud with Edge and Lita on "Raw" that blurred the lines between storyline and reality. He'd even go as far as jumping the barricade and fighting through arena security to attack Edge, leading fans to believe he legitimately wasn't supposed to be there. In doing so, he became one of the most popular stars in the company, and took the opportunity to reinvent himself. No matter how hard Edge and Lita tried, they couldn't kill Hardy, nor could they silence the fans that stood behind him. Their rivalry crept into 2006 until Hardy became a member of the "SmackDown" roster.

Matt Hardy's unhinged, vengeful persona throughout 2005 and into 2006 gave fans some intriguing television that made them question what was real and what was fiction. This is undeniably one of his most unforgettable runs ever, despite (or perhaps because of) what happened behind-the-scenes for it to happen.

3. Matt Hardy Version 1.0

To close out 2001, Matt Hardy had a bit of a falling out with Jeff and Lita. Their Team Xtreme stable had fallen apart, culminating in a match between Matt and Jeff at Vengeance 2001 with Lita as the special referee — a contest which Jeff ultimately won. By the new year, the three stars had seemingly gotten back the same page, only for Matt to turn on his brother once again and jump ship to "SmackDown" shortly after. Now a solo heel on the blue brand, Matt rebranded himself with a gimmick that would go down in history as one of his best ever: Matt Hardy Version 1.0.

Matt Hardy Version 1.0 saw him take the increasing cultural prevalence of the internet and turn it into a full-on character. Whenever he'd enter a WWE arena, a computer-like display would frame the screen, complete with any number of facts about Matt, and if he got ahold of a microphone, he'd tell fans all about the importance of his "Mattitude" philosophy. While most audiences loved to boo him, Shannon Moore and later Crash Holly found his words inspiring, and it's not hard to see why. His new outlook on life led him to a solid WWE Cruiserweight Championship run before he returned to "Raw" and dropped the Version 1.0 character in late 2003.

Matt Hardy's first real run as a singles wrestler in WWE went incredibly well. As Matt Hardy Version 1.0, he consistently delivered inventive promos and put on matches with the best "SmackDown" had to offer at the time.

2. Team Xtreme Matt Hardy

Throughout his remarkable career inside the ring, Matt Hardy has accomplished a ton as a solo competitor. Still, a large portion of his legacy in the industry will always be tied to his work as a tag team star, specifically with his brother Jeff as the Hardy Boyz. Originally brought into the WWF fold as enhancement talent, the Hardys would become regulars on "Raw" beginning in 1998. Michael Hayes and later Gangrel managed the two upstarts, but by the end of 1999 they stood on their own two feet as a team and continually dazzled audiences with their high-flying, high-intensity style between the ropes.

Matt Hardy's run as a part of the Hardy Boyz, which eventually morphed into Team Xtreme with the addition of Lita in 2000, is best defined by his and Jeff's work in ladder and TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs) matches. They put on classics with Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz, picking up several WWF Tag Team Championship runs along the way. Even in the years after these wars and Team Xtreme's initial split, fans made it clear they still loved seeing Matt and Jeff work together. In response, they've reunited in numerous promotions and added even more titles to their collective trophy case in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. 

The enduring popularity of Team Xtreme and, naturally, the Hardy Boyz, just goes to show how special Matt's time working with Jeff and Lita was. It propelled him to the big leagues, gave him his first taste of WWF championship gold, and left a lasting impression on wrestling fans.

1. 'Broken' Matt Hardy

In April of 2016, Matt Hardy engaged in yet another sibling feud against Jeff Hardy, this time in TNA. The program really picked up steam when the two brothers pushed each other to their limits in an "I Quit" match on the April 19 installment of "Impact Wrestling." Matt left the arena that night on a stretcher, and when he returned in mid-May, he was far from the man he was before. Long gone was Big Money Matt, replaced by a fractured man with a peculiar new accent and blonde streak through his hair. This was the beginning of the ever-popular "Broken" Matt Hardy and the expansive Broken Universe.

"Broken" Matt Hardy is an outlandish, unpredictable version of Matt Hardy who took the wrestling world by storm in 2016 and 2017. Ingrained with a desire to "Delete" his opponents — including Jeff, renamed "Brother Nero" for much of this time period — he took the kookiness of professional wrestling to the next level. From side characters like Señor Benjamin (Matt's real-life father-in-law) and the Mower of Lawn (a literal lawn mower) to off-the-wall cinematic matches such as "The Final Deletion" and "Delete or Decay," fans couldn't get enough. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the gimmick appeared in multiple promotions and garnered a massive fanbase.

There's no denying that "Broken" Matt Hardy is the pinnacle of his squared circle character work. Not only did it prove immensely popular with fans and promoters alike, but it changed the course of Matt's career for the better, set him and Brother Nero on a fruitful multi-year "Expedition of Gold," and put his "Broken Brilliance" on display for the world to see.