AEW answers the age-old question: ‘What if we just made the whole match of Jeff Hardy?’

AEW answers the age-old question: ‘What if we just made the whole match of Jeff Hardy?’

Darby Allin falls through a table on AEW dynamite.

Darby Allin falls through a table on AEW dynamite.
Screenshot: AEW

AEW put on another sterling episode of Dynamite last night, by sticking to their simple ethos: give the people what they want (unless it’s a second women’s match). Don’t overthink it, don’t tell them what they like or purposely nosedive their hopes by doing the exact opposite. Just put on great matches for a variety of reasons.

The show started with Dax Harwood and Adam Cole essentially issuing a treatise on the debate that is the base of all modern wrestling, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart. It moved on to CM Punk spending at least one night as a heel, taunting the Long Island crowd with a John Tavares jersey and then antagonizing champ Adam Page by using Page’s finisher. There was a brilliant Dark Side Of The Ring parody to welcome the homecoming MJF for his contract signing with Wardlow, an absolute banger of a match between Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter (Tony, there is a lot of talent in that division! Use it!) the Blackpool Combat Club began the build to a Blood & Guts match with the Jericho Appreciation Society (I have a job that allows me to write a sentence like that, which is still a bit wild) along with a few other segments.

So the main event certainly had a lot to live up to. So they decided to pit Jeff Hardy against his Mini-Me, Darby Allin. Allin has made his name by watching every Hardy match ever and deciding he could put himself in graver danger on a nightly basis. He even paints his face, much like Hardy has for the latter half of his career. We knew this would be a destruction fest.

And neither competitor nor the company had any interest in wasting any time. Normally, when you get a match between two high-fliers or daredevils like Hardy and Allin, the custom is to at least have them pretend it’s a normal match for three to five minutes. Lockups, Irish whips, some rest holds, maybe a suplex. And then they can hit the gas.

Allin and Hardy did away with that before the thing even started. As Allin said in his pre-match promo, no one is watching a Hardy-Allin match to see lockups. So they declared it no-DQ, and then immediately flew at each other. Look at this shit:

What’s not included in that highlight package is Allin’s first dive, which took place some 18 seconds into the match. No one does a dive through the ropes like Allin. Most times when you see a wrestler do this, you can tell that they’re at least half-trying to catch whomever they’re diving headlong into so they can both soften the landing. Allin doesn’t care about any of that shit, as he launches himself full bore through the bottom and middle ropes, tucks his chin and head at the last second and splats against his opponent’s chest with his deltoids like a crash test dummy at an uncomfortable force. The landing? Worry about that later.

But yeah, the big spot was Allin’s swanton bomb tribute off a 12-foot ladder to the outside of the ring, making it a full 18-foot fall, onto Hardy and a couch of steel chairs. It’s just another marker on how Allin has crossed the threshold that we stopped fearing he is going to maim himself one day with some spot. We KNOW he’s going to maim himself one day, probably one day soon, and somehow he’s convinced us to accept it because he has. He’s a walking “here for a good time not a long time” meme.

Of course, you’re not going to out-crazy Jeff Hardy in the style of match he brought to the mainstream. He would do a swanton of his own onto the side of the steel steps because, well, why not, I guess. They weren’t going to leave any surface unturned… or un-swantoned. It’s a word now.

Essentially, the match acted like watching a wrestling software update. Hardy was the first to do all this regularly with WWE, jumping off whatever he could conceive of and all the things we couldn’t conceive of. Ladders, stairs, entrances, whatever. With Hardy we always watched through our fingers, wondering what would be the spot too far. Of course, with Hardy we also saw the toll it took on him mentally over the years. The fact that he’s still around and in a condition to still do all of this stuff is something of a miracle. He moves around pretty stiffly, his matches tend to look the same, but damn if he can’t still play the hits.

Allin has taken it farther, jumping off and through all the things even he can’t conceive of, not bound by any sense of reason or caution. Remove the disbelief from what Hardy used to do, and still does, and you get Allin, who’s taken all the safety catches off.

The kicker was that Hardy won the match with the only actual wrestling move of the match, reversing an Allin coffin drop into a pin. Because all of this has to be grounded in something, actual wrestling is still where this all launches from. Hardy still knows a couple tricks.

Usually you want a crescendo to this kind of thing, so the big spots stand out. But every so often, you can do away with pretense and structure and just hit the joy button over and over until we go numb. Sometimes you just need the fireworks right up front.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.