Impact Wrestling president Ed Nordholm appeared on the Live Audio Wrestling podcast recently (transcription via 411 Wrestling), and he opened up about the Broken gimmick, currently the subject of a legal rights dispute between Impact and the Hardys, playing out mainly via twitter feuds involving Matt Hardy, Matt Hardy's wife, Reby Hardy, and TNA official Dutch Mantell. But according to Nordholm, the contract of the Hardys when they were wrestling for Impact and created the characters gives Impact all of the rights "unquestionably:"
I think it's unquestionable that the ownership of the characters in the storyline resides in Impact Wrestling. I don't think even the Hardys would dispute that. They've all signed contracts. Their contracts are standard contracts. Not only in the wrestling industry, but in the entertainment industry, generally, the producer of the show owns the content and it doesn't really matter who in the creative team came up with the idea of what the character should be. The person that owns the storyline and the character is the person who invested to take that idea and put it on TV. That's what we did. Impact put those characters on TV, and the contracts with those people are indisputably contracts that provide their IP to Impact.
But in the course of talking about whether Impact would be willing to negotiate with the Hardys (yes), Nordholm dropped a major bombshell about WWE's interest in the gimmick:
I was open to speaking before and I'm open now. We've offered many times to find an arrangement with the Hardys that would allow them to continue to use the gimmick within reasonable parameters as to what's important to us and what would be important to them. I understand with the dynamic of their move to the WWE and drama with which they created that launch – I understand their plan to create maximum "heat" in that period from when they announced to us that they weren't going to sign the contracts, to the date that they revealed their new location. But I kinda half-expected that once that had been achieved, the thing would die its own natural death because as far as I know, the WWE doesn't want the gimmick, and indeed, from every conversation I've had with them, I've been told they have no interest in it.
It's long been rumored, by reputable sources, that WWE has been interested in purchasing the rights to the gimmick, but Nordholm says they haven't even tried. Who is lying? The dirt sheets? The Hardys? Nordholm? WWE to the Hardys? So much drama! AIIIEEE!
Nordholm even says they've been in touch to explicitly say they don't want the gimmick:
We've been in communication because there's all this chatter about how we're keeping it from them. [Laughs] I'm taking heat because I'm keeping something from you. If you want it, why don't you call me? And their answer to me has been, "No, not interested."
Norholm also addressed the incident with Ring of Honor wherein Impact sent a cease and desist to ROH and several PPV providers to block the Hardys using the Broken gimmick on their 15th Anniversary show, causing the show to be dropped by at least one provider. Nordholm said that Impact and ROH had been in contact prior to the event and come to an agreement about what could be used at the show, but it seemed ROH was planning to use the Broken characters anyway. "I think the Ring of Honor people would have preferred had we not interfered with that show," Nordholm said. "I don't think they hold any ill will toward me for doing what I did."
We'll be closely monitoring Reby Hardy's Twitter feed looking for an official response.