Almost nothing can top the excitement of watching the larger-than-life battle of good vs. evil play out in the middle of a wrestling ring. We say "almost" because one thing that nearly always does top it is watching the backstage drama that takes place behind the scenes of the wrestling business. The latest salacious story, as usual, involves TNA Wrestling, who all the wrestling dirt sheets are reporting has sent rival promotion Ring of Honor, PPV distributors carrying Ring of Honor's 15th Anniversary show, which aired last night, and wrestlers Matt and Jeff Hardy cease and desist notices over the Hardys' "Broken" gimmick.
While working for TNA, it's widely believed that the Hardys were allowed free reign to create and run with the Broken storyline, which worked out well for the organization, serving as one of the few bright spots and a viral success in an otherwise dismal year that saw the company almost taken over by Smashing Pumpkins vocalist Billy Corgan before finally being actually taken over by Anthem Sports & Entertainment, who restored co-founder Jeff Jarrett to a seemingly important creative role. However, when the Hardys' contracts expired earlier this month, they chose not to re-sign with the company, reportedly due to new provisions the company was reportedly asking all talent to agree to in new contracts. The Hardys showed up in Ring of Honor to win the tag team championships last week, and successfully defended them in a triple threat Las Vegas streetfight at Ring of Honor 15th Anniversary last night. However, unlike their first appearance, the Hardys did not speak at last night's show, though it's unknown whether that had anything to do with the cease and desist.
The legal issue boils down to what was in the Hardys' previous TNA contracts. If a clause gave TNA the rights to material created by the Hardys during their run there, then TNA could own the rights to the Broken gimmick. Matt Hardy's wife, Reby, however, has a different stance on the matter, which she voiced on Twitter:
Ed Nordholm, the Anthem executive in charge of TNA, wished Matt Hardy well in his post-TNA career earlier in the day, but the wording of the well-wishing was very interesting, noting that the Broken Universe "will always be here [in TNA]," referring to Hardy specifically for his "performance" in the storyline, and crediting a "creative team behind the vision" that did not include Hardy:
Earlier in the week, it was reported that Matt Hardy filed trademarks for the Broken characters. This situation is developing, and if it's already gotten this public, we can only imagine how it's going to be if things really get ugly. Basically, Matt Hardy is Alan Moore, TNA is DC Comics, and the Broken gimmick is Watchmen.
Matt Hardy shared his opinion on the matter in the wake of last night's ROH event:
And on his wife's Twitter rant:
Bleeding Cool has reached out to Ring of Honor and TNA for comment on the situation, but ROH declined to comment at this time, and TNA has not yet responded.