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Once upon a time, as 2004-05 rolled further, Matt Hardy was sidelined due to a knee injury (slightly torn PCL). While he was injured, Lita continued to make appearances in his absence, but not on his behalf, as we obviously know that Lita had apparently cheated on Matt Hardy with Edge, who in turn cheated on Val Venis' sister, and I really think that although Venis was no longer relevant by 2000-01 as one of the Right To Censor guys, he was briefly rejuvenated by his Chief Morley gimmick in 2002-03 and 2003-04, but was relegated to being enhancement talent in 2005 which further devalued him to the WWE, plus his Val Venis gimmick was tailor made for the Attitude Era only.

Having said all these statements, nonetheless Lita became a heel for the first time since she cut off her association with Essa Rios in 2000-01 and aligning herself with The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy). She quickly got over as a heel as fans would regularly chant to Edge and Lita, "You Screwed Matt!", "We Want Matt!". Even Paul Heyman mocked Edge's actions at the 2005 edition of ECW One Night Stand in the form of a shoot promo, as ECW is the only place you're allowed to freely cut shoot promos.

However, Matt Hardy was released for a little while in 2005 due to the fallout from Lita cheating on Matt with Edge. Initially, the Matt Hardy/Edge feud was supposed to put Matt over as a better singles face star than Edge, who had been terrible as a babyface since breaking up with Christian in 2001-02. Having lost his 'cool dude' element since undergoing neck surgery for all of '02-'03 and most of '03-'04, Edge returned in 2004 on RAW as a face but was presented as his similar Brood gimmick from '98-'99 which nobody wanted. His heel turn in '04-'05 really helped him a bit, but it wasn't until he slept with Lita that Edge really took his heel heat to the next level.

But in the end, the Matt Hardy vs. Edge feud was ultimately designed to put Edge over as one of the ultimate heels in WWE history, while Matt Hardy was left with scraps to work with. It just shows that WWE didn't even have faith in Matt Hardy as a singles star the same way the E did in Jeff Hardy. Jeff was the better singles star even if his criminal actions stemmed from drug abuse proved to be Jeff pissing away his monster talents down the drain.

Edge even became a WWE Hall of Famer in 2012 only because his career was over after 2010-11 due to fears of complete aggravation of his past neck injury. Meanwhile, Matt Hardy has been toiling in TNA since 2010 where he faked a suicide video on YouTube to get the attention of his fanbase who shouldn't have wasted their time with him. Thankfully Matt and Jeff got their lives back on the right track, while Edge is slowly building himself a decorated movie career for himself without help of the lame WWE Studios.
 

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They blew a ready made opportunity to make Matt a mega face. He had the most symly any character could ever had and it was a shoot. I loved Edge and am glad he got over huge but Hardy was a squandered chance by WWE to give the fans a new star.
Nah, MAtt was never going to make it big in te long run. We all know he played the second fiddle to his brother Jeff
 

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I never expected Matt Hardy to become World Champion, but WWE just treated him like a stepping stone for Edge in this feud. He'd get HUGE reactions for months after this but was wrestling on Velocity or getting beat like a bitch by Finlay, Road Warrior Animal and fucking TATANKA on Smackdown. Matt could've at least been the premiere mid-card guy to hold the US Title constantly instead of wandering around doing nothing.

There were times during this feud where he didn't even look like a real wrestler the way he'd just curl up into a ball when Edge was beating on him. That Summerslam match pissed me off like no other. A lot things could've been tweaked but at least Edge come out of this looking like an absolute star.
 

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Was a great feud, they worked the story perfectly and as you watched it play out you got vibes that they legitimately wanted to hurt each other in their encounters and matches. Their cage match is one of the best cage matches of all time imo. And they had a great street fight on a RAW episode. Matt Hardy was really over back then that combined with the real life events incorporated into the storyline really helped establish Edge as a hated heel and started Edge's rise as a star - for which Edge would go on to be the most entertaining guy in the company by the end of 2005 and during all of 2006.
 

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This was one of the biggest missed opportunities in the history of the WWE.

I mean holy God! They had the hottest feud in wrestling handed to them on a silver platter and they pretty much just booked it like they do every feud which is "Build it up for a few weeks, do the first match, then do a ton of rematches with gimmicks". Not that the matches were bad (except for the Summerslam match, but I'll get there in a minute), but when you have THE match that everyone wants to see, you don't spam it to death until we're sick of seeing it. I guess that is one of those unfortunate side effects of the Monday Night Wars period where somehow, doing the same match 6 or 7 times on a row is synonymous with building a nice long story, when it really isn't.

And I will explain how they messed this up almost every step of the way.

Like I said, this was the match that fans wanted to see. Real life events became known among the fanbase and they immediately started hijacking shows to voice their opinions. Edge was chastised for cheating with Lita and ultimately getting Matt Hardy fired. How accurate that assessment is is in the eye of the beholder, but that was the general perception. It didn't hurt Edge that much since he was already a heel, so hey, more negative reactions, the better. However, Lita was the one that took the brunt of it as she was embroiled in a storyline with Kane as her "husband" but the fans were not buying it at all and rather decided to call her a slut, a whore, and everything else in the book because she cheated on Matt Hardy behind the scenes. It basically forced the writers to put Edge and Lita together as a couple on screen which worked beautifully because the heat they were getting was nuclear. Look at the first Raw following the Gold Rush Tournament where Lita first aligned with Edge. That crowd was all over them and it made the show so much more exciting to have a legitimately hate-able power couple on the show.

Edge goes on to wrestle Kane about 45 times because like I said, that's what they do, but he was generally coming up on the winning end and maintaining that heat. Eventually, we got the big surprise as MATT HARDY began coming out of the crowd and attacking Edge and Lita. At first, it felt real. We all knew it wasn't, and we all knew this was a crafted storyline, but the real life events that preceded it and the way it was presented on TV made it look and feel real, and that added a lot to the story.

They kept this going for a few weeks and it was going fine until...Vince McMahon hired back Matt Hardy. What? This guy is disrupting your show every week and you hire him back? I would have gone the opposite. Again, look at it from the perspective of the fans. They WANT Hardy back and they WANT him to destroy Edge. The WWE knew that, obviously, but what they didn't understand was that you don't give it to the fans right away. You make them want it more! You make them want to crawl across broken glass to see that thing they want! So instead of Vince hiring back Hardy, I would have done the opposite. Have him BAN Matt Hardy from attending WWE events with extra armed security around to keep him from getting involved. Have Edge and Lita put a restraining order on him. Have Edge and Lita get armed security to escort them to the ring. Put obstacles in Matt Hardy's way!

By only doing the chase for a few weeks and then rushing it to the PPV, they robbed us and the characters of the journey to get to the match. Again, lets look at the eventual match between the two as the end game, the climax, instead of just an obligation to have at the next PPV. Make the fans cry, scream, and demand that the match take place, and by putting obstacles in Hardy's way, it makes the fans root for him even more. Any victory of Hardy's becomes the fans' victories. As an example of what I am talking about, look at how well WCW built up Sting Vs. Hogan in 97. Sting was not on the show every week. You never knew when he was going to appear. When he did appear, it kicked ass! But Hogan always managed to worm away with the title and it was only a matter of time before Sting got him in that ring for the belt. That whole storyline was built around cultivating anticipation. Their goal was to make the fans want that match, and to that end, they succeeded (the match blew chunks, but that's another rant for another time).

Also, by having Vince just bring Hardy back because Yuck Yuck, he's nutty, they took away the rebellious aspect of Hardy's character. He was the guy that got fired by this company because of all the personal turmoil that went down and anything he did against Edge should have been presented as being an action against the WWE by management. They sided with Edge and fired Hardy (again, using the fans perception of the events to tell the story) and the storyline should have played out to reflect that. Instead, it was just the WWE saying "OK boys and girls, here's this really cool match for you!" and took away that rebellious aspect the Hardy character and the story should have had.

Now I am not even sure how to analyze their Summerslam match because that was just whack. I was in the crowd that night and we were all confused. They wrestle around for four or five minutes, Hardy gets dropped on his head and the match gets called off. Huh? The most highly anticipated match the WWE had to offer and that's how they handle it? Seriously? The street fight they did the next week on Raw almost felt like an apology for giving us garbage at Summerslam. Then they had a cage match, I think a few tag matches (because again, they love those too), and a TLC match to end it and all in the span of about 2 months. And after it was over, they just moved on to other things and the feud was quickly forgotten.

If I had to do that feud over again, I probably would have had no match at Summerslam. Instead, I would have had Edge do something to illicit anticipation of a showdown with Hardy. Like how about Edge gets a security team and he's so cocky that Hardy can't get to him that he even buys Matt a ticket to Summerslam and dares him to face him. That will then lead to the explosive confrontation at Summerslam, again, without giving away the match. Keep Hardy's appearances infrequent so as to keep that air of mystery and excitement surrounding him. Heck, have him do a bunch of pre-tapes, promos, vignettes or whatever.

Edge meanwhile is working other feuds and winning, all the while haunted by the specter of Matt Hardy that hovers over all of this segments and matches. Heck, have him feud with guys that might be Hardy's friends. What if guys on the roster who are friends of Matt start helping Matt in one way shape or form? Say one night Hardy is able to attack Edge backstage and Edge figures that somebody HAD to help Hardy get into the building. Well, pick a guy and Edge can have a mini-feud with that guy as a roadblock before the showdown with Hardy.

Eventually, Hardy has to get his job back at some point. Admittedly, that part is tricky because how do you get to a point where WWE would want this crazy person back? The best I can come up with is that Hardy somehow manages to gain entry into the Royal Rumble by attacking one of the entrants and stepping in as a replacement (there is a precedent for that, look at Foley in 2004). Hardy wins the Rumble and now the title shot at Wrestlemania is held by a guy that isn't employed with the company. However, since he won the Rumble, he is contractually bound to the Mania main event as a competitor so the WWE has to allow Hardy to stay or else they lose their Mania main eventer. Edge had cashed in his MITB against Cena at the previous PPV so, uh oh, guess who Edge is going to have to defend against at Wrestlemania.

Or if they don't want to have the title involved, have Hardy cost Edge the title and that be the impetus to get Edge to want revenge on Hardy and demands that he be resigned in order to have their wild hardcore war at Wrestlemania 22. Either way, the match happens at Wrestlemania with a year's worth of build up put into it.

The feud was red hot and the fans definitely wanted to see it and to me, it deserved better than the typical rush one month and do 12 rematches format they always do. They took something special and believable and made it into just another series of matches. Not bad matches...but all lacking the special build up that the feud deserved.
 

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This was one of the biggest missed opportunities in the history of the WWE.

I mean holy God! They had the hottest feud in wrestling handed to them on a silver platter and they pretty much just booked it like they do every feud which is "Build it up for a few weeks, do the first match, then do a ton of rematches with gimmicks". Not that the matches were bad (except for the Summerslam match, but I'll get there in a minute), but when you have THE match that everyone wants to see, you don't spam it to death until we're sick of seeing it. I guess that is one of those unfortunate side effects of the Monday Night Wars period where somehow, doing the same match 6 or 7 times on a row is synonymous with building a nice long story, when it really isn't.

And I will explain how they messed this up almost every step of the way.

Like I said, this was the match that fans wanted to see. Real life events became known among the fanbase and they immediately started hijacking shows to voice their opinions. Edge was chastised for cheating with Lita and ultimately getting Matt Hardy fired. How accurate that assessment is is in the eye of the beholder, but that was the general perception. It didn't hurt Edge that much since he was already a heel, so hey, more negative reactions, the better. However, Lita was the one that took the brunt of it as she was embroiled in a storyline with Kane as her "husband" but the fans were not buying it at all and rather decided to call her a slut, a whore, and everything else in the book because she cheated on Matt Hardy behind the scenes. It basically forced the writers to put Edge and Lita together as a couple on screen which worked beautifully because the heat they were getting was nuclear. Look at the first Raw following the Gold Rush Tournament where Lita first aligned with Edge. That crowd was all over them and it made the show so much more exciting to have a legitimately hate-able power couple on the show.

Edge goes on to wrestle Kane about 45 times because like I said, that's what they do, but he was generally coming up on the winning end and maintaining that heat. Eventually, we got the big surprise as MATT HARDY began coming out of the crowd and attacking Edge and Lita. At first, it felt real. We all knew it wasn't, and we all knew this was a crafted storyline, but the real life events that preceded it and the way it was presented on TV made it look and feel real, and that added a lot to the story.

They kept this going for a few weeks and it was going fine until...Vince McMahon hired back Matt Hardy. What? This guy is disrupting your show every week and you hire him back? I would have gone the opposite. Again, look at it from the perspective of the fans. They WANT Hardy back and they WANT him to destroy Edge. The WWE knew that, obviously, but what they didn't understand was that you don't give it to the fans right away. You make them want it more! You make them want to crawl across broken glass to see that thing they want! So instead of Vince hiring back Hardy, I would have done the opposite. Have him BAN Matt Hardy from attending WWE events with extra armed security around to keep him from getting involved. Have Edge and Lita put a restraining order on him. Have Edge and Lita get armed security to escort them to the ring. Put obstacles in Matt Hardy's way!

By only doing the chase for a few weeks and then rushing it to the PPV, they robbed us and the characters of the journey to get to the match. Again, lets look at the eventual match between the two as the end game, the climax, instead of just an obligation to have at the next PPV. Make the fans cry, scream, and demand that the match take place, and by putting obstacles in Hardy's way, it makes the fans root for him even more. Any victory of Hardy's becomes the fans' victories. As an example of what I am talking about, look at how well WCW built up Sting Vs. Hogan in 97. Sting was not on the show every week. You never knew when he was going to appear. When he did appear, it kicked ass! But Hogan always managed to worm away with the title and it was only a matter of time before Sting got him in that ring for the belt. That whole storyline was built around cultivating anticipation. Their goal was to make the fans want that match, and to that end, they succeeded (the match blew chunks, but that's another rant for another time).

Also, by having Vince just bring Hardy back because Yuck Yuck, he's nutty, they took away the rebellious aspect of Hardy's character. He was the guy that got fired by this company because of all the personal turmoil that went down and anything he did against Edge should have been presented as being an action against the WWE by management. They sided with Edge and fired Hardy (again, using the fans perception of the events to tell the story) and the storyline should have played out to reflect that. Instead, it was just the WWE saying "OK boys and girls, here's this really cool match for you!" and took away that rebellious aspect the Hardy character and the story should have had.

Now I am not even sure how to analyze their Summerslam match because that was just whack. I was in the crowd that night and we were all confused. They wrestle around for four or five minutes, Hardy gets dropped on his head and the match gets called off. Huh? The most highly anticipated match the WWE had to offer and that's how they handle it? Seriously? The street fight they did the next week on Raw almost felt like an apology for giving us garbage at Summerslam. Then they had a cage match, I think a few tag matches (because again, they love those too), and a TLC match to end it and all in the span of about 2 months. And after it was over, they just moved on to other things and the feud was quickly forgotten.

If I had to do that feud over again, I probably would have had no match at Summerslam. Instead, I would have had Edge do something to illicit anticipation of a showdown with Hardy. Like how about Edge gets a security team and he's so cocky that Hardy can't get to him that he even buys Matt a ticket to Summerslam and dares him to face him. That will then lead to the explosive confrontation at Summerslam, again, without giving away the match. Keep Hardy's appearances infrequent so as to keep that air of mystery and excitement surrounding him. Heck, have him do a bunch of pre-tapes, promos, vignettes or whatever.

Edge meanwhile is working other feuds and winning, all the while haunted by the specter of Matt Hardy that hovers over all of this segments and matches. Heck, have him feud with guys that might be Hardy's friends. What if guys on the roster who are friends of Matt start helping Matt in one way shape or form? Say one night Hardy is able to attack Edge backstage and Edge figures that somebody HAD to help Hardy get into the building. Well, pick a guy and Edge can have a mini-feud with that guy as a roadblock before the showdown with Hardy.

Eventually, Hardy has to get his job back at some point. Admittedly, that part is tricky because how do you get to a point where WWE would want this crazy person back? The best I can come up with is that Hardy somehow manages to gain entry into the Royal Rumble by attacking one of the entrants and stepping in as a replacement (there is a precedent for that, look at Foley in 2004). Hardy wins the Rumble and now the title shot at Wrestlemania is held by a guy that isn't employed with the company. However, since he won the Rumble, he is contractually bound to the Mania main event as a competitor so the WWE has to allow Hardy to stay or else they lose their Mania main eventer. Edge had cashed in his MITB against Cena at the previous PPV so, uh oh, guess who Edge is going to have to defend against at Wrestlemania.

Or if they don't want to have the title involved, have Hardy cost Edge the title and that be the impetus to get Edge to want revenge on Hardy and demands that he be resigned in order to have their wild hardcore war at Wrestlemania 22. Either way, the match happens at Wrestlemania with a year's worth of build up put into it.

The feud was red hot and the fans definitely wanted to see it and to me, it deserved better than the typical rush one month and do 12 rematches format they always do. They took something special and believable and made it into just another series of matches. Not bad matches...but all lacking the special build up that the feud deserved.
And, not surprisingly, wrestling fans can find a way to shit all over something that actually went well.
 

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OP...

Edge and Val's sister Alannah had already divorced by 2005. Edge had remarried to a woman and all of his male friends were like "too soon, dude".

Matt got fired because he wouldn't shut the hell up. He was the one who put it out there that Edge and Lita had an affair, fucking up the Lita/Kane storyline (thank goodness though, that story was dross).

The feud was never designed to make Matt a top star. If he ended up being one, great, but even by that point it was obvious WWE had their money on Jeff.

Matt wasn't squandered, Matt got overshadowed. Edge clowned on him constantly in promos and generally looked more like a star while Matt looked like a dweeb unfortunately.
 
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