Remember when Dok Hendrix was a Hardy Boy? Atomic Drop remembers. Watch the Hardys and Dok Hendrix battle the team of Farooq and Bradshaw for the WWF World Tag Team Championship all the way back in 1999. WHO DESERVES THE BELT?!
After your slick looking, albeit standard issue, “Tonight some shit is gonna go down…IT’S DECEMBER TO DISMEMBER!” video package we head to some random arena or civic center in the ECW stronghold of…Augusta, GA? That can’t be right can it?
Pyro explodes and in spite it being almost 2007 when this is happening, “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor,” blares. We are joined by our announce team for the evening: Joey Styles and Taz. Joey promptly spoils the main event when he declares, “Tonight, a new ECW world’s champion will be crowned.”
Now, for those of you not well versed in random WWECW storylines from 11 years ago, this was not a situation where the title was vacant going into this event. Big Show was the reigning champ, and according to Joey Styles in two hours and change he was set to drop the belt.
Back before it was its own deal the Money in the Bank match was part of WrestleMania, like the Andre the Giant Memorial Colossal Jostle is now. This right here is the second one and for some goddamn reason it features Ric Flair in it. He’s like 56 years old or something and yet still gets superplexed off the top of the ladder at one point by Matt Hardy. I am surprised that his bones didn’t turn to dust after that move.
RVD wins and later does the honorable thing and cashes in in advance, challenging John Cena for the title at One Night Stand.
It’s time for the Invasion. I somehow missed out on this when it happened and haven’t seen it since, but I know its reputation. Everyone does. Does the Invasion deserve the amount of shit that’s been heaped upon it? Let’s find out!
Franklin Delano Roosevelt kicks things off for us, talking about war as clips of WCW and ECW dudes invading WWF are shown. This is really a weird way to kick off a PPV. Fireworks happen. JR welcomes to the Gund Arena as we get down to the ring for action.
We’re in Cameron, North Carolina tonight for Total Nonstop Deletion. Senor Benjamin tells us (en Español) that we shouldn’t try this at home and Vanguard 1 informs us that no drones were harmed in the making of this event.
From there it’s time for a montage! Reby’s playing a piano. Matt Hardy’s in a dilapidated boat in the middle of a lake. Jeff Hardy is doing edgelord landscaping. Things are about to get broken!
This is a fun little tag team match. Taken out of context, I have no idea why any of these guys are teaming up here, but it’s kind of hilarious to me. Cena and Hardy pick up the win when Hardy inadvertently pins Tajiri after a double clothesline spot. The post match high fives between Matt Hardy Version 1.0 and John Cena are a thing of beauty.
“Matt Hardy could have gotten out of the ring but WHADDA MANEUVER™!!!”
I kind of love that a batshit insane fight taking place outside a southern manor house has become the new steel cage match in wrestling. After the insanity that was the Final Deletion, WWE tried their hand at this sort of match with the Wyatt Family battling the New Day and the, quite frankly, fell very short of the high watermark set by the Final Deletion. So what happens when TNA goes back to the well a second time? You get Delete or Decay!
In the weeks leading up to this match Decay (Crazzy Steve, Abyss, and Rosemary) were being douchebags to the Hardy Boys: creeping around the Hardy compound and being creepy shits, as is their way, and so Matt Hardy challenged them to a bout since Decay was more or less asking to be deleted.
To call this a wrestling match is kind of a stretch. With the Final Deletion you at least had a ring for part of it. This time around there’s none of that. Decay arrive and encounter your pal and mine, Senor Benjamin, hard at work digging. They inquire as to what he’s digging and he straight up tells them, “I’m digging your graves, my friends.” It’s in Spanish, so I don’t know if they understand because they just walk past him. Senor Benjamin mugs for the camera and flips his shovel so we can see that “DELETE” has been painted on the reverse side.
Decay creep through the woods like goddamn horror movie murderers, and arrives at Hardy Manor and peer into Maxel’s window. It’s creepy as fuck, but Matt Hardy is here to emote spectacularly. “DECAY!!!!! I KNEW YOU’D COME!” He, Jeff “Brother Nero” Hardy, and Reby Sky chase after Decay with fireworks in a callback to the Final Deletion and Decay haul ass towards the dilapidated boat. Matt tells Reby to go back to the house and keep Maxel safe and the Hardy Boys go after Decay.
Abyss tells Rosemary to go get Maxel and she runs off. Jeff Hardy proceeds to dropkick the dilapidated boat barely knocking it into the water, thus dispatching Abyss. The Hardys run off to battle Crazzy Steve and Rosemary and Senor Benjamin stands up to collect the dilapidated boat. Suddenly from the water emerges…JOSEPH PARK (aka Abyss’ “brother”/alter ego). He’s all excited and asks Senor Benjamin if he knows where Abyss is. Senor Benjamin tasers him like a goddamn boss and then scoops him up with a Bobcat and drives off.
Crazzy Steve and Jeff “Brother Nero” Hardy are brawling near a fire next to a pool. They try to shove each other’s faces into the fire for awhile and then Jeff suplexes Crazzy Steve into the pool and the two fight under water.
While those two fight in the pool, Senor Benjamin buries Joseph Park in one of the graves he’d dug earlier.
Back at the pool Jeff puts Crazzy Steve in a sleeper hold underwater and basically drowns him. He then climbs out of the pool and sits beside it breathing heavily. Crazzy Steve pops out of the water Friday the Thirteenth style and pulls Jeff back in.
Back at the graves, Senor Benjamin has just completed his work when the grave suddenly busts open and Abyss, wielding a spiked 2×4 pops out and attacks. Senor Benjamin gets knocked out and Abyss goes after Rosemary to help her get Maxel.
Steve tries to rip out Jeff Hardy’s eyes and then runs off into the woods. His creepy face paint all came off in the pool, so he FUCKING REGENERATES HIS FACE PAINT!
Matt Hardy runs into Abyss who is going to whack him in the dick with a spiked 2×4, but Jeff Hardy pushes his brother out of the way and takes the spiked board to the dick intended for Matt. Melancholy piano music plays. Is Jeff Hardy supposed to be dead? It doesn’t matter because Matt Hardy’s drone, Vanguard 1 shows up and shoots more fireworks at Decay.
Decay attempt to flee the scene but the fireworks cause the ground around Crazzy Steve and Abyss to ignite and burn in some kind of shitty design. The flames are like a couple inches high, but Steve and Abyss act like they’ve been trapped in some kind of force field.
Back in the Hardy Manor, Reby has been knocked out and Rosemary is absconding with Maxel. Fucking Vanguard 1 shows up to stop her, but she hits the drone with Asian mist causing it to break. Is Vanguard 1 dead? Maybe, but his sacrifice was noble, because during the battle Maxel was able to escape. Rosemary calls out for him but instead Matt appears and calls her a witch. She attempts to mist Matt, but Matt inhales the mist and then blows it back at her and she runs off.
Maxel and Reby appear and Matt Hardy and his family stand triumphant, but are they really? Jeff “Brother Nero” is possibly dead, Vanguard 1 is destroyed, and Decay escaped, kidnapping a still unconscious Senor Benjamin as they went. And so ends Delete or Decay…
I didn’t know what to expect going in to this. The first one was pretty great. The one WWE did was not. Delete or Decay fell in the middle, though I thought it was closer to Final Deletion than New Day vs. Wyatts. While I thought there were a few too many callbacks to the first one (especially since that match was only a few months ago) there was still a lot of new ridiculous bullshit this time around. The fight in the pool was pretty good and Matt Hardy inhaling the Asian mist and spitting it out was a fun spot that could only work in a match like this. There will be people who hate this because it’s “not wrestling,” but I thought it was pretty fun. There are a billion forms that professional wrestling can take and not all of them are for everyone, but I, for one, am glad when people involved in the sport I love try new things and give us viewers something we haven’t seen before.
What is there to say about The Final Deletion that hasn’t already been said by a bajillion other internet wrestling fans? Like a lot of people I saw that contract signing with the thrown baby and was like, “Ha ha ha…TNA,” but there was something about me that pulled me in. I saw the preview for The Final Deletion with fire and fireworks and Jeff Hardy in a tree and was like and thought it was going to be a total trainwreck and so I decided to watch it, but something funny happened.
Between all the bumps on grandma’s kitchen table and Senor Benjamin giving a baby a xylophone, the Brothers Hardy told a fairly compelling (and surprisingly straightforward) story. Matt, frustrated that he could never beat his brother, becomes broken and goes to ever further extremes to best Jeff. Behind the army of aerial assault robots and revenge landscaping it’s a pretty classic feud. It’s Bret and Owen Hart. It’s Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.
This all culminates with The Final Deletion: a match held in the Hardy’s backyard in the same ring it all began in. Now for those of you looking for a mat classic, you won’t find it here. The actual in ring segment of the match consists of some clotheslines and scoop slams and random bumps into plunder before the Hardys launch fireworks at each other and fight across their property for the remainder of the bout.
What makes this match great isn’t “workrate” but rather the uniqueness of it. First you have the fact that the match is taking place outside and has the Hardys making use of the natural landscape around them. I know DDT in Japan has done this a few times contesting bouts at the beach or in the mountains bereft of a ring, but in mainstream American wrestling nothing of this sort has ever taken place before. Seeing someone do a swanton bomb out of a tree is something I’d never seen before, and in wrestling to do something that no one has seen before is quite a feat indeed. The match was filmed in a much more cinematic way than your average wrestling match providing a sense of gravitas that few matches have. There’s no announcing at all during the match. No one calling the action. Instead the match is scored like a final showdown in a summer blockbuster movie. Lucha Underground uses a similar style with their backstage segments which I honestly like a lot more than what WWE does with their backstage stuff, but again I don’t think any matches have been presented like this.
Of all the wrestling matches that have taken place in the history of this great sport, very few, good or bad, are talked much about after the fact. I think that The Final Deletion will be one of those rare matches that people talk about years from now, if for nothing else but the fact that it taught us that “It takes a lot of fuel to delete a Brother Nero.”