While his real name is Jeff Hardy, Impact television gave us his alter ego, Willow, better known as “Willow the Wisp” from his earlier days in independent wrestling. Willow was not getting over with the audience. His character did not make any sense because through his character we saw Jeff Hardy: same ring presence, same ring attire, same hair-style; the only difference was his demonized mask and his umbrella he would carry to the ring to show his adoration for the great Julie Andrews (I made that up, sue me).
Sebastian Maldonado wrote a great piece regarding Willow on Bleacher Report as he explained that the Willow character was set up to fail from the beginning (view article here). I agree to the extent that Impact failed miserably in creating an alter-ego to Jeff Hardy that would give the fans a new twist on the legendary character like the way Kane and Undertaker have done with theirs. However, it appeared Impact Wrestling was not quite certain the kind of direction his character would evolve to. We witnessed that on the July 10th, 2014 edition of Impact Wrestling when Jeff Hardy made his return at a battle royal to determine the number one contender for Bobby Lashley’s TNA Wrestling’s World Heavyweight Championship. He ended up winning (as Jeff Hardy), which also signaled the end of the Willow character once and for all.
Sometimes the best thing to do is just kill the character off when you know he is not receiving the proper response from the audience that the creative team had initially expected. I am one of the few who were looking forward for this character to evolve into something different we have not seen before. People were comparing the Willow character to Bray Wyatt; sadistic, controversial and tells-it-like-it-is. I appreciated the fact that Impact Wrestling was able to take a popular wrestler like Jeff Hardy, whose merchandise is one of the top sellers in the company, and be able to elevate him to a different level we have not seen before. Due to all the roster cuts and the old veterans retiring or signing Legend contracts with World Wrestling Entertainment, it was not a far-fetched idea to give Jeff Hardy a chance to show others what he has done in other promotions; become the star by being different.
His wrestling style somewhat resembles that of Rob Van Dam. Rob Van Dam is unique and different in his own right. He puts you in the mindset of someone who resembles what athletic competitors would be if those athletic competitors would legitimately get in the ring and make you fight to the finish. Jeff Hardy may not resemble that of a Roman warrior, he does, however, give you the impression that he does symbolize what a professional wrestler should do in a wrestling ring; and completely separate the notion of any global comparison between mixed martial arts and professional wrestling. The face paint, the baggy clothes, the enigma that is Jeff Hardy makes you want to continue to tune in on Thursday nights to see what he will do next; which meant that Willow had to come to an end in order for Hardy to continuously shine bright and help raise the stable ratings numbers on Spike.
So, what should Impact Wrestling do now that Jeff Hardy has “returned?” Apparently, for starters, he will be reuniting with his brother, Matt Hardy, on Impact Wrestling’s tour to New York City. While, I am of the notion that great tag teams who reunite for a special show at the Manhattan Center in New York City is something to be really excited about, I do believe this was ill-timed for the company. Since we have not seen Jeff Hardy appear on television in quite a while, rather than bring back his old tag team & brother, Matt, placing him in a tag team after months of absence is not the way you want to book Jeff Hardy back in the main event picture. Rather than pair him with Matt, why not have Matt surprisingly attack Jeff Hardy in the middle of the Manhattan Center for the audience to shout obscenity at him causing the brothers to face one another on the Impact Wrestling show? It may be an impromptu match; I do not believe Matt would mind putting his brother over considering he does not work for the company full-time and is enjoying much success at Ring of Honor.
At the same time the two brothers have faced one another before at WrestleMania 25 when Matt Hardy had defeated Jeff in a singles match; they know how to work with one another, so why ruin the spotlight for a fresh Jeff Hardy just to receive a quick reaction from the audience on hand?
Regardless of some of my banter, I am very much looking forward to what Jeff Hardy will do from here on out. The company was in dire need of his character to return to television in order to help them land a new television deal with Spike. Now that you have other stars on the roster, having Jeff Hardy to push to become the face of the franchise once again, it could garner stiff competition for NXT Wrestling on the WWE Network. I do not believe there needs to be any form of competition, but it definitely would not hurt for the creative writers of the company to take the extra time to script a show that will want the audience to target their brand more than WWE’s, at least on a Thursday.
Jeff Hardy has returned to Impact Wrestling and with MVP on his way to a full recovery, Bobby Lashley being your champion, and the fresh faces that continue to come to Impact Wrestling, it makes for an exciting time to be a fan of Impact!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Bahi is an avid wrestling fan who has followed professional wrestling since the early eighties. He is Columnist for several pro wrestling websites, including: Wrestling-Online.com and OnlineWorldOfWrestling.com. You can see some of his guest columns on 1wrestling.com from time to time and has a personal blog; AdapttoAdopt.Blogspot.com, where he shares his passion for adoption. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Business Management from Penn Foster College where he hopes to one day, begin getting paid for the amount of time he puts into his craft of writing. He can be reached via twitter @PeterBahi.