Ten Best Tag Teams of All Time: Number Four
They arrived at the height of WWF’s Attitude Era and were one of three great teams that helped revive the tag team division in professional wrestling. Before their arrival, the tag team division was an afterthought and on the verge of extinction. These two brothers would bring a high-flying, risk-taking energy to the ring that fans would fall in love with. The Hardy Boyz also became in a trio of triple threat Tag Team Championship classics with the other two teams that helped to revive the tag team ranks.
Born and raised in Cameron, North Carolina, real-life brothers Jeff and Matt Hardy grew up with dreams of making it in professional wrestling. They began their own promotion that was originally called the Trampoline Wrestling Federation before finally settling on the Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts (OMEGA). They toured throughout North Carolina as the OMEGA Tag Team Chamions and the NWA 200 Tag Champs before being signed to join the World Wrestling Federation in 1998.
Originally signed by WWF as teenagers to be “jobbers”– wrestlers that constantly lost to make their opponents look that much stronger– the Hardys would eventually be trained by Dory Funk Jr in his Funkin’ Dojo. They would also get teamed up with Michael P.S. Hayes of Fabulous Freebirds fame as their manager during this time.
They made their tag team debut with a win of Kaientai (Men’s Teioh and Shoichi Funaki) on the September 27, 1998 episode of Sunday Night Heat. Their high-flying style quickly gained them popularity among the WWF fans. With the addition of Hayes as their manager, they quickly became contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship. On June 29, 1999, on Raw is War, the Hardys won their first tag titles by beating the Acolytes (Bradshaw and Farooq), but they lost the titles back to the Acolytes less than a month later at Fully Loaded.
After dumping Hayes as their manager, they briefly joined up with Gangrel to form the New Brood. They began a rivalry with former Brood members Edge and Christian. They won a series of matches over Edge and Christian in the “Terri Runnels Invitational” to win the service of Terri Runnels as their manager. The final match was the first ever Tag Team Ladder Match and it was held at No Mercy. After winning the match, the Hardys dumped Gangrel and became faces with Runnels in their corner. With the fans giving both teams a standing ovation the next night on Raw, the teams went on to extend this rivalry for the next two years.
Around this time, the Hardys added childhood friend Lita to form the faction of Team Xtreme. They would add the Dudley Boyz to their feud with Edge and Christian in what became some of the greatest Triple Threat Tag matches of all time. At Wrestlemania 2000, the three teams met up in a Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder Match for the tag titles. Edge and Christian would win that match. The Hardys then faced Edge and Christian at Insurrextion, but Edge and Christian retained the titles after the Hardys won by disqualification. At King of the Ring, the Hardys faced off with Edge and Christian, T & A, and Too Cool in a Four Corners Elimination Tag Match for the titles. While the Hardys were able to eliminate T & A, they were eventually eliminated by Edge and Christian.
At SummerSlam that year they took part in the first-ever TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs) Match with the Dudleys and Edge and Christian. The match was an instant classic with Edge and Christian coming away victorious yet again. They would defeat Edge and Christian in a Steel Cage Match to win the tag titles for a second time. At No Mercy, they lost titles back to Edge and Christian, who were disguised as Los Conquistadores. The following night the Harys would don the Conquistadores masks and win back the tag titles from Edge and Christian– unmasking themselves after the victory. This was their third reign as tag champs. Less than a month later they would the titles to the Right to Censor team of Bull Buchanan and the Goodfather, thanks to interference from Edge and Christian.
The Hardys would team up with the Dudleys in a Survivor Series elimination match against the team of Edge and Christian and Right to Censor. The Hardys and Dudleys would come out victorious in the match. At Rebellion, the Hardys would come up short of winning their fourth tag title against Right to Censor when Val Venis interfered in the match.
On the March 5, 2001 episode of Raw, the Hardys finally won the tag belts for a fourth when defeated the Dudley Boyz– thanks to Christian interfering in the match. Two weeks later, they would lose the belts to Edge and Christian. This set up another TLC match between the three teams. At Wrestlemania X-Seven, the three teams set out in another classic TLC match. Each team had someone come in and interfere in the match. For the Dudleys, Spike Dudley charged into the fray, Lita came in to help out the Hardys, and Rhyno made his presence felt to help Edge and Christian. Two major moments in the match had Jeff Hardy climb a ladder outside the ring and land his Swanton Bomb on Bubba Ray Dudley through a table. Later in the match, when it seemed Jeff would be able to grab the belts and win the match, the Dudleys pulled the ladder away, and left Jeff dangling holding on to tight to the belts. Edge would climb a ladder and plant Jeff with a spear in mid-air, both combatants crashing into the ring– Edge would later admit that he banged his head on the mat, giving himself a concussion. In the end, Edge and Christian would once again come out on top with the tag titles in their grasp.
On October 8, they would defeat the team of Booker T and Test for the WCW Tag Team Championship (WWF had purchased WCW earlier in the year for $5 million). Two weeks later, the Dudleys would take the belts away from the Hardys. On November 12, they would again defeat Booker T and Test– this time for the WWF Tag Titles. At Survivor Series, they would face and lose to the Dudleys in Tag Team Title Unification Match.
At Wrestlemania X8, they would join the Dudleys and the A.P.A. in challenging the tag titleholders Billy and Chuck in a Four Corners elimination match. The Dudleys eliminated the A.P.A., the Hardys eliminated the Dudleys, but Billy and Chuck would come out on top. As Jeff’s star seemed to be rising, the team would slowly begin their eventual split.
Jeff would go on to have a great Ladder Match for the WWE title with the Undertaker. Even though the Undertaker won the match, Jeff gained a lot of respect from both the ‘Taker and the WWE fans. Matt was relegated to matches on Heat before suffering an injury that kept him away for a long period of time. While rehabbing, his real-life relationship with Lita came to an end as she began to date Edge. This led to a real-life fight that led to Matt getting released by WWE. Jeff was also let go after he missed several scheduled appearances and alleged drug abuse on his part. Jeff has contended that he was feeling burned out at the time WWE was giving him his singles push.
Jeff Hardy signed with Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA) and performed there until 2006. In November 2006, the Hardys reunited for the first time in over four years as part of Team DX at Survivor Series against Team RKO. Team DX came out victorious with a clean sweep– no member was eliminated. On the November 27 episode of Raw, the Hardys had a shot for tag team gold against Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton), but came up short when Edge deliberately disqualified his team by hitting Jeff in the back with one of the title belts. The Hardys also posed an open challenge to any team for December to Dismember. The challenge was accepted by a reuniting MNM (Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury). The Hardys came out on top at the pay-per-view event over MNM, starting a feud between the teams over the two brands of ECW and Raw.
At Armageddon, the match between the Hardys and MNM became a four team ladder match with the teams of David Taylor and William Regal, and Paul London and Brian Kendrick getting added to the bill. The Hardys came up short but further pushed their rivalry with MNM. Jeff began battling Nitro for the Intercontinental Championship on the Raw brand, while Matt battled Mercury on Smackdown. The feud ended at Royal Rumble when the Hardys defeated MNM.
On the April 2, 2007 episode of Raw, the Hardys won the World Tag titles for a sixth time by winning a ten-team battle royal. After the lost singles bouts against Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, they retained their titles at both Backlash and Judgment Day against the team of Cade and Murdoch. At No Way Out, the Hardys retained the titles again but this time versus The World’s Greatest Tag Team. The next night on Raw, the Hardys would lose the titles to Cade and Murdoch when Jeff missed a Swanton Bomb and was pinned by Cade after Murdoch pushed Jeff’s leg off of the bottom rope.
They came back on November 13, 2007 on ECW on Sci-Fi to take on the team on Montel Vontavius Porter and Mr. Kennedy but were unsuccessful when Jeff was pinned by Porter. They reunited again in 2008, in a losing effort on Raw against John Morrison and the Miz. On the July 15 episode of ECW, the Hardys reunited in their home state of North Carolina and defeated Morrison and Miz. The Hardys would team up just two more times, winning both those matches.
By 2009, Matt was attempting to regain the ECW title from Jack Swagger, while Jeff held the WWE Championship. At Royal Rumble, Matt lost to Swagger. Upset at his loss, he interfered in Jeff’s match with Edge, hitting Jeff with a steel chair; this allowed Edge to win the WWE title. After Matt disbanded the team and disowned Jeff, a feud between the Hardys ensued. Matt would defeat Jeff in an “Extreme Rules” match at Wrestlemania XXV and in a stretcher match later that year. Jeff would win at Backlash in an “I Quit” match. Matt would again interfere in Jeff’s World Heavyweight title match at Judgment Day, costing Jeff the title.
On August 28, Jeff lost a “Loser Leaves WWE” match against CM Punk and was gone from WWE. A year later, Matt was released from his contract with WWE. This ended the brothers’ run with WWE.
Jeff would return to TNA and win the TNA World Heavyweght Champioship shortly after arriving. At TNA’s pay-per-view Genesis, Matt made his debut as the surprise member of the Immortal faction, and defeated Rob Van Dam. Jeff lost his World title to Mr. Anderson in the same event. On January 13, the Hardys reunited and defeated Van Dam and Anderson. Following the Victory Road event, Jeff was removed from Immortal. On August 20, Matt was released from his contract after a DWI arrest.
On April 26, 2014, the Hardys made an appearance with OMEGA, teaming up to defeat The Briscoe Brother at the Chaos event in Cameron.