Twist of Fate: The Best of the Hardy Boyz, 2018.
A compilation of matches and moments from the storied careers of Matt and Jeff Hardy, culminating in their return to WWE and narrated by fireside anecdotes at the Hardy Compound.
I missed the Attitude Era first time around. I first started watching wrestling in the early noughties, when Brock Lesnar was the ‘Next Big Thing’ and John Cena was working his way up from debuting in little red shorts against Kurt Angle to a level of fame that would see him dominate the industry for more than a decade. However, the one thing I shared with Attitude Era fans was the belief that Matt and Jeff Hardy were the coolest people on the planet. The Hardy Boyz were high-flying daredevils decked out in the neon regalia to suit the 90s-edgy ‘Z’ at the end of their name and the even more 90s-edgy ‘X’ in their Team Xtreme moniker.
It was when I returned to wrestling during my university days that I began to realise the full legacy of the Hardys. It was then that I experienced the Triangle Ladder Match from WrestleMania 2000 and the full-tilt bonkers TLC matches it spawned. When the Hardys returned to WWE in 2017, I was excited to see them jumping off ladders again and equally thrilled at the prospect of the brothers reinventing themselves again to embrace the ‘Broken’ gimmick that had allowed them to become one of the hottest teams in wrestling again – despite working in the barren wasteland of TNA… or Impact Wrestling… or whatever it’s calling itself this week.
With the significance of Matt and Jeff in mind, Twist of Fate is one of the best and most compelling boxsets WWE has released in recent years. It traces the evolution of the brothers from jobbing to Marty Jannetty in 1996 to blowing the roof off Camping World Stadium in Orlando last year. The compilation of matches is intercut with scenes of Matt and Jeff chatting by the fire at the now infamous Hardy Compound, reminiscing about their careers and discussing the highs and lows in a way that’s more interesting than the stock narration accompanying many WWE ‘Best Of’ sets.
For fans of the Hardys in their Attitude Era heyday, it’s the first portion of this three-disc set that will boast the most excitement. It’s a near three-hour compendium of splintered tables, toppling ladders and crumpled chairs that escalates consistently. An early ladder match in which the Hardys take on Edge and Christian at No Mercy in 1999 features just two ladders, in stark contrast to the IKEA catalogue of weaponry deployed in the all-out war now known as TLC II from WrestleMania X-Seven – one of my favourite wrestling matches of all-time.
The second disc features plenty of material from their pair’s solo runs in the noughties, though it’s fairly light on material from Jeff Hardy’s memorable main event run, focusing more on Matt’s time as Cruiserweight Champion. From then on, we get their reunion and, on the final disc, their return to the company. The WrestleMania match itself is of course present, but the real intrigue is in watching the brothers discuss the way the return came together and the secrecy of sneaking into the building prior to their match. Fittingly, perhaps, the disc comes to an end as Matt embraces his ‘Woken’ persona, marking a brand new chapter in the careers of the Hardys.
The real joy of this disc is twofold. Twist of Fate is well aware of the matches the audience wants to see and is happy to deliver them, but there’s also a smattering of really interesting forgotten gems. Perhaps the best pure example of tag team wrestling in the entire collection is a mostly forgotten bout between the Hardy Boyz and MNM from the widely derided ECW December to Dismember show in 2006. It runs to over 20 minutes, but it’s packed with nearfalls and stunning spots. For anyone who only knows the Hardys as table-smashing spot monkeys, it’s a myth buster in the best possible way.
That’s the overriding feeling with this collection. As much as it allows fans to experience the nostalgia of the mad excesses that made Matt and Jeff Hardy famous, it also shines a spotlight on the fact that both men are exceptional examples of sports entertainment at its most sports entertaining.
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.