With All Elite Wrestling (AEW) pushing through the COVID-19 outbreak and producing empty arena shows for the time being, AEW has had to re-write and shuffle storylines to accommodate the smaller production crews and work with smaller units of wrestlers. Last week’s first empty arena show showed that AEW was well up to the task, producing one of the company’s most compelling shows to date that saw the debut of former WWE Superstar Brodie Lee (formerly Luke Harper) arrive as the Dark Order’s Exalted One and the AEW debut of “Broken” Matt Hardy, who joined The Elite in their war against Chris Jericho‘s Inner Circle. With the planned Blood & Guts match for this week – which would have seen the Inner Circle’s Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana & Ortiz face The Elite’s Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, Adam “Hangman” Page, Matt Jackson and the debuting Hardy – now canceled due to social distancing, on Monday AEW announced that Jericho and Hardy would meet face to face on Wednesday’s episode.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) March 23, 2020
While this will be Chris Jericho’s first encounter with “Broken” Matt Hardy – a character Hardy created while working for IMPACT Wrestling in 2015 – it’s far from the first time these two former WWE Superstars have crossed paths. In fact, their first encounter together was shortly after Jericho brought Y2J to the WWE Universe. In December of 1999, “Y2J” Chris Jericho teamed up with Too Cool‘s Brian Christopher & Scotty 2 Hottie to face The Hardy Boyz at a WWF Live Event in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The first time they competed together was in 2000, when, on a May episode of WWE SmackDown, Jericho teamed up with the Hardy Boyz to face the trio of Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian. It would lead to Jericho and the Hardys teaming somewhat frequently, facing T & A (Test & Albert) & Val Venis on Raw two weeks later. The trio would reunite later that summer and into the fall, for a series of encounters against The Radicalz‘ Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko.
The two’s first one-on-one encounter occurred on February 5, 2001, when Chris Jericho defended his WWE Intercontinental Championship against Matt Hardy on Raw at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but a few months later the two were tag-teaming again, this time together in a handicap match against Edge, Christian & Rhyno. Jericho would soon form a tag team with fellow Canadian Chris Benoit, which often put the two against the Hardys in tag team action fighting for the tag team titles.
In 2002, the two met in singles action again, this time on SmackDown, and it would be two years before the two would cross paths again in non-Royal Rumble encounters. First, in Mixed Tag Team action, Jericho & Trish Stratus faced Matt Hardy & Molly Holly on Raw in February 2004, followed by Matt Hardy finally gaining his first singles victory over Jericho on the Raw after WrestleMania XX. A month later, Jericho would get that victory back.
Throughout 2008 and 2009, Jericho and Hardy would meet each other, but it was sporadic and mostly in multi-person matches like 6-man tag teams or Triple Threats. Their final singles match was a Qualifying Match for the 2010 Elimination Chamber, when Jericho defeated Matt Hardy on SmackDown on February 2 in Memphis, Tennesse. In televised singles action, Chris Jericho holds a 4-1 record over Matt Hardy.
Since their last encounter, Matt Hardy left the WWE in 2011 and worked for TNA/IMPACT and Ring of Honor, and made his return to WWE in spectacular fashion at WrestleMania 33 in 2017. Unfortunately, Jericho had departed WWE just months earlier, heading to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) that November, and ultimately AEW upon the new promotion’s launch in January of 2019. Now with both men firmly in the spotlight of AEW’s storylines, it’s only a matter of time until a rivalry is reborn. In preparation for this showdown, Matt Hardy was recently a guest on Jericho’s Talk is Jericho Podcast.
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