• James Hewlett

Tag Team

I just watched a recent documentary about The Hardy Boys, the wrestling tag team that were hugely popular in the late nineties and early two thousands. That was the time frame that I originally watched pro wrestling and they were a personal favourite.

I dropped off watching any of it from maybe 2001 until about three years ago but would of course see the odd headline here or there or catch reference to what was going on while I was working at the comic shop. Whenever Matt or Jeff Hardy's name was mentioned in that time it was never good. Lots of addiction problems, arrests, fired from WWE, train wreck, not going to make it to forty type stories. It was sad but not all that surprising, the guys were high flyers and performed with a carefree style that would have reeked havoc on their bodies. Pain pill addiction was almost inevitable unfortunately.

The happy ending the documentary presents is that they both have eventually made their way through their respective darknesses and made their way back to the company that they made their name in in the first place. In their words, "This is where we started, this is where we want to end it." They're not delusional to think they have years and years left in the tank but they're enjoying the time they have left being able to perform. The pop they got from the crowd at their surprise return at last years WrestleMania is my favourite wrestling moment since I started watching it again and it was because now, as an adult, I can only imagine what that felt like for them!

They still have their demons, Jeff probably more so, but they don't seem to be abusing any meds anymore and are willing to take ownership of their problems when they arise and take the help that they are fortunate enough to be afforded.

The thing that got me watching the documentary though was the brotherhood. It felt familiar and yet it felt quite alien. The Hardy's are older than me and Jon and closer in age. Jeff is the younger brother and is ten years my senior, Matt is three years older as opposed to the eight year gap Jon and I share. They share a few similarities though; such as losing a parent at a young age and are very close. They even have (admittedly waaaay larger) houses next door to each other much like Jon and I had until recently.

They stuck together through everything. There was a brief period of time when they were in separate companies but they always had each others backs.

It made me sad that Jon and I have drifted so far apart, obviously everything was framed purposefully for the doc but seeing the two of them together in their everyday world made me really miss having that sort of relationship with Jon.

The thing that made me see the difference was when Matt Hardy started talking about how he started slipping only after Jeff did. For a long while they became enablers for each other. Sure, they were able to prop each other up (often literally) and get through stuff together, but they also perpetuated each others problems.

I saw this with me and Jon, a caught this I should say, early enough to not let it happen. It very easily could have, we've always had that same kind of relationship, we would keep each other going and it would lead us deeper and deeper in.

For a long time I would have followed Jon in his downward spiral and it would have been the absolute worst thing for the both of us. I feel fortunate that I was able to see it and separate myself from it though. It cost me the closeness we once shared but I genuinely believe, I have to believe, that in the end it was the only thing I could do that would be beneficial for both of us in the long run.

I teared up a little bit at the end when they had a great shot of the two brothers together on their plot of land, shot from a drone pulling up into the sky while Matt dose his 'schtick' and Jeff is looking at/past him in his own world but right there with him. I haven't seen Jon since January and have only seen him twice in the past year. We're not in a bad place at the moment, we exchange emails once or twice a week, but I also know that that is just one poorly crafted sentence away from us not talking for a while again and when we do talk it isn't like it used to be.

I don't know if it ever will be. I don't know if it ever can be.

We're certainly never going to be tag team champions, where maybe once upon a time, under some weird and different circumstances we could have been, but I hope that we can still be brothers and friends.

I don't feel like I had a very good ending to this one. I needed something more to wrap it up, some moment, but the story isn't over yet. It won't be for a long time I hope.

And to think I didn't know what to write about today...

#family #wrestling #brothers #team #mentalhealth #documentaries #memories #friendship #nineties #sickness


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