Since the summer of 2004, Amy Dumas’s “Lita” character had been tormented on WWE television with coercive sexual contracts, pregnancy, and a miscarriage. It would seem only natural that when she finally broke off her forced marriage to her own rapist, it would be a cause for celebration throughout WWE arenas everywhere. If this had happened in, say, January, then you would be right. What a difference a few months make. Oh, and the internet, too.
If you’ve never heard this story because disgusting story lines like necrophilia or Triple H as world champion had turned you off Raw after the brand extension, let’s just say that if you thought the angles that WWE invented out of whole cloth were awful, wait until you see what they do with angles from real life!
To recap, Lita had been stalked by Kane, who beat up her boyfriend Matt Hardy relentlessly until she agreed to sleep with him. Finding herself pregnant with Kane’s baby, she was forced to marry the Big Red Monster after he beat Matt Hardy in a match at Summerslam. Lita then suffered a miscarriage in an in-ring “accident” caused by Gene Snitsky, who then gloated about it before finally being vanquished by Kane. By the beginning of 2005, though, Lita appeared to no longer be an unwilling slave to Kane, but a supportive wife who stood by and, yes, loved, her husband. And the fans were happy for them. All it took for them to sympathize with the rapist was someone else doing something bad to the victim and the rapist coming to the rescue via a tombstone piledriver. How has this never been used as a defense on Law & Order: SVU?
Still, the WWE fans were forgiving of Kane and seemed to have pretty much forgotten how and why he and Lita had gotten married in the first place. Come May 2005, however, the internet was buzzing like Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell about the latest rumors. It seemed that in real life, Amy Dumas had cheated on long-time boyfriend Matt Hardy with his (married) friend Adam “Edge” Copeland. Matt had immediately broken the story on his website and was promptly released by the WWE because they didn’t like to make money.
Suddenly, the fans began turning against Lita at live events, which must have confused the less Internet-savvy viewers of Raw who never saw any kind of Lita heel turn. The jig was up for WWE, who quickly re-cast Lita as a villain by having her cost her husband Kane a key match against the devious Edge. Keep in mind that this is exactly what Lita had done months ago for Shawn Michaels and had been completely justified in doing so. The difference was that Lita made out with Edge following the match, proving that she had committed the terrible sin of infidelity… against Kane, who had raped her the previous year and held her captive as his wife. Still, Kane was shocked at the betrayal, despite having heard the audience chant “You screwed Edge” and “She’s a crack whore” at his wife throughout the entire match. “Has Edge destroyed this relationship?” wondered JR, mourning the end of a perfectly good sexually abusive marriage. “Is that the kind of man that he is?” You would think JR would have expected this, given his infamous commentary at TLC II.
“That’s the man’s wife! That’s the man’s wife!” pleaded Ross furiously, even though if this had happened just a few months before, Edge would have been turned face and probably awarded a medal for doing something that Matt Hardy failed to do.
So WWE finally pulled the trigger on the break-up/infidelity angle that fans had been itching for… except that with Matt Hardy neither able-bodied nor under contract, Kane would have to play the part of the wronged lover seeking revenge on the slimy homewrecker.
To their credit, Lita and Edge played the part of shameless lechers to the hilt, but Glen Jacobs had the unfortunate task of having to play a sympathetic character who a) had recently been a rapist, and b) was merely a stand-in for a far more popular wrestler who was unavailable to the WWE (see also: New Diesel).
As the feud wore on, Lita announced that she had filed for divorce and celebrated the occasion by flushing her wedding ring down the toilet. Kane watched in horror at the desecration of the sacred symbol, which represented the sacred bond between him, Lita, God, Eric Bischoff, and the paying Summerslam audience who been cheated out of the matrimony they had been promised in the “Till Death Do Us Part” match. Again, no mention was made of the fact that Lita had only received that ring after Kane had used explosions to prevent her from escaping the wedding ceremony.
Lita then made amends (i.e.: made out) with Snitsky, thanking him for causing her to miscarry and sparing her from having to bear Kane’s son (not mentioned: the rape that caused the pregnancy in the first place. Come on, it’s obvious that WWE wasn’t trying to be tasteful or anything.).
A mere three weeks after Lita initially announced her filing for divorce, she and Edge were set to have an on-air wedding. I don’t know what state she filed in and what lawyers she hired, but that seems like an awfully quick turn-around time. Then again, the previous year, Edge had divorced Val Venis’s sister and immediately married his next future ex-wife, so he must have had some connections.
Edge and Lita’s wedding ceremony was a thing of sleazy beauty, complete with mid-ceremony make-out sessions and Lita in a J-Lo dress. It even featured a poem by Snitsky (taking a page from Heidenreich’s book) entitled, “It’s Not My Fault,” in which he denied culpability for such misfortunes as the fact that “Kane can’t get an erection” and that Lita “had a dead baby in [her] uterus.” Snitsky’s ode to miscarriage and erectile dysfunction has been omitted from WWE’s recent Youtube video of the segment for some reason.
The wedding was interrupted by Matt Hardy’s theme music, drawing a huge pop from the crowd, but it soon became apparent that the Hardy comeback was just a prank pulled by the bride and groom. Also, that WWE hated its fans. However, it wasn’t long before the real victim in all this made a surprise appearance, preventing Lita and Edge from saying their “I Do’s”…. and by “real victim,” I mean poor old Kane. After the Big Red Machine laid waste to the set like Randy Orton to a purse, not another word was said about Edge and Lita ever trying to get married again. Edge probably remembered that he was still legally married to his second wife (and would remain so until November).
Edge and Matt Hardy, Version 2.0 (Glen Jacobs) battled for months. Meanwhile, everyone (except WWE’s announcers) was talking about Matt Hardy, Version 1.0. Paul Heyman even dropped a bombshell on Edge at ECW’s One Night Stand pay-per-view with two words: “Matt Freakin’ Hardy!” (If you want to argue with Paul or WWE about the mathematical accuracy of that statement, they’d be happy to face you at the thirtieth anniversary of Wrestlemania, 2014’s Wrestlemania 30).
Still, the nonsensical feud between Edge and Kane dragged on until July, but fans started to see a glimmer of hope as Matt Hardy began making appearances at WWE events, attacking Edge while the announcers tried to ignore what was going on in front of them. The lines between fiction and reality were beginning to blur, and the fans were eating it up like so many grapes, anticipating the biggest feud of the year and the return of their new hero. (Kane was probably happiest of all, as he would have probably ended up hooking up with Katie Vick again had his feud with Edge and Lita gone on any longer)
Sure, this new storyline made zero sense in light of Kane’s involvement with Edge and Lita. After all, Matt never jumped out of the audience to sneak attack Kane after it became apparent that he and Lita were knocking boots (consensually this time). But sometimes you have to admit that the previous year’s worth of story lines were fake if you want to make boatloads of money on a story line that’s real (or at least, less fake).
And in wrestling, you can’t get any more real (or at least, any less fake) than the emotions of Matt Hardy, who upon reinstatement condemned Lita for having cheated on him (with Edge, not Kane) and Edge for having ruined his “dream of one day having a family” and destroying his “dream of one day having children.” Apparently, Adam Copeland had not only stolen Matt’s girlfriend, but had also castrated him or otherwise made him sterile. Now that’s a feud!
Further fuel was thrown on the fire of this love triangle when the three participants were guests on wwe.com’s Byte This, wherein Edge accused Matt of being immature and not handling the drama like an adult, and Matt criticized Edge for being unable to distinguish between Edge the character and Adam Copeland the person. Hardy would later criticize Internet users for being unable to distinguish between Matt Hardy and “MATTHEW” and for not recognizing a kayfabe suicide note when they saw it, so take everything Matt said with a grain of salt.
Fans were so amped up to see this intense feud play out that they ignored such little flaws as the video package that juxtaposed Matt’s speech about his “serious knee injury” with footage of him in a neck brace, or the “yeah, right” claim by Edge that he himself had gotten Hardy reinstated so that he could destroy him without consequence.
However, when this hotly anticipated match finally took place at Summerslam, it was put on second on the card, between Chris Benoit’s half-minute squash of Orlando Jordan and the Wrestlecrap-inducted child custody ladder match. How was this match supposed to put over the hot new star-in-the-making? Here’s how: a total rout of his opponent in under five minutes, beating the stuffing out of him so badly that the referee would award the match to him by TKO. Of course, the “hot new start-in-the-making” I’m referring to was Edge, and his personal punching bag on this night was Matt Hardy. What, you thought WWE was going to put over the fan favorite just because of the unprecedented groundswell of support for him on the internet and in arenas around the country? I’m guessing Zack Ryder never saw this pay-per-view.
Hardy’s inauspicious return to the ring continued the next night when he was beaten by Rob Conway. Yes, Matt Hardy’s righteous anger and heart full of hatred and fury were suddenly no longer enough to overcome an ex-member of La Resistance in see-through tights, let alone put up a fight against the object of his rage. Who on earth thought this was a good idea?
Yes, Vince McMahon. No gag here. Obviously, if Vince didn’t think this was a good idea, it never would have made it to air on his own show. Duh. Whose picture did you think I was going to show?
Yeah, I don’t know either, dude.
In an attempt to get some of his heat back, Hardy fought Edge to a no-contest in a street fight after a “Side Effect” off the ramp and onto some wires, complete with the same obligatory sparks and explosions that had given Goldust Tourette’s syndrome. If only Matt had suffered the same fate, at least he would have a gimmick to fall back on after this debacle.
Matt finally beat Edge in a steel cage match at Unforgiven, making his return to WWE worthwhile…
…until a few weeks later, when he lost to Edge in a ladder match and was forced off Raw, never to be heard from again.
Okay, so he was on Smackdown on the CW, which was still better than unemployment, but when you consider that he was involved in the hottest WWE angle in years, it was more than a bit disappointing to find him teaming with Tatanka (buffalo) while his arch-rival was enjoying a main-event push.
Factor in Edge’s 11 career world title reigns to Matt’s 0 and suddenly Edge’s claim to have only brought Matt Hardy back to the WWE to destroy him makes complete sense.
All in all, WWE had a golden opportunity to create two bona fide superstars out of Edge and Matt Hardy, but through foolish, one-sided booking, ended up elevating only the one wrestler who was already being groomed for success while squandering the unprecedented fan support of the other, leaving him to languish in mediocrity for years. Not only is one man a Hall of Famer while the other is a sad self-parody, but the entire year and a half of awful story line after awful story line, complete with rape, abusive marriages, miscarriages, and adultery, proved that WWE would rather shove terrible ideas down the fans’ throats than actually listen to them. And there is absolutely nothing funny about that.
Except for Snitsky punting the baby. That was a riot!