At the end of 2020, we at WrestleCrap nominated The Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara feud for the Gooker Award, representing the worst in wrestling. Ultimately, readers decided that a match that could have killed a wrestler was not nearly as bad as RETRIBUTION. Fair enough.
But while most people (except Matt Hardy) remember the shocking accident in the pay-per-view match, they might not remember the other mishaps that plagued the feud leading up to it.
Mishap #1 occurred in a Dynamite segment, with Sammy Guevara attacking Matt Hardy during a promo. The brawl spilled to the outside, where Matt inadvertently bumped Sammy’s head into the camera. But that’s not the mishap.
The mishap was when Sammy took a chair and flung it straight at Matt’s forehead like a missile.
It was a type of chair shot never before seen in wrestling.
That really should have been the end of the segment, but Sammy still had to put Matt through a table…
…which ended up with a thorough paint job.
Calling the chair shot the most reckless in history, Matt Hardy said Guevara could have killed him (a bet Sammy would later take him up on).
The two looked to settle their score in a tables match…
…an intense, hard-fought main event that, due to time constraints, lasted only six-and-a-half minutes and took place mostly in picture-in-picture.
Sammy won the match by putting Matt through a table painted by Hardy himself (with paint this time)…
…but not before cutting open his own head with a different table. That was Mishap #2.
Though Sammy managed to bust himself up good, this wasn’t enough for Hardy, who then put his AEW career on the line in a rematch at All Out.
This time, it would be contested under “Broken Rules”, or Last Man Standing. If Hardy was tempting fate before with his “Stronger Than Death” t-shirt…
…he was triple-dog-daring it with his “I Don’t Die” t-shirt.
The match was to begin in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ end zone, but Sammy was nowhere to be found. He finally revealed himself with Matt’s back turned, driving a golf cart right at Hardy.
Would Broken Matt get out of the way in time? Yes. And so concluded the one portion of the match that went right.
Both men began to brawl and ended up in a scissor lift — not the thing The Acclaimed does with Billy Gunn, but a cart that raises itself up off the ground.
Matt attempted the Side Effect, but Sammy blocked it and speared Hardy off the platform and through the table below. Sort of.
Half of Hardy’s body hit the table, but the other half hit concrete. The top half. Where his head and stuff was.
Horrified, the announcers pleaded with the officials and doctors to stop the match…
…and under normal circumstances, they would have. But the stipulation dictated that Matt Hardy leave AEW forever if he lost. Perhaps AEW could have later said that, since Matt hadn’t actually been pinned, the stipulation didn’t count….
…except this was a Last Man Standing match, where the entire point was to injure your opponent so badly that he couldn’t answer a ten-count.
Could the referee have counted both men down and declared the match a draw? Possibly, but Sammy was already on his feet…
…so with a draw out of the question, he’d also need Matt to get to his feet pronto. And you can’t say he didn’t try!
Everyone involved likely had flashbacks of Summerslam 1997. There, a paralyzed Steve Austin willed his way to history’s most pathetic pinfall, just to avoid having to kiss Owen Hart’s ass. That might explain why Hardy tried to pants Sammy right then and there.
Mercifully, Doc Sampson and Aubrey Edwards called off the match before Hardy could hit his head a second time.
But Broken Matt Hardy wouldn’t hear of it! Or, if he did hear of it, it didn’t register in his brain for obvious reasons. It was unclear what to blame for his characteristically nonsensical remarks: Commitment to his persona, or brain damage?
But just because a wrestler says he’s okay to continue doesn’t mean he should be allowed to (although that was AEW’s official story for about half an hour). Conveniently, it turned out that AEW staff gave Hardy a medical evaluation after all — some time in the 122 seconds between the bell that ended the match and the bell that restarted it.
And so Matt, once pointed in the right direction, shambled towards Guevara to resume the match. This was, in a way, a win-win for AEW: Best case scenario, Matt Hardy would win as planned and wouldn’t have to honor his pledge never to wrestle in AEW again. Worst case scenario, the stip would be redundant.
For some reason, Sammy actually allowed the broken Broken Matt Hardy to DDT him on the concrete floor.
Then, in the only thing resembling a good decision in the entire match, they went straight to the planned finish. Of course, that planned finish just happened to involve climbing really, really high.
“Don’t be stupid”, warned JR, seconds before a blacked-out Matt Hardy slipped on the scaffolding.
I guess that’s why Guevara decided that, You know what, two rungs is plenty high. Hardy punched Sammy, sending the Spanish God plummeting one story to the cardboard and mats below. Sammy stayed down for the count, and Matt Hardy got to continue his wrestling career (possibly).
Even without comparing it to the earlier concrete spot, this was a tame bump. Still, there was no way Matt Hardy was going to wrestle any longer than he already had. Sammy could have stood up at the count of one, and I’m sure AEW’s production guys would’ve just aired a freeze frame of this shot while the ref counted to ten off screen:
Bell to bell (to bell to bell) the match lasted barely eight minutes. Most would say that was about seven minutes too long, and that Tony Khan should have ended it after the disastrous botched table spot (the one at All Out, to be specific).
Sure, Khan would’ve had to cook up some far-fetched excuse to allow Hardy to wrestle again. None so far-fetched as the one he went with at All Out, but still….
Maybe Matt could have shown up on Dynamite in a mask as the Midnight Rider or High Voltage or Ingar Jinx. Maybe he could have broken the stipulation outright — it was, after all, a “Broken Rules” match.
The important thing is that, despite falling from a great height, banging his head on concrete, and knocking himself unconscious…
…Matt Hardy avoided a concussion.
He just didn’t wrestle for the next two months.
Because he wasn’t medically cleared.
Because Sammy Guevara attacked his knee off-camera.
And certainly not because of the fall at All Out.