In what can only be seen as good for the entire pro-wrestling business, Anthem Sports and Entertainment has decided to drop their lawsuit against Matt Hardy and the Hardy family regarding the “broken universe.” What does this mean? This past week’s edition of WWE Monday Night RAW saw Matt Hardy lose to Bray Wyatt, only to watch him absolutely lose it after the match. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Hardy is indeed broken once again. The interesting situation regarding this is that Hardy was going to be broken once again, but early next year.
Matt Hardy upon leaving TNA Wrestling last year decided to apply for copyright and trademark to the Broken Matt Hardy name. In turn, this would include all material associated to the universe as most of it could not singly be applied for. American Federal Law requires that a person present a name for trademark and licensing material or they would risk losing that trademark or copyright to someone else. This is why you might see “trademark registered” if something is already in circulation. WWE for example makes sure to speed up the process by applying for trademarks well before a talent debuts for them.
TNA never bothered to do this with Matt Hardy, and main reason was due to how tricky it was going to be. Hardy’s deal was current with TNA, he was useful to programming, and Dixie Carter may have not wanted to tick him off. However, she and Hardy never agreed to any sort of thing regarding the broken universe. Since the ideas were mostly on the Hardy family, most things using real names of the talent involved, and all of the compound footage being filmed on private Hardy land in North Carolina…what could TNA really do?
When Anthem bought the company outright, they royally screwed up with both Matt and Jeff Hardy. While they wanted to stay and even had a previous contract they were planning to sign, only needing small amendments to….Anthem destroyed that. They offered a lower deal with a 10% fee for any independent dates they did with the broken universe. Only after Ed Norholm, the VP for Anthem handling the contract talks, told the Hardy’s lawyer to tell them to just go to WWE after he was informed other parties were interested in the brothers.
They would leave, allowing Matt to jump to ROH and eventually WWE. All the while, they would await trademark and copyright on the name by the federal government. In order to stop this, both sides were involved in a lawsuit for the past year.
What Is This About A Lawsuit Drop?
As mentioned, Anthem dropped their lawsuit and would announce it with a press release to Sports Illustrated, reading:
“We have seen the character development and will be interested to see where they take the concept. Our new talent agreements all incorporate language that allows talent to continue to use their IMPACT persona after they leave the company. We are working with our legal team to amend our existing agreements to extend this to all of our current and former talents.”
The entire plan here is to not only give Matt Hardy the broken universe completely now, but they are also allowing other talent to use their name and gimmick elsewhere. Literally, Abyss could go somewhere else and keep everything he used in TNA/Impact Wrestling. EC3 could do the exact same thing. Even smaller things they were still quite lucrative for the company like The Dollhouse and The Beautiful People could be used in other companies now with the exact names of members used.
There might be a catch in that a talent will be able to buy Anthem out on it when they leave, but the fact that they are overly willing to do this says that they clearly feel there is a better use this way. The question truly has to be, why would Anthem do all of this….especially now?
The Real Reason Behind The Move
Anthem did their best to keep the broken universe under their banner, and fought The Hardy’s the entire way in a highly public battle. Anthem would apply 4 different trademark rights for the broken universe that the United States government turned down. They were told that the trademarks they used were either too specific to the real names of people, or that they were not able to do it due to not being different enough. Broken Matt Hardy was Matt’s trademark, and he was going to win it. The “broken” part made trying to grab the broken universe trademark much harder, and since Matt owns his real name and his real life brother’s middle name is Nero, both the Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero names were unable to be taken by Anthem.
The U.S copyright and trademark office felt they would not work given the special nature of the situation. Not having another choice, Anthem was going to have to give in eventually. By January, Matt was going to own everything. This was not speculated or assumed, but literally what the federal government ruled.
This is actually much bigger than foreseen by Anthem. Now relocating Impact Wrestling completely to Canada, they are no longer having to deal with most federal law we have here. They plan to do most everything up north with a few tours in the U.S. like WWE might do with Canada or The UK. They know that trying to navigate through all of this again with many other characters would be difficult and absolutely not worth their time.
On top of this, there is an obvious situation they now have to look at that they did not consider before. Talent are leaving and they need to reload. Do you think talent would jump to a company that went through such a horrific public battle with two VERY respected pro-wrestlers? Hell no! This is why they knew they had to do something to make people want to work for them over other companies. This was their response, and we have to give them credit here, it’s a good idea. Plus, monetarily this will help them in the long term. Not just with getting good workers, but also help them stay out of the courtroom. It also saves them face.
What Does This Mean For Matt Hardy And The Broken Universe?
WWE is all about legality. They know that Anthem could change their mind any day now and make a big fuss over the broken gimmick once more. Matt will legally own everything 100% next year. This is why it seems quite obvious that WWE will give into the broken universe little by little every single week. WWE wants to do their own origin story for the character, since there are WWE fans who never saw the original. In order to do this, WWE has to give people a reason for Matt to be broken once more.
Expect this to be a way for them to play into the gimmick without ever actually giving it totally away. It will allow WWE to expose the gimmick a bit to what they need it to be, while also not ruining it. They would then be able to wait out the official papers by the U.S. government for Matt Hardy to completely own things. It would then allow them to use everything with no fear of lawsuits, fines, or what have you. Plus, Matt Hardy could use the character upon leaving WWE too.
That said, once Matt owns things, WWE would apply to use things for merchandise like they do with all talent. Even those who own their own things like AJ Styles and CM Punk allow WWE to use their name for licensing as long as they’re under contract with them. However, all of their WWE match and segment library remains WWE’s regardless of a person being in WWE or not.