Union Pines High School (Cameron, North Carolina)
The pre-match hype and commentary put over this match between the two brother tag teams as a dream match. Certainly on the dream match spectrum, the Hardy Boys versus Briscoe Brothers falls somewhere. A case could be made (and the lead announcer attempts to make it) that this is a pairing of the two most successful brother duos in recent memory suggesting that not since the Steiner Brothers versus Harlem Heat endless series of matches in WCW have two brother tag teams as talented as these squared off. I don’t know if anyone views Steiners/Harlem Heat series as a historically notable series, but I think his main point might be true. I am hard pressed to think of any brother tag teams over the past 15 years that were more successful or more high-profile than these two. Fans of the Young Bucks might disagree but they are at least a notch below these two teams.
With the dream match hype machine in full effect, the Hardys and Briscoes laid out a decidedly epic match. I came away with the feeling that they crammed a three or four match series into one bout. I understand why – the desire to get in all of their ideas in what might be the only time the match is run – but the match probably went in too many directions to truly be effective.
The opening is standard – but well executed – fare. The Hardys come out hot before the Briscoes take over and work on Jeff. Mark looked particularly good in this match combing his usual fun offense with some nice athletic moves and bumping. In ROH, Jay has looked the better of the two over the last year but I am starting to think that is more due to positioning than anything else (Jay has had featured singles matches while Mark has been stuck mainly wrestling multi-man matches and lower card singles matches). Jeff eventually gets the hot tag to Matt who cleans house. This felt like the ending of match #1 (the traditional southern tag formula).
Jeff gets taken out on the floor shortly after the hot tag to Mark. He is helped to the back by referees and Shane Helms. Matt gets worked over for a while. The Briscoes’ offense during this segment is decent and Matt is very good at fighting back here and there. The added background of this match was that Jay and Matt are (or at least were) feuding in ROH with Jay feeling that Matt (who is the heel in ROH) cost him the World championship. The idea was that the Briscoes took out Jeff so they could get their revenge on Matt.
After an extended beating that included chair shots and with the official knocked, Willow the Whisp emerges from the back with his trusty umbrella in hand. Like a deranged Mary Poppins, he whacks the Briscoes with the umbrella evening things up for Matt before disappearing. This felt like the end of Match #2.
Several minutes later – with Matt now on slightly more equal footing – Jeff staggers from the back looking woozy. Shane Helms implores Jeff to not go to the ring, but he does anyway. The third “match” begins at this juncture. Jeff gets the hot tag and later does the same to Matt. They do a prolonged finishing stretch that would have not felt as long had so much not proceeded it. The Briscoes kick out of a bunch of signature Hardy moves and the Hardys escape defeat continually before the Hardys pull it out with a victory roll.
There was a lot in the match that I really liked this. These are two teams that get tag team wrestling better than most going today. There were fun double teams, good face in peril segments, good use of the legal man, and a bunch of drama. As mentioned earlier, the main issue was that it was really three matches in one and as such I was feeling burnt out by the end. I think they could have taken the three distinct parts of this match and had a great three match series.
Match #1 – The first part of this match through the hot tag to Jeff, ending with a DQ when Jeff gets taken out.
Match #2 – Jeff is still not cleared to wrestle so Matt goes it alone. Second part of this match takes place with Willow the Whisp coming out to even the sides. Jeff comes in against doctor orders, the Briscoes win or the match ends in a no contest, and the third match is set up.
Match #3 – Essentially the third part of this match with maybe an opening tacked on. Hardys finally get their revenge and the win after a near fall heavy, grudge-match sprint.
All of that was basically crammed into this one match. While it was still a good match, they could have given everything a little more breathing room by spreading it out over multiple shows or simply leaving some ideas on the shelf.
Southern Tag | Worthwhile | Quality