After making their debut at AEW’s inaugural Double or Nothing event the pairing of Evil Uno and Stu Grayson, formerly known as Super Smash Bros, would cement themselves as looming figures over AEW’s tag team division. The Dark Order has become a staple of AEW Dynamite for better or worse. After a less than stellar run in 2019 that saw the “spooky perverts” feud with Jurassic Express and Best Friends; it became obvious that something wasn’t working. On the December 18th, 2019 edition of Dynamite SCU defeated the Bucks to retain the AEW World Team Titles that resulted in a post-match attack from the Dark Order which was critically panned. The next week on the Homecoming edition of Dynamite saw the first tease of the “Exalted One” the true leader of the Dark Order. Speculation ran rampant on who could be the new head honcho from Marty Scurll, to Raven, to the most popular and practical option: Broken Matt Hardy. However, it was revealed on the March 18th episode of Dynamite that none other than Mr. Brodie Lee was the exalted one. In the four months since Brodie Lee took charge, the cult has found more success every week. However, while the former Luke Harper makes sense as a leader for the group perhaps it would’ve been more beneficial for AEW to have had Matt Hardy as the leader of the group instead.
When he joined AEW back in March; Matt Hardy smartly returned to his incredibly popular Broken persona. Unfortunately, right as AEW began to hit its stride, the pandemic hit resulting in Hardy and Lee debuting without fans in attendance. That didn’t stop AEW from running shows as it would now become apparent that the company would have to plan their storylines in empty arenas for the foreseeable future. Broken Matt Hardy is arguably the perfect wrestler for the quarantine era pro-wrestling show. The eldest Hardy brother revitalized himself on IMPACT Wrestling with Lucha Underground style cinematic matches in a backyard without fans featuring a dilapidated boat and reincarnating lake. After WWE failed to properly use the Broken gimmick AEW took full advantage of Hardy with him showing off multiple personalities on Dynamite. From “Big Money Matt”, to “Unkillable”, to Version 1; Matt Hardy desired to become an attraction to help bring more eyes to AEW. However, in Matt’s own words, he feels frustrated having his run in AEW so far without a live crowd to enjoy the Broken Brilliance. It’s unfortunate then, on the most recent episode of Dynamite, Matt decided he would simply be himself going forward.
Brodie Lee’s role as the exalted one was originally perplexing, to say the least. So far the gimmick has seen Mr. Lee adopt mannerisms akin to former boss Vince McMahon. From insisting on “eating first”, to getting mad at his subordinates for sneezing, to believing yawning is a sign of weakness. Brodie Lee hasn’t been able to branch out his character into something unique. Even though admittedly his repeated bashing of Dark Order minions with a stack of papers is quality entertainment. Brodie might’ve been better off doing his own thing in AEW instead of associating with another evil cult immediately after leaving WWE, where his most notable run was as part of the Wyatt Family. Brodie’s placement as the exalted could be seen as an homage to the Undertaker during his phase in 1999 with the Ministry of Darkness. The only problem is that the ministry were successfully introduced into being a strong, unsettling threat. Whereas the Dark Order, unfortunately, started off on the wrong foot and is still trying to recover.
AEW originally wanted it’s audience to take the Dark Order as an intimidating threat from the beginning. And it was made explicitly clear by fans that wasn’t going to happen. So instead of treating the Dark Order akin to the Ministry; they have smartly decided to lean into a more comedic side. Currently, Alex Reynolds and John Silver have become a regular bit on Being the Elite in their attempts to convince other wrestlers to join the Dark Order. And while Brodie has been hilarious in subjugating his minions to repeated paper bashing it feels as though this role would’ve been better suited to Matt Hardy. With Broken Matt Hardy as the leader, the Dark Order could’ve had an entire established universe for them to play with online and on TV. And if Matt was at the creative helm the group certainly could’ve had more engaging storylines, promos, and character vignettes at the Hardy Compound to provide context with a feud versus The Elite. Matt Hardy is the king of creative weird internet videos and if he were made the exalted one the group could’ve been accepted by fans more easily. Currently on BTE, now that the episodes are thirty minutes long, the Dark Order and Hardy occupy a good portion of the weekly Youtube show with their respective skits. If AEW wants to devote plenty of time to both Dark Order and Hardy wouldn’t it be easier to put them together instead? That way more time, on Dynamite and BTE, could’ve gone to more talent (especially in their women’s division!)
Predictability isn’t always a bad thing. There are times where it is ok for the obvious answer to be the correct one. Brodie Lee is a fine choice for the role however, if AEW had gone with Matt Hardy it would’ve been more satisfying from a narrative standpoint. Matt Hardy revitalized his career with his Broken Brilliance. His expert knowledge of Tag Team Wrestling and his cult following persona would’ve helped fans to accept Evil Uno and Stu Grayson sooner rather than later. The Dark Order continues to succeed on AEW and will likely result in a tag title win for the group in the future. That being said the cult of personality that is Broken Matt Hardy had a perfect thematic style of dark comedy and internet hype that would’ve fit him and the Dark Order together like a glove.
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