365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

How many wrestlers who step through the ropes today grew up watching Matt and Jeff Hardy? They rank as one of the most beloved duos in the history of tag team wrestling. While each has spent some time on the Dark Side as an individual (Matt more than Jeff), the Hardys as a team were consistently fan favorites … but not always. In this installment of 365 Wrestling, the Hardys take to the ring as heels, in this match from OMEGA (the promotion the Hardys helped start themselves) on January 29, 1999 against Shane Helms and Mike Maverick.

This match is available in two parts on YouTube, and embedded below:

The Match

You know three of the players in this match. ECW diehards may recognize Maverick as Jack Dupp.

For all the details on this match, I went straight to the source: Thomas Simpson, one of the co-founders of the OMEGA promotion, and someone I did commentary for on some independent shows in South Carolina a few years ago. The Hardys had been OMEGA champs for about six months, winning the titles off of Helms and Venom (aka Joey Abs from the Mean Street Posse in the heyday of the WWF Attitude Era). Simpson noted Venom was substituting in that match for Maverick, who had broken his arm when he fell off a roof while working a construction job.

This match takes place at East Wake High School in Wendell, NC, also the alma mater of Helms and Maverick. The challengers are out first and greeted as conquering heroes. Meanwhile, the Hardys already are a known presence on WWF TV but they get booed mightily. Matt stirs them up even more, stating that he and his brother will be “winning on Sunday Night Heat” after beating Helms and Maverick.

This match is filmed on a handheld camera and, once it’s under way, you can hear someone in the crowd say, “They’ve gotta win the belts or the crowd’s gonna riot.” That’s a good summary of the raucous atmosphere for this match. The crowd at East Wake High helps elevate what’s happening in the ring — and the match itself already is quite good.

Maverick and Helms work with a big man/little man dynamic that I’ve always enjoyed in tag teams, and they do it well. Twice, Maverick flings his partner into the air to do damage to their foes: a gorilla press that turns into a splash for a close two count, or launching him out of the ring to land on both Hardys. Such power already has been established through some early interactions with Jeff: delivering a brutal-looking spear and then catching him in midair to disrupt the Hardys’ now-well-known Poetry In Motion double team.

Helms plays a spectacular face in peril and is the engine that keeps this match going. He spends more time in the ring than anyone else, and the fans bite on every bit of offense he musters up. When he gets cut off, it just builds the anticipation. Helms continues to sell but never completely fades, showing enough fight to keep the already-rabid crowd engaged.

Jeff Hardy is in splendid form here. This is 1999 and well before many of the catastrophic landings and injuries that Jeff has accumulated through the years, so he is still at his physical peak. At one point, Jeff busts out a springboard swanton off the top rope, chains it directly into a quebrada and makes it all look effortless. In front of a different crowd, it might have earned a golf clap of appreciation or even outright applause. Here, Jeff culminates the high-flying combination by hugging his brother, only further enraging the crowd.

As the match progresses, Matt ensnares Helms in a sleeper and many of the fans start clapping and stomping, to the point that the camera filming literally starts to shake. We’re 15 minutes into the match at this point and it feels half as long — if that.

There is creativity on display here. These four twist the standard tag formula, first during their control of Helms. Then Helms makes the “hot tag” to Maverick, who promptly gets cut off. A ref bump leads to a visual pin by the Hardys, not the fan favorites, as is usually the case. When a replacement referee finally scurries to the ring and makes a count that ends in a long two, Matt responds as a true heel would: first by powerbombing referee #2, then hooking Helms by the arms while Jeff brings a chair into the ring.

By now, you can see what’s coming from a mile away, and so does the crowd, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. Helms moves, Jeff pulverizes his brother and gets knocked to the outside. Helms and Maverick both scale the nearest corner, with Helms leaping off of his partner’s shoulders with a splash to score the win and take the titles to the delight of the packed crowd.

Final Rating: 8.7

These four combine to create a love letter to Southern tag wrestling with a modern adaptation through the moves used. The crowd is red-hot throughout and shows no signs of tiring out or losing interest. The end result is fantastic, and a must-watch, especially if you’re a Hardys fan.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

We take a look at another wrestler who embodies excellence over the long haul.

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9 thoughts on “365 Wrestling, Day 29: Serial Thrillaz vs. Hardy Boyz (OMEGA, 1/29/99)

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