Of the little bits of wrestling that I actually catch here and there, usually through what social media spoon feeds me, I know that the Hardy Boyz are back together, in AEW of course, where seemingly all older WWE talent seems to go to finish out. Naturally they can’t use the Hardy Boyz name, but the point and brand is still fine, when they’re referred to as just The Hardys.
I admit that back in 1999, I was a fan of the Hardy Boyz, when they were repackaged and paired up with Gangrel. I remember thinking, aren’t these those two jobbers who wore plaid? But then Jeff Hardy is doing these picture perfect swanton bombs, and next thing they’re upsetting the Acolytes and they’re tag team champions, and I was kind of sold.
But that was 1999, and a few years after that, after the memorable and outstanding classics that they did with all the ladder and TLC matches. Throughout the passage of time, they were broken up, reunited, repeat, numerous times, Matt left, Jeff left, Matt came back to feud with Edge over the Lita cheating scandal, Jeff showed up in TNA, Matt went to ROH, Matt went to TNA, both went to ROH, both came back to WWE, split up, Matt went to AEW, Jeff was relegated to 24/7 segments, left and then went to AEW and here we are.
I could also mention the 20+ times Jeff was busted for substance abuse in between all that, but all anyone has to do is Google the Jeff Hardy vs. Sting to get the big picture.
Anyway so the Hardys have been at it for well over 20 years at this point, and good on them to try and squeeze one last substantial run at a place like AEW where they’ll likely have a better shot at it than in the WWE. That’s not the point of this post, to be one big retrospective on the Hardy Boyz, what served as the impetus of this post is the fact that over the last 20 years, and regardless of the fact that JNCO jeans basically died 20 years ago, it appears that the Hardy Brands® seem to be the only thing alive that’s keeping the clothing company intact, based on the fact that they still wear them or some knockoff variation of them, as their ring attire for the last two decades.
Sure, lots of long-time wrestlers establish a look and maintain them throughout the duration of their careers; the Rock ‘n Roll Express are both well into their 60’s and still bust out the tights and tassles, but the thing is, they’re still wrestling in wrestling gear. The Hardy Boyz built their brand on pretty specific 1999, Avril Lavigne/emo boy street mallrat festival fashion, and for the last 20 years, they’ve stayed more or less the same, the whole time.
In one hand, good on them for consistency and really sticking to their guns, and establishing their brands. But in the other hand, I just have this scenario in my mind, where I’m imagining Matt Hardy at his home, packing his rollaboard luggage for his next tour, hollering out to his wife, baby, have you seen my JNCOs?? With his heavy southern drawl and how he hangs on words like a real southern boy. Matt Hardy is currently 47 years old, and is still going to work in JNCOs. Jeff Hardy is 44 and is basically the creepy old guy at a My Chemical Romance concert.
I make myself laugh with this thought.
Anyway, good for the Hardys for always being fearless in the face of change, as far as their career directions go. But from a branding standpoint, guys like Chris Jericho are immortalized for their creativity and ability to reinvent and repackage themselves. Sticking with JNCOs for the last two decades seems more amusing than entertaining to me for some reason, and I have a hard time taking them serious as all-time greats as long as they continue to do so. And I admit that I had, maybe two pairs of JNCOs myself; but that was in 1999, and by the time I started college, they were already relegated to the bottom of the closet, before quietly being thrown out when it was all but confirmed that the style was dead.