The Final Deletion is An (Un)Ironic Masterpiece

Full disclosure: I love Bad Things. I love Troll 2 and The Room and Miami Connection with a full-fat passion that’ll remain long after my skeleton melts down into crude. If something is 1.) terrible 2.) completely confident that it’s not terrible, and 3.) entertaining, I will buy a T-shirt, I will go to panels featuring whatever wildly deluded psychonaut made this thing, I will rewatch it until I lose childhood memories.

As a wrestling fan, you’ll have seen The Final Deletion unless you’ve been living in a casserole dish for the last few weeks. It’s a cultural event that’s so balls-to-the-wall gonzo, we’re still gonna be talking about it this time next year. No matter what pale imitations TNA tries to put out in an effort to capitalize on its surprise explosion of popularity (and they will absolutely fuck it up, because they’re TNA), we’ll always have The Final Deletion as a historical document of how unspeakably weird 2016 was.

So if you’re like me and you love kissing terrible stuff right on the mouth, you’ve rewatched The Final Deletion at least a dozen times. Questions that have probably occurred to you: “Are they aware of how terrible this is? This can’t actually be serious, right? Holograms? Landscaping? A dilapidated boat? Did they actually think this was good when they aired it?”

Yes and no. Because they are carnies, and their creepy little hands are capable of holding many truths at once.

#Broken Matt Hardy is canonically a stupid dickhead who believes he’s a tortured genius. That moment when he realizes that Jeff’s clutching some fireworks and interrupts his Christopher Lee-by-way-of-Jimmy-Swaggart shtick to blurt “oh, shit” is a nod to the artifice of the #BROKEN persona. He only thinks to yell “IT’S A DILAPIDATED BOAT” once he’s had a moment to adjust and remember that he’s gotta act like Deep South Dracula.

Conversely, we have the image of Jeff Hardy (the consummate straight man to Matt’s clown) falling off of one of his shitty sculptures into some dirt, which is also on fire. It’s like a cruel impersonation of Jeff’s career trajectory, and what’s even better: Jeff’s completely aware of that fact. The ring used in The Final Deletion is (kayfabe, maybe) the same ring the Hardys used to make bad decisions when they were still a pair of asshole kids doing backyard wrestling. So here’s former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy, 38-year-old family man, throwing himself out of a tree and crashing through a ladder while the cheesiest string section this side of a Lifetime original movie farts along in the background.

Actual Human People at TNA produced this, edited it, and posted it, and were completely aware of how Bad it was, and posted it anyway. And you know what? It WORKED. Nobody’s ever talked about TNA this much except as a punchline. Don’t get me wrong, The Final Deletion is still used as a punchline — notably by Matt Hardy himself, who retweets fan-made riffs on his #BROKEN character’s Twitter. (“Who implanted this blasphemy in my electronic mail? I will scalp the perpetrator” he howls, retweeting an edit of his lawnmower hijinks with “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire, and it gets retweeted over and over again, and more people watch The Final Deletion)

And The Final Deletion was a fucking joy to watch. It’s weird and uncomfortable and one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen this year. It’s like a child’s impersonation of a wrestling storyline, only with enough of a budget to throw down for CGI drones and irresponsible fireworks. Like #BROKEN Matt Hardy himself, it’s somewhere in the swamp between self-aware irony and total sincerity.

I can’t think of any other medium that The Final Deletion could’ve taken place in, or a more perfect manifestation of how fucking bizarre and upsetting this year has been so far. Find me a Very Serious Podcast about oily cartoon characters pretending to punch each other and tell me The Final Deletion isn’t right at home.

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