Matt Hardy: Mickie James' WWE Royal Rumble Appearance Doesn't Happen If There's No AEW

Has the existence of AEW forced Vince McMahon's hand?

Matt Hardy has given his views on Mickie James returning to WWE for the upcoming Royal Rumble, saying that it's indicative of AEW changing the wrestling landscape. 

WWE made waves with their announcement of James' inclusion in the women's Royal Rumble match, a groundbreaking appearance given her status as current IMPACT Knockouts Champion.

As a recent guest on the Wrestling Perspective Podcast, Hardy stated:

"It really shows how much AEW is changing and causing the business to evolve in many capacities. [...] With the Wednesday Night Wars, AEW won that, and Vince McMahon specifically put NXT head-to-head against AEW to try and cut into the audience, and try to slow us down from gaining any momentum on his Raw and SmackDown viewerships. That was his initial mindset behind it.

"Tony [Khan] was working with other places, with IMPACT, you had guys coming from New Japan, NWA - it really made it so compelling and interesting to watch. You wanted to tune in every single week. Besides the great action and great All Elite Wrestling talent, you never knew who could show up. This appearance of Mickie James in the Royal Rumble, I feel like Vince was pushed to do this because now he has to continue to keep up with AEW.

"I feel if there's no AEW, if there's no forbidden door, Vince doesn't bring outside talent into the Royal Rumble. It's great for the business in general because it has pushed Vince to change. I feel most people would agree with me on this. Vince and WWE became stagnant over all those years where there was no competition and he wasn't pushed."

The Royal Rumble takes place this Saturday, January 29. Several returning names have been announced alongside Mickie James for the women's Rumble match, including Lita, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, and Summer Rae. 

H/T to Fightful.

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Jack King

Written by Jack King

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