As the Hardy Boyz reached the zenith of their popularity in the early 2000’s it was widely expected that Jeff Hardy would soon spin off into being a major singles star.
The high-flying Hardy had charisma by the bucket load, and after taking The Undertaker to the limit for the Undisputed Championship it was surely just a matter of time before he landed the big one. Well, not quite.
By the end of April 2003 Hardy would be gone from WWE, with the company losing patience with the star and his refusal to enter rehab to deal with his addiction issues.
On a recent episode of his podcast Grilling JR, available at Ad Free Shows, Jim Ross outlined that the company had big plans for Hardy around the time of his departure. However, with Hardy not wanting to attend rehab, WWE were forced to let him go.
“Jeff was in total denial,” Ross said. “Like a lot of substance abusers, he just didn’t perceive he had a big problem. I remember sitting down talking to him after the drug tests and him appearing to be affected, not in the right frame of mind on whatever pills he was taking and I said ‘We have this theory here Jeff that we either solve problems or eliminate them. The way we’re going to solve your problem, if you agree, is we’re going to send you to rehab and help you. Why are you doing this? Why are you purposely valuing getting high over your career? You can’t make any money getting high, you can make a lot of money as Jeff Hardy the superstar.’
“But he said I’m not going to rehab. I said ‘Is that your final answer, do you want to think about this and get back to me later today?’ [Jeff responded,] ‘Nope, I’m not going.’ Alright, then you’re basically telling me you’re done because we can’t continue this way, it’s not an option. He was wrecking corvettes and missing death multiple times. He was so well liked there, Jeff is such a lovable guy and I’m so happy he’s got that s–t under control. That’s a blessing for him and his family but he didn’t believe he had a problem.”
“When I told Vince [McMahon], Vince was incredulous as well,” Ross said. “[He said] ‘You mean he’s going to walk away? He knew we’re going to push him? You know he’s got a great opportunity?’ Apparently he’d rather get high then come to work. Luckily for everyone involved he’s climbed that mountain but man, he was primed. There’s no reason that Jeff Hardy would not be a great WWE Champion. He just wasn’t reliable and how do you put your championship on somebody you don’t have full confidence that they’re going to be okay.”
“Can they take the pressure of being the champion?” JR said. “Can they take the pressure of going on last night after night? Can they take the pressure of putting the company on their shoulders and marching forward? At that time, that was not what everybody thought. They just didn’t think Jeff would hold up in that scenario. If he raised his hand and said I’m going to get help, we would’ve brought him right back. It was a tough time, I felt bad about that because now you look back and say he wasted some time there that he can’t retrieve. He was hard headed as hell.”
As the injuries mounted Hardy would leave the company again in 2009 returning to TNA early the following year. However, the tag team star would again struggle with substance abuse, which lead to his infamous match with Sting at TNA Victory Road 2011.
Thankfully the younger Hardy brother would eventually get the help he needed and return to WWE, where he currently appears on Monday Night RAW.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with any issues around addiction, you can follow this link to access some useful UK based resources.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.