Former WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr. has revealed that Triple H tried to stop Jeff Hardy from becoming WWE Champion, questioning if the company could trust him.
Hollywood star Freddie Prinze Jr. had two spells working for WWE, first as a part of the creative team between 2008 and 2009. Prinze Jr. explained to Ariel Helwani how he was tasked by long-time WWE producer Michael P.S. Hayes in elevating Jeff Hardy to the level of WWE Champion:
“I was handed an assignment from Michael Hayes, who brought Jeff Hardy into the WWF and had just hit wall after wall after wall trying to get him a push. And he saw that I was getting some love from the boss. And he said, ‘Freddie, make Jeff champion.’”
“That’s what I was tasked with. And so I wrote the whole thing out, weeks before it ever got approved, every single promo. And I presented it to Vince the way you would pitch a film at a studio in the 90s when you had more than 10 minutes. And Vince said yes. And we were moving forward.”
The stage was set for Hardy to win the biggest prize in the wrestling business at Armageddon 2008. In the main event, Jeff Hardy took on WWE Champion Edge and Triple H in a Triple Threat Match for the gold. All was looking well for Hardy until Triple H spoke up in a pre-show production meeting:
“Very few people were against it. Kevin Dunn wasn’t nuts about it. Bruce was on board, and about 90% of the agents were on board and the day of the production meeting of Armageddon. Hunter brought it up, and everybody else was cool. And nobody had said anything, and I’m sitting in there nervous. And he says, ‘Are we really going to trust the championship with this guy?’”
“And I knew that was a sniper bullet, man. Whether it was meant for me or not, it hit me, and I’m down on the ground, and I got to figure out a way up. The only other Ace in the sleeve that I kept that I didn’t use in the pitch because it was good enough to get over with Vince was Jeff’s merchandise sales and those armbands that looked like Spider-Man [webbing] and his t-shirts. At least the week that I presented them with was outselling everyone.”
Prinze Jr. played his ace card to help Hardy’s cause and then he and the rest of the writing staff were faced with an anxious wait to find out what the final decision was going to be:
“So I came out of the dark with that, and I said, ‘Listen, this guy’s merchandise is already the top-selling,’ and I showed them the numbers on that. And I said, ‘It’s outselling everyone it’s even outselling you, man,’ I said, ‘We got to take a chance now while we can strike now while everything is ready and perfect or they’re gonna stop believing.’ And that was what got it over; Vince was like, ‘Alright, everybody get out of here,’ which meant me, and everyone else stayed with me. Like the agents and stuff, right?”
“So we all go out, and I’m not going back to the writer’s room. I’m waiting to find out. I’m sitting there with Michael Hayes. And he’s like, ‘Freddie; I don’t know. I just think maybe you pushed too hard. And I just I don’t know,’ and he’s nervous. And I’m like, ‘Come on, man. It’s gonna work out the story’s worth it,’ like the young, passionate WWE writer.”
If the revelation of the final decision wasn’t clear by an affronted Triple H storming out of the room, a grunt from Vince McMahon sealed the deal:
“Then, all of a sudden, the door swings open. Hunter goes by doesn’t even throw me a glance, which meant two things. One, he wasn’t feeling me, and two, Jeff was going to be champion. So I looked at Michael, and I went in before Michael did back into the production meeting. I said, ‘Are we good?’ And he [Vince McMahon] just grunts his gruntly grunt, and I ran back out, and I was like, I won’t swear on your podcast, but I said, ‘We’re freaking good, man. We’re freaking good!’”
“I watched it from a side entrance, the end of the match, and you can see Hunter removed himself from the end of the match because he didn’t want to be a part of that. He kind of rolls out of the ring, and Jeff has the moment with Edge.”
In hindsight Freddie Prinze Jr. not only understands Triple H’s concerns about making Hardy champion but says he agrees with The Game:
“He was right. Jeff wasn’t trustworthy as champ, and it was a feel-good moment. But it wasn’t a sustainable one. Hunter’s about sustainable championship runs because that’s bankable, reliable money for the company. And his philosophy was sound then, and it’s still sound now, and I just know I pushed hard on that one because I thought it was worth it.”
Jeff Hardy was gone from WWE less than a year after his inaugural WWE Title win. He’s recently discussed a drugs bust by the SWAT Team on his house just two weeks after he parted company with WWE.