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WRESTLING COLUMNS

It Was All About His Heart
July 15, 2006 by Michael Mulcahy


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The Charismatic Enigma Jeff Hardy still has a lot of fans left out there. Sure, he has lost some due to all the problems he seems to be putting himself through, but I know there are others out there like me, that still put him way up in their list of favorites. You know, it says on this website and a couple of others that have info about Jeff Hardy, people thought he would be the next coming of Shawn Michaels, if he could just keep it clean and stay determined throughout his career. That's all he had to do, because this high-flying wonder had the talent. I had never watched a man so eager to please the crowd, displaying high spot after high spot. This man, trained by Dory Funk Jr., had all the makings of a champion, and he had a large fan base to back him on his way to the top.

When he first arrived in the WWF, along with his less talented but highly charismatic brother Matt Hardy, they were set up mostly as jobbers. As the fans began to grow in love with them, they started receiving their push to the top of the tag division. Now this was in 1999, when WWF actually had some formidable tag teams, unlike the WWE of today, where the tag division flounders with lower midcarders that have no fan backing, or cause no general interest. Their performance in the Terri Invitational Matches solidified their names in the division, as top contenders. And of course, even though they lost, many people will always say The Hardy Boyz' shining moment was when they were put up against Edge & Christian, and The Dudley Boyz for the very first TLC match, a match that has never really caught on, as there have only been five televised TLC matches in the company thus far. I am sure all hardcore fans of those tag teams have seen that match, and in my opinion, that was one of Jeff Hardys finest days. The jumps off the ladder, through the tables, you seemed to feel the pain every time he went down, and it ended up his extreme attitude took him out of the match, as well as Bubba Ray Dudley.

The Hardy Boyz ended up wearing the Tag Titles on five different occasions, and to this day they have still put on some of the best tag matches of all time. When you watch a match of theirs, you see something past wrestling ability, and you see something past the charisma and energy they were so amazing at bringing into the ring; you see heart. You see Jeff Hardy's passion to do what he was doing; you see the willpower of the two superstars, literally fighting for anything and everything.

Jeff Hardy, on his own, was able to become mildly successful, and build up a little fan base on his own, instead of the fan base of The Hardyz. In June of 2001, he was able to capture the WWF Lightweight Title, only to lose it in a few weeks to X-Pac. Then of course, in late 2001, he began wrestling in hardcore matches, which seemed to be a pretty good fit for him. Like Rob Van Dam, these two were known for putting their bodies on the line, jumping into weapons, taking in all the pain and still continuing to fight, and Hardy was even able to get his first victory for it from the champ at the time, who was Rob Van Dam himself. If anyone can actually remember that match, like I can, it was an excellent spot fest, each man hitting some very nice moves. However, he was meant for a higher calling than the WWF Hardcore Title. Many of his fans were worried if he was forever stuck to hitting people with chairs and jumping off of ladders, without recognition or a real belt with prestige and respect.

All of a sudden, in 2002, after Brock Lesnar destroyed Jeff Hardy and obliterated him at Backlash, where the referee had to actually stop the match, Brock Lesnar was sent to Smackdown. Jeff Hardy was distraught in an angle with Matt Hardy, claiming they are both not extreme anymore, and they are hypocrites. Later on in the show, after The Undertaker drops a bucket of Dreamers' own vomit on himself, Jeff Hardy kicks Taker into the puddle of vomit. I am thinking to myself, "is this the big push I have been waiting years to see"" Next show, The Undertaker calls out Jeff Hardy, but both the Hardyz come out with a ladder, and when he starts to get the upper hand, he is knocked down and beaten. In a match with Raven the next week, Jeff Hardy defeats him but ends up getting handcuffed to the ropes, where The Undertaker and Raven can do whatever they want to him.

So naturally, this feud has to set up for a match. You knew if it was going to be another Brock Lesnar-like thing, it would be Matt Hardy AND Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker, but it turns out, it was just Jeff Hardy. This made me hopeful and got me excited. Nonetheless, the match happened, and it was a squash. The Undertaker destroyed him, and I thought that was that. It wasn't. Jeff Hardy got on the mic, and challenged the Undertaker to a ladder match for his Undisputed Championship. Taker accepted, and the entire week, my excitement keeps me from paying attention to anything. Two of my favorite wrestlers, the badass and the technical mastermind, going up against each other in a ladder match. Coming into that match, everyone knew Hardy wasn't going to win. We all knew that fact, and yet we wanted the match to happen anyway. We wanted to see Jeff Hardy finally get his shot at what he deserves.

The match was brilliant. In the beginning, it looked like it would be another squash match because Taker just tossed him back and forth, beat him with chair shot after chair shot. But that wasn't the way it was going to end. Jeff Hardy began fighting, hitting moves of his own. The first time he countered the last ride, I am ecstatic. He begins to climb the ladder, and I think for the first time ever, I screamed at my TV. "COME ON JEFF, GET THE BELT!" I said it over and over again, but Big Evil came right back in there and just pounded him down. The second time The Last Ride went up however, Taker's head was cracked against a steel chair. And when he was blasted with another, somehow, in my head, I forgot that this was RAW and there was no way Hardy would win. I screamed and I jumped up and down, as he began to touch the belt. It wouldn't last. Taker simply climbs up, grabs Hardy, chokeslams him down and grabs the belt. All of a sudden, my heart drops. The man gave it his all, his heart, and somehow I actually thought he was going to win.

When Jeff stood back up, Taker didn't take kindly to it. He beat Hardy back down. However, when Jeff was able to get back up, Taker came in the ring and raised his hand, in one of the most powerful moments I had ever watched on WWF or WWE. I knew it was fake, and I knew it was all planned, but the match and determination of Jeff Hardy still moved me, made me love this wrestler even more. Along with this newfound respect, I also thought this match would have a positive effect on his career. He just went all-out on The Undertaker and almost won. That means there have got to be some upper midcarders or higher that he can take by himself, right"

Well, that's just what happened. The VERY next week, he is offered a WWE European Championship match for his efforts, and he comes out on top over William Regal. I remember after that match, watching him celebrate and watching the fans cheer him on. I was so happy for the guy, finally moving up another rung in the WWE ladder. The fans were overjoyed and gave him a long standing ovation. They even had him fight William Regal at Vengeance, where he came out on top.

But here came the WWE, ready to shut Hardy down. The very next day, in an OUTSTANDING ladder match, Jeff Hardy is beaten by Rob Van Dam, unifying the two titles, and the Euro title is gone. The title that got Jeff Hardy up to his new spot in the company, disappears after him having it for a mere two weeks. A push that seemed destined to make Jeff Hardy a more esteemed member is squashed by Rob Van Dam being pushed. He then goes on next week to take the Hardcore Title for the third time, only to simply lose it again that night. Then came a miserable streak for Hardy, after the squandered push. He fought guys like Lance Storm, Chris Nowinski (yeah, remember that guy"), The Hurricane, D'Lo Brown, and others on opening matches for RAW. He turned heel when RVD beat him in early 2003, and he attacked him after the match. No offense, but bad move on WWE's part. Jeff Hardy was not made out to be a heel, at least not in this company. It seemed even WWE realized that, because after a few weeks, he saves Stacy Keibler from getting hurt by Christian. Maybe that was just a lapse in the career of Jeff Hardy, a bad month. At least he is getting a storyline now.

However, this was pretty much the end. They sneaked in a little story where Jeff and Trish seemed to be crushing on one another, when he saved her from an attack and fought for her, kissing her on the cheek once. This was around March, and in April, he was released on mutual terms, and then fired in early May due to the failing of a drug test. He refused to go into rehab.

Such a long pathway to such a short time of success for Hardy. It was disheartening, and I was saddened to see one of my favorites fall out so quickly. He was signed to TNA, and the contract came with a title shot. I was just getting into TNA at this time, so I was pretty into it. I was glad someone else was able to give Jeff another chance, because this man really deserved it. Just one more shot for this guy, see where he goes. AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy put on some good matches together in that first month when he arrived, and for a second I thought a possible tag team was going to be made. Hardy looked good for the most part, and he was performing very well so far. His match at the TNA PPV against Jeff Jarrett was surprisingly good, and in my personal opinion it was actually Jarrett who had to be carried through the match. It seemed, the second Hardy got back in that ring, it was like the Undisputed Championship match against The Undertaker all over again. He was fighting with all of his heart, and the charisma he sometimes lacked in angles and backstage, he was making up for it with his intensity in the ring.

After his loss at the PPV, he was able to gain another title shot at Victory Road. It was set up as a ladder match, so I thought this would finally be it. Ladder match, TNA World Title, Jeff Jarrett has had it for awhile now, a couple of months, it should really happen. The people LOVED Jeff Hardy, he was soaring to the top in popularity in the company, and it couldn't be a better time to put him at the top in talent as well. However, he was beaten, with interference from Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. No title change, and Jeff Hardy was still just second best. In December though, at the PPV Turning Point, he put on an excellent match with Randy Savage and AJ Styles, who defeated Jarrett, Nash, and Hall, The Kings of Wrestling. I was impressed with this match because all six competitors didn't seem like a good combination, but they all worked very well together, and Jeff Hardy put on a good performance.

He then went on to feud with Abyss, losing in a Full Metal Mayhem match at Against All Odds, but winning in a Falls Count Anywhere match later at TNA Destination X. After this, he moved into a feud with Raven, which was his chance to shoot back up to the main event status, and get back in it with the TNA World Title. Raven was a legend in TNA, and another fan favorite. At TNA Lockdown, in one of my favorite matches of all time in that company, Jeff Hardy defeated Raven in a Tables Cage Match. For those of you that saw it, I think you would agree those two put on a pretty damn impressive match. Plus, with Jeff Hardy winning, that could only mean good things for Mr. Charismatic Enigma. However, claiming transportation problems, HE DIDN'T SHOW UP TO THE PPV HARD JUSTICE! This is when I lost even more respect than when Jeff Hardy received drug charges. Not showing up for a PPV, when many fans of this promotion were paying their hard-earned cash to see YOU, you just don't do that. He was then suspended.

When he came back, in August of 2005, he seemed hit or miss. At times, he was really with it, still putting on excellent matches that we knew and loved from Jeff Hardy, from his early days in TNA to his days in WWF/E. TNA wasn't too pleased with him either, and you could tell, because after coming back and attacking Jarrett, he didn't go straight to the top like he did when he first got there. In fact, at Unbreakable the next month, he was beaten by Bobby Rude. For anyone that watched that, it was very lackluster, and Jeff Hardy didn't seem to have his heart in it, and he wasn't hitting the spots as well as he should have been. Monty Brown was pushed ahead as Jeff Hardy was left behind, Monty beating him in a Contenders match at TNA Genesis. After another show, come Turning Point, there was no Jeff Hardy. He was even booked, and he was lucky to even get a match, because not only was he getting bad reviews about his recent wrestling matches, but even some of the fans were starting to see this wasn't the same Jeff Hardy. In March and May, after a little break, he was put on some house shows, and I heard he seemed to be performing decently and he was making his bookings.

But then it stops. His last recorded house show is May 27th, in the main event no less. So what happened" If you go to the TNA website, it speaks good things of his future in the company, and says they expect him to rise right back to the top. Well.......what's going on" He hasn't been on Impact, and he currently isn't being booked for house shows. Does that mean he is done" Does this mean Jeff Hardy is forever gone from TNA, never to perform again"

Jeff Hardy has come so close to being the best. Look at that match with The Undertaker. He was literally there, literally giving it his all and beating the best. He was never able to get there however. Look at his list of titles. Every single WWF title BUT the Undisputed one. Was that the only one that mattered to Hardy" Is that why he left us" Look at TNA as well. He was brought in with the promise of a title match, and it looked like it would finally be his time when he was put in a match with Jeff Jarrett, accompanied with his best friend the ladder. I think everyone in the arena that night was just hoping, just praying Jeff Hardy was finally going to become the best. But it never happened, and he remained in the shadows.

He will never be in the shadows of many of his fans. Forget about his less than stellar performances in TNA, or the drug charges. This man had the ability to wow you, to make you literally think what he did was amazing. And like I said before, you could practically see the heart of Jeff Hardy. You could see how much he cared for wrestling, and how much of his body and soul he was willing to give. That just didn't seem to last, and eventually the spirit seemed to fade.

Wherever Jeff is, I can only hope he is figuring things out. TNA still has a spot for him, and I know that if he keeps trying, and becomes the man he once was, if even possible, there will in fact be a World Title for him at the end of the line. Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't just wrestling that he lacked interest in, it was always coming up short of the big time. Was always being the one to get finished off finally getting to him" Or was it just that wrestling was no longer his goal in life, no longer the thing he wanted to be remembered for" Well, no matter what he wants to be remembered for, I will never forget the man that was actually able to move me. I will never forget the man that made me sit in my seat, and watch intently as he battled it out against some of the best like Triple H, Edge, Big Show, Jeff Jarrett, Undertaker, and Abyss. I won't forget.

If Hardy is to return, he better be 110%, because I just won't stand for "decent" performances from The Charismatic Enigma. And if he is not to return, then may this be a tribute to a confused and talented man who gave up a decade of his life, not being able to find what he truly wanted. Good luck Jeff.

by Michael Mulcahy..


Gus D. wrote:
You have to be kidding me! Jeff Hardy has no heart for wrestling. Remember all his TNA ppv no-shows. That really shows what a piece of crap this guy is. Also when WWE released him, before hand, he was offered to be placed in rehab for drugs, paid for by WWE. What he did was the ultimate slap in the face for what WWE has done for him. He said no! I wish Hardy luck on what little chance he has on his crap music career hes been trying for years.
John Benson wrote:
I think his downfall came from the whole Smackdown vs Raw thing, when they tried to recreate the WWF vs WWE, when they were introducing new characters left right and centre. After working for the company for many years and bringing the afore mentioned moments, for new people to just swan in and get more coverage would be justifiable to me for Jeff to lose his passion and sink into depression with drugs being the only outlet. As for the person who said he wouldnt care if he took drugs, you fool. Jeff is/was a role model to people, if people (kids more than likely) look upto him and he's taking drugs, not only will they want to try the Swanton bomb onto their mate on the couch, they could end up trying drugs thinking its alright cos Jeff still managed to wrestle while doing them. He isnt happy, just read some of his poetry, its not all suns and roses, its about being lost and unsure, maybe how he is feeling about his life and where it is.
Jose Aguirre wrote:
I feel sorry for Jeff Hardy. I mean he's depressed and turned to drugs. His personal problems are getting in the way of his wrestling, and as long as he has problems he isn't going to get any better. I do hope he gets better because he is a great talent. Look at Eddie Guerrero he was/is still one of the most respected wrestlers, and he overcame his deamons.
Micael Holm Karis (Finland) wrote:
nice column still some stuff u could put in there , Jeff Hardy truly had the biggest hearth in the history of WWE.. but when he turned down WWEs offer to rehab he somehow changed . I hope Jeff Hardy returns to WWE and I hope we will see a Hardy Boyz reunion , or not beacuse Jeff Hardy has proven that he can make it as a singles wrestler after my TOP 2 favorite match with The Undertaker for Undisputed Championship , altough he lost he still earned the respect , and putted on a hell of a match that made many just scream for him to take the belt .
Aidan wrote:
I was once a big fan of Jeff Hardy and if he manages to get his life back together, I will probably support him once again but I think you have exaggerated his abilities. To call Jeff Hardy a 'technical mastermind' is not really true, granted he was better than Matt, but if he was so technically gifted why would Jeff resort to using high spot after high spot" In gimmick matches such as TLC high spots are expected but to use them in singles and tag competition kills that style of wrestling by oversaturating it and shows what lengths he needs to go to just to be over with the fans. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit are perfect examples of wrestlers who apply their technical prowess expertly and manage to 'go up to the top' an appropriate amount to captivate the fans and no offence to him, I see a great difference between these two and Jeff Hardy. Because of his style, I only see Jeff Hardy as an Upper Midcarder at most. However, I am a fan of the man and if he made a comeback with a more versatile wrestling style, I would be routing him all the way to the top.
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