HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week: Jeff Hardy
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, profiles the wild and crazy life of Jeff Hardy. Hardy defeated three others to earn the number one contender’s spot for Edge’s World title.
Jeff Hardy is an enigma in the world of pro wrestling. He has been a World champion. He has also been fired from the WWE and TNA for various infractions, including no-showing a TNA event. Jeff overcame Kane, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio to earn the number one contender’s spot for Edge’s World title on the most recent edition of Smackdown. That win, plus his later attack on Edge, earned Jeff this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
Getting the Job done
Jeffrey Nero Hardy was born on August 31, 1977 in Cameron, NC. From very early on, Jeff wanted to be a professional wrestler. When Jeff began his wrestling career, he worked the indy shows in and around North Carolina, still a hot bed of pro wrestling. Jeff would join his brother Matt and several others to form the OMEGA wrestling group. It was an organization to help promote a more extreme style of wrestling. Some of the most famous members of the elite group were Matt and Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore and Gregory “Hurricane” Helms.
Jeff was given a chance to work for the then-WWF at the age of 16. He served as a jobber for matches from 1993 until 1997. His biggest profile matches were against Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) and the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean “X-Pac” Waltman). Jeff came up on the losing end of almost every match during this time. Jeff’s major wins came on the indy circuit, where he worked as Jeff Hardy and the Will o’ the Wisp (a masked character).
The Rise of the Hardyz
In 1998, the brothers were signed on with the WWF and sent to Florida to train with Dory Funk, Jr. Creative wanted the team to become the next Big Team, so they partnered them with tag team legend, Michael Hayes, to learn the inticaacies of tag teaming. Hayes would even serve as a manager of the brothers, for a short time. Some sources say the brothers were scripted to become the new Fabulous Freebirds, but the idea was scrapped (if it ever truly existed).
On July 5, 1999, Matt and Jeff won their first tag championship, defeating Ron “Farooq” Simmons and John “Bradshaw” Layfield aka The Acolytes. The Hardyz would only hold the tag belts for a month before dropping them back to Farooq and Bradshaw.
Following that first run as tag champs, the Hardyz aligned themselves with Gangrel as The New Brood. The Hardyz feuded with Edge and Christian, who had been members of the original Brood contingent. The feud was quite short-lived, as the Hardyz split with Gangrel. Jeff and Matt then utilized the services of Terri Runnels as a manager. The Hardyz “won” Terri after defeating Edge and Chrisitan in the first tag team ladder match in the WWF/E.
Terri was quickly replaced by long-time friend, Lita. The trio became known as Team Extreme. The Hardyz joined Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz in the first ever Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at the 2000 edition of Summerslam. While the Hardyz didn’t win, they did put on a Match of the Year-level performance. The three teams would continue to feud for the next two years.
Jeff strikes out on his own
By 2002, the Hardyz had pretty much run their course in the WWF. It was decided to split up the team and have them run solo. The start of the split happened in 2001, when Jeff was given a run as the Light Heavyweight champ, the Intercontinental champ and the Hardcore champ. This push led to the first of the Hardy Wars. Matt, much like he would do again in 2009, began to show jealousy towards his younger brother’s success. Matt demanded a match against Jeff at Vengeance. Lita served as the special ref for the match, which Jeff eventually won. The feud wasn’t getting the kind of heat that the WWF wanted, so the storyline was abandoned. To give the Hardyz and Lita some time off, Undertaker (storyline) injured the three of them.
When the Hardyz returned at the Royal Rumble, there was no mention of their previous feud. In fact, they were pushed as a stronger team than ever when they feuded with Brock Lesnar. Lesnat had hit his F-5 finisher on Matt. the feud culminated with a tag match, pitting the Hardyz against Lesnar and his manager, Paul Heyman. The Hardyz lost the battle.
After that nowhere feud, Jeff was given another singles push. He had an amazing ladder match against The Undertaker for ‘Taker’s Undisputed Championship. Although Jeff lost, he really impressed the Powers-that-be. Hardy won the European title and was the final European champion. He lost a unification match to Rob Van Dam. RVD’s Intercontinental title was also on the line.
Jeff had gone from his European championship loss to a program with Trish Stratus. Jeff had saved Trish from Right to Censor. They were scripted for an on-screen romance and a strong program with RtC. On April 23, 2003, the wrestling world was shocked when Jeff was suddenly released from his WWE contract. Jeff initially stated he left due to Burn Out. Later, it would be revealed that Jeff was released due to his drug usage, erractic behavior and slipping performance in the ring. The final straw came when Jeff refused to go into rehab.
After a month off, Jeff returned to OMEGA (his old home territory). He resumed his old Will O’ the Wisp character. He took severe hazing from the crowds, who were very disappointed in Jeff’s behavior. Jeff also made a one-shot appearance in Ring of Honor. His appearance was tough for Jeff. The hostile crowd ridiculed and heckled him during his entire time in the arena. Jeff’s frustration at the negative reactions led him to walk away from wrestling to focus on a motocross career. The motocross schtick went absolutely nowhere and Jeff decided to return to the ring wars.
The TNA days
In 2004, Jeff signed on with Total Non-stop Action (TNA). Jeff immediately focused on A.J. Styles’ X-Division title. It was during this stage of his career that Jeff began to use the nickname of the “Charismatic Enigma”. Jeff lost his title match against Styles, thanks to outside interference from Dallas (Lance Hoyt/Rock) and Kid Kash. Jeff would later challenge for the TNA/NWA World title, only to lose to Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett utilized his Kings of Wrestling co-horts, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, to keep Hardy away from the title. Hardy would team with various stars to battle the Kings, until Hall left the organization.
Hardy then moved into a program with Abyss that showcased Jeff’s Hardcore/Extreme experience. Raven also battled Jeff, during this time. Jeff’s old erratic behavior returned and Jeff was suspended after failing to show up for a match against Raven at Hard Justice. Hardy was suspended from April until August, due to his behavior.
When he returned, Hardy focused on Jeff Jarrett. The feud with Jarrett wasn’t going well, so Hardy was shifted back into the Hardcore wars. He battled against Abyss, Rhino and Sabu. The four men had several matches before bringing the feud to a head at Bound For Glory. The four men squared off in the first Monster’s Ball match. Rhino took the win after hitting a Rhino Driver off the middle rope, sending Jeff into the mat. To add insult to injury, Rhino would later defeat Jeff to become the number one contender. The two were part of a 10-man battle royal.
Jeff Hardy’s run in TNA came to screeching halt, when he again “no-showed” a PPV appearance. Jeff claimed that he was a victim of traveling problems. The executives of TNA simply allowed Jeff’s contract to run out. Jeff worked a few non-televised house shows and some indy dates before choosing to return to the WWE.
Return to the WWE
On August 4, 2006, the WWE announced that Jeff had resigned with the company. The WWE ran several weeks worth of promos to push Hardy’s return. Jeff went after Edge and his WWE title. Lita interfered in the match, causing a DQ win for Jeff. Jeff then switched his focus to Intercontinental champion Johnny Nitro (John Morrison). The two men would trade the I-C title, back and forth, several times.
The Creative Team wanted to surprise the fans, so on an episode of ECW on Sci-Fi, Jeff was teamed with his brother, Matt. The two had not teamed together in close to five years. They were victorious over the Full-Blooded Italians. The brothers would ride the nostalgia wave for several weeks. They would be part of Team D-X at Survivor Series. The two would also compete in a 4-team battle for the tag titles at Armageddon. During that match, the Hardyz legitimately injured the face of Joey Mercury, when the Hardyz drove a steel ladder into Mercury’s face.
Jeff was working both the tag scene with his brother, Matt, and defending his Intercontinental title. Jeff would eventually drop the I-C strap to Umaga. Jeff would continue to team with Matt through Wrestlemania. Jeff sacrificed himself in the Money in the Bank match when he hit a Swanton onto Edge, who was laid across a ladder outside the ring. Jeff and Matt would rebound the following night to capture the tag belts from Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. They would drop the belts back to Cade and Murdoch, two months later, on the April 4th edition of Raw.
In and out of the WWE
In the middle of his feud with Umaga, Jeff Hardy was suddenly taken off WWE TV. Jeff stated it was to heal from a hard bump he took during a match with Mr. Kennedy. Many critics stated that he was suspended for a first offense against the Wellness Program. Ironically enough, Jeff would return from his “time off” to defeat Umaga for the title. Umaga was facing his own suspension for a Wellness Program infraction.
Jeff would both team and feud with Triple H, over the following weeks. That feud would go on hold, when Randy Orton attacked Jeff’s brother, Matt. Matt had been out due to an appendix issue. Randy kicked Matt near his appendix scar and also punted Matt in the head. Jeff stepped in to take on the Legend Killer. The highlight of their feud came when Jeff hit a Swanton from the top of the Raw staging area. All of Jeff’s feud came to an instant stop when he was hit with a 60 day suspension for a second violation of the Wellness Program.
Hardy returned and restarted his feud with Umaga. The feud was ended when Jeff was drafted to Smackdown. Once on the Blue Brand, Jeff immediately focused on the WWE title, held by Edge. After several failed attempts, Jeff won the title be defeating Edge and Triple H match at Armageddon.
The tragedies of 2008-09
During his time as champion, Jeff suffered a devastatin loss. His home burned to the ground, killing his beloved dog, Jack. After taking a brief sabbatical to deal with the fire, Jeff returned. He became the victim of several “accidents”, including an attack in a hotel stairwell, a road rage incident and a pyrotechnical explosion that appeared to hit Jeff in the face. Everyone thought Edge was the responsible party. Logic would state the former champ would go to any lengths to take out Jeff. It turned out that the person responsible for the attacks was…Matt Hardy. Matt attacked Jeff with a chair at Royal Rumble 2009, costing him his WWE title.
The two brothers squared off in several high-profile matches before, during and after Wrestlemania. The 2009 Draft sent Matt to Raw. That basically ended the war between the brothers. Jeff would rebound from the feud to set himself up as the number one contender to Edge’s World title.
Jeff Hardy has had a stellar career that he short-circuited, several times. Jeff is slated to go after Edge at Judgment Day. Whether Jeff wins or loses, he will likely thrill the audiences with his wild antics. Jeff could be a future Hall of Famer. Only time will tell if Jeff’s behavior will kill his future career or not. Regardless of what the future brings, Jeff is currently a top contender to the World title. He is also this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week
— Jay Shannon\