AEW’s Jeff Hardy needs help

Not a great look, Jeff.

Not a great look, Jeff.
Screenshot: Florida Highway Patrol

It’s undeniable at this point. Jeff Hardy must come to terms with how lucky he is that his reckless behavior has not seriously hurt anyone thus far. He’s repeatedly put himself in danger outside the squared circle after making his career with a high-flying, daredevil style. Hardy seeking professional help for his out-of-control antics is more important than any risky maneuver he’ll perform inside a wrestling ring.

Hardy, who’s currently signed with All Elite Wrestling after a long career in WWE and TNA, was arrested Monday in Florida on three total charges. The most prevalent is DUI, his third such offense since 2018. According to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, Hardy’s first blood-alcohol content reading was 0.294. Another drew 0.291. Both are more than three-and-a-half times Florida’s legal driving limit of .08.

AEW President and CEO Tony Khan announced Tuesday that Hardy is suspended without pay after resuming contact with him more than 24 hours after his arrest. Khan stated the promotion will assist Hardy in getting treatment for “substance abuse issues” and that Hardy indicated he’s open to receiving help. The statement also said he can only return to AEW if he successfully completes the treatment and maintains sobriety.

Video of Hardy’s arrest was posted by TMZ. From the dash-cam of a Florida Highway Patrol vehicle, three officers pulled guns on Hardy in making him exit his car. Hardy initially couldn’t maintain his balance when being interviewed by police and said he was in Florida to get a “brain scan.” While we can’t take Hardy at his word with extreme levels of drunkenness, why is he cleared to wrestle if he needs to get his brain examined? Hardy admitted during a field sobriety test to having multiple double shots of Fireball, a cinnamon whiskey.

Jeff’s tag team partner and real-life older brother, Matt Hardy, posted to Twitter about the incident. “It was disheartening to hear the news about my brother yesterday,” Matt Hardy wrote. “Recovery isn’t a linear process & I’ll continue doing whatever I can to help my brother be healthy. Being healthy & well is the most important thing for Jeff, his wife, his children & our family at this time.” Matt is also signed with AEW, debuting in March 2020, while Jeff first appeared for the company a few months ago after departing WWE in late 2021.

The Hardys were booked on this Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite in a three-team ladder match against The Young Bucks and Jurassic Express for the company’s tag titles. The likely result was Jeff and Matt winning the AEW World Tag Team Championship, which would have begun their role as champions in a record fourth major American promotion. Jeff’s arrest also led to an episode of the popular AEW YouTube show Being The Elite getting shelved. Vignettes to hype the ladder match were assuredly part of the episode.

Hardy has a well-documented history with drug and alcohol issues. In 2009, he was arrested on drug trafficking charges when a home search turned up copious substances, including 262 Vicodin prescription pills and 555 milliliters of steroids. He was booked with DUIs in 2018 and 2019, as well as a public intoxication charge in 2019. At TNA’s March 2011 pay-per-view, Victory Road, Hardy wrestled in the main event against Sting for the company’s world championship. TNA cut the match to 90 seconds after determining Hardy was too inebriated to perform, with Sting forcibly holding Hardy down for the pin.

Jeff Hardy vs. Sting – TNA Victory Road 2011 (Hardy’s Drug Incident)

The only silver lining to Hardy’s arrest is his apparent newfound willingness to get help before he does irreversible damage. He has the chance to grow and get healthy. Drug and alcohol abuse problems were rampant in pro wrestling for decades and led to dozens of premature deaths of performers. Earlier this year, Tamara Sytch, better known by her ring name Sunny, was accused of the DUI death of a 75-year-old man.

Hardy is rightly seen as a revolutionary in professional wrestling. The Hardys’ long-standing feud with Edge and Christian, as well as the Dudley Boyz, inspired so many of today’s WWE and AEW performers to pursue a career in professional wrestling. The stunt-double repertoire Hardy brought to American mainstream wrestling has its fingerprints all over the industry. All of that remains true.

Yet Hardy shouldn’t wrestle again if his lifestyle is all about excess outside of the ring. He’ll be 45 in August and hardly has the capabilities of the spry teenager who made his WWE debut in 1994. He’ll likely be gone from television for months — if he ever returns — to receive substance abuse treatment. AEW had invested plenty of time in building up the Hardys as a tag team again, and whatever plans were in store for Matt and Jeff were put on layaway. Even when Hardy returns, his eye-popping in-ring style should be refined and Khan should hesitate to book him in matchups with high risks, like ladder matches and steel cages. Hardy better finally learn his lesson before he pays the price with his career or something worse.

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