Thursday 15 September 2011

Hardy Constitution

Writing about Matt and Jeff Hardy is far more difficult than you might think. I’ve been postponing a blog on them for months, and have started this opening paragraph several times. I find it difficult to put into words my feelings for them without it sounding as though I hate everything about them. I don’t. I appreciate that both men have impressive bodies of work to their name, and that they played relatively large parts in the latter years of the WWF’s Attitude Era. Neither is without talent, it’s what they do, or don’t do, with their abilities that frustrates me.

The first time I remember being actively negative towards a Hardy brother was after Jeff’s arrest on September 11th 2009. He was charged with possession of 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, and drug paraphernalia, as well as trafficking controlled substances (he plead guilty to these charges on Thursday 8th September 2011, as well as the charge of intent to distribute controlled substances). The arrest came just weeks after Jeff’s latest run with WWE had finished (Jeff had opted not to renew his contract with the promotion). ‘The Charismatic Enigma’ had spent several months in a feud with CM Punk focusing on the opposing lifestyles the two men lead outside the ring. The entire situation was dripping with irony.

My initial thought was that Vince McMahon and his cohorts must have been extremely glad that Hardy’s arrest took place after he left the promotion. Then I thought that it served Jeff right, and I stand by that. It’s one thing for a wrestler to smoke weed after a match, but it’s quite another for them to be in possession of such large quantities of substances that can damage lives to a massive degree. Jeff was clearly not intending it all for personal use, and that is what I disliked about the situation: Hardy had just had just experienced the most financially rewarding period of his career and was living in a trailer. He was clearly fine for money but still felt the need to sell illegal substances. What was he going to get from that situation?

Days after Hardy’s arrest CM Punk cut a promo regarding the arrest on SmackDown. Jeff apparently still holds a grudge against Punk now. I can understand why, but what I can’t understand is why he has only lashed out at Punk over the matter. The promo took place long before Punk’s latest push, and everything he said was okayed by Vince McMahon. Shouldn’t Jeff lump at least some of the blame on Vince for asking Punk to cut the promo in the first place?

In case you’ve never see it before, here’s the infamous Matt and Jeff video in which they present their views on CM Punk (warning: it may put you off chips for life):

Yes, Jeff attempts to verbally trash ‘The Second City Saint’ for discussing his rampant drug problems while cearly “in no condition to perform”. I’ll get to Matt Hardy below, but his closing lines regarding Punk and Lita (it was rumored at the time that Punk was in a relationship with Lita, Matt
 Hardy’s ex-girlfriend) clearly stem from jealousy and whatever credibility they may have held are lost the moment the viewer notices the chip dangling from between Matt’s pudgy fingers.

That video provides a great insight into the life of a ‘Charismatic Enigma’. Based on what we see Jeff’s welcome to it.

When Jeff returned to TNA in January of last year I was surprised, but I wasn’t unhappy. He had proven during the preceding years in WWE that he could perform at the highest level and be a tremendous asset to a roster. That’s not happened in TNA, but Jeff can’t be held responsible for that (nobody could make Vince Russo write an intelligible wrestling show).

What he can be held responsible for is his behavior at Victory Road on March 13th. It was clear Jeff was “in no condition to perform” before, during or after this match. He and nobody else has to shoulder the responsibility of that debacle. He knew when he got up that morning he was wrestling in a pay-per-view main event. He knew his co-workers were relying on him to produce a match good enough to encourage repeat business for both the live audience and those watching at home. He knew that a lot of people had attended the show or tuned in at home on the strength of his announced match with Sting. He decided to drink or smoke or eat whatever it was that impaired his performance prior to the match, knowing full well he’d be letting people down. It was a show of complete contempt on Hardy’s part.

TNA did the right thing by sending Jeff home and asking him to seek help for his problems. Jeff didn’t do this until recently, knowing his court appearance was coming up. Nobody could make Jeff attend any sort of course or clinic, and he was already working as light a schedule as was feasible. TNA had done all they could to support Hardy. It boiled down to him not wanting to be helped.

Jeff returned to TNA at the August 25th IMPACT taping (aired on September 8th) and cut an unfocused, faux-humble promo in front of a crowd so disinterested they had to be coaxed into various pro-Hardy chants. He apologized, admitted he’d let everyone down and asked for one more chance. I’d like to believe Jeff feels genuine remorse for his treatment of the paying audience but I don’t. I believe he was playing the humble babyface role.

I hope the $100,000 fine, the (incredibly light) ten day prison sentence, and 30 months of probation suffice as a signal to the younger Hardy brother that he needs to change his ways before he ends up dead.

The feelings I have to Jeff are best described as disappointment more than anything else. He’s a talented performer who has worked hard to reach the position he’s at today. I’m not just talking about the crazy bumps he’s taken in stunt matches, but the work he put in during the latter half of the last decade with regards to his verbal ability and character: Jeff became a well rounded performer through hard work and he deserves to succeed, make a good living and retire with his health intact. Whether he can does it in TNA, WWE or elsewhere is irrelevant.

 My feelings towards the elder Hardy are probably best described as contempt.

For as long as I’ve been a wrestling fan Matt Hardy has come across in interviews (I’m speaking here of printed interviews (printerviews?) online and in magazines as opposed to segments on WWE television) as someone who thinks far too highly of himself. Any viewer would be able to tell you that Matt Hardy has only ever been a mid-card wrestler, but he routinely speaks of himself as though he’s a headline talent of the highest level.

The expansion of social networking sites has only made this more apparent. You need only look at Matt Hardy’s early entries to his YouTube channel or his Twitter account for multiple examples of what I’m talking about. A particular favorite example is the following tweet:

Hulkster & Jeff brought me in & the ratings keep growin-Coincidence?I think not! FACT! .. Dixie, u can thank ME & Jeff 4 the ratings jump-just saying

Posted in February this year this tweet was in reference to IMPACT’s rating going from its usual position in the 1.1 range to an almighty 1.3.The TNA locker room was understandably irked by this attitude and fans were puzzled. Hulk Hogan, Rob Van Dam and Matt’s own brother Jeff, all far bigger names than Matt Hardy, had all been with the company for a year at that point: for Matt to suggest he was a bigger draw than any of them was ludicrous. The weird thing is that he probably believes it.

 His most recent online escapades stand a good chance of becoming what ‘The Sensei of Mattitude’ is most remembered for in years to come. It started late last year when Matt began posting some really odd videos to his YouTube account in an attempt to gain his release from WWE. He wanted to go to TNA, be presented as a big star and hang out with his brother, so he posted a bizarre series of videos and exhibited odd behavior during the promotion’s UK tour. The insanity peaked when he was sent home to the States (due to the aforementioned odd behavior) and then posted videos claiming he was still on tour with the promotion in Britain.

Eventually Matt was released and joined TNA three months later. He worked there for under six months before being sent home, reportedly for his lax attitude towards timekeeping. When you’re a former prominent WWE star and even TNA doesn’t want you on TV you know things are bad.

On August 20th, two months after TNA had sent him home, Matt crashed his car into a tree and was arrested on a DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge. TNA released him. Instead of doing the sensible thing and withdrawing from the public eye and sorting himself out Matt embarked on his most absurd attention seeking pranks ever.

Days after the August 20th crash a fan commented on YouTube that the crash should act as a wakeup call to Matt. His response? The following:

When the side windows glass smashed into my face, arms, & neck, some of the blood that did felt almost angelic. I went from being afraid to? die to feeling like I was almost being reborn with some sort of an ABSOLUTE PURE LIFE-FORCE. It was the most amazing thing I’ve every experience, I felt like I’d just received the blood of an angel flowing inside me-I know this sounds crazy! Due to these, I only have urges to help people. And miraculously, all my vices are gone.

Amen Friends,


Perhaps what Matt calls the blood of an angel is what the police call an impairing substance? Whatever the case Matt wasn’t finished. He followed up with a video which started with Hardy claiming he had just saved a bus full of school children before revealing that an “entity” had entered his house and trashed his stuff. We were then shown that various household objects had been strewn across the floor. The implication was that ‘Version 1.0’ had been possessed by this “entity” and been forced into wrecking his own house. Could that be the case? Erm… I’ll let you judge that for yourselves…

Matt’s next trick was a video consisting solely of the following text scrolling down the screen:

Goodbye world... My time here is almost complete... I only have a few hours and minutes... I loved you all... Regardless of how you felt about me... I'll miss you all... September 23, 1974-August 31,2011

Unfortunately some people did exactly what the attention seeking clown wanted and phone the police to report what they believed was a suicide attempt. They quickly located him and announced he was “fine”. The accuracy of that statement really depends on your use of the word “fine”. Personally I would say that a man who talks about angel’s blood flowing through his veins and posts stupid messages online knowing it will worry the handful of fans he has left cannot be considered “fine”. The police may disagree with me, but Matt’s sister-in-law doesn’t. Her evening was disturbed because of Matt’s stupidity, prompting her to write the following on Twitter:

When the cops show up to our house at 11 pm, for a "suicide call" the f--king joke is over @MATTHARDYBRAND. Stop trying to work the Internet.

I guess you got what you wanted @MATTHARDYBRAND. Everyone is talking about you, again. But it's not in a good way.

I’ve not even mentioned the YouTube video in which Matt and Jeff use a tazer on Matt’s wrestler girlfriend Reby Sky, or the new DWI arrest Matt suffered yesterday. By now you should be getting the idea that this stuff is par for the course lately. Jeff may have addiction problems, but Matt seemingly has some far more serious mental health issues.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I don’t dislike Jeff. As I said above the guy’s worked hard to get to where he is. He’s just developed some bad habits along the way and made some questionable choices regarding the extent to which he pursues his extracurricular activities. I may not believe he was genuine when he asked the IMPACT audience for a second chance, but I believe he deserves one (well, another chance – you can’t really call it a second one).

Matt doesn’t deserve a second chance. Anyone who so lightly uses the subject of suicide to get themselves a few hits on a website and become a talking point again deserves nothing but derision.

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