By Lauren Conrad, Columnist
The year is 2011. It’s Victory Road, a rather large PPV for TNA Impact wrestling. The main event is Jeff Hardy vs Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. The PPV was largely forgotten, card wise. Only this match stands out in memory.
Jeff’s music hits, and right away something is obviously wrong. Jeff’s music hits, but Jeff doesn’t come out right away. It takes almost a full minute (About 46 seconds) for Jeff to wobble out. I say wobble, because he literally, wobbled out. Something was obviously very wrong here, something was not right with Jeff Hardy, and the announcers I have to believe picked up on it as well, as they started talking right away about his leadup to this match, as opposed to “Oh here comes Jeff!” etc etc. Jeff’s entrance was also seemingly cut short from his previous entrances, and Stings music hits, and The Icon comes out, looking fantastic as always.
As the announcer talks about the two, and Jeff is introduced, the camera cuts to him, and Jeff is obviously not all there, his eyes look glazed over, and the camera won’t stand still on him either, unlike Sting, where it’s a fairly static camera. That right there raises some more red flags.
Next thing, Eric Bichoff comes out, and he walks over and talks to Jeff. Eric says out loud “A change of plans”, and as he speaks to both wrestlers, you can tell somethings changed in the match. I have to believe Eric was sent out there intentionally to talk to both wrestlers to change the outcome of the match. Eric was obviously buying time for the inevitable match coming up. The match now becomes a no DQ title match, and Sting decks Bichoff. Bryan Hepner is the referee, and he just sort of rolls with it. The bell rings, and this match is underway.
Jeff sort of staggers around the ring, and Sting looks obviously annoyed. It’s 7 min 30 seconds into this event from intros, interviews, and now this, as Jeff acts like he’s going to throw his shirt to the crowd. Sting looks very annoyed, like, legit mad, not just kayfabe, as he backs Hardy into the corner. It’s now 8:20 into it, and 0 blows landed as the ref pulls Sting away. At 8:38 finally some blows are landed as Sting hits Jeff a few times, and then right into a Scorpion Deathlock, Jeff tries to kick out but Sting refuses to let him up, and this match is over, with exactly 1 kick, 2 forearms, and a death drop. Jeff gets up obviously pissed off wondering what’s going on, the announcers are dumbfounded, and Sting is obviously very, very angry. Sting is outside the ring on the ramp and a fan yells something about “Bullshit”, and Sting responds with “I agree! I agree!”
This should have been an amazing match between two icons of wrestling, but instead, it was a shitshow. Why? What happened? We’re going to take a look in depth of the backstage during this excuse of a match. Now this wasn’t as huge of a pipe bomb as Shane Douglas or the Montreal Screwjob, but this WAS a game changer for TNA, as the main event for it’s PPV turned into a 30 second utter shitshow of a match, and a huge black mark on TNA’s record.
So, what happened? Jeff opened up to Colt Cabana about this at one point, and despite what people thought, Jeff was not drunk. He was, however, high as a kite on “Soma”. What is a Soma? Dictionary.com defines a Soma as:
Soma (carisoprodol) is a muscle relaxer that blocks pain sensations between the nerves and the brain. Soma is used together with rest and physical therapy to treat skeletal muscle conditions such as pain or injury. A soma is a narcotic and therefor it is addicting.
Jeff has a long, long history of abusing Soma’s and alcohol, so this really is no surprise. The real surprise is that they let this happen.
In an interview with Bruce Prichard, he said that he was running all over, and saw Jeff moments before, and that when Jeff’s music started, Jeff wasn’t there. No one knew Jeff was that messed up at this point, as Prichard had seen Jeff just hours before the main event and he was fine. When no one saw Jeff, Pritchard said that he went outside and Bruno and Tilly, two “Under rated guys in TNA” were, literally, dragging Jeff inside. While a discussion was ongoing about how to proceed, Jeff walks right by them and out on the ramp. It was said Jeff was SO messed up that they didn’t think he could even walk out. At this point, Bichoff and Prichard had grabbed Dixie Carter, who normally is in the crowd watching. That right there tells you how dire the situation was at the time. Dixie, however, as usual proved how utterly clueless and stupid she was saying “Oh Jeff is fine he’ll be ok no problem!” It’s a miracle TNA survived as long as it did with her.
So at this point, Eric and Prichard are discussing how to proceed, while Vince Russo and Dixie are saying Jeff is fine. When you see a wrestler THAT messed up, you do something! This is your main event folks, two absolute legends in the ring, and two of your higher ups are saying “It’s fine, he’s fine, it’ll be ok, no problem!” Really? Your main event of a PPV can’t even walk straight, and you’re saying it’s fine. Ok so back to the show.
At this point, Prichard and Bichoff, arguably the two most sane and competent people there, grab Sting, who Prichard said is a 108 pissed off on a 1-10 scale, and are like “Hey man, just…go out there and beat him, quick.” which really is all you can do at this point, as I’m sure Hardy wouldn’t know his ass from his face at this point, even if you showed them to him labeled “Ass.” “Face.” Granted watching this match, it was hard to tell them apart. Ok ok, I’ll stop.
So at this point Sting is seething, and they sent Eric out, which we mentioned, and went out and attempted to tell Jeff “Hey look change of plans, this is what’s going to happen.” But obviously by Jeff’s reaction, he was too shit faced to even register it. You have to feel bad for Sting, the man is a legend. He had memorable feuds with Ric Flair, and now he’s in the ring with a junkie. So as I mentioned earlier, bell rings, 3 blows, deathlock, 1 2 3, Sting storms out.
The issue here was there was no one else to send out. They didn’t know what to do, and everyone was just shocked. Prichard said that Jeff vanished after the show. No one knew where he went that night, and not a soul talked to him. Four weeks went by, and no one talked to Jeff about what happened. Not one soul, until finally Prichard called him up, and Jeff was suspended until he got counseling and help. Hardy got cleaned up after this, and for years was straight and clean. In the interview they claim he had a lot of challenges. Jeff managed to keep himself clean until late 2009.
Jeff has been arrested multiple times in WWE and in TNA, Two of the more noticeable ones were once for an OWI in 2018 resulting in a car crash, and before that on July 14th 2009 for public intoxication.
So why do they keep someone like this on the roster? WWE says he’s responsible for his own actions. TNA let him go for four weeks before contacting him. It’s absurd. Yes, Jeff is a legend, along with Matt, but Jeff has a history, and not a good one at all. Jeff has been arrested and cited multiple times for being drunk, or high on pills. Yet the WWE continues to allow him to be employed. It’s absurd. If I walked into my job high on Soma, I would be fired. If you walked into a critical job like a police department high off your ass, there would be repercussions. Yet Jeff Hardy seems to be above the law. Jeff seems to be elevated above everyone else and can do no wrong, and frankly, it’s bullshit. Jeff Hardy is a danger to professional wrestling, and more importantly to the people he works with in that ring. If he came in intoxicated and messed up a move, someone could seriously be hurt, or worse, dead. The man needs help, and the man should be fired from WWE, in my opinion. However, all this being said, Jeff has cleaned up his act recently, and it’s been about two years since his last incident. He seems to be recovered at long last, and the Jeff Hardy we know and love is back, despite this black cloud on his record, and his brother being off in AEW doing his Broken gimmick.
So, what would you do if you owned a wrestling organization, and someone like Hardy came in and did this to you? Would you fire your top star for relapsing? Or would you try to help the poor sod out?
You know my opinion… I would have fired him at the time. What about you?