In response to the results of the recent PPV hosted by TNA there has been a lot of buzz in regard to the current standing of TNA, and most specifically, the mental and physical state of Jeff Hardy. Writing columns about wrestling you can often times get lost in the moment and though we all know that it is a work sometimes we get so involved in the storylines that we forget that these are real people portraying characters and that a lot of the people involved in this industry have certain problems. Drugs have for long been an issue amongst wrestlers, and anyone who has watched the news in recent years or followed the product should be well aware of the tragic price many of these men and women have paid over the years. We’ve seen high profile deaths, stories of addiction, men and women whose lives fell apart because of the demons they were unable to overcome. There is always an argument about who exactly is to blame. Is steroid use a result of the wrestler or the promoter, do the drug policies put in place truly work, when something goes wrong and someone ends up seriously hurt, addicted or unfortunately deceased you want to point a finger somewhere. This is a natural reaction.
It isn’t often we are able to watch these events unfolding live in front of us. Sure we may hear rumor or be aware of something that is going on, you hear about someone failing a drug test, you hear about someone who likes to party but when they’re in the ring you can’t tell and you think they must be all right if they’re being allowed to perform. Wrestling is dangerous and it becomes even more dangerous when you are impaired, not only for the impaired performer but for whoever is stepping into that ring with them and putting their physical well being into that person’s hands. I wanted to write this column this week and take a look at what is going on right now with Jeff Hardy. No one but those closest to the situation know all of the intricate details but if the Bound for Glory PPV told us anything, it told us that something is wrong here and appropriate action needs to be taken.
It has been public knowledge for a long time now that Jeff Hardy has his vices. There were rumors circulating that part of his exit from WWE was facilitated by being disgruntled with the drug policies of WWE and wanting a little more freedom. Granted, he probably isn’t the only performer to work for WWE that didn’t like to have his partying hampered. However he has become the most public in recent times. Shortly after his exit from WWE news broke that his home was raided by law enforcement and drug charges were going to be brought up against him. That case is still pending and the most recent news tells us that the Prosecutor is waiting for more tests to come back on evidence and Hardy’s lawyer has told us that Jeff will indeed be pleading guilty to some of the charges. These are not light charges and its hard to imagine a guilty plea in this case not resulting in some manner of jail time, whether short or not we will find out. Either way, clearly this is a big issue which TNA doesn’t seem to pay much attention to.
I can’t speak intelligently about the inner workings of TNA or what the general consensus is about the Jeff Hardy situation. I don’t have insiders, and I don’t know anyone involved well enough to levy opinion on what they think. I do, however, have the benefit of seeing what they choose to do with it and up until now it doesn’t seem as though they have done much of anything about it. Clearly with Jeff we’re not talking about someone who is just smoking a few joints, there has to be more things involved here. His legal troubles revolve around opiates so it isn’t a stretch to imagine he’s into something heavier than weed. We’ve seen things like this unfold in the past, but we always find out after the fact. It is only after someone is found dead in their hotel room that we learn about what was going on with them. Well, in this case at least, not only are those close to him aware but we the fans are now aware.
How long will this be allowed to continue until someone steps in and does something about this? That isn’t to say no one has tried, however if you are running a company and you have an employee who is doing drugs which are in turn affecting your ability to perform to company standards, as well as risking the physical safety of that person and all those who step in the ring with him, then it is your responsibility, not your option, to put your foot down. Someone needs to step in and make it clear this will not be tolerated and that if you refuse to change, to get help and to overcome these issues then you will no longer be employed. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want it and you can’t change a persons mind unless they are ready for it, but you also don’t have to continue to support it. Jeff Hardy as a performer has done some amazing things and obviously has strong ties to his fans, but as his fans it should be your desire to see him improve rather than continue down this road.
I am not the biggest Jeff Hardy fan, but I certainly don’t wish to see him added to the long list of wrestlers who are no longer with us. Think of all the amazing talent we have lost in the past decade alone. This is not a game, this is not an angle and this is not something that should be openly exploited for ratings. Frankly if TNA does not do something about this I will, if possible, become even more disgusted by it than I currently am. There is no place in any sort of business that claims to care about its fans, claims its employees are like family and claims to be professional for someone to be allowed to continue on in this way. There is no single person upon which the blame for this can be placed, beside Jeff Hardy. There is, though, significant responsibility that can be placed on those who are in a position to do something about it. I wonder, god forbid, if something tragic were to occur here, who in TNA would feel that private and deep guilt knowing they could have tried to do something about it. We’re not talking ratings, we’re not talking bottom line and we’re not talking storyline. We’re talking real life here, real high stakes. Jeff Hardy made a name for himself by taking death defying leaps of faith without safety nets, without concern over his own well being. Right now, what he seems to need more than anything, is for someone to pull him back from the edge before he dives off for the last time. I truly hope TNA or someone who cares about him will do what needs to be done before his name starts showing up in the headlines as yet another tragic loss.