Jeff Hardy drink-driving story falls flat


WWE must be higher than this.

Even with its huge crew of writers and the limitless wrestling data throughout the firm, the most effective WWE may give you was a Jeff Hardy drunk-driving angle to open “SmackDown” Friday evening on Fox.

Whereas having professional wrestling blur the traces a bit is normally inspired, working a storyline round a performer’s real-life sobriety battle and long-term demons is a drained, failed and lazy premise.

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The 42-year-old Hardy has a historical past of points with medication and alcohol relationship again greater than 15 years. Most just lately, he was arrested for a DWI in October and public intoxication at a beachfront resort final July. Hardy, who infamously wrestled Sting intoxicated for Complete Nonstop Motion in 2011, had one other DWI arrest in March of 2018.

Sobriety is a day-to-day battle that shouldn’t be taken without any consideration — or exploited.

However WWE opened “SmackDown” with police and ambulances round Elias, who was imagined to face AJ Types within the semifinals of the Intercontinental championship event. The viewers is informed he was hit by a automotive that’s popped up on a curb within the parking zone of the WWE Efficiency Middle in Orlando, Fla. “Eyewitness” Common champion Braun Strowman stated the one who obtained out of the automotive was wearing black.

What adopted was really comical, including the slightest contact of levity. A cop — performed by an enhancement expertise wrestler — searches the automotive, sniffs an open and completely positioned bottle of liquor, and sees a bit of paper that identifies Hardy because the proprietor of the rental automotive fall from the visor. The cop yells out “Jeff Hardy” as if he’s calling him to the DMV window.

The “police” ultimately discovered a confused Hardy close by within the bushes as Hardy complained that his head hurts and was seemingly unaware of what occurred. What follows is the uncomfortable scene of a dazed and stumbling Hardy being cuffed and led to a police automotive. A confused Renee Younger — taking part in the reporter on the scene — delivers the road: “Jeff Hardy seems to be inebriated. The rental automotive is in his title.”

The painful scene makes it appear that Hardy was the offender as a substitute of taking part in up the doubt, which might have made the angle simply the slightest bit higher. Elias being minimize down ultimately opened up a spot for Sheamus within the event. So the drunk-driving angle was the principle story system for this SmackDown, which Hardy closed by returning to value Sheamus his match earlier than attacking him.

The concept did assist “SmackDown” earn its highest ranking since April 17 at 2.147 million viewers — up 14,000 within the second hour of a packed present. Perhaps it was the ‘Oh My God’ issue, folks not likely being outraged by the angle or the necessity for a distraction from the world. It was a small scores victory for WWE. Whether or not it was low cost pop stays to be seen.

This isn’t the primary time wrestling has tried to deliver a expertise’s sobriety issues right into a storyline. WCW did so with Scott Corridor in 1998 in a extra excessive method than WWE did with Hardy. It nonetheless is one thing former WCW President Eric Bischoff has stated he needs he hadn’t accomplished.

“It wasn’t entertaining and it was a weak try on my half, singularly, to attempt to make sense out of actuality within the fictional world and I remorse it,” Bischoff stated on his podcast in 2017.

Jeff Hardy has had a real-life sobriety battle.Supply: Provided

WWE tried one thing comparable with Legion of Doom member Hawk and his struggles with medication and alcohol in 2000, one thing his companion Animal stated in a current episode of Vice’s “Darkish Aspect of the Ring” minimize too near actuality. He had taken it a step additional in a 2015 interview with Wrestle Speak TV, saying it was in “unhealthy style” and “disrespectful.”

“I’m not a giant believer in bearing on issues which might be too near residence,” Animal stated. “There’s some issues it’s a must to have respect for and go away them apart.”

It raises the query of whether or not WWE was proper to go in that course once more with Hardy.

Sheamus does seem to have set him up and sure, WWE did shortly exonerate Hardy. WWE put out a “breaking information” story on it web site saying Hardy was “launched from custody by the Orlando police after efficiently passing the required sobriety exams, subsequently absolving Hardy of the costs of public intoxication, driving underneath the affect, and the hit-and-run on Elias earlier tonight.”

This might have been worse, but it surely doesn’t change the visuals that opened the present.

It’s simple to dismiss all of this by saying that none of it could occur with out Hardy’s consent. That doesn’t make it proper and there are different folks in his life to consider. They’ve lived a really actual model of this with him.

His brother Matt, now working with All Elite Wrestling, tweeted how completely happy he was to be with AEW within the wake of Jeff’s section and later thanked AEW president Tony Khan in one other tweet.

“You’ve created an incredible, constructive, supportive surroundings that I’m SO proud to be part of,” Hardy wrote of Khan. “I’ll offer you, the expertise & each @AEWrestling worker my greatest throughout the board.”

Others, reminiscent of former WWE star CM Punk, didn’t appear to have a giant downside with the section and is glad he doesn’t take wrestling “so severe anymore.’

“At the moment divided,” Punk wrote on Twitter after being requested how the section affected any want he has to wrestle once more. “The nation is on hearth and it legit made me giggle out loud for a second so, entertained? Mission achieved?”

Public opinion on the section normally will differ, and followers clearly tuned in to observe it unfold. However WWE must be higher and extra artistic. An angle based mostly on a expertise’s real-life sobriety points has been accomplished earlier than and failed. It walks a harmful line that you simply threat being on the improper facet of.

Be higher, WWE.

This appeared within the NY Put up and was republished with consent.

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