Portrait: Fall and Rise of Jeff Hardy – The Fall… (english version)

„It all started years ago with a trampoline in North Carolina…“

With these words, wrestler Jeff Hardy accepts the WWE’s Slammy Award for the „most extreme moment“ in 2008 and looks back on an already eventful life. But it all began much earlier. In 1977 Jeffrey Nero Hardy was born as the second son of Claude Gilbert [edit: After a hospital stay, he died on April 6th, 2021 in the early hours of the morning in the presence of his sons Jeff and Matt at home in Cameron] and Ruby Moore Hardy. His father is a tobacco farmer, his mother enjoys sports and is later described as an avid churchgoer and a wonderful, warm person. Ruby is the linchpin in the story of the tag team legends Hardy Boyz. Until 1986, there is little that can be read about the brothers. A few photos make the rounds, especially on the Internet, showing a normal family from next door, the little blond boy looking a bit dreamy at the world, and the curious dark-haired brother. But in 1986, everything changes abruptly for the family when mother Ruby is diagnosed with cancer. A brain tumor torments her for a year until she dies in the hospital in the presence of her family, leaving behind her grieving husband and two sons. Timing, however, is difficult. In the 2003 biography, Jeff states his mother became ill in 1986 and died a year after diagnosis. One episode of the Hardyshow, which existed for a while on YouTube on various serious and amusing topics, is about parents. In it, a gravestone is shown that dates Ruby Moore Hardy’s death to October 20, 1987, so Jeff would have been ten years old, but still far too young to let his mother go. Death shapes both children; their actions, their lives, their faith and their love will be forever affected by it.

The Hardy brothers tell of a strict father who beat them with a leather belt or made examples of them if they misbehaved. But they do not seem disappointed, nor angry, but decades later bring great understanding and respect to their father. Over and over again, Hardy’s body reads „1933 Born Legend,“ a tribute to Gilbert, who worked hard and sacrificed much to provide his sons with a roof over their heads, food, an education and the realization of their dreams. The younger brother seems to have suffered at times from his father’s inability to show and verbalize his love so clearly. In any case, he is a shy, reserved character who seems to need nothing more in life than to feel secure and loved. In the 2003 biography, Jeff and Matt make it clear that they did not want to see another woman at their father’s side, and enforced this – not always by the best means, which deprived Jeff in particular of his father’s trust for a time. In the solitude of North Carolina, more specifically around the town of Cameron, they mainly had each other and grew inseparable, brothers, friends, soul mates – or „partners in crime“ as Jeff describes the relationship with his brother. There was virtually no such thing as the two of them alone – and that was never going to change much. The woods and tobacco fields, as well as numerous ponds and lakes, became an adventure playground for the siblings, who enjoyed teaming up with cousins or friends and playing superheroes. An American childhood, typical boys who lack a mother and who, after much urging, are given a trampoline at Christmas 1988 – the very one Jeff Hardy mentions in his speech 30 years later.

Using the trampoline, the brothers begin to recreate moves they’ve seen wrestlers do on TV. They create their own characters, write their own storylines. The character Willow the Wisp, which Jeff Hardy will later bring to the big stage, finds its origin here, homage is paid to the role models Sting, who will later play a special and tragic role in Jeff’s life, and Jushin „Thunder“ Liger. But there is still a long way to go before the big wrestling career. The adolescents also have to go to school; while the older one brings home good grades and misses out on a scholarship to college, the younger one is not particularly interested in classes. The only things he enjoys are art and history; he says himself at one point that he brought home only poor grades. However, a 6th grade report card uploaded by Jeff himself shows an average student who is friendly, yet sometimes the class clown, and seems interested in math in addition to art. Grades are okay, probably just worse than Matt’s. The creative mind could have gone to art school after high school, but sports were more important to him. The boy had a tremendous urge to move then – and it remains to this day – but he soon gives up playing football for wrestling – which is also due to the fact that he is given a choice: Wrestling or high school sports – but always has to move and dances through the world. A passion that he demonstrates every night on his way to the ring, performing his hardy dance, and that you can often see very pronounced in the episodes of the Hardyshow.

Matt will spend some time commuting between college in Charlotte and Cameron to continue the Teenage Wrestling Federation he started with his brother and friends, and to write storylines. They decide to change the name to Trampoline Wrestling Federation. In 1992, Thanksgiving Thrash is held by them in Southern Pines with about 150 people in attendance. A short time later, the brothers meet Eddie Rainwater, who kindly tells them that Trampoline is too dangerous. They remodel the ring, rename the overall concept once again – East Coast Wrestling Federation – and Matt signs up for the WCW Amateur Challenge, but doesn’t win. The Summer Spectacular is planned for late summer, to be held again in Southern Pines, organized by the brothers. But the weeks leading up to it are not easy. Gilbert Hardy is diagnosed with some kind of aneurysm and Matt decides not to go back to Charlotte for college. Someone has to take care of everything, Jeff is still attending high school, so that leaves big brother. The two don’t talk much about it, luckily everything goes well, one can only guess how harrowing and oppressive the fear must have been back then to lose their father as well. At the same time Jeff discovers his love for Pearl Jam, hears the song „Black“ every night on the radio, which touches him and will influence his own music. At this point it should already be revealed that if you have Hardy or PeroxWhy?Gen in your CD player, it is very worthwhile to listen to Pearl Jam – and more than 20 years later, on August 16, 2019, he will play a heartbreaking, wonderful version of Pearl Jam’s „Last Kiss“ in front of a few people in a small venue in Richmond, which pretty much puts all covers of the Wayne Cochran original from 1961 in the shade.

While Matt has the most backyard wrestling history, Jeff is a typical teen – and insanely shy. He won’t even lose that shyness when the love of his life meets him, and „little“ Jeff can still be seen outside the ring today. But more about that later. In 1993, Hardy fell madly in love with a girl who, by the standards of the time, tore his heart out of his chest after a short time. The first great love, the first great pain – the foundation stone for his poems. The Stone Temple Pilots with their „Still remains“ won’t let him go and he would like to create something like that too. Jeff will later always walk around with a notebook in which he draws and writes down thoughts and feelings. The poems are like diary entries, some of which become song lyrics. If you know that, you understand his songs. He says about it once that writing always makes him feel better, especially after something happens in his life. A lot will happen in his life that he will write down in poetry form, some of it will be set to music, much of it will leave readers and listeners emotionally moved.

In 1994 there is another name change of the promotion, now New Frontier Wrestling Alliance, and Matt gets a call from the Italian Stallion, who hires them as jobbers for the WWE. The guys do quite well and Jeff has to lie about his age, being under 18. The two get a taste of the air of professional wrestling and have a bit of an „aha“ moment when they come across Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) standing together chatting shortly after the legendary ladder match at WrestleMania X, whereas they are having a feud right now. Matt, who later gets quite upset about the fact that wrestling is called a show, sees himself confirmed at this point that wrestling is nothing else.

You have to make a point here, though. Wrestling is a sport and you have to train hard to be able to get into the ring and compete. It’s not just about building muscles and a nice outfit, there’s more to it. Jumping and falling, selling your opponent’s moves, all of that is rehearsed. It’s not for nothing that every broadcast has the warning, „Don’t try this at home!“ several times. Even in professional wrestling, some moves have gone wrong, few have been fatal, some have resulted in serious injuries. A wrestler who wants to exist and is really good is an athlete, performer, actor and storyteller all in one. He knows how to put himself in the spotlight and not make the other guy look foolish. The storylines are mostly fictitious, but the WWE and other promotions always use real events to spice up the storylines or to make sure that newspaper reports don’t contradict the show. No one knows this better than Jeff Hardy, whose missteps have been picked up again and again in storylines. Also, how can you ignore the wrestling star’s deep fall as an employer, how can you even deal with it? While fans have often been offended by this, Hardy himself doesn’t think picking up on his pill or alcohol addiction is a bad thing and even considers it important and right. In an interview, he states that this is his chance to do something right and that he wants to inspire people around the world to stay clean in order to survive and live that life as well. Today, he appears calm, mature and humble in his matches.

But it’s not that far yet. Jeff Hardy is still at the bottom of the career ladder, just lifting a foot to put him on the first rung. In 1994 he is surprisingly put in the ring – his opponent is Scott Hall. Hardy is a pawn for him and in a few minutes the star dismantles the milksop, writhing in pain on the floor – there’s a shot of this match, Hardy in tight yellow pants; what looks like over-selling could be real pain. He learns the hard way how the superstars treat the no-names, later making fun of him and even telling him he’ll never make it. Sensitive Jeff just wants to go home that night. His brother will say about a similar match he had to compete in that he had never been professionally trained and was not prepared for this situation. But there is still something positive: the next time Hall sees Jeff, he first apologizes for the hard fight in which the youngster hurt his knee. Later, his first professional opponent will say about him, who actually didn’t want to wrestle after that, that he saw something in the Hardys from the beginning and the match proved to him how much potential there was in Jeff. In the years that followed, the brothers learned the business and were professionally trained, but at the same time stood in the ring for the independent scene. They know where they come from and don’t want to give that up. Matt is the driving force and the mastermind of the Hardy brothers. The later tag team name is first mentioned in May 1996: The Hardy Boyz. While Matt negotiates hard and hovers between ACW and WWE, Jeff doesn’t think much of the politics behind it, that should never change. He’s a dreamer who likes to be late and doesn’t care about any of that. He wants to do what he loves to do, wrestle. But that is not so easy. But since Matt has always been the one who likes to call the shots, he unceremoniously founded his own promotion, OMEGA, which, with some rest periods, still exists today. Jeff has officially left, but Matt is still listed as being in charge. After the fall of both brothers in the early 2010s, they complete some matches in the promotion in the mid-2010s.

The doggedness with which the brothers go their way and try to realize their dream is admirable. Despite many setbacks, they don’t let it get them down. They are a very good example of what you make of yourself when you have dreams, when nothing is dropped in your lap, when you have to work something out from scratch. With a lot of diligence, they put on their own shows, they put out titles, they put themselves in the spotlight. There are setbacks, low blows, successes. Old recordings of matches show one or both Hardy brothers with colorful spandex pants, still a little green behind the ears, but putting on a good show, selling the attacks of the opponents sometimes perhaps a little too blatantly. It often remains a mystery which pains were real and which were played – this should not change until today. The best example of this is the Symphony of Destruction match in November 2020, when Jeff Hardy once again faces Elias, whom he is supposed to have hit according to a storyline – here, too, reality and fiction mix: Hardy had a – harmless – car accident under the influence of alcohol. His victim was fortunately only a guard rail, but the promotion has to deal with the bad press and designs a storyline between him and Elias after Hardy’s injury-related break (independent of the accident). Both make music, are adversaries, Hardy drives at him, for which there is never any evidence. The feud pleases the audience for a while, but then pretty much sucks, is supposed to end with the Symphony of Destruction match, but continues briefly in 2021 – Ryker becomes Hardy’s opponent alongside Elias. Nevertheless, there is something to smile about when Hardy lets loose a little side blow against his colleague in the interview: „The universal truth is that I thought my music was bad, but then I heard his.“. In the match, all instruments may and should be used to beat up the opponent. Hardy ventures into his special move at the end, a Swanton Bomb, where he spins around jumping off the top rope just before impact. It’s a daring leap that makes him legendary. In this match he lands brutally, slamming the back of his head on the metal steps. The pain is real, the damage minor, after the match he has to go in front of the camera and say that everything is fine. At least it’s not a laceration, but in the weeks that follow, you can tell Hardy is fighting on the back burner and in pain. Only in January 2021 he admits that he has problems with his back since the match, but is slowly on the road to recovery. However, the reason he gives is not the slightly failed Swanton Bomb, but a blow from his opponent with a guitar on his lower back. A week later he announces his participation in the Royal Rumble, which he has never won before. His fans go crazy – two weeks earlier on Twitter, under the question of who would win the Rumble 2021, I had written Jeff Hardy, not knowing at the time that he was even in it. The evening remains disappointing, though; Hardy is in the ring for less than four minutes, rolling around with his face contorted in pain, and is quickly carried over the top rope. The pain – physical and mental – will drive Jeff into the abyss, but no one knows that at the time. In April 1998, the brothers sign a three-year contract with WWE. It’s the beginning of two great careers, laying the groundwork for the legends they will become – but for both of them, but for Jeff even more, it’s the beginning of an endless destructive journey to find himself. In retrospect, he’s a Phoenix first going up in flames in agony.

It’s the spring of 1998, before the contract signing. Jeff has a match for OMEGA and has to get in the ring for WWE the next week. Despite being careful, he lands wrong, on the back of his head and neck, and can’t feel anything. After what feels like an eternity, he can move again, finishes the match and disappears – to cry his eyes out of his head, shocked and overwhelmed by emotion. The experience will linger with him for a long time – and so will the pain. In the months that follow, it’s all about acceptance, little games to be able to exist among the greats, the fact that the two don’t drink alcohol turns out to be a bit difficult at times, a short appearance in That ’70s Show follows, Michael Hayes becomes their mentor and manager. The Hardy Boyz form their characters, are well-behaved students who do what they are told. One does easier, the other harder. Jeff Hardy teaches himself his legendary jump, the Swanton Bomb. Inspired by the Japanese wrestler Great Sasuke, he practices the jump on the trampoline until it sits. Matt works out the Twist of Fate. And another move is created and named: The Poetry in Motion. Without knowing it, the Hardys are already making a name for themselves and working on their legend.

On July 05, 1999, Jeff Hardy‘s life changes once again forever. In the first Pay-Per-View match of his still so young career he and his brother win the WWE Tag Team Championship. The foundation for many more titles is laid. In Southern Pines, the brothers want to celebrate a bit, there is a banner that celebrates them, the attendees congratulate. Among them is a girl whom the shy Jeff has observed several times. But as extroverted as he is in the ring, he is as introverted, shy and reserved in private. The title gives her the chance to talk to him, her brown eyes fascinate him, they dance all night to 1 or 100 songs, as Jeff sings later – and afterwards through life. Not much is known about Jeff’s loves and affairs, there is probably not much to tell. Since 1999 there is only one woman for him, Elisabeth Britt. She is his support, his pillar, his everything, more than words or any love song in the world could describe. In 2019, Hardy publicly posts on Instagram the most beautiful declaration of love you can make to a person: „When I think of truly being saved … I think of you.“ After 20 long, hard, physically and mentally destructive years, during which Beth faithfully, strongly and steadfastly stands by her love’s side, the two’s public declarations of love mean so much more. One cannot do justice to either of them and the love between them with words; any attempt at explanation would be too presumptuous. The importance Beth has in his life is reflected in a sentence from the 2003 biography when Jeff says that Beth reminds him of his mother, even though they are completely, totally different. It is also Beth who, through a severe asthma attack that she survives only by good luck, shows him once again how fleeting life is and how fragile he himself is.

But the love for Beth is one thing, wrestling is another. The brothers‘ careers are on a steep upward trajectory. After they had won the belts, what followed in the business just so: Feuds and fights for the title. Hardy tells of tough fights, failed jumps, how he lands on his head and sometimes doesn’t want to continue. Eventually, the decision is made to separate the Hardys from Michael Hayes and turn over a new leaf. As The New Brood changes ringgear, Matt celebrates the transformation, the colorful outfit was always a thorn in his side. Jeff starts painting his fingernails black to be different, eventually cutting holes in his arm warmers, a trademark he remains true to today. Likewise, the hand sign that Matt still calls „the Guns“ at the time is born here – later slightly modified again. The two hand signs Jeff and Matt make to this day, according to them, stand for a gun and the „B“ of Hardy Boyz. Until researching for this article, I assumed that the hand signs stood for „J“ and „M“, the first letters of the names. And something else seems to have considerably less significance than my interpretation: the Hardy Boyz logo. Designed by Jeff it should represent a cross, an „H“ and a „B“, as he states in an interview. I myself have always recognized a „J“ and an „M“ in it besides the cross, „H“ and „B“. Either I’m too dumb or Hardy is a bit more brilliant than he thinks he is. It’s still 1999 and the brothers are traveling all over the country, somewhere different every day, in a different hotel bed every night. October 17 becomes legendary. A ladder match between the Hardys, Edge and Christian, which is not forgotten until today. The opponents give each other nothing and Jeff will forever be associated with a love of ladders. No one seems to enjoy jumping off ladders or fighting with them as much as he does. He gladly accepts pain in the process – and the audience loves the siblings. As much as they would like to mutate into heels, i.e. bad guys, all attempts fail. If the Hardys show up, there is cheering, all heel intentions seem to be destroyed and the two remain babyfaces at least for the time being. Watching the match is still worth it today. That night Matt tells his brother that they have now gone from WWE wrestlers to WWE Superstars – he should be right. And something else happens that night: Matt Hardy drinks his first beer at the age of 25.

Feuds, fights, Swanton Bombs, broken tables, jumps from the second floor of a hotel into the snow follow. The Hardy Boyz are almost where they want to be and know they will make that last little jump. Fans love them, shower them with fan mail, and at times the two are the most sought-after wrestlers on the Make-A-Wish Foundation. But everything has its price, felt every show must become more attractive and dangerous, Jeff soon knows no limits. Matt tells in the biography of the engaging charisma of his brother, a godsend that makes the younger brother extraordinary. Jeff himself suffers the fate of most of these artistically gifted charismatics: he is different, he doesn’t feel like he belongs, he is searching for something, longing, and can’t put it into words. He expresses his inner self in music, lyrics and drawings, designs small and large aluminummies, but outwardly he becomes silent and builds a certain protection around himself – and he is aware that he is different and doesn’t want to change that at all. His Face Paints start, partly running over a part of his still quite untattooed body at that time. The face paints are legendary, after each show a picture of it is posted on Instagram, otherwise Hardy keeps very low on social media and can not do much with it. Sometimes they are bright colors, often faces that sometimes look like demons, creating an interplay between fiction and reality. The paints run over the eyelids, when Hardy opens his eyes and moves the iris, it looks as if the painted face is alive. Tattoos follow in the years, including two Chinese characters and a huge root braid with symbolic meaning, as well as a snake over the entire right arm and the right side of the body. The letters „J“ and „E“ to symbolize him and his wife, the Hardy Boyz sign and 2020 a large demonic devil on the back to symbolize the new Jeff Hardy. On the legs there is the first tattoo, a Chinese dragon and a really well engraved comichase. However, the neck tattoos are striking, two demons, right and left, wrapping their claws around his neck. His eternal struggle. In addition, there are the two tunnels, which grew more and more over the years and are used especially by Randy Orton with pleasure to torture, he has a joy in chaining Hardy with the stretched earlobes to ladders or pull on them to the pain threshold. Equally striking is the beard, which is always especially trimmed and a distinguishing feature.

When he builds a house on his father’s land, according to his own modest and surprisingly sensible ideas, he decorates it – because of all the traveling – with artificial flowers, puts sculptures everywhere, some of which he later destroys in the Hardyshow – gladly with fire. There’s also Imagi, a coati who shares the house with Hardy. There are short segments where Jeff talks about the animal, for which he even missed flights to wrestling events because it had disappeared. Over the years there are dogs, a chameleon and other animals that Jeff loves, like soul mates, brothers in spirit. But there is more to the property. Jeff has known it since childhood, his father had grown tobacco there, it is surrounded by woods with a smaller pond and a small lake, as well as a motorcycle trail that his daughter has also come to love. Here he tries daredevil jumps, breaks his tibia in a failed jump, falls out for months, during which time his brother leaves the WWE. Back in 2015, they were once again champions. Since then Hardy has had problems with his knee, people are waiting for him to end his career because of this injury or his back. The property is secluded, would make the perfect setting for a horror flick – and is connected to a lot of memories and love. The house is like a rock there and Jeff like a tree that grew there, he feels inseparable from the land and would like his ashes to be scattered over it. What can say more about a man? In March 2008, the house burns down completely. Jeff and Beth are not at home at the time, for a short time there is media speculation that Hardy, who was suspended again at the time, would have torched the place himself, but since he didn’t even have insurance for it, the police don’t believe it. Of course, he could be accused of being under the influence of drugs, but that can also be ruled out. In the fire, Hardy loses more than his house and all his possessions, his memories, his home, which he has completely rebuilt right away. His beloved dachshund burns in the flames. There is a comment from Jeff many years later that hints at how much he still suffers from it today.

On April 10, 2001, Jeff Hardy becomes Intercontinental Champion for the first time. Another career leap for the young wrestler. Feuds, victories, defeats follow. A completely normal wrestler’s life. The brothers enthusiastically report on how their careers continued to climb and how they were celebrated, how much heart and soul they put into devising the matches and ever new, more daring moves. Like much of the world, the two of them experience September 11, 2001 as a shock; Jeff doesn’t want to get on a plane afterwards, can’t really grasp what’s happening. Once again, he manages to express in his poetry what he otherwise can’t. „September Day“ is pressed on record years later, it should seem angry, but in the end it is the numb helplessness felt by many afterwards. At some point after that, it becomes clear to all that Jeff is disappearing more and more and withdrawing. Already an unpunctual young man, he misses appointments, doesn’t show up for records, and has visibly lost his desire. His heart is no longer in it, he is dissatisfied with decisions and what he is supposed to do. Matt describes it as his brother losing his smile – there was probably more to it. Jeff, who was afraid of some things but always wanted to conquer them and did – not least of which he makes clear in the 2010s by wearing the shirt „Immune to fear“ – seemingly lives out his inner pain physically. He throws his brother’s warnings to the wind. Matt states that at the beginning of the career he suggested to his little brother not to always land on his back. When Jeff counters that it doesn’t hurt him, Matt replies, „It doesn’t hurt now […] but it will.“ (*p.245). Apparently, he was unfortunately right about that.

Already in the biography of the Hardy brothers, published in 2003, Jeff comments on drug accusations. He still denies everything and states how much it annoys him that everyone thinks he is popping pills. Only a year later, a positive drug test teaches the whole world better. Hardy is kicked out of the WWE for lacking the necessary insight. Although he is able to get a contract with TNA Wrestling, but even here they have constant problems with him, which is why they use him little. There is a lack of discipline, Hardy does not compete in matches and in the years that follow he becomes a bad boy, an underdog, who repeatedly attracts negative attention in various leagues due to his misconduct. In 2006 he signs again with the WWE, Hardy is a drawing card and crowd puller who can not be resisted, but continues to show little insight. If he still wins fights at the beginning, solo or again as a tag team together with Matt, he is suspended again in 2007. Not even a year later, he fails the drug test again. The constant addiction problems can not be hidden and go through the media, as well as Hardy’s hard, undiscerning statements about it. Actually, he could have become a legend, but the 30-year-old keeps crashing and turning a blind eye to the truth. WWE responds and keeps writing storylines that clearly address his addiction. The bosses are in a quandary. They have a strict drug policy but can’t tame Jeff, but they don’t want to lose him either because he is loved and celebrated by the fans. His Swanton Bombs are legendary, in 2008 he jumps from a traverse on Randy Orton and remains apathetic. As he is taken away on a stretcher and cervical brace, he smiles and makes the typical Hardy Boys hand sign. The appearance is legendary and has become a popular GIF. Hardy stands on the traverse, for a brief moment you see a hesitation, then you have the impression that a devil is sitting on his shoulder and whispering to him: Do it! Forming the pistol with the fingers of his left hand, he shouts „Yeah!“, the crowd goes wild, Hardy jumps – and thus accepts an irreversible injury, at worst his death. He is later honored for this jump at the 2008 Slammy Awards. „It all started many years ago with a trampoline in North Carolina…“, after a short fight announcement he goes to the ring. Finally, Hardy is no longer sustainable. The feud with CM Punk, who later spectacularly leaves the WWE, becomes hard, bloody, destructive. In a match at Summer Slam 2009, the two give each other nothing, Hardy is clearly battered, visibly in pain, landing a breakneck leap on his opponent, who is lying on one of the commentators‘ desks. They want to get him out of the arena and give him medical attention, but Jeff, barely able to stay on his feet, rolls off the stretcher, fends off the stiffneck and drags himself to the ring. The preceding leap secures him another Slammy Award in 2009. Hardy knows no fear, no pain, later he wears a shirt that says „immune to fear“. The fans love him, they love his jumps – but only Jeff Hardy pays the price.

I don’t even notice the jump in 2009 anymore. After the legendary Swanton Bomb off the Traverse, I can’t watch Jeff Hardy fight anymore – not that he didn’t show breakneck jumps and moves before, that’s what he’s known for after all. I wait weekly for the sleeper line that he crashed in the ring, he wouldn’t be the first wrestler and I don’t want to see it, don’t want to hear it, don’t want to read it. The idea is too upsetting. Jeff tries to combat his mental and physical pain with numerous intoxicants. It is not uncommon for him to appear anything but clean or sober in the ring, there are frightening shots over the years of a Jeff Hardy who is not himself. Tired eyes, blank stare, washed out voice, at times he ticks off, is clearly no longer himself. Over the years – and to this day – so much video footage has come together in which you can clearly see when Jeff Hardy is sober and clean and when he is not. The sad culmination of the addiction is a 2009 headline telling of Hardy’s arrest in his own home. Lots of drugs were found, especially Vicodin (a popular and readily available painkiller in the U.S.), steroids and cocaine. He can’t get any lower than that – but two years later, Hardy will easily fall below that hurdle, too. In 2010 he makes a surprise appearance in TNA, at the same time fans follow the news about his addiction and the upcoming trial, which is postponed several times. In the time there is an interview that shows a bloated Jeff, who does not belong in the ring, but clearly in a rehab clinic. But there is finally some joyful news: in October of the same year, Beth Britt and Jeff Hardy become parents for the first time. Ruby is like a gift from God (or the Goddess), a kind of reincarnation of his mother who died too soon; according to research, her birthday is the anniversary of Hardy’s mother’s death. The girl is the spitting image of Jeff, but she will not be able to appease his demons. Not six months later, the overdue marriage follows, in the fateful March of 2011. Beth is still the woman at his side and will forever remain the only one. He adores her, she is his support, his everything. But even Beth – or especially she – must learn that the man at her side has to fight demons from which she cannot save him.

Just a few days after the wedding, Hardy hits rock bottom with a vengeance and is about to lose everything he has given his life for. It’s March 13, 2011, Victory Road is on the schedule, at the show Jeff is scheduled to compete in the Main Event against his idol Sting. His entrances music plays, but he doesn’t show up. Later, there will be reports that he was found dazed in the restroom, unable to fight. He staggers to the ring visibly high, the referee crosses his arms, a sign that the wrestler cannot fight. But Eric Bischof sees it differently, changes the rules and lets the fight begin. When the camera shows Sting’s face, it captures an expression full of worry and disappointment that just hurts. Like a father who has just watched his son fail. After only a minute, Sting pins Hardy, who is enraged by this and doesn’t understand what is happening, but can be grateful to the idol for putting an end to the horror so quickly and harmlessly for the wrestler. Hardy disappears afterwards, leaving behind angry and disappointed fans and colleagues.

The legend has destroyed himself.

*Source: Hardy, Matt; Hardy, Jeff mit Krugmann, Michael: The Hardy Boyz. Exist 2 inspire; It Books, 2003.

>>> Click here for the German version <<<

Part 2: The rise of Jeff Hardy

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