wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: How Many Times Has Jeff Hardy Been Suspended or Fired?

February 14, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Jeff Hardy Jeff Hardy’s

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Night Wolf the Wise was to give me a chance to redeem myself:

1. I’m going to re ask a question you answered last week. But I’m going to change it around so you don’t get crucified by the 411 wrestling community. Where do you rank Bret Hart in the 3 tiers of all time greats, based off of PURE wrestling ability. Let’s throw out drawing power and Charisma and focusing on wrestling ability.

For those who missed it, Night Wolf is asking about our last column, in which someone asked me where Bret Hart ranks among the all-time great wrestlers and I said that I felt, in order to call someone an all-time great, you had to consider their charisma, promo ability, and drawing power, which was enough to keep the Hitman out of the absolute tip-top tier of wrestlers, even though he legitimately has had a hall of fame caliber career.

So, where does Bret rank purely in terms of in-ring ability, taking all other considerations off the table?

This may get me run out of town on a rail, but I still don’t think it puts him in the absolute top tier of professional wrestlers. I would put him in the category just below the absolute top.

Again, don’t get me wrong, he was an excellent in-ring performer. However, if I compare the listing of his best matches to the listing of the best matches of some other all-time greats, there are others who have longer listings of classic matches. In particular, I think you’ve got to put Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kenta Kobashi ahead of Bret Hart, and I would also put some of the greats of joshi, like Manami Toyota and Akira Hokuto in a class beyond the Hitman.

Even though they’re not there yet because of where they are in their careers, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega are, in my opinion, likely to surpass Hart by the time that they retire.

Granted, part of the reason that Bret doesn’t stack up quite as well to some of these names is that he spent a lot of his career in the WWF at a time where, outside of Shawn Michaels, he didn’t have a lot of guys to work with who were on his level, so many of his best years as a performer were spent dragging surprisingly good matches out of guys like Sid and Kevin Nash. Some might say that it’s not fair to compare Bret to some of the others I’ve mentioned due to the fact, but I can’t speculate that he would have had a better resume of matches when he never actually had that better resume of matches.

2. Piggybacking off of question 1, Who would be on the Mount Rushmore in terms of pure wrestling ability? Again throw away drawing power and Charisma for a second.

I’m not a fan of Mount Rushmore questions like this, because I think that they miss the point of what Mount Rushmore really is. People have used it as a shorthand for “What are your four favorite [blank]?” or “What do you think the four best [blank] of all time are?” but in reality that’s not what Mount Rushmore is. Mount Rushmore honors four U.S. Presidents who were seen as being highly influential from a historical perspective, not necessarily the ones are considered the best historically or were the sculptor’s favorites.

In any event, per my answer above, if I had to answer the question, I would probably go with some of the names that I listed above: Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, and Toyota.

Shaun P. is a charismatic enigma:

How many times has Jeff Hardy been suspended or fired for drugs and/or alcohol?

Let’s run ’em down.

1. On April 22, 2003, Jeff Hardy was released from his WWE contract. On his “Something to Wrestle With” podcast, Bruce Prichard gave his version of what happened here, claiming that Hardy had significant issues with illicit substances and, ultimately, the company gave him the ultimatum of going to rehab or losing his job. He chose the latter. Once he was cut, he did take a pretty lengthy hiatus from wrestling, having only two matches between April 2003 and his TNA debut in June 2004. One of those two matches was his infamous ROH debut, where he got booed out of the building and didn’t return for fourteen years.

2. Speaking of Jeff Hardy in TNA, he was scheduled to wrestle Raven at the company’s May 15, 2005 Hard Justice pay per view, but he no-showed the event after supposedly missing several flights. This resulted in TNA suspending him, and he wouldn’t be seen there again until September 11 of the same year. Technically this wasn’t a drug-related suspension, but you can take your guess as to why Hardy was incapable of getting on an airplane that would get him to the venue on time.

3. TNA suspended Hardy a second time after he failed to appear for the December 11, 2005 Turning Point pay per view.

4. In June 2006, TNA finally just said “screw it” and let Hardy out of his contract altogether. He hadn’t wrestled on television since December ’05, though he did work some TNA house shows in the interim. However, during this period, TNA house shows were independently booked events run by NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler, who just happened to be licensing the TNA name.

5. After wrapping up with TNA, Hardy returned to WWE, where things were pretty stable for him for about a year before he got popped for his first violation of the company’s wellness policy in late July 2007. That kept him off of television for thirty days. At the time, Jeff claimed that he was out of action due to an injury and not anything wellness-related, but objective third-party sources like the August 13, 2007 edition of the Figure Four Weekly newsletter report that it was a true suspension.

6. Wellness violation number two came in March 2008, resulting in a sixty day suspension. This one was particularly bad timing, as it kept him off of Wrestlemania, where many sources report that he was scheduled to win that year’s Money in the Bank ladder match (before that bout got spun off in to its own pay per view). As if this wasn’t bad enough, three days after he was suspended, Jeff’s house burned to the ground in a fire, killing his dog in the process.

Hardy left WWE in August 2009, though it appears to have been an amicable separation targeted at allowing Jeff to heal up from mounting injuries, so we won’t be adding it to our termination/suspension count. However, on September 12 of that year, Hardy was arrested on a variety of drug charges, including felony drug trafficking, which put the kibosh on him returning to WWE at any point in the immediate future. He did eventually plead guilty to some of those charges and served a whopping eleven days in jail. If you’ve ever wondered why Hardy hasn’t gone on an international tour with a wrestling promotion he’s working for, the answer is probably that the foreign country won’t let him in because of these felony convictions.

7. After the drug bust, Jeff went back to TNA, starting up with them again in January 2010. He managed to stay on TV for a little over a year until he showed up to the March 13, 2011 Victory Road pay per view in no condition to perform, leading to an infamous ninety second main event against Sting where Stinger looked for all the world like he wanted to legitimately punch Hardy in the face and yelled “I agree!” to some fans who were chanting “bullshit” as he exited the ring. Jeff Hardy did not return to television for the company until August.

And that’s really the last time that Hardy was suspended or let go due to his personal demons. He was arrested for DWI on March 10, 2018, public intoxication on July 13, 2019, and then again for DWI on October 3, 2019, and he was under contract to WWE at all of those times, but there were no suspensions doled out.

So that’s as many as seven releases/suspensions based on substance issues depending on how you want to count it. If you prefer to claim that his troubles with TNA were due to “no-showing events” as opposed to addiction, that could get you down to as low as four, but, really, there’s only one plausible reason as to why Hardy would have been missing that many shots.

Tyler from Winnipeg‘s heartbeat is the only sound:

Off the top of your head, which Jericho entrance is your favorite?

This may be the easiest question I’ve ever had to answer in this column. Hit it:

Watching this happen live on Monday Night Raw is on the short-list of wrestling memories indelibly etched into my mind. I had become a big Jericho fan from his work in WCW, and the fact that he was going to be on the other side of the millennium countdown that had been appearing on WWF television for several weeks was perhaps the worst-kept secret in the industry.

However, in professional wrestling, the best surprises are oftentimes the ones that you know are coming, and I had chills when my favorite wrestler of the time first stepped out on to a stage where I knew he had the potential to be a much bigger star than he had ever been before. Heck, I re-watched the video before inserting it into this column, and I had chills again over twenty years later.

Everything about this entrance was perfect, from the lighting to the pyro to the music to the titantron video, and, of course, Jericho really stuck the landing when he first got on the mic. I don’t know that he’s ever had a better entrance during his career, and I don’t know that he ever will.

Uzomoa takes us from one Canadian Chris to another:

Chris Benoit’s son, David, wishes to pursue a pro wrestling career and wants to use the ring name Chris Benoit Jr, use his father’s entrance theme and ring attire. Your thoughts on all this?

It’s a terrible idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for David Benoit. I really do. Chances are good that he never knew the version of his father who committed perhaps the most horrific crime in professional wrestling history. He likely only knew his father as many children know their fathers, as a hero or at the very least a formative figure in his determination of what a man is supposed to be. He probably wants to pursue a wrestling career and take his father’s name to honor the version of the man that he knew, not the version of the man that the world as a whole knows.

There’s no way it should be allowed to happen, though.

Nothing about allowing this to happen would benefit the professional wrestling industry. No matter what company uses him and no matter how that company uses him, as soon as word of his career reaches the non-wrestling media, it’s going to make the entire industry look awful. The way that they’ll play the story is that wrestling is this scuzzy, carny business that is trying to exploit the murder of an innocent woman and child in order to make a quick buck.

When people outside of the wrestling world hear Chris Benoit’s name, they think of somebody who is on the order of a Ted Bundy or a Jeffrey Dahmer. Imagine what the reaction would be if a wrestling promotion hired Ted Bundy’s legitimate son and prompted him as Ted Bundy, Jr., even if they never once played up the fact that Bundy Sr. was a notorious murderer. That wrestling promotion would be rightfully excoriated, and there would potentially be blowback for the industry as a whole.

There are some people who might read this and say to me, “Well, Ryan. That’s not fair. David Benoit shouldn’t be denied an opportunity at the career he wants simply because his father did something terrible that David has no connection to!”

I’ve got a single word in response to that claim: Bullshit.

People have opportunities denied to them because of factors outside of their control all the time. This is no different. I wish David Benoit all the best, but for his sake and the sake of professional wrestling as a whole, I would strongly encourage him to head down a different career path.

Richard Q is pointing at the sign in the corner of the arena:

WWE understandably always makes Wrestlemania weekend a huge one with usually a big NXT show, Mania, and the post ‘Mania Raw and Smackdown which traditionally have higher ratings and bigger, livelier crowds. With Smackdown being on Friday now, is it possible WWE and Fox come to an agreement to move Smackdown to Tuesday just for the one night and take advantage of the momentum/publicity?

It’s possible in the sense that anything is possible, but I don’t think that it’s particularly likely, nor do I think that it would benefit anyone all that much.

It should first be noted that the pre-Wrestlemania Smackdown is already booked for Tampa, taking place in the city’s Amalie Arena (the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning) on Friday, April 3. If you were to also add the post-Wrestlemania Smackdown to that lineup, you’d be dealing with a mind-boggling five consecutive nights of WWE live events in the same city, which, even for the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, seems like it would be overkill.

The other issue is that the post-PPV ratings bump might be a thing of the past, which would cut some of the legs out from underneath this idea. The episode of Monday Night Raw that followed this year’s Royal Rumble pay per view was basically even with the episode the week before, whereas prior post-Rumble Raws had been up significantly from prior weeks, to the point that the post-Rumble show was usually one of the most-viewed of the year. If the WWE programming following up on Wrestlemania also fails to see a significant increase, moving Smackdown to the Tuesday after Wrestlemania likely wouldn’t help the show at all.

Charlie Morgan is , uhhh, well . . .

If one female wrestler kicks another female wrestler in the crotch, is that a DQ?

I assume that you are referring to two wrestlers with vulvae as opposed to penises, which may or may not make them female wrestlers.

In any event, one wrestler kicking another wrestler low is always going to be a disqualification, regardless of what genitalia they may have. Even though there have been a lot of jokes and other references in popular culture to a shot to a penis being particularly painful, the fact of the matter is a low blow is pretty excruciating no matter what you look like down there.

Concord Fliehr seems like he should have the connections to go straight to the source on this one:

In many interviews, both recently and a while ago, Charlotte has said she was not allowed to even reference her dad in her early days in nxt, but I seem to remember her dad being around nxt tv before her takeover match with Natty. Specifically, I remember her dad asking Bayley to be Charlotte’s tag partner for a match, and Bayley fan-girling all over the nature boy. I even vaguely remember charlotte turning on bayley, but I could be wrong.

Am I imagining that? Do I have the timeline wrong? Both are possible, I’m getting up there in years and my memory isn’t as good.

It’s definitely something that the company went back and forth on for a period of time. There’s not a linear time frame as to when they were acknowledging Charlotte as being Ric Flair’s daughter and when they were not. The position has switched, seemingly dependent on when they wanted to get the Nature Boy on screen.

However, they’ve since settled on the idea that she is, in fact, Ric Flair’s daughter, and “Flair” has seemingly become a permanent part of her ring name, which I appreciate because the longstanding policy of not giving last names to most female wrestlers seemed like part of the pattern of dehumanizing and objectifying them.

Scott is calling it down the middle:

My question is on referees, specifically in WWE. I grew up in the 80s and have been a fan since, and it struck me over the past few years that referees are no longer referred to by name on WWE programming nor does one referee seem to be any different from another. Growing up, I felt I knew most of the referees by name – Dave Hebner and Tim White being two notable examples of officials with a distinctive in ring personality that was often part of the story as told by Monsoon, Ventura, Heenan, Ross, King, etc.

Any reason you feel WWE has gotten away from identifying, talking about and making them (occasionally and when appropriate) part of storytelling during matches?

The idea is that the referees are not meant to be the focus of the show, so the company is going to downplay their existence as much as they possibly can. Personally, it’s not a philosophy that I agree with, because you can still emphasize the refs when appropriate without taking the emphasis off of the wrestlers. (And, frankly, if your wrestlers can’t overcome the star power of your referees, your wrestlers aren’t worth a damn.) By having officials who fans recognize and who have distinct personalities that occasionally play into matches, you’re opening up storytelling opportunities that don’t exist otherwise.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].