Jeff Hardy is a future WWE Hall of Famer a legend of the wrestling ring. His career has been one of the best of all time, but could have been even greater had he not suffered from his demons which left him out of the WWE during potentially the peak of his career.
In this article, we’ll explore why Jeff Hardy left WWE in 2009 and look at the situation surrounding his controversial exit.
Why Did Jeff Hardy Leave WWE In 2009?
Jeff Hardy left WWE after losing a “Loser Leaves WWE” Steel Cage Match against CM Punk, in his bid to regain the World Heavyweight Championship. This came at the end of a heated feud between the two world champions, dealing with CM Punk‘s straight-edge lifestyle and the drug and alcohol issues that have plagued Jeff Hardy for his entire career. It was one of the best feuds of the year, and began with CM Punk cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Hardy, soon after he became champion.
Most “loser leave town” matches in WWE are used for storyline purposes. Sometimes they are used to give a wrestler some time off, maybe due to burn out. Other times it’s used for them to switch brands, as their time on Raw and Smackdown may have come to an end. There are many reasons to book the match and most of the time, the losing party comes back soon after, maybe even with a change of gimmick.
However, this was real for Jeff Hardy. This would be his final match in WWE for 8 years, as he took some time off from the WWE and let his contract expire. This was puzzling, as he was at the top of his game and finally winning world championship titles, something he had worked his entire career for. In the past year, he had become WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion and even main evented Summerslam, also against Punk.
Hardy was dealing with a series of injuries that left him in series pain and needed to be dealt with. However, he knew that if he stayed in WWE he would not be given the time to heal, as he would not let himself miss out on more main events and being top of the card. This was the driving force for him to call time on his WWE career and leave the company.
Hardy was dealing with a neck injury, from two herniated disks and Restless Leg Syndrome, which is a condition that creates a strong urge to move’s one leg when not moving, which causes serious sleep problems. This grouping of injuries made life hell for the Charismatic Enigma and was one of the reasons he moved back on the drugs, an issue which plagued him for decades.
His exit was an emotional affair. Fans were crying in the audience, begging their hero not to leave. This was made worse on the next episode of Smackdown when Hardy’s music hit and he appeared to be back, just a week after leaving. However, it soon transpired that it was CM Punk, dressed in Hardy’s attire and face paint, mocking him and the fans while gloating about his huge victory.
Fans may have expected him to return to the company within a year or two, but that would not be the case. Jeff Hardy debuted for TNA on January 4th, 2010 as one of the new big signings under the Hulk Hogan regime. In TNA he enjoyed great success, but his addition reared it’s ugly head on multiple occasions, especially during his his ‘match’ at Victory Road 2011 against Sting.
The pair were set to face off in a dream match for the TNA World Championship, pitting the WCW legend against a former WWE Champion. However, Hardy was so intoxicated on an unknown substance that he barely knew where he was. He stumbled around the ring, pretending to throw his shirt into the crowd for a number of minutes before Eric Bischoff, then an executive in TNA, came to the ring to call an audible.
He told Sting to just pin Hardy and get out of there. He obliged, visibly angry as he hit his Scorpion Death Drop and pinned the former WWE Champion in seconds. Fans chanted “bullshit” as Hardy was carted away, to which Sting stood in the ring with his TNA belt shouting “I agree! I agree!”. It was TNA’s darkest moment and exactly the thing Jeff Hardy left WWE to avoid happening to him.
He returned to WWE in 2017 after 8 years away, but he was older, slower and WWE simply could not trust him to carry a main event programme with his issues lurking in the background. He has struggled with drug and alcohol ever since, currently doing a stint in rehab after a drunk-driving incident while signed for AEW.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.