Since Jeff Hardy left through the crowd during a tag match he was a part of at a WWE house show last December — something which led to many worrying about his health & well-being, a rehab ultimatum & his release from the company, a declined return offer that included a Hall of Fame induction, and his debut in AEW — Matt Hardy has said his brother would tell his side of the story when he was ready.
For the latest edition of Matt’s podcast with Jon Alba, Jeff was ready. On The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, Jeff talked about his last days at WWE. His older brother has maintained he was clean, and Jeff backs that up.
The other theory which has been discussed about the 44 year old’s “erratic behavior” is that it was designed to get WWE to release him. Jeff says that wasn’t his plan, but he is glad it worked out that way. Jeff, like many others, was perplexed by how the company was booking him. And he immediately felt differently in AEW.
“Certain things happen for a reason. Subconsciously, that was one of the smartest, maybe the smartest things I have ever done, guided by something higher than me.
“In WWE, it was like glimmers of hope, like, maybe I do still have something. The last glimmer of hope was the Survivor Series, which was really good. It came down to me and Seth Rollins. The crowd was so behind me. I felt like one of the most popular baby faces in WWE because the crowd was so with me.”
“Then there’s other times I just felt like a ghost roaming the halls and I’m like, ‘Why am I even here? I don’t feel important at all.’ But you know, I kept doing my deal. I just would show up and do whatever they wanted me to do. I’ve never been a politicker, so I don’t go out of my way to try to get a certain spot or achieve a certain status.”
“But yeah, just that night in Edinburgh, Texas for some reason, I finished my heat, you know, I took the heat, and I just said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ I went over the rail and disappeared into the crowd. Naturally, they think I took something like drugs or whatever, but I didn’t. I mean, if I was that bad, I should never have gone out there, is the way I see it. But yeah, I thought, ‘Man, that’s just another unpredictable thing that I can do and I’ll get away with it. But it was more serious than that.”
“But again, it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done because everything worked out so perfectly, mainly because my first day in AEW I felt valuable for the first time. Just you know, the care and love that I was shown. I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I just got chills thinking about that. In WWE, I just felt like they were just going to keep me there to sell more action figures. That’s one of the things that I put so much love and joy into is painting my face. When I see that comes out and be immortalized in an action figure, I’m like, ‘Man, that’s why I do this. This is so cool.’ So that’s one thing I’m super excited about here in AEW is my first action figure with the face paint, and it’s like, okay, it’s here. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.”
With Matt already working for Tony Khan, Jeff knew AEW treated veterans & legends differently in AEW. That’s why while he repeats that the decision he made that led to his release wasn’t conscious, he was always planning on being All Elite eventually.
“It felt right in the moment. I wasn’t trying to get released. Just thinking about Survivor Series and how fun that was, the connection with the crowd and they wanted me to win so bad, it made me think back to SummerSlam, it was a big crowd, and I was just there all day for nothing like, ‘Why am I even here?’ I was so excited to be a part of it, some little spot or something, but I wasn’t even involved. ‘Why am I even here?’ Not just SummerSlam, but, ‘Why am I still here in WWE? What’s my purpose?’ because it didn’t feel like I had much of one.
“[AEW] was ultimately the plan. Depending on how things went throughout those two years [of the WWE contract he signed in Setp. 2020]. I’m in good shape, but I’m still pretty beat up. I don’t know how much longer I’ve got and I want to make the most of the time I do have. I’m sure Matt feels the same way, ‘let’s get this in while we can.’ I felt like I was wasting away in WWE for my good moments that haven’t happened yet while I’m healthy and feel good in the ring. I feel valued now and that’s very important as a performer.”
Jeff also addressed WWE’s Hall of Fame offer, which he and Matt seem to agree was primarily a way to keep him from signing with AEW.
“It felt completely wrong. It didn’t feel like the time at all. I almost felt offended. I was very emotional and almost felt offended. Like, ‘What? Wait. After my 90 days is up and the Hall of Fame is in April and I do go to AEW, how is that going to work? What are y’all trying to hit me with if I do sign with AEW when I’m free and me going to the Hall of Fame, how would that work?’
“My mind and emotion went crazy and I was in tears. This is my career. I know I’ve been a very influential person to a lot of young and misunderstood individuals, but it felt so wrong. It almost felt like, ‘How dare you?’ in a sense. I know that sounds crazy. You get offered Hall of Fame and it’s like, ‘Oh, of course, I’m a Hall of Famer.’ It’s never really meant that much to me, the Hall of Fame, whatever it is, but it’s just not time for that.
“That’s why I was like, ‘It’s a hard no.’ Especially because it feels like something Matt and I should go in together, as the Hardy Boyz, when the time is right. It’s just weird. I still don’t know how I feel about that, overall, it just felt so wrong. Maybe I should have said, ‘What if I’m in AEW at the time of the Hall of Fame?’”
Regarding where’s he at now personally, Jeff says he’s great.
“I’m very comfortable in my own skin, and I believe in myself so much and my family does too. That’s really all that matters.”
You can listen to Jeff’s entire story on The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy here.