Wednesday, 17 April 2013

TNA Analysed 1 - Jeff Hardy

I thought I would start with my new feature with TNA's biggest draw and most unreliable performer Jeff Hardy.  His popularity is undeniable although I don't see why he is so popular today with young fans and yes I am aware that he has a solid female following, but I don't mean those fans specifically.

Jeff along with his brother Matt made quite the splash in WWE when the attitude era was at it's height as the product had become more about hardcore matches and edgy storylines.  Jeff repeatedly put on great shows and is remembered for some of his matches involving Edge and Christian in the late 90's and early 2000's.  The price for this though was addiction and this isn't entirely his fault since WWE pushed all of their wrestlers to do more and more dangerous stunts each month.  Jeff became a painkiller addict to deal with his multiple injuries and it eventually got him fired where he had a brief run with TNA before rejoining WWE.  This was followed by a brief title run before leaving permamently and joining TNA full time.

TNA are very good at using already established talent since it means they don't have to do all the hard work of getting unknown people over and Jeff brought quite a following with him when he left WWE.  It wasn't long before he became the #1 merchandise seller for the company and regularly got the biggest pop from the admittedly small crowds of TNA fans.  TNA now hold him as one of several faces of the company alongside Sting, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle and now Bully Ray.  Funny how TNA originals like AJ Styles, James Storm, Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, Samoa Joe and Abyss are probably the hardest workers they have and all of them play second to former WWE/WCW/ECW talent but that is for another TNA analysed.

The problem I have with Jeff Hardy in TNA is that he is basically spent.  The guy is carrying multiple injuries and thus remains a constant issue for booking if he does get injured since he will be out longer than other guys due to his physical state.  He can't go as long as he used to and now has a very uninterested look on his face for every single match and segment he does.  I feel that he is now cashing in a pay cheque each week rather than actually giving a damn about what he does in the ring.

Jeff also seems to have something of an ego about him evident in his theme songs which all feature lyrics about how amazing he is, how he is one of a kind.  Now yes for a wrestler this isn't anything new when you look at other stars over the years who also profess to the best, but Jeff honestly believes he is.  His youtube videos featuring his "art" get multiple sycophants posting about how talented he is, backstage he is given priority for storylines and title shots while also being the biggest merch seller in the company probably also adds to this.  Further evidence of his delusions can be seen in his rambling monologues when he was part of Immortal.  He dubbed himself the "anti-christ of professional wrestling" in less than a week of turning heel and went on achingly cringeful rants about how important he is to the business.  It's easy to see how he would fall into this mindset when a company and all your fans are telling you how great you are.

Management is to blame for a lot of this attitude.  They have obviously given him one of the better contracts in the company with a priority when it comes to title matches and putting the belt on him.  He even gets his own secondary title when he becomes the champ, if that doesn't say narcissist I don't know what does.  I also get the impression that he is allowed to run his own backstage spots as evidenced with the internal monologues that ran for several weeks.  The fact that they allowed you to hear what Hardy was thinking in his head on a wrestling show either suggests Jeff is telepathic and beamed his thoughts to our heads or he suggested it as some sort of good idea and the writers went with it.  Well they went with it until the criticism became too loud and they dropped the idea because it was fucking stupid.  This is all from a guy who records albums in a spray painted trailer, with songs about himself such as 'modest' which he used as his entrance theme for a time.  Who refers to his art as 'Imag I nation' and also thinks himself a poet.  Clearly this is a man who could comfortably disappear up his own arse.

Of course we also have Jeff's prior drug convictions, something that has caused a fair amount of trouble for the company over the years.  Not least of all his infamous Victory road 2011 title match which lasted less than a minute because he was high.  The reports say that they made the decision to shorten the match backstage prior to his entrance, but when you watch the match Eric Bischoff comes out and discusses something with the ref beforehand and then with Sting.  Jeff is totally unaware and needed help getting to the gorilla position in the first place.  Why they even decided to send him out is a mystery since they could have just as easily said he was injured on the way to the show or had personal issues to resolve and make apologies to the crowd instead.  But like the idiots they are they actually had him go out there and make a tool of himself before losing the match in under 90 seconds.

All in all the guy is unreliable, he has missed working for TNA due to court dates, jail time and the fact that his prior convictions prevent him from travelling overeas for some events the UK in particular.  His matches aren't even that interesting to watch anymore since like RVD he is more of a spot monkey these days.  Seriously watch any of his normal non stipulation matches for the belt and you will see a pattern running in every single match he has, he is worse than Cena since Cena can at least sound good on the mic even if I don't like him, he shits all over Hardy.

Jeff is really only a small part of the larger problem that is TNA but he is indicative of the direction Hulk, Eric and Dixie want to take TNA.  They give a guy who has been arrested for trafficking drugs, a free pass when anyone else in TNA would have been fired simply because he shifts merchandise.  What else can Jeff get away with?  Can he no show and still get paid?  Why yes he can, during his original 2004 run he did just that and also slept in during impact tapings.  How about demanding pay rises?  We already know that he was offered a significantly better contract than others in TNA because he was threatening to leave at the beginning of this year to attempt a retirement run in WWE.  Personally if you are kowtowing to a single employee this much you have already lost control of the ship and it's on a course for disaster.  

Heres another example of Hardy's commitments to company, in January 2011 Hardy along with a few others went to a  NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling) show with Jeff running a pay per view style title match so bad that NJPW have since never hired TNA talent to wrestle for their company and likely never even consider it due to how bad it was.  Favouritism is also strong with this one since he apparently wins every "fan vote" TNA has and even won the prestigious and totally not copied from WWE slammy style award for best TNA wrestler of 2012 as voted by the ten's of fans TNA have.  This massive push was all part of managements efforts to keep Hardy under contract so he couldn't leave and potentially go back to WWE, although I don't think WWE would want him unless he would job to Cena or Punk at the time anyway and I don't see him ever agreeing to that unless he was paid more than either opponent to do so.

I think that about wraps up my first TNA analysed.  It may be a little scattered but I hope to keep improving as I go.  I few ideas for next week.  Thanks for reading.


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