Big Nasty will be counting down the five biggest stories of 2011 as we prepare to ring in yet another new year in the world of professional wrestling. Five stories transcended the pro wrestling industry in 2011 for better or for worse, and as a result, this comprehensive discussion is being constructed in their honor.
No. 5: Matt Hardy's Furious Descent into Rehab.
For the second consecutive year, Matt Hardy finds himself as the subject of a "biggest-stories-of-the-year" piece, and for the second consecutive year, he has made said list for all the wrong reasons.
In 2010, Hardy was the star of a highly-dramatic exit from the WWE after displaying tendencies once thought to be considered uncharacteristic. Hardy would find a home in TNA shortly following his tumultuous departure; however, Hardy's stint with TNA seemed like more of a crash pad than a home, as glaring problems followed him into the much maligned second-tier promotion.
For years, Matt Hardy benefited from the otherwise stark juxtaposition between him and his habitually troubled younger brother, Jeff Hardy. Jeff had left the WWE on his own accord in 2009 at the apex of a hot babyface run, but not before becoming a repeat offender of the WWE's substance abuse policy—violations which have unfortunately come to define much of his legacy in pro wrestling.
But with the end of 2011 just days away, the brothers seem to have done a complete role reversal. Jeff Hardy's substance abuse issues are under control (for now), while Matt Hardy remains on the outside looking in following a string of bizarre and befuddling run-ins with the law that have now landed him in a halfway home for the holidays.
In fact, Matt Hardy seemed to make more headlines on TMZ.com this year than in wrestling, as his alarming laundry list of legal problems inexplicably ballooned, leading to his abrupt and merciful release from TNA.
Hardy was initially suspended by the company for what appeared to be wellness-related issues, inspiring bizarre social media responses to reports of his impending demise—all of which only seemed to accelerate the erosion of an already ill-advised working relationship with TNA.
Shortly after it was reported by the Fayetteville Observer that Hardy had been booked under suspicion of Driving While Impaired following a car accident in Moore County, TNA cut ties with the embattled star as his legal issues continued to take on a life of their own.
Sadly, this was the beginning of a string of problems outside the ring that continue to plague Matt Hardy to this day.
In late August, Hardy caused a stir after posting what appeared to be a suicide note on his circus of a YouTube page. Those who became accustomed to the tragic Matt Hardy headline didn't have to wait long for yet another encore, as the Fayetteville Observer would go on to report that Hardy was charged with yet another DWI at a Raleigh airport.
A subsequent raid conducted in Hardy's North Carolina home resulted in yet more drug charges, as paraphernalia involved 20 vials of anabolic steroids and one hit of ecstasy.
Hardy's string of odd behavior, mixed with more substantive evidence of his mental decline in the form of legal troubles, led to his admittance into rehab shortly after his suicide hoax, a logical and encouraging next step at face value.
It was later revealed that Hardy's rehabilitative effort were court ordered and a direct response to his growing list of drug-related legal problems.
Hardy's well-deserved first trip to rehab, sponsored by WWE, was further proven to be one of an involuntary nature, as Hardy would be kicked out of rehab after failing a breathalyzer test.
Forced to spend the holidays in a revolving door of jail and rehab, Hardy has more than qualified as yet another cautionary tale of a professional wrestler gone wrong. Hardy's problems, while painfully self-inflicted, also speak to a bigger issue of the adverse effects of a mismanaged professional wrestling career, an epidemic that seems to be slowly consuming once-beloved wrestling stars in great numbers.
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