It's hard to believe that it has been four years since Jeff Hardy left WWE, only to appear in TNA a short time later. In 2009, Jeff Hardy and CM Punk had one of the best feuds in WWE, and their match at Night of Champions was one of the bright spots in that feud.
This program practically wrote itself, and when you take into account that Hardy was at the height of his popularity in WWE, and CM Punk was beginning to cement himself as a top guy, you have a feud that sells a lot of tickets.
On one side of the ring you had Jeff Hardy, a man who had well-documented issues with alcohol and substance abuse outside the ring. On the other side of the ring you had CM Punk, a man who took great pride in living a straight-edge lifestyle.
Other than the obvious built-in storylines, the fact that the straight-edge guy was the heel in the equation made things that much more interesting.
Punk pulled off the gimmick well, claiming that his lifestyle made him better than everyone else, but it was the fact that he never said anything that wasn't true that sold the heel turn.
This feud began when Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules, just moments after Hardy had defeated Edge in a brutal ladder match to win the title in the first place.
The move instantly made Punk a heel in many fan's eyes. He didn't do anything anyone else hadn't done before, including Punk himself the year before, but fans of Hardy took it as a personal shot.
Edge, Hardy and Punk had a triple threat match two weeks later to make good on the rematch clauses for both Hardy and Edge, which Punk won to retain his title.
Hardy would again face Punk for the title at The Bash, but Punk getting himself disqualified caused Hardy to leave without a title once again.
The following month at Night of Champions, Hardy was given one more shot to regain his title from Punk, and both men made sure the fans got their moneys worth by putting on a great show.
The match saw both men looking like they would win at several different points, but they would always kick out or find a way to counter the other.
Punk dug deep in his bag of tricks for this match, pulling out a Dragon Sleeper and a Bow-and-Arrow submission to throw some variety into his routine for the night.
Hardy ran his usual risk-taking style throughout the match, missing more big spots throughout the match than connecting.
Both men kicked out of each other's finishing moves at least once, but it was Hardy who scored the win with his third attempt at a Swanton Bomb. The crowd popped huge for the Charismatic Enigma, and Hardy righted what he saw as a wrong from Extreme Rules.
This was a great match in the series these two had over the World title in 2009, but it also helped tell a story. Hardy was the guy who had worked so hard for so many years to get to the top, and he had it ripped away from him by a guy with a briefcase.
Night of Champions was when Hardy would finally regain his lost World title after a series of failed attempts. It was a great night for fans of Hardy, but unfortunately he was sent packing by Punk just two months later in a match where Hardy's WWE career was on the line.
Hopefully Hardy returns to WWE while he is still able to do some flying so he can rekindle this feud, because this match definitely earned the title of "WWE Classic of the Week."
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