After making his in-ring return from injury with a win over King Corbin on March 13, WWE is gearing up to bring back Jeff Hardy in what could be a key position on Friday Night SmackDown.
On Friday's episode of SmackDown, WWE played some highlights and interview clips looking back at Hardy's career. While no date was given for Hardy's next appearance, all signs point to him being a major player on the blue brand whenever it happens.
SmackDown has a lack of depth on the face side. Hardy is a multi-time world champion and one of the most popular Superstars in WWE history, so he can occupy a main event role if need be.
With Hardy's reintroduction on SmackDown forthcoming, here are a few ways WWE could effectively utilize The Charismatic Enigma in the coming weeks and months.
Compete in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
WrestleMania 36 is barely in the history books, but WWE is already placing heavy emphasis on the build to Money in the Bank, which is scheduled for May 10. On Friday's SmackDown, it was announced that multiple Money in the Bank qualifying matches would take place on the next episode of SmackDown.
If anyone in WWE is an ideal fit for a Money in the Bank ladder match, it is Hardy thanks to his history in ladder matches and penchant for creating memorable moments in that environment.
WWE seemed to tease a potential rivalry between Hardy and Sheamus on Friday's SmackDown, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will have a long-term feud. They could face each other in a Money in the Bank qualifying match or perhaps both qualify for the field and settle their differences in the event's namesake contest.
Whatever the case, there would be few more effective ways for Hardy to make his presence felt shortly after returning than by thriving in a match type with which he is synonymous.
While the 42-year-old Hardy may not be the same type of daredevil as he was earlier in his career, he is less than two years removed from taking a wild bump in a Hell in a Cell match against Randy Orton.
There could also be some value in making Hardy the Money in the Bank winner. While the briefcase is often reserved for Superstars who need the win in order to take the next step, it can be used to revitalize careers as well.
Hardy hasn't been positioned as a true world title contender since returning to WWE in 2017. Winning Money in the Bank would change the perception and put him back near the top of the card, which is where he was when he departed WWE in 2009.
Challenge Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship
Winning the Intercontinental Championship is what helped launch Hardy to stardom as a singles wrestler, so going back into contention for title would bring things full circle in some ways.
If WWE doesn't have interest in putting Hardy in the universal title scene immediately, he is a strong fit for the midcard and the Intercontinental Championship picture, especially after holding the United States Championship prior to suffering an injury last year.
Hardy is a big enough name with an impressive enough resume to elevate the midcard and anyone he works with when he is put in that spot.
Sami Zayn is the quintessential slimy heel champion, as he needed both Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro to help him beat Braun Strowman for the IC title in a handicap match at Elimination Chamber and then retain it over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania.
If Hardy goes after Zayn's IC title, he would also have to contend with Nakamura and Cesaro. He is an over enough babyface to have plenty of fan support despite the fact that the Artist Collective is entertaining and popular in its own right.
It's tough to find Superstars Hardy hasn't worked much with at this point in his career, but Zayn fits the bill. And there is reason to believe that they would have the chemistry needed to have quality matches and segments on SmackDown.
Feud with 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt is gearing up for a rivalry with Braun Strowman over the Universal Championship, but once their feud is over, Hardy would make plenty of sense as Wyatt's next opponent.
Wyatt has history with Jeff's brother, Matt, who is now part of All Elite Wrestling. While WWE likely doesn't want to spend too much time talking about someone who is working for a competitor, Wyatt could undoubtedly find creative ways to tip his cap to his work with Matt.
Since Wyatt is all about bringing up the past with his opponents, perhaps he could blame Jeff for things going south with Matt and use that as a jumping-off point.
While Matt may have been a better fit to feud with Wyatt, Jeff vs. Wyatt would feel fresh, and the fact that he has enjoyed so much success in WWE means there will be plenty of things for Wyatt to touch on from the past.
Although Matt was seemingly the mastermind when it came to the Broken Universe in Impact Wrestling and WWE, Jeff thrived when he was part of it as well, and he is likely creative enough to contribute positively to a psychological rivalry with Wyatt.
Since it is easy to envision Wyatt winning the Universal Championship from Strowman, perhaps his battle with Hardy could be for one of the biggest prizes in WWE.
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