B/R Exclusive: Jeff Hardy Dishes on Move to WWE Raw, Matt Hardy in AEW and More
Although injuries and personal demons have served as setbacks for him over the years, Jeff Hardy is finally ready to shine on his own again on WWE Raw.
The three-time WWE world champion moved to Monday nights in the recent 2020 WWE draft following a lengthy stint on SmackDown. It's been nearly three years since he lasted wrestled regularly on Raw and the first time he's been on the red brand by himself in over a decade.
Nowadays, he finds himself embroiled in a heated rivalry with Elias that dates back to May, when Hardy was believed to have hit him with his car on SmackDown. Despite it being heavily implied that Sheamus was behind the attack and not Hardy, that didn't stop Elias from challenging The Charismatic Enigma to a match anyway at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on October 25.
Elias ultimately emerged victorious by disqualification after Hardy smashed a guitar over his head, so expect the feud to continue in the weeks ahead on Raw. Aside from another bout between the two, it's also a matter of time before they face off in some sort of musical competition on the flagship show given their ties to that world as well.
On the whole, Hardy has a number of lofty goals he hopes to attain in what he considers to be his final run as an active member of the roster. That includes being a world champion again, fighting The Fiend, headlining a WrestleMania and so much more.
Fresh off his war with Elias on Sunday night, Jeff Hardy talks to Bleacher Report about returning to Raw, the use of his history with addiction in storylines, and keeping tabs on his brother Matt Hardy in All Elite Wrestling, among a variety of other topics. Click through to catch the highlights and listen to the full interview at the end.
Feuding with Elias and Bringing Back "No More Words"
Following feuds with Sheamus, AJ Styles and Sami Zayn earlier this year, Jeff Hardy's current storyline with Elias on Raw is different to anything else he's done, largely because of their similarities on the musical front.
Interestingly enough, the WWE Universe has only been given a small glimpse of what Hardy can do as a singer. He only ever used songs he sang himself as entrance music while he was with IMPACT, not to mention his band PeroxWhy?Gen has never performed on the WWE stage before.
That might soon change now that he's at odds with Elias, who held his own concert last week on Raw to promote his "Universal Truth" album that drops Monday. After teasing a potential "battle of the bands" between himself and Elias on Raw Talk later that night, Hardy is looking forward to what more they can do together outside of the squared circle.
"It's strange, man, seeing the footage of whenever that went down, the fake arrest and all that stuff with the wreck," he said. "It was weird watching it back, but it's pro wrestling, and the whole controversial story with Sheamus, the beauty behind it was that I knew it was going to be great. Me going in there against two enemies: the alcohol and Sheamus. Actually, a few of my ideas were why that kind of came about, so it made me feel really good that the outcome was a positive payoff as far as I'm concerned. Now that Elias is bringing that back in, I'm sure it's going to be something bigger and more beautiful, especially since he's involved in music and I'm involved in music. I think something more than just a wrestling match is going to happen moving forward."
Hardy went on to say that he had a dream years ago of performing in front of a live WWE crowd and that it's something he'd absolutely be interested in at some point. When asked about whether he'd ever use his own music as an entrance song in WWE like he did in IMPACT, he made it clear that he's only interested in walking out to the ring to "No More Words" by Endeverafter for the remainder of his WWE career, noting that was one of the biggest reasons why he re-signed with WWE upon returning from knee surgery this year.
"As far as my music goes, that Hardy Boyz music is for Matt and myself. Although I am using it now, hopefully if we get back in front of actual audiences, we're saving 'No More Words' for that because when I re-signed [this year], that was my main thing. As long as I get 'No More Words' back in front of live audiences, I'll stay for a few more years."
Getting Drafted to Raw and If He'd Ever Consider Moving to WWE NXT
Jeff Hardy moved to Monday Night Raw at the end of Round 2 on Night 2 of the 2020 WWE draft. It was a bit of an abrupt move, if only because he was previously in pursuit of the Intercontinental Championship on SmackDown right before switching shows.
Additionally, he has called the blue brand home more often than not for the past decade. That was where he had his most success as a singles star as well as where he won the world title three times.
Despite that, Hardy is determined to make the most of his move to Monday nights.
"I was a little surprised at first, but this morning, I was actually reminded that back in 1994, this guy named Keith Davis was supposed to wrestle Razor Ramon, but I ended up becoming Keith Davis at 16 years of age on Monday Night Raw," he said. "In 1994, I was a junior in high school, and just to be here in October of 2020 and to still be doing this thing, this craft that I love to do, it's amazing. I'm just blessed each and every day. I don't really care where I go, they could send me to NXT if they want to. I'm just happy to be involved."
The Charismatic Enigma elaborated on that last point about NXT, clarifying that there were never any talks for him and Matt to return to WWE in 2017 as part of the black-and-gold brand like Drew McIntyre did around that same time. However, he wouldn't rule out a run there in the future.
"For me, it was always been Raw or SmackDown," Hardy said. "But I'm not going to lie. I have had some visions too that if I did go to NXT, I'd be all painted up in yellow and black in NXT colors and being some kind of old school, Joker-ish style leader. I can't explain it. Naturally, I always feel at home on SmackDown or Raw, but I love the WWE Universe so I'm open to whatever."
Why Willow vs. the Fiend Is His Ultimate Dream Feud in WWE
From Finn Balor to Seth Rollins, there are plenty of fresh faces in WWE today Jeff Hardy has yet to battle one-on-one who fans are dying to see him square off with at some point. Leading his list of "dream opponents" is none other than Bray Wyatt, specifically for his Fiend alter-ego.
Wyatt debuted his Fiend persona in the summer of 2019 and has been extremely successful with it since then, winning the Universal Championship twice and leaving a path of destruction in his wake. Both men were traded to Raw in the recent draft, and thus a bout between them is only inevitable.
Hardy has always been incredibly creative in his own right, so it's a match that just makes sense, especially if Hardy is portraying his Willow character. Willow was originally created during Hardy's OMEGA days, and following a few appearances in Ring of Honor in the mid-2000s, he brought it to IMPACT in 2014 for a short period.
Currently, The Fiend vs. Willow is what Hardy wants most in WWE.
"Every time I see The Fiend in person, it's just so exciting because it's artistic and different and scary and cool," he said. "Willow was such a huge part of my early days in wrestling, like when we were doing the independents and the OMEGA deal. Willow was my main thing, he's in between good and bad. The whole alter-ego thing about The Fiend and Bray Wyatt is so exciting, man, to think that might actually happen someday. I've already gotten on trying to get a newer, cooler mask made and definitely I have the idea of how Willow will look if he enters the WWE Universe. It's so exciting to dream about that in my head.”
WrestleMania would be the perfect place to hold such an encounter eventually, as their epic entrances would be extra impressive on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
How He Felt About Fans' Reactions to His Rivalry with Sheamus
A serious knee injury coupled with his unhealthy use of substances kept Jeff Hardy out of action for nearly a year from 2019 to 2020. His first feud back with Sheamus incorporated his real-life issues into the angle, something not all fans were comfortable with at the time.
Some members of the WWE Universe felt it was the company's way of "burying" Jeff for his brother Matt going to the opposition, AEW, shortly beforehand. That couldn't have been any farther from the case, as even Hardy acknowledged that it was partially his idea to use his struggles as a storyline similar to his 2009 rivalry with CM Punk.
His mindset was that if he was OK with it, then fans shouldn't have felt that he was being punished. Rather, the feud was his way of sending the message that it's perfectly acceptable to acknowledge your problems, especially if the end result is worth it.
"Even close friends would say, 'That's messed up. I wish they would just leave it alone and not go there.' I was like, 'The outcome's going to be worth it.' And to me, it was because we've moved on from that. There's something therapeutic about that, the simple fact of admitting you're an alcoholic and reminding yourself how bad it can be. It helped me tremendously, so I don't see anything wrong with that. I thought it was a great way to kick off hopefully my last, final, killer run in WWE, a long five-to-10 year run. I was glad we did it and I was very proud of that Bar Fight."
That Bar Fight served as a brilliant blow-off to their story on SmackDown over the summer and was one of the better "cinematic" matches WWE has done all year.
Returning in Front of No Fans and Keeping in Contact with Matt Hardy
Before feuding with Sheamus, Jeff Hardy initially made a one-off return to SmackDown in March. It was announced in advance, and Hardy had mentioned on WWE Backstage that he was looking forward to feeding off the energy of the audience, until there was no audience at all.
COVID-19 restrictions were put in place mere days before the show and caused it to be canceled, forcing WWE to change plans and tape it at the Performance Center instead. Hardy still returned as advertised, but it was the exact opposite of what he envisioned originally with no one in attendance.
"I had been going to TVs week after week and just hadn't been used yet, and originally I was supposed to return in Detroit, Michigan, I think in front of 20,000 people," he said. "I was so excited, but then it ended up being the first show at the Performance Center in front of nobody. Complete silence. I'll never forget wrestling Corbin for the first time. It was like we were out there just training. I knew the cameras were on and people were watching at home all across the world or whatever, but there was no adrenaline.
"It was so surreal, but it was kind of the way it had to be," Hardy continued. "What's really weird is that Matt, he didn't hang around, so when he debuted in that other pro wrestling world, it was the same thing. It was like the first show in front of no one. What a strange year 2020 has been. It's really cool to be at the ThunderDome every week, taking the right steps to things going back to normal eventually."
Jeff's match against Corbin aired on the March 13 edition of SmackDown, while Matt made his first-ever AEW Dynamite appearance five days later on March 18. Both moments were great but suffered from not having formal crowds there to react to them.
On the subject of his brother, The Charismatic Enigma added that they keep in contact and keep tabs on what the other is doing. While a Hardy Boyz reunion is virtually guaranteed to happen somewhere down the road, they're more focused on doing their own thing for the time being.
"We still keep each other updated on what's going on," he said. "It's cool, man, and who knows? A lot of fans ask, 'Oh, man, are we ever going to see The Hardy Boyz together again?' Most likely, yeah, but I don't know when and I don't know where. That's the one thing about Matt and myself: We're still really lucky to be doing this later in our lives. It's a pretty amazing thing from where it all started to where it is."
Would He Ever Attempt to Turn Heel Again?
Since the start of his career, Jeff Hardy has always been a natural babyface. The "it" factor and rock star vibe he has easily endears him to the audience, making it tough for him to ever turn heel.
Other than his short stint as a member of The New Brood with Matt Hardy and Gangrel in the late 1990s, Jeff has been a fan favorite for practically his entire WWE run. He's gotten more aggressive at times (specifically during his feud with Triple H in 2008) but has never become a full-fledged bad guy.
However, when he went to IMPACT (then known as TNA) in 2010, he was a heel when he was crowned the promotion's world champion and the face of the Immortal faction. Upon going rogue, Hardy referred to himself as "The Antichrist of Professional Wrestling" and completely reinvented himself in virtually every way imaginable.
Unfortunately, the character was cut short because of Hardy's struggles at the time, though he hopes to bring it back in WWE at some point and do justice by it.
"That's honestly one of the things I want to make right because it was such a cool character, so unique and different, especially for me trying to turn the people and make them dislike me in some way, shape or form," he said. "It was one of those things where addiction killed that character with that terrible thing that happened with Sting [at Victory Road 2011]. I think I have the opportunity now to make it right. Willow in the WWE Universe is another huge thing I definitely want to do. It's just exciting to have all these visions and think about the possibilities."
A heel Hardy, when the time is right, could make as much of an impact in WWE as it did previously.
Leaving WWE in 2009 and Returning at WrestleMania 33 in 2017
When Jeff Hardy bid farewell to the WWE Universe in late 2009 and offered a vague promise he'd be back eventually, he had no idea how long he'd actually be gone for, just that he would indeed return one day.
It was believed at the time that he would take a break from the business and be back around WrestleMania season the subsequent spring, but before that could happen, he signed with IMPACT at the onset of 2010 and stayed with the brand for seven straight years.
He said that when he cut that promo during his final appearance on SmackDown, he had a feeling WWE would be where his career came to an end down the road.
"I think that's what I knew deep down because I had no idea what was about to happen in WWE or with me and my addiction," he said. "Something deep down was letting me know I'd be back. Not sure when, not sure where, yet here I am. I'm so blessed to wake up every day happy and healthy and with my family. My gratitude is crazy off the charts."
His lengthy absence from WWE was what made his ultimate return at WrestleMania 33 in front of a packed crowd in Orlando that much more special. The circumstances were simply perfect for The Hardy Boyz to resurface and reclaim tag title gold, resulting in arguably one of the greatest comebacks in company history.
"As far as moments, that's probably the moment now because the whole month leading up to that night was so stressful and the whole Expedition of Gold Matt did was so genius," Hardy said. "Winning all those tag team titles in all these different companies, and then finally to win the main tag team titles at WrestleMania in front of that many people was just incredible. I think it was just meant to be, and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. Even Matt, he's right where he's supposed to be I believe. With me and my spiritual connection through all of this, we lost our mother at a very young age and just talking to her every day through God and spiritual stuff...I don't know what I would without it, but I'm glad I don't have to do it alone."
His Favorite Match and Eyeing One More World Title Run
Of the many amazing moments and matches Jeff Hardy has had in wrestling, he says the one that stands out the most for him is his WWE Championship match against The Undertaker on Raw in July 2002.
That was the night a young Hardy took Taker to the limit and made himself famous, in the words of iconic commentator Jim Ross. Even in defeat, he looked like a star and saw his stock soar from that point forward.
"For me, especially not teaming with Matt now, it's got to be the Ladder match with The Undertaker because to this day I still get complimented on that match. The story of the underdog versus the legend. He did so much for me that night."
As far as what more he wants to achieve in the remainder of his run with WWE, he's already accomplished quite a bit being back these past three years. He's held the Raw Tag Team Championship, the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, the United States Championship, and the Intercontinental Championship, meaning only the world championship is left for him to win again.
"Naturally, being the WWE champion is the peak, and I want to get back there again," he said. "Even the Universal Championship, I'd love to say I've been Universal champion. The beautiful thing is that it's possible as long as I can stay on the straight and narrow."
At the rate Hardy finds himself going, there's no reason to think he can't reach the mountaintop of WWE one more time before he calls it a career.
Catch Jeff Hardy every Monday night on WWE Raw at 8/7c, only on USA Network.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.