Today was TNA star Jeff Hardy's latest court date on his multiple drug charges stemming from his arrest in September 2009, and yes, The Southern Pines Pilot is reporting that there has been yet another continuance in the case. This time, at least, some potentially good news comes with the delay.
This time, James Van Camp, Hardy's attorney, asked Senior Resident Judge James J. Webb for yet another continuance so that a drug treatment assessment could be done on Hardy. The Pilot quoted Van Camp as saying "There has been no assessment yet. [19-B J.D. Sentencing Services Program District Administrator] Becky Carlson ... needs some time." Carlson was recently brought into the case, and says she needs more time to do her work, which entails forming an opinion about whether or not Hardy needs chemical dependency treatment, then getting a second opinion from an expert in field before recommending his treatment plan.
Reportedly, Hardy had been notoriously stubborn about getting treatment in the past. He was fired from WWE in 2003 for refusing to go to rehab after a several month long streak of embarrassing performances and erratic behavior (to the point that Vince McMahon was regularly trying to counsel him). When he returned to the company in 2006, a WWE.com feature noted that "He was plagued by an addiction to pain killers and methamphetamine (crystal meth), a highly addictive stimulant." The reference to meth was removed not long after the article was posted for whatever reason.
During that WWE run (which followed a TNA run where he was constantly late to and no-showing major events), he failed two drug tests (before WWE changed their policy to state what kind of drug the performer tested positive for), one of which cost him a Wrestlemania payoff. In Fall of 2008, he was also prohibited from boarding a plane, reportedly due to alcohol intoxication. WWE should have taken it as a warning sign, but it wasn't a violation of the policy, so he received no official punishment. In a strange moment, Triple H (a babyface at the time, no less) was feuding with Hardy on Smackdown when he cut a promo where he made a reference to "Dr. Black" (the drug testing program administrator) calling him, but it was edited out of the broadcast version of the show.
This time, for whatever reason, Hardy's problems didn't have as much of an impact on his performance, as he was easily one of the best and most popular performers in the company. He decided to take time off after his contract (which he had extended by a week or so) expired to heal various injuries to his neck and back. His run ended in a memorable feud with the newly turned heel CM Punk over the World Heavyweight Championship, culminating in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match that headlined Summerslam and a cage match days later on Smackdown where Hardy had to leave WWE after he lost.
Two weeks later, he was arrested. If he had been under contract to WWE, he would have been fired and prohibited from returning to the company for at least a year. This all came after rumors that he was hoping that leaving the company would erase his first two strikes. If true, that's scary for a number of reasons. At any rate, the policy was officially changed not long after he left, and this is how it currently reflects this issue:
Any WWE Talent, who leaves the WWE for any reason with a first or second violation on his/her record, will maintain said violation count on his/her record from the time he/she departs WWE until the time he/she returns, if ever, to the WWE.
In addition, a WWE Talent, who is terminated by the WWE for a third violation of the Policy, will be prohibited from returning to the WWE for at least one (1) year. If a WWE Talent, who is terminated for a third violation of the Policy, is permitted by the WWE, in its sole discretion, to return to the WWE, then (1) such WWE Talent must test negative for all prohibited substances under this Policy during the pre-contract screening process; (2) such WWE Talent will return to the WWE with a first and second violation of this Policy against his/her record; and (3) such WWE Talent must undergo the mandatory unannounced follow-up testing set forth in Section 8 C (1) of the Policy for a period of at least one (1) year after execution of his/her new contract with WWE.
If that didn't give him pause about an eventual return, then CM Punk cutting a promo on Smackdown that made fun of his arrest did. He responded by "cutting a promo" on Punk on "The Matt Hardy Show" where he appeared to be heavily intoxicated, accused the straight-edge Punk of taking Ambien, and then seemed to brag about his own drug use. He showed up in TNA a few months later. As a pushed babyface, he was a legitimate draw, increasing house show attendance for months before inexplicably being turned heel. Meanwhile, his problems came crawling back in a bad way late last year, with TNA badly mishandling them.
He was almost pulled from the Final Resolution PPV due to "being in no condition to perform," but pleaded innocence, saying that he was just exhausted coming back from a foreign tour, and was allowed to work the show. Then TNA's Bill Behrens said on his podcast that Hardy had been sent to the ring in similar condition in the past and implied that the sloppy chairshot (intended to hit the back, hit the back of his head) from Hardy that concussed Ken Anderson could have been one of his incidents. After apparently getting a lot of heat within the company, he clumsily tried to take it back in a subsequent podcast. During all of this, his brother Matt was released by WWE after a string of bizarre behavior and YouTube videos filled with what fellow wrestler Paul London referred to as "pilled-up talking." It was implied by Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer to be the reason that WWE outright banned (it's not permissable with a prescription) the prescription muscle relaxer Soma, which hadbeen widely abused in the business for at least 15 years. Matt ended up in TNA with his brother, of course.
It all came to a head a month ago, when Hardy was to main event the Victory Road PPV against Sting. He was clearly out of it, but still sent to the ring. Seemingly with cooperation from Eric Bischoff and the referee, Sting ended the match in 90 seconds with what appeared to be a shoot pin so he wouldn't risk his health by giving his body to someone he couldn't trust to protect him. With the PPV ending so early with such a disastrous match, TNA even felt they had to make good to the (small amount of) fans who bought the show and offered 6 free months of their online video on demand service to anyone who sent in a copy of their cable or satellite bill as proof. While at first TNA was planning on bringing Hardy back soon, there started to be more rumblings of them desperately trying to get Hardy into rehab (on WWE's dime since they have offered free rehab to anyone who had ever had a talent booking contract with him). Between that and today's news about the hearing, maybe there's still some hope for him.