In what is almost becoming a running joke now, TNA abruptly changed course once again at No Surrender on September 9th, just like they did at last year's Bound For Glory and this year's Lockdown, where babyfaces Bobby Roode and James Storm both choked in their respective quests to win the TNA World Heavyweight title on the big show.
The victim of this sudden deviation was Storm for the second time running, who had been pencilled in to win the Bound For Glory Series ever since losing to Roode at Lockdown, with the idea being that with six months more build the fans would be itching to see The Cowboy finally vanquish his former Beer Money partner for the championship. Come September though, Storm had cooled off so much due to TNA's inability to successfully execute a long term storyline that my colleague Geno Mrosko welcomed Jeff Hardy's tournament victory instead.
Of course, this wouldn't be TNA if there wasn't a catch. As Dave Meltzer revealed on his free Wrestling Observer Radio show today, just over 30 minutes in for those that want to listen, company management are playing a very risky game by giving Hardy a big push at this present time:
Dave Meltzer: Jeff Hardy, yeah the whole deal there is that Jeff's contract is up and I think they want to make Jeff as happy as possible to keep him from [jumping to WWE], just to make sure he renews, because he is the most over guy on the roster and it wouldn't be good if Jeff decides that...
Bryan Alvarez: Wait a second, hold on, *laughs*, hold on, hold on, hold on, so his contract is coming due and before re-signing they're building the company around him?
Dave Meltzer: Uhm, they're hoping to, yes.
Bryan Alvarez: Hmm, alright...
Yes, it doesn't take an evil genius craving one million dollars to see where this could all go pear shaped for TNA. They can push him all they like, but they can't compete with WWE's crammed coffers of cash.
This is the one TNA star that Vince McMahon may risk attempting to sign to WWE even while the contract tampering lawsuit between the two companies is still ongoing. Who could blame him, when Hardy was the hottest star in the promotion at the time of his WWE departure in the summer of 2009, and the recent injury scare to John Cena exposed how little depth there currently is at the top of WWE cards.
A year ago, WWE management wouldn't even want to touch Hardy with a rusty bargepole, after he hit rock bottom and became so intoxicated during the Victory Road pay-per-view that they had to cut short his planned match with Sting to 90 seconds. But he's had no serious problems since then, so those past concerns won't stop them making an offer now.
Indeed, even with an indictment for trafficking in controlled prescription pills and possession of anabolic steroids hanging over Hardy's head, people from WWE were calling him constantly with enticements to stop him from signing with TNA in early 2010. At that point, Hardy was still too pissed off at WWE management for scripting CM Punk to say at the Breaking Point 2009 PPV just a couple of days after his arrest that, "You'll never see my mug shot on the Internet like Jeff" to listen to those overtures. The lighter TNA schedule was also a selling point, after Hardy had become banged up working the full WWE schedule on his last run with the company. But time heals all wounds, both emotional and physical.
There would still be the problem of returning to WWE with two Wellness policy strikes remaining on his record, but that's hardly a barrier to a potential comeback. After all, that hasn't stopped WWE pushing Randy Orton or Rey Mysterio at the same level they were at before their second drug test failures.
So the ball is in Jeff Hardy's court, but at age 35, this may be his last chance to make big WWE money. What do you think Cagesiders, should he take it?