Yesterday, I and others saw initial reports from TNA's Lockdown taping in New York, some "fan" footage of a nasty looking bump and social media messages from wrestlers about the incident and believed that Jeff Hardy was injured - maybe seriously - at the show.
Others, including my colleague Keith Harris' believed it was a work to write Hardy, who has a plea deal which sometimes prohibits him from leaving the United States, off the company's upcoming United Kingdom tour.
Now, just as more mainstream outlets like TMZ pick up the injury story - including footage quite similar to the Instagram link we provided yesterday - there's more evidence that it was an angle to cover the Charismatic Enigma's absence on the next set of tapings from across the Atlantic.
Mike Johnson at PWInsider, who was the first voice Keith and I saw crying "work!", is sticking to his guns. And, he has a more detailed report from the show than even his site initially published that backs it up:
The spot was completely planned and is Hardy's storyline injury exit from the company as he cannot travel to the UK tour due to his 2009 drug conviction as it prevents him from entering that country. The "injury" is TNA's way to explain why he won't be on the multiple weeks of TV that will be taped next month in Great Britain.
If Hardy had been actually injured, TNA certainly would not have gone through with James Storm then attacking Hardy at the top of the entrance stage as he was being walked out by TNA security, which set up Matt Hardy being DDT'd on the stage.
Initial reports only indicated that Hardy was carried out of the ring area - not the bits of a post-match assault from Storm that definitely sounds like the kind of write-off spot with which seasoned pro wrestling fans are familiar.
This isn't the first time TNA haslet the press inside and outside of the wrestling community run with an injury angle. The "Bully Ray broke Dixie Carter's back" stories were encouraged even when they brought some backlash. We could be seeing one way they hope to play out the inclusion of more 'reality' TV elements into their product.
But the reaction of many to either blame the company (which has some legitimate bad PR in its past with regards to how they've handled injured stars like Daffney or Jesse Sorensen) or say "same old TNA" makes you wonder if this is the smartest strategy. Yes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. But when that publicity reinforces an image of your brand as somehow second rate...
What do you think, Cagesiders? Work or real? And if it's storyline, is this a wise play by TNA?