Jeff Hardy is coming back from more than just his latest injury. His addictions landed him in legal and personal trouble while he was away. Sheamus, and his employers, aren’t going to let him forget it.
The Road to Backlash
Telling your story is an integral part of the recovery process for addicts & alcoholics. As Jeff Hardy was returning after an almost year-long hiatus during which he rehabilitated from knee surgery and went to his first in-patient drug & alcohol rehab, WWE dedicated several weeks to telling his.
The skill which went into making those vignettes led me to give all involved the benefit of the doubt when, after Hardy defeated Sheamus in the first round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament, the Celtic Warrior used Jeff’s DUI history to take him & Elias out of the tourney.
The Charismatic Enigma was cleared later that night, and returned to cost Sheamus his semi-final match with Daniel Bryan. Hardy sought to set the record straight the following week, only to be met with denials from the big Fella - and a Brogue Kick.
Then on last night’s go home show, this:
After Jeff doused Sheamus with a comically large, oddly colored container of his piss, we did learn that he passed the test and was clean.
On to Backlash!
What’s at stake
For me - my name is Sean, and I’m an alcoholic - nothing.
I saw an opportunity here. And despite the fact it was being produced by a company who in the four years since its Chief Brand Officer promised LGBT characters were coming to their product has only had one tease of bisexuality in “ripped from the tabloids” wedding angle - my dumb ass trusted them to do something with it.
There are moments when it seemed like they might. Hardy’s been open about the pain & damage his addictions have caused his family, his fans, and himself. In the urine test segment, he said “My name is Jeff and I’m an alcoholic.” You don’t have to be in a twelve step program to know what that means. If you’ve spent time in the rooms, you know the power those words can have.
But catharsis, remorse, and identification are only part of the process. When the time came for this story to let Hardy’s character demonstrate another key component - acceptance - we instead got a gross out gag.
If Jeff fills the ridiculously large cup with pee, then says “you know what Sheamus, I get that I’ve given everyone lots of reasons to doubt me over the course of my life. Sometimes, jerks like you might use it against me. But I’m working hard to earn folks trust, and if that means peeing in a cup every few weeks, so be it. I look forward to kicking your ass at Backlash and moving on with my life,” we could have had something.
Instead, we got some “shocking” opening scenes that didn’t even move the needle. Hardy was put in the position of publicly dealing with demons he’s just begun the private process of learning how to deal with in a healthy manner. His loved ones were forced to relive this middle school drama class version of their trauma. And it’s all gonna lead to a run-of-the-mill wrestling match not many people remember in a few weeks, let alone a few years.
Hopefully Jeff wins, but I’m not even sure that matters at this point.
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