There have been a lot of reasons over the last year to be concerned about Matt Hardy. His ballooning weight. His uninspired ring performances. The frequent stories about his wild partying. His cryptic messages to his Internet followers expressing his frustration with his career.
But if this isn’t the brightest red flag that Matt Hardy needs to seriously address some personal issues before stepping back into a wrestling ring, I don’t know what is.
Hardy posted this video moments after reports surfaced that WWE sent him home early during a trip of Europe because of his behavior (Hardy dwells far too much in this video on the semantics of being sent “home” rather than being removed from the tour.)
The slurred speech. The sleepy eyes. The erratic, stream of consciousness statements. Far be it for me to make any accusations, but I think most any honest and informed observer would have reason to be concerned about Matt’s condition in this video.
Perhaps the biggest “tell” that Matt Hardy has a problem is his adamant denial that he does. The hyper-defensive, insistence that he feels better than he ever has might sound familiar to most anybody who has ever dealt with any kind of addict.
But, again, I’m coming short of accusing Matt of anything. Some fans have brought up the possibility that he may simply be tired after an exhaustive European tour. I wouldn’t count that out, although it’s important to consider that this is certainly not an isolated incident.
It follows an earlier incident from last week in which Hardy was reportedly pulled from a White Plains house show tag team match moments before it was set to start, reportedly out of concern that he was in no shape to compete. I was at that event, and I found it unusual that ring announcer Tony Chimmel first announced the match as a tag team contest, and then half way through the ring entrances of C.M. Punk and Luke Gallows, announced that the match had been changed to a singles bout with R-Truth taking on Punk.
Most bothersome about this story – as with so many stories – is the refusal of fans to listen to anything negative about their favorite WWE superstars. Go through the hundreds of comments on the Youtube page where this video appears, and the vast majority are along the lines of “We love you Matt!” and “Good for you!”
It’s great for fans to be supportive of Matt, but doing so shouldn’t mean turning a blind eye to some fairly obvious issues. If fans really care about Matt, they should want him to get healthy before he becomes another sad statistic.
As for WWE’s part in this, a company spokesman on Tuesday confirmed that Matt “was pulled off the card” of the European show and the White Plains show, but would not comment “as to why.”
If Matt has truly been in no condition to compete, then WWE has done the right thing by pulling him from matches, where he could be a danger to himself and his opponent.
If Matt does indeed have a problem, then hopefully WWE’s much ballyhooed wellness policy will identify it, and WWE will take the appropriate steps to address it.
Former WWE C.E.O. Linda McMahon has already taken some heat in her Senatorial bid over the recent deaths of former WWE acts including Lance Cade and Luna Vaschon. In both cases, WWE had some level of deniability in that both were not employed by WWE at the time of their deaths, and both had been offered WWE-sponsored rehabilitation.
I can only imagine the kind of criticisms that Linda McMahon would face if, God forbid, a performer currently employed by WWE were to die from suspected substance abuse.
That should not be the primary motivator for WWE to look to nip any problem with Matt Hardy – or anybody else – in the bud, but if it helps bring urgency to the issue, then all the better.