I didn’t watch last night’s TNA “Against All Odds” pay per view. And judging from the lack of buzz about the show—which featured a world title change—“odds” are that you didn’t either.
Still, I feel the need to weigh in one piece of news coming out of the show that I think is significant.
TNA seems insistent on having a convicted drug dealer/user as its reigning world champion.
Now, I want to be careful with my wording here. As of the moment, Jeff Hardy, who regained the title from Mr. Anderson last night, is not convicted of anything. As such, in the eyes of the law, he is an innocent man. But, according to several reports, his attorney and prosecutors in North Carolina are currently finalizing a plea agreement that would require Hardy to admit to at least some crimes in his 2009 indictment, which included charges of cocaine possession and opium trafficking.
The common thinking was that TNA abruptly took the title off of Hardy last month in an unadvertised match at last’s month’s Genesis pay per view with the expectation that Hardy would plead guilty at his next court date a few days later. Nothing much ended up happening at that court date because both sides said they were still working out the details of their plea deal.
Determined to snub their noses at those “negative Internet writers,” defiant TNA officials made the call last night to put the belt back on Hardy, whose next court date is this Wednesday.
Now, regardless of whether Hardy takes a plea this week or not, it’s outrageous that TNA is promoting as its world champion a performer who, according to his own attorney, intends to admit to some culpability in a pending drug indictment.
What is TNA president Dixie Carter thinking? To call it bad business sense to reward Hardy with your promotion’s top prize when he is potentially days away from becoming a convicted drug felon would be an understatement to say the least. It’s unnecessary, self destructive and just plain idiotic.
In other words, it’s exactly what one should expect from TNA.
TNA’s ludicrous promotion of Jeff Hardy comes at the same time that Hardy’s brother, Matt, and Kurt Angle are stumbling their ways through promos on TNA television—glassy eyed and marble mouthed. And it comes just over three years after Carter testified before a Congressional subcommittee that TNA does not employ wrestlers with drug problems.
Some of you might be saying, “Don’t be so naïve. Jeff Hardy wouldn’t be the first world champ to have a drug problem.” That may be so. But he is the first one (as far as I know) to win a world title—two, in fact—while under a felony drug indictment. There’s a significant difference—one that a multi-billion dollar organization, like TNA’s parent company Panda Energy, should be aware of.
All that said, until Jeff Hardy cops his plea, TNA has the slightest amount of plausible deniability. But if he’s still wearing that hideous belt on the day he stands before a judge and proclaims his guilt, it will be a disgrace. And it should be treated as such by the wrestling media, wrestling fans, and all self-respecting TNA wrestlers who care about this industry and should be embarrassed by the harm TNA management is doing to their industry.