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TNA's latest embarassment

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The biggest news coming out of last night's "Final Resolution" pay per view may have taken place off-camera. According to several reports, TNA world champion Jeff Hardy was nearly pulled from his main event match and even stripped of his title because of concerns over his well being just before the show was set to start.

If true, the development would be the latest black-eye for TNA, a company whose incompetence never ceases to amaze me.

Hardy's personal issues are well-documented, included in his numerous wellness violations during his time in WWE and his pending indictment on felony drug trafficking in his home state of North Carolina. So TNA can't play dumb here.

WWE's track record with policing substance abuse in its company is spotty at best, but at least WWE has identified some of the most dangerous cases in the company in recent years, sought to help them, and when they've refused help, moved to release them from the company. The most recent example may have been Jeff's own brother, Matt, who was released last month after exhibiting similar behavior to Jeff's.

Before doing that, WWE pulled Matt from several shows, and then from the road altogether. That's a far cry from what TNA is doing in not only letting Jeff Hardy perform, put wear the company's top championship and headline its biggest shows.

It's not just a matter of punishing Jeff, or even getting him help, but also one of looking out for the well being of Jeff's opponents, who put their bodies in his hands every time they get in the ring with him.

It's true that Jeff showed no sign of any problems when he did wrestle Matt Morgan in last night's main event, but that's no surprise. It's not unusual for some of the sport's most troubled stars to look completely normal between the time they walk out to the ring until they return to the dressing room. The late Eddie Guerrero was notorious for being able to do just that, even when he was literally on the brink of death.

But in some ways, that only makes the problem worse, as it allows management and colleagues to be able to reason that Jeff isn't in as bad shape as it may seem, since he can still work a good match.

Personally, I've heard several stories of Jeff's antics and troubling behavior outside of the ring, and seen further evidence of his serious problems in some candid web videos of him away from the ring. It's clear that he has no business competing as a pro wrestler until he gets better.

But, inevitibly, that point will be lost on TNA, which has made a sport of ignoring obvious signs that it is going in the wrong direction. As one of the biggest stars in their company, TNA will likely stick with Jeff, consequences be damned. What's more, I fully expect them to hire Matt Hardy as soon as he is contractually available - further making a mockery of TNA's drug policy and TNA President Dixie Carter's testimony before a Congressional panel two years ago.

Sadly, there may be just two ways that Jeff Hardy will disappear from TNA television. And, if they're lucky, it will be because he is sent to prison.

New York Sports