Matt and Jeff Hardy are one of the most successful brother duos in wrestling history. They have reached incredible highs in the business together, but it hasn’t been easy. Their journey started when they were teenagers with a trampoline in the backyard, where they taught themselves how to wrestle. They made their way to WWE in the late 1990s and had a lot of success there with eight total tag team title reigns during their WWE run. Jeff has been WWE World Champion three times, and each of them have held multiple singles titles. They Hardys are definitely WWE Hall of Famers whenever they decide to end their careers.
The brothers are still a success in WWE today. 43-year-old Matt holds half of the Raw Tag Team Titles with partner Bray Wyatt. Meanwhile, 40-year-old Jeff is the current United States Champion on the Smackdown brand.
Their wrestling careers haven’t been all about success and happiness, though. Matt and Jeff have each had their share of problems due to alcohol and drugs. On the latest edition of WWE Network’s “WWE 24” series, which debuted this past Monday, there was an in-depth look at the career of “Team Extreme” in a way we have never seen before.
I thought the documentary was amazing. It ran 57:58 and it could have been even longer, but most WWE 24 features run just under one hour. I’ll break it down with a look at Jeff’s story, Matt’s story, and the duo’s return “home” to WWE at WrestleMania 33 in 2017.
Jeff Hardy’s rise to extreme heights led to some rough landings
“I was abusing pain medication. I don’t blame wrestling for it. I blame myself completely.” – Jeff Hardy
There were a lot of clips of Jeff Hardy doing crazy things in the ring. Friends of Jeff like Big Show talked about how beat up Jeff was in 2009, and Show talked about how much pain Jeff was in. Jeff left WWE in 2009 because he was burned out from being on the road and the difficult schedule that led to him using drugs. That’s also when a lot of his problems really began.
On September 11, 2009, a few weeks after he left WWE, Jeff was arrested on drug charges. There is an interview with Captain Wes Hart of Moor County Narcotics talking about how they found drugs in the house. Jeff spoke about how he and his wife (Beth) were put on the floor getting handcuffed. Jeff called it the most terrible experience of his life. Matt said it could have happened to him before. Two years later, Jeff served a jail sentence for about ten days with nothing in the cell other than a pen and paper.
The most eye-opening scene talking about Jeff’s journey was at TNA’s Victory Road May 2011 pay-per-view event. It was a bit surreal to see TNA footage on a WWE broadcast, but it’s happened a few times now. Hardy was scheduled to wrestle Sting in the main event. Hardy was not himself, though. He noted he had taken too many somas and the pills affected him in a major way. Eric Bischoff worked for TNA as a Producer at the time, so we heard from him and Sting talking about how Jeff was out of it. Bischoff went into the ring, told Jeff Sting’s going to hit his Scorpion Death Drop (reverse DDT) and end the match. Sting hit the move, Hardy took the pin although he tried to fight it a bit and Sting left. The fans hated it. I remember being the incident well because it was the talk of the wrestling world due to how Jeff looked. Jeff spoke about how he was out of his mind like a zombie out there. Jeff felt like he could turn a corner in his life after that low.
Jeff was shown at home with his two daughters Ruby and Nera. Hardy was shown at home playing with the girls while pointing out how he had flashbacks of playing the trampoline. Jeff talked about how they named Ruby after his late mother, who died in 1987 of cancer when she was 48 years old. Jeff’s wife Beth was shown on the video several times, but she was not interviewed in the documentary.
Towards the end of the documentary, they mentioned Jeff getting a DWI on March 10, 2018. There were $13,000 in damages. Thankfully, there was nobody else in the car with him, nobody was hurt during the accident, and Jeff was okay. Jeff was given a 120-day suspended sentence and forced to do community service. Hardy said he was drunk driving. Matt said he was mad at Jeff about it while noting that Jeff is all good in terms of pills and drugs, but sometimes Jeff can’t get out of his own head. Jeff said he’s going to counseling two times per week and he’ll block out that negativity from his mind.
Matt Hardy’s broken reality
“When I had that downward spiral, I almost rendered myself obsolete and deleted myself out of the game. Having that burnout physically, mentally and emotionally that’s where the whole ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy character started.” – Matt Hardy
When Jeff left WWE in 2009, Matt was still in the company and he was miserable because he was taking pain medication as well as drinking a lot. Christian, a former WWE superstar that is Matt’s good friend, talked about how he would try to talk to Matt about his drug problems and Matt would deny it with Christian noting that drug addicts are liars. There was even a clip of Matt falling asleep while he was asked a question during an interview. Matt was released by WWE in October 2010, just over one year after Jeff left.
Matt’s life reached a low point in 2011. I can remember there were serious concerns that he was going to commit suicide based on things he put on Twitter. Shane Helms, a former WWE star that’s a close friend of Matt, talked about how Matt only seemed to care about how many views and retweets the videos got. Matt talked about how horrible things were at the time.
In August 2011, Matt was charged with a DWI for crashing his car. Reby Hardy, Matt’s girlfriend at the time who later became his wife, called the cops on him after Matt drove his car through the garage door, which led to cops finding drugs in his house (including anabolic steroids and ecstasy), so Matt was taken to jail. That led to Matt going to rehab, but then he got kicked out because he drank some whiskey with a guy in rehab. Matt was arrested, but he posted bail and went back to rehab.
Matt spoke about how after rehab, everything has been good, especially since he has kids now. Matt talked about how important his wife Reby was in his life. They didn’t mention this, but Reby was an independent wrestler named Reby Sky and that’s how she met Matt. Her comments on the documentary were very good because it showed how much she cared about her husband. Matt credited her for saving her life. Matt and Reby have two sons, Maxel and Wolfgang, that are three and one years old. If you’re on social media, you know how much Matt and Reby love sharing things about their kids.
Matt spoke about his “Broken Matt Hardy” character in TNA and how some fans loved it, while others thought it was terrible. There were more TNA clips showing the “Final Deletion” on July 5, 2016 that really got the wrestling world talking with how unique it was. Matt noted they shot that entire video in about 15 hours with two camera guys and an audio guy. Matt talked about how social media went crazy with the video getting millions of views because people were sharing it. Jeff noted they were closer because of that whole experience. I thought it was dumb at first, but then when I watched more of it, I laughed at how silly it was. Pro wrestling is supposed to be fun. You could tell Matt and Jeff were having a lot of fun with it, so as fans of them, I was glad to see them in a better place mentally.
It was funny to see some of the cheesy “Broken” clips in the documentary, such as when Matt and Jeff went to a local zoo to “wrestle” a kangaroo named Joe. Jeff talked about how Matt was yelling at Joe to punish him, which led to Jeff laughing off screen about how silly it was.
Matt felt like the success of the Broken gimmick is what made them get noticed by WWE again by showing WWE officials that they were living their lives the right way.
The Hardys Return Home to WWE
“There were times where I had dreams about returning to the WWE. I think as time went on and I matured, it felt like much more of a reality.” – Matt Hardy
“It’s just the way it was supposed to be, I believe. It’s where we started and it’s where we need to end.” – Jeff Hardy
The last 25 minutes of the documentary was mostly about how the brothers returned to WWE. Matt and Jeff talked about how they signed a deal with WWE about a month before WrestleMania 33 in Orlando in 2017. They did everything they could to make people think that they would not be at WrestleMania 33. Jeff lied about it in interviews while Matt posted a picture of his family at the airport to try to tell people that they weren’t going to be a part of WrestleMania.
It was cool to see clips of the Hardys with their families on a bus somewhere backstage at WrestleMania to keep their return a surprise.
There was a clip of when they were backstage in the Gorilla Position, which is the name for the area behind the curtain. They got to go up to Vince McMahon, who was seated there in a headset, and they got big hugs from them. Vince said “welcome home” to both Hardys. It was a candid moment from Vince, which you don’t always get to see. There were also clips of the brothers greeted by legends like John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair.
The return of the Hardys at WrestleMania 33 was incredible. It was one of the loudest ovations in wrestling history as The New Day stood on the stage saying there would be a fourth team in the Raw Tag Team Title Ladder Match. When the Hardys’ music hit, over 70,000 people in Orlando went crazy. A lot of us thought they were going to show up, but nobody really knew, so it was about as genuine a surprise in wrestling as you’re going to get in today’s era where fans want to know too much. The Hardys went on to win the Raw Tag Team Titles that night in the Ladder Match for their seventh reign as Tag Team Champions in WWE.
It was fun to see clips of the Hardys backstage after WrestleMania. Their friends like Big Show and AJ Styles were shocked to see them. Big Show said that seeing them happy and back in WWE was so great to see. Styles talked about how the Hardys got them. Some of the clips in this section was also shown in the WrestleMania Orlando documentary that aired earlier in the year that I wrote about here.
There was video shown of Jeff Hardy tearing his right rotator cuff in September 2017 on Raw. That led to Matt doing a solo thing with the introduction of his “Woken” character to WWE television.
Matt revealed that Vince McMahon watched some of the Final Deletion. Matt said that Vince was very proud of Matt for taking chances with this new character. Matt called it a huge compliment coming from Vince.
There were clips of the Final Deletion match between Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt that aired on Raw a few weeks before WrestleMania. Matt said he thought it was a success and he was happy with it. There was a cameo from Jeff at the end of it as Matt beat Bray.
The final ten minutes focused on some recent success for the Hardys in WWE. Matt won the battle royal at WrestleMania thanks to his new tag team partner Bray Wyatt, Jeff returned from the shoulder injury on the night after WrestleMania, and then Jeff won the US Title from Jinder Mahal. It ended with the brothers reflecting on their journeys.
This was another huge success for WWE’s “WWE 24” series. It might be the best one WWE has done so far because of how interesting the story was. The Hardys career has been full of so many highs along with the kind of lows that you don’t wish on anybody, but it happens in the wrestling business. We all know stories of wrestlers that fall on hard times, but they can’t get back to where they were. In this case, the Hardys were successful in overcoming their demons to return home to WWE where their fans have always wanted them to be.
I have always liked Matt and Jeff as wrestlers and I’m glad they are back in WWE. I’m also impressed by their willingness to talk about the low points in their lives. Some of it was tough to watch, but I think they wanted fans to know how far they have come to get where they are.
I highly recommend checking this edition of WWE 24 out on WWE Network. It’s available on demand in the “Originals” section.