Jim Ross Looks Back On Jeff Hardy’s WWE Release – “Go To Rehab Or We Can’t Use You”
Back in 2003, Jim Ross was in charge of WWE’s talent relations department and he had his work cut out for him with a troubled Jeff Hardy.
Hardy’s demons have dogged him throughout his career with the star recently returning to AEW television after being charged with a DUI. But by 2003, the star was going through issues with WWE forced into releasing him from his contract after he refused to go to rehab for drug abuse.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross reflected on that worrying time but says back then, his health wasn’t going to be up for debate and the company was adamant he gets help and if he didn’t, he’d be out of a job:
“I think he was burned out, quite frankly, I think you hit the nail on the head there. He just wasn’t ready to settle down and play by the rules. I remember I had several sit downs with Jeff and probably more than I normally would have. I liked him. I still like him. I’m glad he’s with AEW, he’s a big addition to what we’re doing. But it was hard, it was hard for him.
“He wasn’t sure what he wanted. But I knew what I wanted. I wanted a guy that was not getting high before he wrestled. I mean, that’s just insanity, suicide, can’t do it. So I think he’s a little bit burned out, you know, and some guys handled pressure and their ascension to the top of the card in different ways. It’s not an automatic fit. And I don’t know that he was ready for his ascension.
“[…] Again, I had a great interest in Jeff’s success, but the main thing, my interest was health. And then he took that down one notch. And then there you got there you got Jeff, you know, trying to wrestle impaired. And that’s just insanity. We can’t do it. And I remember telling him that I said, you know, you got to go to rehab again, or we can’t use you. And it wasn’t a debatable topic.
“You know, it wasn’t a debatable topic, we’re not going to discuss, or what if we did this? What if, what if we do this, you get help? And if you get help, we will do business with you. And you’ll make a lot of money. You’re just, you’re getting over. But he didn’t, he didn’t see it that way.”
Jeff Hardy joined TNA for his first spell there in 2004 before he returned to WWE in 2006 for his most successful spell as a singles competitor as he captured the WWE Championship.