The wrestling world collectively gasped on Tuesday when footage of a heavily limping Jeff Hardy emerged from WWE's European tour. As bad is the knee injury looked, Hardy is reportedly healthy.
Wrestling Inc. found that the US Champion was back in the ring on Wednesday when he defeated Rusev in Liverpool, England. There were no reports of Hardy battling any sort of injury, so it appears the 40-year old avoided anything that could cost him time.
This comes as great news for Hardy and WWE. Twitter flooded with messages about the apparent severity of Hardy's wonky knee and it had us all envisioning a misty-eyed Champion turning over his belt on the next episode of SmackDown. Given Hardy had just made his return from rotator cuff surgery, another orthopedic injury would have had Jeff Hardy asking himself some serious question about his wrestling future.
Now that we know he's fit, next up is finding Hardy's next challenger for the US Championship. It's possible his last opponent (Rusev) could earn himself a shot at the title but Rusev chasing the US Championship is something we've seen a few times already. It's doubtful WWE runs back Randy Orton, and The Miz is better fitted for the WWE Championship than a mid-card title.
I'll take a guess and say Andrade Cien Almas gets a crack at Hardy. Since he won't be taking part in the Monte in the Bank Ladder match, WWE will want to give the NXT's newest graduate something significant to do. Sur a few squash match can get him rolling, but Almas, along with Zalina Vega is one of the best-equipped acts to translate from NXT to WWE.
Almas is in the middle of the biggest hot streak of his career. After turning heel and aligning with Vega, he quickly became NXT Champion when he beat Drew McIntyre last November. At January's NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, Almas retained his NXT Championship in a 5-star match against everyman superhero, Johnny Gargano. The next night, Almas got a taste of WWE's big stage when he entered the Royal Rumble at #7.
At NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, Almas lost his title to Aleister Black, but a few days later was announced as part of SmackDown's loot during the Superstar Shake-Up.
Almas and Zelina will be a welcome addition to Tuesdays as their chemistry
We'll certainly know much more by next week's SmackDown. By then MITB will be just a month away and WWE will be eager to get its ducks in a row for what's proving to be one of the best pay-pay-per-views the company offers.