WWE typically doesn't release future Hall of Famers. But in 2003, they had to.
Few wrestlers enjoy an unconditionally loving relationship with WWE's fanbase. But Jeff Hardy is one of them. However, as great as Hardy was, his erratic behavior and apparent drug abuse made him a persistent problem for WWE. Despite his profound ability to connect with their audience, WWE fired Hardy.
Bruce Prichard, a long time WWE backstage official, recalled the decision to fire him on his WWE Network show, Something Else to Wrestle.
“Jeff did have a drug problem, and everything that you just said was taking place. All of the sudden, we had a different human being on our hands, and it wasn’t someone that anyone really liked to work with anymore. If he did show up, he would go on high, and you couldn’t find him all day long, or he’d show up and then leave again," said Prichard.
Hardy's issue reached an egregious level, leading to WWE handing him an ultimatum.
“It was difficult times being with Jeff Hardy. Jeff had a drug issue—Jeff admitted having a drug issue—but Jeff didn’t want to go to rehab. The condition was ‘Jeff you have to go to rehab or we’ve got to let you go. And they released him because he refused to go to rehab. In my opinion, Jeff had a drug problem. Jeff had a lot of issues going on and wasn’t handling them well.”
Hardy would land in TNA and work alongside wrestling relics like Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Randy Savage, but also shared the ring with a young AJ Styles.
In 2006, Hardy would make a return to WWE where he'd resume the solo career he squandered a few years prior. Hardy would become Intercontinental Champion but was forced to drop the title after a second of WWE's drug policy. But in 2008, Hardy defeated Edge and Triple H to win his first ever World Championship. Hardy would nab another turn with the big belt before leaving WWE due to injury in 2009.
Hardy returned to TNA this time, to become a face of the company en route to winning the heavyweight CHampionship 3-times. He'd undergo several significant character overhaul with the most relevant being Brother Nero.
Hard and his brother Matt made their prodigal return to WWE in 2017 at WrestleMania 33. Their purpose entrance may be one of the loudest moments in WE history and the brother are still riding that momentum today. Matt is RAW Tag Team champions with Bray Wyatt while Jeff is the current US Champion on SmackDown Live.