During a live event on December 4, Jeff Hardy was teaming with Drew McIntyre and King Xavier Woods when he left the ringside area and exited through the crowd.
He was sent home from the WWE tour the following day and was released by the company on December 9.
Matt Hardy insisted that his brother was doing okay after many wondered what was going on with him.
Speaking to Jon Alba on The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy podcast, Jeff opened up about the end of his WWE run.
"Certain things happen for a reason. Subconsciously, that was maybe the smartest thing I've ever done, guided by something higher than me, I'll say," Jeff said about his exit at the live event. "WWE was so strange, I had been there for almost two years. After I came back from knee surgery, another strange thing about our careers, when Matt debuted in AEW, the pandemic had hit, in front of nobody, he teleported down from the nosebleeds. I was supposed to [return] in Detroit in front of 20,000 people, I came back from knee surgery in front of nobody. I came back from surgery, Matt debuted in front of nothing because of the pandemic. It was weird. The best way I can describe my journey the last few months in WWE was like 'glimmers of hope, maybe I still do have something.'"
Jeff continued, recalling the reaction he got at Survivor Series and transitioning to AEW.
"The last glimmer of hope was Survivor Series, which was really good. It came down to me and Seth Rollins, I was killing it, almost won and the crowd was so behind me. I felt like one of the most popular babyfaces in WWE because the crowd was so with me. Then there were other times where I felt like a ghost, roaming the halls like, 'why am I even here? I don't feel important.' I kept doing my deal and would show up and do whatever they wanted me to do. I've never been a politicker so I don't go out of my way to try and get a certain spot or achieve a certain status. That night in Edinburg, Texas, I finished my heat, I took the heat, and I said, 'I'm ready to go.' Went over the rail, disappeared into the crowd. Naturally, they think I took something like drugs or whatever, but I didn't. If I was that bad, I should have never went out there, that's the way I see it. I thought, 'Just another unpredictable thing I can do and I'll get away with it.' It was more serious than that.
Again, it was one of the smartest things I've ever done because everything worked out so perfectly, mainly because my first day in AEW, I felt valuable for the first time. The care and love I was shown, I got chills thinking about it. In WWE, it felt like they just wanted to keep me there to sell action figures. I put so much love and joy in painting my face, when I see it come out and immortalized in an action figure, I'm like, 'that's why it do this, it's so cool.' That's one thing I'm super excited about in AEW, my first action figure with the face paint," he said.
Matt commented that AEW places more value on legends compared to WWE, noting how Vince McMahon saw a different vision for him than he saw for himself.
When asked if he was trying to get released, Jeff replied, "It felt right in the moment. I wasn't trying to get released. Just thinking about Survivor Series and how fun that was, the connection with the crowd and they wanted me to win so bad, it made me think back to SummerSlam, it was a big crowd, and I was just there all day for nothing like, 'Why am I even here?' I was so excited to be a part of it, some little spot or something, but I wasn't even involved. 'Why am I even here?' Not just SummerSlam, but, 'Why am I still here in WWE? What's my purpose?' because it didn't feel like I had much of one."
Jeff signed a two-year deal with WWE in September 2020, which would end his deal in September 2022. Jeff noted that his plan was to always join AEW once his deal expired.
"Anybody from AEW was like, 'How much longer you got?' 'A little under two years now.' That was ultimately the plan. depending on how things went throughout those two years. I'm in good shape, but I'm still pretty beat up. I don't know how much longer I've got and I want to make the most of the time I do have. I'm sure Matt feels the same way, 'let's get this in while we can.' I felt like I was wasting away in WWE for my good moments that haven't happened yet while I'm healthy and feel good in the ring. I feel valued now and that's very important as a performer," he said.
Following his release from the company, WWE offered Jeff a spot in the 2022 Hall of Fame, which he declined.
Speaking about the Hall of Fame offer, Jeff said, "It felt completely wrong. It didn't feel like the time at all. I almost felt offended. I was very emotional and almost felt offended. Like, 'What? Wait. After my 90 days is up and the Hall of Fame is in April and I do go to AEW, how is that going to work? What are y'all trying to hit me with if I do sign with AEW when I'm free and me going to the Hall of Fame, how would that work?' My mind and emotion went crazy and I was in tears. This is my career. I know I've been a very influential person to a lot of young and misunderstood individuals, but it felt so wrong. It almost felt like, 'How dare you' in a sense. I know that sounds crazy. You get offered Hall of Fame and it's like, 'Oh, of course, I'm a Hall of Famer.' It's never really meant that much to me, the Hall of Fame, whatever it is, but it's just not time for that. That's why I was like, 'It's a hard no.' Especially because it feels like something Matt and I should go in together, as the Hardy Boyz, when the time is right. It's just weird. I still don't know how I feel about that, overall, it just felt so wrong. Maybe I should have said, 'What if I'm in AEW at the time of the Hall of Fame?'"
Matt commented, "I imagine they would have had you under a nice little contract where you couldn't have come to AEW."
Jeff replied, "Probably so, like a legends deal."
Jeff's release and "erratic behavior" led to comments from fans regarding his condition without knowing the full story.
Asked how he's doing overall and comments about his condition, Jeff said, "I'm great. It's very common with the outsiders that don't really know me to go, 'he has a history of drugs and alcohol, is he okay?' When you get put in a position to where they want you to go away for 28 days from your family, but your family believes in you, the three people you love most in your life, when they believed in me, that's all that I need. That's when you have to be like, 'Screw the outside world, it doesn't matter.' I hope that doesn't sound mean. 'Fuck the outsiders,' when it comes to family, those are the ones that really matter most. Even stuff about, 'Oh, he should have done the Hall of Fame,' it kind of makes me sick. I'm very comfortable in my own skin and I believe in myself so much and my family does to, that's really all that matters."
Jeff and Matt would reunite on AEW TV on the March 9 episode of AEW Dynamite when Jeff made his debut for the promotion.
They would pick up their first victory in AEW on Wednesday, defeating Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) in tag team action. If you missed anything from AEW Dynamite, check out Fightful's full report on the show by clicking here.
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