As Jeff Hardy approaches his Hell in a Cell match with Elias, he understands the gravity of what is at stake.
Much more than just a match, it is another opportunity for Hardy, who has been granted another chance on multiple occasions, to prove his worth to WWE. When sober, there are few more skilled at connecting with an audience than “The Charismatic Enigma.”
“This is my last chance to get it right,” said Hardy, who turned 43 in August. “Since my early 20s, it’s been a rollercoaster ride with addiction and alcoholism. I’ve had sober runs, doing good for a while, but then I’d always go back. Now I hope I’m done with that. As long as I stay on the straight and narrow, the sky is the limit.”
WWE’s decision to introduce Hardy’s battle with addiction into his storyline has been met with mixed reactions. Starting in May, Hardy’s entire program with Sheamus was built around his struggles with alcoholism, ending in Hardy’s favor following a Bar Fight in July on SmackDown.
“For me, admitting on TV that I’m an alcoholic has been empowering,” said Hardy. “It helps me remind myself of how bad it can be if I go back to that way of life. I am blessed to do this, and I want to help people that have struggled like me. I hope I can be an example for people going through recovery.”
Wrestling fans have witnessed the rise and fall, along with triumphs and stumbles, throughout Hardy’s 28-year career. Hardy now looks to regain an elite position in WWE, and he revealed the list of upcoming goals he hopes to achieve.
“Between now and the year 2024, I want to be WWE Champion and Universal Champion, one time apiece, and main event WrestleMania one of those years,” said Hardy. “That’s the goal I just set for myself. Faith over fear, everything will be good.”
For Hardy, WWE is genuinely the place where his dreams come true. His last two programs—against Sheamus and then the payoff to his Intercontinental title feud against Sami Zayn and AJ Styles—reached their conclusions as a result of Hardy’s dreams.
“I had this dream where my ear was handcuffed to a ladder, where I was able to climb with it and hit people with it without ripping my earlobe, and it came true,” said Hardy. “I had a dream about this bar fight with Sheamus, a fight against alcohol and my human enemy, and it happened. I’m constantly dreaming, especially in the ThunderDome. That’s when my wheels start turning and I have my visions.”
Hardy’s most recent vision was to introduce Willow, his alter-ego, to WWE.
“I want Willow to have something to do with ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt, though what that is, I’m not sure yet,” said Hardy. “That’s one of the struggles right now inside my head.
“I’m thinking that Willow is stuck in a little black-and-white TV of the Twilight Zone in The Firefly Fun House. Maybe The Fiend beats Jeff Hardy, and that’s why I transform into Willow. It’s cool that pro wrestling allows all this creativity to exist. For me, it’s always been where my dreams come true, and it still is to this day.”
Hardy wrestles Elias at Hell in a Cell on Sunday night, continuing a storyline that started in May when Elias claimed an inebriated Hardy struck him with a car. Elias then disappeared from SmackDown, as he was unable to wrestle due to a torn pectoral muscle, and he returned earlier this month on Raw, seeking revenge on Hardy.
The Hardy-Elias matchup at Hell in a Cell is one of the few bouts that will not take place inside the Hell in a Cell cage. The spotlight will be on the three cage matches—Roman Reigns–Jey Uso, Bayley–Sasha Banks, and Drew McIntyre–Randy Orton—so putting together a match that resonates with the audience is a challenge Hardy eagerly awaits to embrace.
“The focus will be on the cage matches, so it’s very challenging, but in a good way,” said Hardy. “I’ve only shared this with my wife so far, but I am going to do something different with my face paint at Hell in a Cell. I had this vision of this image of a few guitars painted on my face. He’s a musician, I’m a musician, so I want to paint a few guitars on my painted face. We are going to do some cool stuff out there.”
Music has played an integral role in the feud. Elias’s new album comes out on Monday, and his concert was interrupted on last Monday’s Raw by Hardy, who is also a talented musician.
“Elias sounded really good,” said Hardy. “That song ‘Amen’ was so cool. It got me thinking. Raw is three hours every week, and everyone wants a spot on TV to be showcased, but there has to be a little time for me and Elias to have a ‘Battle of the Bands’. I’ll get my guys in from Nashville, Ohio, and Carolina, and we’ll each do three songs. The universe can decide who they like better.”
Hardy’s wrestling career is thriving, and he even added that life at home is also full of blessings, where his oldest daughter just celebrated her 10th birthday. A healthy Hardy possesses an energy and electricity that is unique within wrestling, and he hopes to continue his art-imitating-life redemption story in WWE.
“I’m blessed each and every day I wake up,” said Hardy. “I was trimming my shrubs earlier, and it was hard work, but I was having a blast thinking how wonderful it is to be alive. It means the world to me to be back in WWE, especially after what I’ve been through. I need to do the right thing every day and stay in my recovery zone, living one day at a time.
“Most important for me is that I never forget my fans have stuck by me through thick and thin, even out there in that ThunderDome with a virtual crowd. It’s kind of like how you can’t see God but you know God is there, that’s the way I am with my fans. I can’t hear them, but I know they’re always there for me. I know there are many proud ‘Enigmas’ watching at home, and they want me to stay on the straight and narrow. That gives me tremendous strength. I’m so excited to be here with them in WWE, where there is so much left to be done.”