The lives of many pro wrestlers are often known for being filled with controversy.
For the third edition of the Pro Wrestling Countdown we will be looking at a figure in pro wrestling who brings out many passionate feelings among fans, whether those feelings are positive or negative.
The younger Hardy brother has been perhaps one of the most controversial and, at times, difficult to love professional wrestlers the past few years. However, whether it be in the ring or in his personal life, it seems Jeff Hardy has over came every obstacle in his way no matter what challenge has been set in front of him.
Jeff Hardy’s story in the pro wrestling business started in his very own backyard. His passion shone through and his career in both WWE and TNA have been a roller coaster ride like no other. From jobbing to Razor Ramon on WWE Superstars at the age of 16 to finally winning the WWE Championship for the first time, Jeff Hardy has ascended just as many figurative ladders as he has literal ones.
Whether you love him or hate him it hard not to respect the native North Carolinian for playing Russian Roulette with his career almost every time he enters a ring. Few professional wrestlers have taken the risks that Jeff Hardy has for the sake of entertaining the fans.
Hardy grew up loving pro wrestling and has managed to live his dream with eyes unclouded.
“The Rainbow Haired Warrior” is an enigma that is difficult to express in words. His entrance music, his face paint, his poses. Jeff incorporates all of his passions into one. Art, pro wrestling, and being a real life dare devil.
His capacity to entertain knows almost no limit, and his ability to craft a jaw dropping match has only become more refined as time progresses. Today we want to take a look at ten of Jeff Hardy’s greatest works of art.
10. THE HARDY BOYZ VS. EDGE & CHRISTIAN (NO MERCY 1999)
This was the true origin of the almost endless saga of Ladder matches that involved the Team Xtreme and Edge and Christian through the heydays of the Attitude Era. The first ever tag team Ladder match in the WWE.
What these four up and coming talents gave us on this night at No Mercy was really just a preview of what they would be giving us for the next three years.
Even without the notorious duo from Dudleyville setting up table spots these four successfully put on an extravagantly well put together exhibition of violence.
While it pales in comparison to what the four would accomplish together in later Ladder matches this one is a gem not to be forgotten. In 1999, these four men were all still relatively new to the main roster and this was the point in which these teams began their future legacy.
While this is no where near the perfect Ladder match you can see the early innovation of what they would later accomplish on grander stages.
I really loved the finish to this match. In many Ladder or TLC matches the finishes often seem abrupt or clunky, but the end to the match was probably one of the best ever.
Jeff Hardy won this match for his team after a beautiful finishing sequence in which his brother, Matt, tipped over the ladder Jeff and Christian were standing on. Jeff, wisely, jumped to the other ladder which Edge was scaling and knocked him off shortly before securing the victory.
Once, again, this was a great match, but even so it just barely makes the Countdown.
9. JEFF HARDY VS. TRIPLE H VS. EDGE (ARMAGEDDON 2008)
This start to this match follows the tried and true formula that most three-way-dances employ. Three men start the match, and at some point someone is knocked out. The three men shuffle in an out as one man feigns injury on the outside.
To be fair, this match features all three men trading blows at one another more than a majority of other Triple Threat matches I have seen in recent years.
Despite being a bit formulaic in the opening moments, we had a lot to love in this match. Triple H and Hardy had been feuding for months. Their rivalry became even more interesting with the returning Edge stealing the WWE Championship a month earlier at Survivor Series.
Triple H played the grizzly veteran who didn’t think Hardy had what it took to climb to the top and Edge played his usual chicken shit heel who would just assume spit in your eye as look at you. Both stories intertwined to make a fairly dynamic match that much better.
Nearly 15 years after first defeating Razor Ramon via count out on WWE Superstars Jeff Hardy became the WWE Champion for the first time.
What very nearly killed this match for me was the run-ins from both Vladimir Kozlov, who attacked Triple H, and Matt Hardy, who attacked Kozlov. Overbooking like this rarely adds to matches, especially championship matches. On rare occasions they work in favor of the match, but this was not one of those cases.
Even if this match had it’s issues no one can deny the importance of Hardy’s first title win. Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb on Edge moments after Triple H hit a Pedigree on the “Rated R Superstar” and finally won the championship that had so long eluded him.
The crowd exploded and the look on Hardy’s face is one we had seen before on the legends of yesteryear who won their first WWE Championships. A boy, achieving his childhood dream.
8. JEFF HARDY VS. SHAWN MICHAELS (WWE RAW, FEBRUARY 2008)
This match occurred right when Jeff Hardy was being built up as a main event caliber performer.
Hardy had been climbing up the ranks since he began his second stint in the WWE in August of 2006, and had done a fantastic job of getting the crowd behind him. So by the beginning of 2008 his ability to get crowd reactions could no longer be ignored, and the WWE finally began to push him into matches with main event stars beginning in late 2007 and early 2008.
Hardy began working with the likes of Chris Jericho, Triple H, WWE Champion Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels.
His match with Shawn occurred live on Monday Night Raw. In 2008, this was a dream match come true for me. Michaels was one of my all time favorites and Jeff Hardy was truly the most exciting performer in the WWE at the time.
As much as some writers of professional wrestling love filling their greatest matches lists with gimmick matches I have a huge tendency to try and include traditional one on one matches. I do this to both showcase a wrestlers talent and ability to tell a story without any sort of crutches.
Shawn Michaels job in this match was clearly to help legitimize Hardy as a top tier talent. In early 2008 it was clear that the younger Hardy brother was in line for a huge push to the top that was going to seemingly result in his winning of the WrestleMania XXIV Money in the Bank Ladder match.
This match with Michaels seemed to be the continuation of that push. Jeff even pinned the “Heart Break Kid” on this edition of Monday Night Raw following his signature Swanton Bomb.
This push was delayed due to personal issues in Hardy’s life. However, this hiccup in the road would not slow Jeff Hardy down for long.
7. JEFF HARDY VS. ROB VAN DAM (SUMMERSLAM 2001)
I feel as if this match really has flown under the radar in both Hardy and Van Dams careers.
This contest had to be a dream come true for some fans who were familiar with both performers. Jeff Hardy. Rob Van Dam. Two exciting and reckless WWE up-and-comers preforming in one of the most revered and hazardous gimmick matches. The Ladder match.
Van Dam and Hardy were both well versed in the art of Ladder matches by this point and here they both crafted some absolutely unique spots that had yet to be seen in the WWE.
From the former Team Xtreme member doing a springboard moonsault on Van Dam whilst lying on a ladder to “Mr. Pay-Per-View” doing his signature Rolling Thunder onto an elevated ladder with Jeff Hardy on top of it, these two really came up with an interesting match.
This contest was one of the earliest in which fans saw an abundances of high risk maneuvers in a traditional one-on-one Ladder match.
Up until this point, one-on-one Ladder matches had been dominated by more traditional mat based performers. For the first time, two high flying devilishly quick WWE superstars were given the opportunity to display their ability one on one. Rob Van Damn and Jeff Hardy didn’t disappoint here as the crowd “oo’d” and “aww’d” at every devastating blow.
Like most gimmick matches there were a few awkward moments when things did not line up just right, but aside from that Jeff and Rob had a encounter that flowed smoothly.
I feel like this was the precursor to the modern traditional ladder match we see often today.
6. JEFF HARDY VS. TRIPLE H (NO MERCY 2008)
As I discussed in earlier matches on this Countdown, the year of 2008 was truly one of the best in Jeff Hardy’s career.
The “Rainbow Haired Warrior’s” 2008, while starting out rocky with Hardy’s second wellness policy suspension, really picked up when he returned. Jeff was drafted to the Smackdown! roster and this is when he really became a main event player. Eventually he found himself as the number one contender to Triple H’s WWE Championship.
Triple H taunted the “Charismatic Enigma’ by mocking his inability to “grab the brass ring” and told Hardy that he would always be a second shy of greatness. This was really the story that this match at No Mercy revolved around.
Throughout the entire contest Hardy pulled every trick out of his hat to only be outsmarted by “The Game” in the end.
The younger Hardy really controlled much of this contest. Hardy used a combination of high flying maneuvers and textbook ground based offense to try and wear down Triple H. The former D-Generation X member, however, was often able to make Hardy pay for using his high risk offense.
In the closing moments Jeff Hardy countered Triple H’s attempt at a Pedigree and hit the signature Swanton Bomb only to get rolled up by the WWE Champion for a three-count. The match was over before any of the fans realized what had happened.
The ending to this match hurt its ranking in this Countdown. This mainly because Triple H violently no-sold Hardy’s best maneuver. The action was great and, aside from the cheapfinish, Hardy looked very impressive in the main event contest.
5. JEFF HARDY VS. JOHN MORRISON (WWE SMACKDOWN!, JULY 2009)
This is one of my absolute favorite WWE Smackdown! matches.
Aside from maybe the year of 2002, 2009 was probably the best year for in-ring action WWE Smackdown! has ever had. It was blessed with a stacked main event team along with some of the most athletically gifted middle card performers.
This match was filled to the absolute brim with innovate high impact offense from both World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy and the challenger John Morrison. The contest was for Hardy’s World Heavyweight Championship, which he had just won five day prior to this match.
The match started low-key in the beginning, but after only a few moments of back-and-forth action the match picked up and once it did it didn’t slow down until the final bell. Hardy and Morrison pulled out all of their best flashy moves while also stringing together excellent counters and reversals to keep the fans going “aww” when either competitor finally landed a big move.
Morrison, too my surprise at the time, got in a ton of offense and forced the newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion to absorb a ton of punishment. That dynamic worked great in building up Hardy as a strong new champion. It put Hardy over wonderfully when he eventually came back and pinned the “Friday Night Delight” after hitting a second Swanton Bomb after his first failed to put away the “Shaman of Sexy.”
While the pacing of the match was a tad wonky in spots this match was absolutely thrilling. This should serve as a prime example of Hardy’s ability to excite the crowd while also crafting a wonderfully action packed traditional match.
Smackdown in the Summer of 2009 was gold from an in-ring standpoint. The roster featured CM Punk, Edge, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Kane, Undertaker, Dolph Ziggler ,and many more of the WWE’s finest in-ring talent.
Jeff Hardy and John Morrison put on a great show on Smackdown! One that is for sure to go down as one of the shows greatest matches.
This would be one of the last of Hardy’s truly great television matches before departing the WWE almost a month later.
4. “TLC II” (WRESTLEMANIA X-SEVEN)
The most famous of all train wrecks. The only thing I have done more than write about this match in the past five years is watch it. This contest has become iconic and is truly captivating in a way that no other contests in the WWE are.
There is much argument as to which of these Ladder matches is truly the best, but in all honesty all of them have similar qualities. I consider this match the final in the epic trilogy to be the definitive one. Following their amazing displays of psychotics at both WrestleMania and SummerSlam 2000 they truly took the best things from their previous matches and doubled up on the insanity.
I really don’t like including multiman gimmick matches, however, leaving out this match would have been a glaring omission from Hardy’s greatest matches.
In some cases contests are exempt from certain rules. If any multiman match should be allowed a pass for inclusion into the Countdown, it would certainly be this match.
D-Von, Buh Buh Ray, Edge, Christian, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy worked together to steal the show every time they were given the opportunity. These Ladder matches even won back-to-back “Match of the Year” awards from Pro Wrestling Illustrated in both 2000 and 2001.
This match is often called a wall-to-wall “spotfest,” but even if it is you cannot deny the entertainment value this still possesses. These three-teams put on the most re-watchable matches of the Attitude Era. This is the equivalent of watching a Hollywood blockbuster movie. You don’t have to take your brain to the film. Just sit back and enjoy the action.
Sometimes its okay to just enjoy the action, even if it doesn’t make any practical sense.
Every time Jeff scaled a ladder the flashbulbs began to go off in Houston’s Astrodome. They knew they were about to see something truly breathtaking.
While everyone in this match deserves credit for making it special, Jeff Hardy should get the prize for creating the majority of the show stealing moments. No one can steal a show quite like he does.
3. JEFF HARDY VS. KURT ANGLE (NO SURRENDER 2010)
I so wish these two had crossed paths more often during their tenures in the WWE.
This match is about as close to overkill as one can get without being absolutely ridiculous. In all honesty, even this match is probably pushing the limit. However, if any match should be allowed to do this, it should be a match in which Kurt Angle’s career is on the line.
This is not a perfect match, and if Hardy wanted to he could probably top this match. However, as of right now, I think this is his greatest contest as a part of TNA Impact wrestling.
This was the most gratuitous over use of finishing maneuvers in a match I think I have ever seen, but for some reason I still loved this match.
Jeff Hardy taking on Kurt Angle sounds like a bit of a miss match on paper, but these two have had several exemplary matches under the Impact Wrestling banner. To me, this is the pinnacle of their in-ring chemistry.
The contest was largely controlled by Angle who kept Hardy grounded in between the numerous elongated sequences of high flying maneuver and pace-slowing suplexes.
This match tends to really divide fans of the online wrestling community. Some think it was vastly over the top while others defend it by saying it was a true exhibition of suspense.
The match originally ended with no winner; twice. Hardy and Angle reached the 20 minute time limit and wrestled another 10 minutes before the match was called a no-contest.
The false ending was a bitter pill to swallow after almost 30 minutes of astonishing action, but still, this is one of Jeff Hardy’s most extravagant and invaluable non-gimmick contests. While Hardy has had some iconic Ladder matches it is impossible to overlook matches like this.
His time in TNA, while rocky, has given him the chance to really stand out as a top-tier talent.
2. JEFF HARDY VS. THE UNDERTAKER (WWE RAW, JULY 2002)
At the age of only 24, Hardy was a veteran of many Ladder matches and the WWE Undisputed Champion, Undertaker, was walking into his first ever Ladder match after a decade of destruction. So, while many looked at Jeff as the under dog, it was just as much his match to win as it was the champions if one put match experience into the equation.
In all honesty, this match probably would have made the list even without the Ladder stipulation. If it had been a singles match I think they would have still managed to have one of Monday Night Raw’s greatest matches ever. I honestly do mean it when I say that this is absolutely one of the best television matches the WWE has ever showcased.
“The American Badass” had a great match with the young WWE Raw superstar who was, at this point, drowning in the crowded mid-card of Monday Night Raw. Undertaker has always been wonderful at having matches with guys who are smaller and faster than he is, and this is another fine example of that fact.
Despite still trying to get over, the high flyer got huge crowd reactions every time he scaled the ladder to attempt to pull down Undertaker’s Undisputed Championship.
The drama and excitement these two managed to generate really resonated with the live crowd, and you could hear them roar after every change in momentum between the two iconic WWE talents.
A final chockslam off of the ladder ended Jeff’s chance at doing the impossible, but to me, the real story of this match took place after the final bell.
After his victory, The Undertaker mounted his bike and began to ride off with his freshly retained Undisputed Championship, but before he could reach the back the valiant Jeff Hardy got on a microphone and persisted that he was not done. Despite being nearly demolished by the punishing offense of “Big Evil” Hardy came back for more.
A seemingly extremely offended Undertaker marched back to the ring, looked into the fearless eyes of Jeff Hardy, and raised his hand into the air whilst shaking his head in disbelief calling the younger Hardy “a tough son of a bitch.”
This is what Hardy has mapped his entire career after. Fearlessness in the face of adversity.
Hardy was truly made on this night in New Hampshire.
1. JEFF HARDY VS. CM PUNK (SUMMERSLAM 2009)
Nine years after competing in the first ever TLC match at SummerSlam 2000, just a skip away from his hometown of Cameron North Carolina, Hardy returned to SummerSlam in 2009 to defend his World Heavyweight Championship in a TLC match against CM Punk.
This match was the “Swan Song” of Jeff Hardy’s career in the WWE. The final chapter in Hardy’s ascension to the top of the biggest wrestling company in the world. Finally, Hardy got to be the one to put someone over. Too long was it that Jeff had to stand in the shadow of veterans who thought they needed to carry him to a good match. In his matches with Punk, he was finally able to be the more tenured veteran who put over the man still trying to prove his worth in the company. A role the younger Hardy brother was stuck in himself for many years behind the scenes.
CM Punk, in my mind, had the perfect heel gimmick to have an engaging story with, the often controversial, Jeff Hardy. Punk had just turned heel and began using his straight-edge gimmick as a tool to draw heat from the crowds. Hardy’s devil-may-care reckless in-ring style was the perfect foil for “The Straight Edge Savior’s” drug free, alcohol free mantra.
This match complimented both persona’s of these WWE athletes as Hardy used his usual high-risk, high-reward offense and Punk had a more conservative array of offense.
This is one of the most well done SummerSlam main events in recent history. There were a few awkward ladder spots, like every other match of this kind, but they both did an excellent job of pacing a match that is very easily ruined by blotchy pacing.
Just before this match came to its close the WWE’s “Charismatic Enigma” beat the “Straight Edge Savior” onto the Spanish announce table. Jeff Hardy then acceded a twenty foot ladder giving the WWE Universe one final show stealing moment. Hardy landed on Punk, but seemingly did more damage to himself.
Punk and Hardy climbed the ladder one final time, but the challenger got the better of the champion knocking the World Heavyweight Champion off the WWE ladder for good.
Later that week on WWE SmackDown! Jeff Hardy and CM Punk battled one final time inside of a Steel Cage in which the loser would have to leave the WWE. Hardy lost, ending his time in the WWE.
CM Punk has gone on to become one of the biggest icons in the professional wrestling world. Many believe, including Hardy himself according to past online videos, that this was the true launching point for Punk’s career as a main event performer.