In 2011, TNA Impact Wrestling held the Victory Road pay-per-view, where the main event saw Jeff Hardy and Sting face-off for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Card-wise, the show is mostly forgotten, but it was their match that stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Jeff Hardy and Sting Match Goes Shockingly Wrong
It was apparent quite immediately that something was wrong with Jeff Hardy. His music played out in the arena, and a considerable amount of time passed before he appeared through the curtain—45 seconds, to be exact.
Hardy always had an aura about him and how he moved, but this wasn’t the charismatic enigma being his eccentric self out there. He was too offbeat.
Sting followed with his entrance. It was the exact entrance you’d expect from him, making Jeff’s approach to the ring feel even more off in comparison.
The commentators went over the match and did their best to hype it up. The camera focused on Hardy, and to the commentators’ credit, they kept it professional as there was no way they couldn’t see the disastrous likelihoods that laid ahead. It was all very awkward, and the panic backstage must have been at an extreme level.
For this situation to arise in any match on any show would be a disaster, but to happen on a pay-per-view main event for the World Championship, it could not have gone worse for TNA.
Unplanned, Eric Bischoff made an appearance before the match commenced.
Eric cut a promo to the crowd and then went to speak to both wrestlers. In Bischoff’s credit, he makes it look as though he is talking heel smack to Sting and speaking in character to Jeff. In reality, he was giving them instructions on how the match needed to play out. Eric was buying time for the inevitable match coming up.
The match would then be changed to a No Disqualification match by Bischoff. A smart decision made on the fly. This was done to protect the match if it turned into a further disaster had Jeff Hardy done something stupid or used a weapon, got himself counted out, or anything else of that nature. A disaster was inevitable, but it was a matter of damage control.
Brian Hebner, the referee, even put up the dreaded “X” sign before the match started, indicating that Jeff was in no condition to compete. But the match went on, anyway.
Bell Time – Throwing Up the “X” Before the Match Begun
The bell rang, and the match instantly stalled. Sting looked rightfully frustrated. Instead of locking up or getting the action started, Jeff teased that he was going to throw his shirt to the crowd. This went on for too long, and Sting looked over it.
The fans finally see some action as Jeff gets backed into the corner by Sting. Some blows are landed after as Sting hits Jeff a few times, and then it was straight into a Scorpion Death Drop for the finish.
Jeff appeared to have attempted a kick out, but Sting held firm for the pin. Just like that, the match was finished. Sting then gave Jeff the ultimate disappointed dad look by staring a hole into him.
It went for all of a minute and a half, but it felt much longer than that. Jeff got up confused after the pinfall, wondering what was going on. Sting wasn’t happy, but, more notably, he was disappointed. As Sting left the ring and made his way up the ramp, a fan yelled out, “bullshit!” Sting quickly responded with, “I agree! I agree!” and that was the end of the pay-per-view.
Watch the Incident Unfold in its Entirety as Jeff Hardy and Sting Face-Off at TNA Victory Road 2011:
Taking Time Away From Wrestling and Eventual Return
The main event of TNA’s Victory Road pay-per-view should have been a fantastic match between two icons of wrestling, but as we unfortunately know, that’s not how it worked out. Jeff Hardy very clearly needed time away from the ring to get clean, and it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to pop up on the following episode of Impact like nothing ever happened.
Victory Road took place on March 13th, 2011, and it wasn’t until six months later, on the September 8th edition of Impact, that Jeff Hardy was seen again in a TNA ring. Jeff didn’t shy away from the calamity and addressed the crowd directly on his return.
“Thank you. I do not deserve that, but thank you,” Jeff Hardy responded to a receptive crowd before talking about the unfortunately unforgettable night at Victory Road.
“The last time I was seen in this ring, I was pathetic. I was messed up!”
Hardy continued. “I had a main event match with a guy I’ve looked up to for a long time, and I failed miserably. I let everybody down! I let myself down because I wasn’t the main eventer I know I am. I got here today, and I walked in the building, and the stress and doubt were overwhelming. I almost felt hated. There are so many people in the back right now that are so mad at me, and they have every right to be!”
Jeff was brutally honest as he addressed the crowd.
“I can’t change what happened at Victory Road, but I can admit that at Victory Road, I had hit rock bottom.”
An emotional Jeff Hardy takes a pause and deep breath before speaking again.
“I can’t expect you [the fans] to forgive me and give me another chance. I damn sure can’t expect everybody in the back to forgive me and give me another chance. All I can do is ask. Give me one more shot.”
The crowd was very receptive, accepting, and chanted “one more shot!” in unison to show their support for Jeff.
Jeff went on to have one of his finest years in wrestling.
On Colt Cabana’s podcast, Art of Wrestling, Hardy opened up further about what happened and the year that followed.
“2012 was one of my best years ever, coming back from that tragedy of a story and just- being on the road so much, I got carried away. The addiction got the best of me.”
Jeff has had brushes with the law since. Still, professionally, he has been able to put this behind him and add many further accolades to an already fantastic career.
Watch: Jeff Hardy Delivers a Brutally Honest Promo Upon His Return to TNA
Sting Opens Up About the Jeff Hardy Incident
Jeff Hardy can consider himself lucky that the man across the ring from him on his lowest night was Sting. On the one hand, it’s tragic that Jeff didn’t get to go out there and tear it up with a legend like Sting, but who knows how much uglier this could have been had someone not as professional as Sting was in there. A lesser man could have lost his cool completely, been stiff out of spite, and looked to hurt Jeff.
Sting, although rightfully annoyed at the situation, took it to the finish, didn’t carry on beyond a peeved look on his face, and voiced his frustration with an “I agree!” to the cries of “bullshit” at the end of the show. If it was going to be anyone across from Jeff that night, it appears that Sting was the best man for him.
Even classier than how Sting handled himself that night is how he looks back on it and Jeff Hardy as a person. It would be understandable if he had lingering disappointment towards Jeff, even if he just kept it internally going forward. But Sting has nothing but love for Jeff Hardy.
In a Q&A at Wales Comic Con in 2017, Sting was asked about the incident.
“Jeff was in a bad way that day, and he was deteriorating as the hours went on. It got to a point where he was just not ready to wrestle,” Sting began.
“But you know what, since then, he’s turned around, and life is great, and I respect Jeff and love his work and love Jeff period. So I don’t hold anything against him. I don’t harbor anything against him, and I wish him the best.”
Jeff Hardy cleared it up from his perspective, too.
“That was my eye-opener for the rest of my life,” Hardy explained to Cobana on his night with Sting. “And, man, I love him so much. He was so great after that.”
All class from The Icon.
Listen to Sting Open Up About the Infamous Jeff Hardy Incident:
Jeff Hardy Shares His Thoughts and His Recent Battle With Addiction
The Victory Road debacle is one of those moments in his past that would likely be difficult for Jeff Hardy to think about, let alone talk about. Yet, Jeff has spoken open and candidly about what happened, particularly on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast.
Speaking about the match and the state he was in, Hardy admitted what he was taking that night.
“2011, with Sting, I was taking somas, and I went out there fucked up. Man, I couldn’t even wrestle. For the first time in my life, I went too far.”
Hardy continued, “I couldn’t wrestle my idol, Sting, and he had to do the right thing and shut me down and pin me.”
Jeff then explained something that surprised Colt Cabana.
“Watching that back,” Jeff starts to say before a surprised Colt Cabana jumps in and says, “You watched that back? Huh?”
“Oh yeah, I was terrified, but it was a huge epiphany,” Jeff responded. “I had to [watch the match back], I knew that shit would set me straight.”
Hardy has had brushes with the law since. Specifically, on March 12th, 2018, Jeff was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
One year later, he was arrested on July 13th, 2019, for public intoxication. Such is the nature of these events, WWE has used his controversial past and struggles with sobriety as a factor in Jeff’s storylines recently.
Jeff Hardy has had a long history of legal problems and substance abuse issues. That match with Sting remains his most infamous moment of allowing his addictions to get the better of him in the ring. As extraordinary as Jeff is at performing, he is still out there battling his demons. We sincerely hope Jeff can conquer these issues for good and that it doesn’t creep into his professional life as it did back in 2011 with Sting.
Listen: Jeff Hardy Has a Confronting Conversation with Colt Cabana
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