Victory Road, A Flair for the Stupid

Mark Madden

Victory Road

jeff hardyNothing has ever been worse than Dixie Carter as the re-set point of a wrestling TV show. Jeremy Piven should ban her from Summerfest.

Does anyone believe Jeff Hardy is really leaving TNA? Then again, if Hardy knew what was good for him…

Hardy is one of those guys that needs the machine. In WWE, Hardy was a star. But Hardy can’t elevate TNA. TNA drags him down. Same as Kurt Angle. WWE isn’t as adept at the art as it once was, or should be. But the magnitude of the promotion combines with the brand name’s omnipresence to polish a performer’s apple. TNA is just TNA. You can’t be a star there.

But some things are more important.

Remember what happened March 13, 2011?

Jeff Hardy was in the main event on TNA’s Victory Road PPV. But Hardy was visibly impaired when he went to the ring, and his match vs. Sting lasted just 88 seconds. Hardy had trouble even getting out there for his introduction. Kudos to Eric Bischoff for immediately evaluating that situation and calling an audible that, despite disappointing the fans, was the safe (only) option.

At that point, Hardy left TNA for real.

Drug trafficking, jail time, probation…Hardy had been involved in a series of unpleasant incidents. His career was fading. Hardy was fading.

At that point, one of wrestling’s most unpredictable performers orchestrated perhaps his most unpredictable stunt ever. Jeff Hardy got clean.

We think. Addicts are often as good at concealment as they are at procurement. But, by all accounts, Hardy is clean. Much better, at least.

Is he back to his peak as a performer? No. He’s in TNA. Why bother? Hardy is 36. Given his style, perhaps Hardy is past his peak. His promos are decent, though the “creatures” routine seems forced. What’s a charismatic enigma, anyway?

But Hardy is more than good enough to be TNA’s top babyface. Hardy “quitting the company” makes zero sense. Why would TNA take Hardy off TV, even temporarily?

But all that pales next to the big picture: Jeff Hardy saved his own life. For Hardy, for his wife, for his daughter: That’s what matters. The media jumps all over celebrities who stumble. Give Hardy credit for getting back on his feet.

UPDATE: That’s right, Hardy can’t go on the UK tour. That doesn’t mean you take him off TV, period. Pre-tape some matches. Pre-tape some promos. There is nothing to be gained from the illusion that Hardy is leaving TNA, especially when you’re promulgating the same illusion with A.J. Styles. You don’t simultaneously hit the “delete” button with two of your top babyfaces, no matter how temporarily. The gain from the illusion won’t justify.

A FLAIR FOR THE STUPID

Ric FlairI have noticed a tendency among the young and stupid to somehow discredit Ric Flair despite a career more storied than any wrestler ever.

I don’t get it. Why?

Some seem to have a problem with the way Flair lives now. But Ric still lives pretty well, and it’s none of your business, anyway.

Some want to reinvent history. To imagine that what Flair did wasn’t that great. You’re wrong. It was.

Some want to believe that selected current performers somehow compare to Flair. You’re wrong. They don’t.

Is somebody having the best match in the world six nights a week, 52 weeks a year? Flair did that for more than a decade. Believe it or not, he did. Circumstances don’t permit that now. But even if they did, no one could duplicate that.

Every generation of wrestling fans should be loyal to its generation of performers. But Michael Jordan is still Michael Jordan.

The space below is reserved for abject stupidity. So, do your worst. Tell me why you’ve soured on the legacy of Ric Flair. I will respond to your critiques in a future column, and get paid for that one, too. It’s great how this works.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!