It appeared at first that Jeff Hardy had suffered some sort of leg injury early in the Hardys-Young Bucks tag match on last week’s AEW “Double or Nothing.”
Hardy dragged himself to his team’s corner, tagged out, and remained in a heap inside the ropes, his head propped on the bottom rope, his legs sprawled out.
I assumed a knee injury, maybe a torn ACL.
It was worse. Much worse.
According to his brother, Matt, Jeff had got “knocked loopy at some point earlier in the match,” and yet after a brief visit from a doctor at ringside, he was permitted to continue.
And when I say “continue,” I don’t mean, he got up, stood outside the ring with the tag rope in hand, while Matt did whatever needed to be done with the Bucks to take the match home.
Jeff would re-enter the matrch, and struggled to get to the top rope before doing one dive, then did another – onto a prone Nick Jackson, on the ring steps, from the top rope to the outside.
It’s a fair discussion as to whether anyone, much less a 44-year-old who has been doing this kind of thing for nearly 30 years, should be doing a swanton dive onto another wrestler on the ring steps, which, obviously, have no give.
But a guy who had been “knocked loopy” should not be doing anything other than being walked to the back after the match is over.
Matt, on his podcast this week, didn’t seem to be aware that he was laying out the case for a moral indictment against the promotion, and the doctor at ringside, Dr. Michael Sampson, who briefly examined Jeff and allowed him to continue.
“He still did pretty good to go through and do everything he did,” Matt Hardy said. “It’s so funny that he’s just still such a great athlete and so good at what he does. If you look at that swanton he does on the stairs, he still does it perfectly, and he didn’t realize he was supposed to do it until he was told he was supposed to do it.”
Matt also revealed that Jeff “doesn’t remember the match at all,” which, again, huge, bright, flashing neon lights red flag.
With what we know about the long-term effects of brain injuries in combat and contact sports, the “show must go on” mentality that Matt celebrates here is not only just plain dumb, it’s dangerous, borderline deadly.
The Hardys would go on to win the match, and given that this was the planned finish, there could have been any number of ways to audible around Jeff’s injury – either a quick rollup pin, maybe better, the Bucks doing something to draw a disqualification, setting up logic for a rematch.
This kind of call can be made in the ring, and it can certainly be sent in from the back, through the referee.
There was plenty of time for Tony Khan, at gorilla, to make that call, but he didn’t.
There’s no defense for that call not being made.
Story by Chris Graham