Citing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, by way of Sportskeeda, Dave Meltzer has revealed that Jeff Hardy would likely have left WWE along with his brother, Matt Hardy, to join AEW earlier this year if he could have.
According to the journalist, the brothers would have stayed together in the same company if the circumstances were different. However, Jeff had time left on his contract by the time Matt’s expired, and he had to remain where he currently is.
“Both signed on the same day, but Jeff had shoulder and knee surgery and other issues and WWE decreed that he owed them 20 more months and tacked that on. So he couldn’t leave. If Matt didn’t leave when he did, he likely would have been asked to sign for five years and while he did entertain the thought of staying, he opted for more creative control.”
Bleacher Report pointed out that Jeff returned earlier this year after being out of action with a leg injury. This, coupled with some legal troubles experienced in 2019, is what led to more time being added to his deal.
It’s common for officials to add more months to performers’ contracts if they’ve been absent due to an injury or personal issues. The same happened with Luke Harper, who now goes by the name Brodie Lee in AEW, when he was still employed by Vince McMahon’s promotion.
As documented by The Inquisitr, Jim Ross discussed the possibility of Jeff moving to AEW at some point. The announcer said that he and his brother grew up together and have spent most of their careers by each other’s side.
Ross said that it’ll be “interesting” to see how they fare being members of different brands, but he doesn’t know if they’ll be reunited as a tag team down the line.
Officials may also be wary of the top star leaving, and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep him around. Jeff recently won the Intercontinental Championship, and he’s enjoying a push on Friday Night SmackDown.
Sportskeeda speculated that the company is encouraging him to sign a new deal now and resist joining his sibling in the rival promotion.
The report also noted that some fans and pundits believed that WWE used Jeff’s real-life addiction issues on television to try and bury him before he left. The superstar’s personal troubles were brought up during his recent feud with Sheamus, but Jeff won the rivalry in the end and came out looking strong.