While you can accuse WWE of many things, and more often than not you’d be right, you can’t accuse them of being sensitive when it comes to real life issues such as alcohol and substance abuse, as Jeff Hardy found out upon his most recent return.
2019 was a tough year for Jeff, who was arrested twice for alcohol related offences. He then checked himself into rehab and has since returned to the company.
WWE chose Sheamus, who also recently returned, as Jeff’s first opponent, and as many of you will have seen, the feud was littered with controversial moments and angles.
For example, Sheamus appearing to frame Jeff for a drunk hit and run, Sheamus constantly mocking Jeff for his history of alcohol abuse, and Jeff throwing urine into Sheamus’ face during a doctor’s exam.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone was a fan of this feud, as Sheamus has revealed on Corey Graves’ “After the Bell” podcast.
“There was a lot of backlash. A lot of people really hate me right now. At the end of the day, we are characters. My job is to be the most hated character ever and I thrive in that situation. When I first started, the aggression part of the ring has always been easy for me. I always felt the promos in the ring was where I wasn’t sure where I needed to be.
“I would trip over things I have to say because I have to get this promo out exactly right. It held me back quite a bit in my career. My look was so unique. I was a big Irish dude. When it came to the stick, that left a lot to be desired. When you talk about coming back with a passion, I knew there were certain things in my game I had to work on. When I was Cesaro and The Bar, we weren’t challenged in that situation. We shared promos together.
“There were certain things in my game that needed to be tightened up. One was my physique which I wasn’t happy with. I’m enjoying this stuff with Jeff because it has given my character a lot of opportunity to play with words and watch the reaction, especially on social media, to how much people hate me, the more I enjoy sticking a knife into Jeff.”
At the end of the day, Sheamus is just doing what he’s been told to do by WWE’s creative team, so you can hardly blame him. However, it’s just another example of fans turning on the product, and WWE really can’t afford to lose any more fans at the moment.