On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff covered the infamous TNA Victory Road 2011 pay-per-view which involved Jeff Hardy appearing under the influence in his main event match against Sting. Bischoff detailed the experience of dealing with Jeff that day and what the reaction was once it was all over. He recalled Jeff leaving the company for a little while, but he was welcomed back by Dixie Carter.
“Dixie loved Jeff,” Bischoff said. “She really does try to help people, she has a very kind heart. She just wanted to help Jeff. I was adamant about not bringing him back, it wasn’t my call and I’m not even sure if anybody asked my opinion, but I expressed it anyway because I felt that strongly about it. Dixie was determined.
“My advice to her was if you’re going to bring him back, you at least need to hold him accountable by making him apologize to every single guy on the roster. That was my idea. Not because I needed to hear it, I didn’t give a f***, I was done with Jeff Hardy at the time. I wouldn’t have given him the time of day at that point because I was so angry with him for being as unprofessional as he was.”
Bischoff noted hard it was for him personally to welcome Jeff back to the TNA locker room. He said his opinion of Jeff changed after he returned and apologized to everyone.
“I’ve made choices and decisions I regret, we all have,” Bischoff said. “But man, when you’re the main event of a pay-per-view and you spend 5 or 6 hours in a cubby hole somewhere behind a sound stage getting as narked up as you possibly can, that’s way too selfish. That’s beyond bad judgement.
“Jeff did come in and he manned up. My opinion of Jeff actually changed after that, but that day it was like why even spend five minutes getting talent together in a room to listen to his bullsh**. I wouldn’t have taken somebody away from bad catering to listen to Jeff Hardy apologize if it was my choice, but it wasn’t.”
Bischoff noted the mood around the locker room after the show closed and went off the air. He said at the time he had a very narrow minded view of Jeff, but learned over the years the seriousness of addiction.
“It was a pretty dark evening,” Bischoff said. “It was over, we knew it was a disaster, I had my own feelings about Jeff. I changed my opinion of Jeff because of the responsibility he took afterwards, and I actually developed more respect for Jeff Hardy than what I had going into it. Back then in 2011, I had a very ignorant view of [addiction].
“I never really liked being around Scott [Hall]. Not only did I not like working around Scott, I would work to avoid being around Scott when I worked with him. I look at what Scotts gone through in his life much like what Jeff has gone through with his addiction challenges and to get up every morning and fight your way out of that, because its the fight of a life time. It’s not as easy as people like me used to think. I have more respect for Jeff Hardy than I ever had.”
The former President of WCW also noted that he never heard of TNA having a drug testing policy.
“No and no,” Bischoff said. “I never got drug tested and never heard about drug testing. So if there was drug testing, it’s news to me.”
Bischoff admitted that he would have fired Hardy at the time and not welcomed him back to TNA again. He said it was tough to change his mind on Hardy after the incident and he would have been okay sending him to jail.
“Unfortunately yes, I would have because of my view of the world at the time,” Bischoff answered when asked if he would have fired Hardy. “Lack of knowledge and ignorance about the challenge [of addiction], yes. At that point, I would’ve put him in jail for 20 years, he would not see the light of day. I wouldn’t have considered an apology or rehab.
“He could’ve sprouted angel wings and flown to the set on his own and I still wouldn’t let him near television again. I was so adamant, I mean god almighty; you’re in the main event against Sting on a pay per view and to f*** it up like that? How selfish could one be? That was my perspective at that time.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.