Jeff Hardy is almost on his way to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) now, seeking a memorable last run alongside his brother. Hardy was released by WWE in December 2021 and his non-compete clause ends on March 9, 2022. There have been plenty of rumors and speculations, with Hardy himself confirming his move to the Tony Khan-led promotion. As ‘the Charismatic Enigma’ is on his course to become All Elite, several probable feuds with AEW’s varied roster come up as great ideas.
One of the many big names waiting for Hardy on his new venture is CM Punk. ‘The Best in the World’ will most probably have his sight set on Hardy as the two share a long history together. Today, we take a look at one of the most underrated feuds of WWE, where Jeff Hardy ruled the audience over CM Punk in an epic storyline setup. This feud served as a masterpiece of storytelling, but somehow still isn’t remembered as a classic rivalry since 2009. Now that the two wrestlers are likely to meet again, let us relive the feud that stole the spotlight even over John Cena vs Randy Orton at Night of the Champions 2009.
Jeff Hardy Facing the Wrath of Cash-In
The feud began at Extreme Rules 2009, during Hardy’s tough-fought battle against the WWE World Champion, Edge. Previously that year, Hardy’s first WWE World Championship reign was brought to an end by the ‘Rated-R Superstar.’ Their match at Extreme Rules was thus, a grudge match with long-time opponents, where the fans prayed for Hardy to get his vengeance and become the champion again. Consequently, Hardy got the better of Edge and won the Championship, making the entire arena rejoice and celebrate. However, their celebrations weren’t long-lived and were cut short by the man who became Jeff’s new arch-rival – CM Punk.
Even before Hardy could fully bask in the champion’s glory, Punk shattered his dreams by cashing in the contract he has won in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. He met a resilient Hardy, who didn’t want to give up his title without a fight. Nevertheless, a double dose of GTS ensured Punk’s win over an exhausted Hardy. This would mark the former’s second win of the night at the Extreme Rules PPV, having defeated Umaga earlier in a Samoan Strap Match.
A Heel CM Punk and Babyface Jeff Hardy
Cashing in is generally a legal and valid way of challenging the champion. However, Punk’s actions had a huge impact on his fans, who were distraught with Hardy’s repeated failed attempts at winning the title. With this, Punk had begun establishing his roots as a heel, having set his course on a gradual dark turn.
It was during Hardy’s rematch at The Bash that his heel turn was truly cemented by his actions. Following a false finish in which the referee did not see Punk’s foot under the rope, he kicked the referee causing a DQ, thereby protecting his championship. He would later justify his desperate act by claiming that he had an eye injury and kicked the referee instead of Hardy.
All of this was a part of Punk’s gradual heel turn, where he tried different means to save his reign. However, at the Night of the Champions PPV, Hardy overcame Punk to reclaim the championship. While Punk fought as a shrewd heel wrestler, Hardy portrayed the fan-favorite babyface, seeking the prize that he truly deserved. The match was almost unmissable, and would main event the Pay-Per-View over the Triple Threat WWE Championship match between Cena, Orton, and Triple H.
Post winning the title again, the relation between these two wrestlers grew sourer. Things began to pick up a pace when the straight-edge-themed Punk left no stone un-turned to make things personal with Hardy. Punk’s words made sense as he targeted Hardy for the apple of the eye that he was, at that moment. Mind games were played, as Hardy was shown as a villain who manipulated the tale to bring the odds in his favor. The fans, however, felt a special connection with Hardy and loved the way Punk stood up as a formidable foe. The heated promos exchanged between these two made for epic storytelling, brimmed with raw emotions and struggle.
A Series of Battles Between Hardy and Punk
SummerSlam 2009 saw the next encounter between these two in a classic TLC match-up. At the end of the brutal main event, a battered and bruised Punk knocked Hardy off the top of a 20-foot ladder and grabbed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Punk was the champion again and had shockingly defeated Hardy in this terrifying battle.
But Punk’s celebration didn’t last long. Just like Hardy’s celebration was cut short by a cashing in Punk, the latter’s winning moment was interrupted by a blackout followed by the Undertaker’s vicious chokeslam out of nowhere. This was symbolic of how Punk had begun his rivalry against Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules earlier that year.
There’s no doubt that the duo of Punk and Hardy proved their worth in every passing second of their feud. Being one of the most underrated wrestling feuds of the modern era, it showed how switching titles frequently can carry a historical weightage, if done properly. As we revisit their years-old rivalry, wrestling fans are looking forward to the two wrestlers sharing a ring again sometime in the future. With rumors circulating that Jeff Hardy may be joining CM Punk in AEW, there are high chances of these two wrestling together again.
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