Last week's Friday Night SmackDown kicked off with a new storyline centering around Elias being the victim of a hit-and-run accident outside of the WWE Performance Center, which eventually led to Jeff Hardy being arrested while Sheamus was made to look like he was setting up Hardy to look like a drunk driver. The storyline wasn't well-received by fans, given Hardy's real-life struggles with substance abuse and his two alcohol-related arrests from last year. On the latest WWE Backstage, CM Punk joined those frustrated fans by speaking out against WWE's idea.
"I'm speaking from experience because obviously I worked extensively with Jeff," said CM Punk, who famously feuded with Hardy in 2009. "He, at that point (back in 2009 when the pair had a storyline regarding substance abuse), was maybe not at a great place both mentally and physically. My thing with this segment and this story is that somebody's sobriety is very fragile and important. So, we discussed whether they should or shouldn't do this with Jeff, we talk about how maybe Jeff was okay with it. Maybe it's his idea, he green lit it.
"To me, it's the responsibility of the writers, promoter, whoever, to get in front of that and say, 'No, we're not doing that to Jeff again. We don't need him to be in this position again,'" he continued." I think cleaning your life up and being sober is something to be proud of and we can champion that in different ways. I think this is the wrong way to go about it, you just don't put him in front of that moving car."
Booker T agreed with Punk, referencing the alcoholism storyline WCW wrote for Scott Hall while he was dealing with substance abuse back in the late 90s.
Late in the show Hardy returned from his arrest to distract Sheamus, helping Daniel Bryan advance to the final of the Intercontinental Championship tournament. Hardy has openly talked about his recent trips to rehab and his sobriety in WWE promos and interviews.
"When I got pulled over October 3 of 2019, the day before I called WWE and said 'I need help. I need treatment. There's something wrong with me, like with this alcohol thing,' but yeah I've learned so much in recovery, just little things like one day at a time man, just focus on today, not drinking or not drugging and it's just calling my sponsor everyday and talking to another alcoholic man," he said in an interview on WWE Backstage. "There's something powerful about it when you admit what you are and you can like own that and just man, and there's a huge piece in my heart and my mind knowing that if I never drink again I'm never going to get into any other trouble. Jeff Hardy plus no drinking equals no trouble cause all my troubles came from either drugs or alcohol. And like with the alcohol, I can't drink like other people and I've surrendered and I've just manned up to that, you know and there's nothing wrong with it."