This week’s episode of SmackDown opened in a rather unique fashion.
The Performance Center, where WWE are currently taping all shows, became a crime scene as an apparently intoxicated Jeff Hardy crashed his car, injuring fellow Superstar Elias.
In the segment, Elias was taken away in an ambulance and police offers found Hardy stumbling around shortly after.
He was arrested and taken away in a police car.
That wasn’t the end of it though. The main event of SmackDown saw Hardy return from police custody to interfere in Sheamus’ match, attacking him as the show went off the air.
WWE then clarified the whole situation by releasing a ‘breaking news story’ shortly after, revealing the Charismatic Enigma was released because he passed the required sobriety tests.
Hardy was cleared of the original charges, which were public intoxication, driving under the influence, and the hit-and-run on Elias.
All this, of course, is part of a storyline to build a feud between him and Sheamus, but fans have been criticising WWE for using real-life charges from Hardy’s past.
The Superstar was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and public intoxication last year and fans are upset with WWE using them for an angle on tv.
“You guys should be ashamed of this storyline…” one wrote in response to WWE posting a video of the segment on social media.
Another said: “Kinda bogus how you used his real-life problems as a storyline,” while a third added: “This is disgusting and WWE should be ashamed of themselves.”
“Tone-deaf company,” was the conclusion drawn by one fan, while perhaps the most scathing assessment was: “Whoever gave this ‘storyline’ the green light needs to be fired.
“If this is Vince McMahon’s idea then [CM Punk] was right, WWE will be better when Vince is gone.”
It’s fair to say the segment hasn’t gone down well with fans on social media.
But with WWE investing so much into it on Friday’s SmackDown, it’s unlikely they will pull it, even after the backlash.
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