COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jeff Hardy winced and took a deep breath as he hoisted the Intercontinental Championship high for his adoring, screaming fans. Their cheers rattled the rafters at Nationwide Arena. "The Rainbow-haired Warrior" had finally done it. After months of falling just short, Jeff removed the rather humongous albatross known as Umaga from around his neck and reclaimed the Intercontinental Championship Monday night on Raw. (WATCH)
Jeff's victory Monday marked the fourth time he had won the Intercontinental Championship -- and it was perhaps his sweetest. He lost the Intercontinental Championship to Umaga back in February, and had been trying to avenge that loss for almost seven long months. The two Superstars had battled across the globe, and at times, the savage Samoan Bulldozer ravaged and seemed to overwhelm Jeff. The death-defying high-flyer even confessed to WWE.com at one point that battling Umaga was like being "in a bad dream."
But Jeff seemed to gain more confidence with each match against Umaga. Our fans gasped when he came within a millisecond of defeating the Samoan Bulldozer at The Great American Bash in July. And Jeff subsequently amazed onlookers when he attacked Umaga with a chair, showing the monster that he was not afraid of him and would not let his quest to reclaim his Intercontinental Championship die.
Still, Umaga showed Jeff and all of WWE Monday night why he has been a dominant and feared Intercontinental Champion. At times, the often-primeval gladiator controlled and grounded Jeff with nerve holds and used his 348-pound frame to target Jeff's back and crush Jeff's ribs, especially with a swinging side-slam at one point. The Cameron, N.C., native's body was limp as Umaga snarled at him and stalked him.
Jeff had been in this position before. He knew it all too well. In previous encounters, the Samoan Bulldozer had ultimately devoured his prey. But Jeff would not be denied Monday night. With fans in the Nationwide Arena cheering "Hardy! Hardy!" Jeff found a way to fight back and avoid defeat.
Umaga's demise came when he took a page out of Jeff's playbook and climbed the top rope. Jeff lunged at the top rope, causing Umaga to impale himself in the groin first. With the monster crumpled on the mat, the younger Hardy brother seized the moment and covered him for the three-count. Jeff's eyes widened in shock and disbelief as Lilian Garcia announced, "The winner of the match and new Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Hardy!"
Jeff limped up the ramp and looked at his newly-won gold and soaked in our fans' cheers. An enraged Umaga threw a great big Samoan fit, throwing around the ring steps as onlookers at ringside backed away. While Jeff had exorcised his demon, Umaga now had to deal with his own.