It's all about doing your rehab. When I tore my pec that was my first major surgery. And I went to [Dr. James] Andrews in Birmingham and Kevin Wilk's got an awesome clinic over there in Birmingham - a lot of our guys have been down there - and I'm next to NFL guys who are just happy to be hurt... And I get it, it's tough work. But the second I woke up from anasthesia, even loopy, 'give me a stress ball so I can just start doing something'. Because you know your body, you know what you can push it to...that's why I got back from the pec so early. It was a cool surprise at the Rumble. But I wanted to get back - I don't like being away.
In January 2003, Hardy briefly turned into a heel (villain) after he attacked Van Dam and Shawn Michaels .    It ended a month later when he saved Stacy Keibler from an attack by then-villain, Christian .  In February, he had a brief program with Michaels, which saw the two team up.   Then, in storyline, Hardy began dating Trish Stratus after saving her from Steven Richards and Victoria in March.  Hardy and Stratus had a brief on-screen relationship that saw the duo talking backstage and teaming together in matches. Hardy competed in his final match (his first departure) against The Rock and lost.   Hardy was released from WWE on April 22, 2003.   The reasons given for the release were Hardy's erratic behavior, drug use, refusal to go to rehab, deteriorating ring performance, as well as constant tardiness and no-showing events.   Hardy also cites "burn out" and the need for time off as reasons for leaving WWE.