Although in early 1998 he was still able to do five reps in the bench press with 495 lbs, three reps in the squat with 855 lbs (with no suit and no knee wraps), and three reps in the standing press with 405 lbs in training, while traveling with the World Wrestling Federation , he never returned to compete again in official championships in favor of his wrestling career.  He weighed 380 lbs at that time, and his right upper arm was measured at 24” by Terry Todd .  By basically ending his lifting career at the age of 26, it is probable that he never reached his full physical potential as a professional lifter. Henry remains the youngest man in history to squat more than 900 pounds without a squat suit as well as the youngest to total more than 2,300 pounds raw  – he's the only person ever to have accomplished any of these feats at under 25 years of age. 
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. 
Hardy made his first wrestling appearance after being released from WWE at an OMEGA show, on May 24. Using his old gimmick, "Willow the Wisp", Hardy challenged Krazy K for the OMEGA Cruiserweight Championship, but lost the match. Hardy performed with the Ring of Honor (ROH) promotion on one occasion. Hardy appeared at ROH's 2003 show, Death before Dishonor under his "Willow the Wisp" gimmick, wearing a mask and trench coat. Hardy was quickly unmasked and lost his jacket, wearing attire similar to that he wore in WWE. Hardy was booed and heckled before, during, and after the match by the ROH audience, who chanted "We want Matt!" and "You were fired!" during his match with Joey Matthews and Krazy K, which Hardy won. Hardy then took a whole year off of wrestling to concentrate on motocross and finish his motocross track.