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.
Hardy debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) on June 23, 2004, at the Second Anniversary Show , in a match against . Styles , for the TNA X Division Championship .  He also debuted his new entrance theme "Modest", a song performed by Hardy himself, and a new nickname, "The Charismatic Enigma".  The match ended in a no contest when Kid Kash and Dallas interfered.  Hardy returned to TNA on July 21 and was awarded a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship .  Hardy challenged for the title on September 8, losing to NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett .  In October 2004, he won a tournament,  earning a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on November 7 at Victory Road , TNA's first monthly pay-per-view.  Hardy was defeated by Jarrett once again in a ladder match at Victory Road following interference from Kevin Nash and Scott Hall .