Hardy recently spoke with WrestlingInc.com to discuss his current life & physical health, the return of OMEGA, WCW ripping off his name, signing with WWE during the Attitude Era & much more.
His current life: ”Life’s great, man. I’ve never had such an appreciation for life that I do right now. I think one of the good things for me, I was on a really great show in Louisiana and traveled with Al Snow from the airport – to the show and back – one of the things we talked about is it’s really easy if you’re very passionate for the business that the business can become you and you’ll do anything in your life fulfill your passion and be as good as you can in the business and I think I really got to that point. Especially between being injured and being not happy with how I was being used on brands and just not happy in general with wrestling. I was so passionate and loved wrestling so much the last couple years I was I almost felt like it was just a job and I disliked it. And I can’t believe I got to that point. Now I’m better. I really have a nice, well-balanced life. I still enjoy wrestling and I’m very passionate about it but at the same time it’s not my life. It doesn’t control me. I have many things outside of wrestling that I’m very interested in and that I love and I feel it’s a very healthy balance. This happened to a lot of guys in the past. I think it’s just something that going forward a lot of the bigger companies, especially when you’re under contract with someone, can try and help the guys to keep them positive, or keep them healthy, or keep them balanced because it is really important to do that. And for me I can just say more than anything else I have a really good balance in life right now.”
How he’s feeling physically: ”I will never be completely healed up, unfortunately. I did a lot of irreparable damage to my body but with that same thing being said, my biggest issue came probably, more than likely doing that leg drop so many thousands of time, or how ever many times I’ve done it. I have issues in my lower back and hips. I had three non-evasive surgeries to burn out bone chips and spurs and all the bone fragments that were kind of lingering around that were a huge reason for a lot of my pain there. Right now I just also delved into DDP Yoga. So I’m working on that to try and break up my scar tissue in my lower back, which it’s real bad. My flexibility has been real bad. That kind of affects you all together as an athlete if you have bad flexibility. So I’m just working on improving that again and now that I’m wrestling one day a week, or maybe two days a week at most, it really does, it gives me time to train and be healthy. And I’ve actually just started, this week as a matter of fact, I took a couple years for myself, obviously after I left wrestling after 12 or 13 years full time, to just really get my life, especially my personal life, back together. Now since I’m so comfortable with that I’m really working to train hard, not just train hard to be in shape, I’m going to try and train hard and train like a 38 year old should and eat like a 38 year old should. You know, whatever I do with Ring of Honor, wherever I may be going forward, I never want to work full time again but I want to be the best I can be and I want to look like a professional wrestler. So I’ve really kind of dialed back into that again.”
Newer wrestlers like Fandango doing the leg drop from the top: ”Looking back at me, if I had taken that out of my repertoire it would have taken a lot of great moments from my career. The one thing I would say to someone like Fandango is be very particular and be very choosey about where you put that. Learning how to pick your spot. It’s a very cool business in a lot of ways because whenever you start the professional wrestling business typically you’re very healthy and extremely athletic. I mean, when I first started I could do anything. I did the 450 as a finisher quite often on the independent circuit and in the beginning of my WWE career a little bit. I would do springboards like crazy. As time went on I learned to kind of pull back on that stuff. You kind of get to the point where you’re so hurt you can’t do all that stuff. My flexibility is not good enough right now where I could do a 450-degree splash. As you get older, your body gets hurt more; you become such a smarter worker, quite a bit more of an intelligent performer. That’s one thing that’s cool about the business. It would be nice to have that intelligence and knowledge and wisdom of being a smart worker and be athletic at the same time. Unfortunately they never really go hand in hand.”
His promotion, OMEGA: ”It’s kind of being done in conjunction with me and Hurricane Shane Helms. Actually, he has done the majority of it more than anyone else has. Him and his partner Mike Howell, actually are doing the show, which happens Saturday evening in East Wake, which is where we had out greatest show of all time, which is really exciting. That’s Saturday, May the 25th.”
Bringing OMEGA back last year: ”Yes, it was in January. We had the Chinlock for Chub show which was actually a 100 percent fundraiser for a friend of ours, Chuck Coates, a friend of ours that kind of broke into the business right around the time we all did myself, Jeff, Shane Helms and he actually had a bout with cancer. He had been in remission for about 18 months and his cancer came back. He had to have a couple more surgeries; radiation, chemotherapy, and he had quite a bunch of medical bills. We ended up doing the fundraiser for him and we raised 18000 dollars originally, right there at the gate and then the DVD sales are also being contributed to him as well. It was pretty exciting. It was a Tuesday night, everybody donated their time. Jeff came, James Storm came, everyone donated their time, 100%. We drew over 1100 people, paid, that night and with comps we had about 1300 people there. So for a Tuesday night it was pretty impressive. We had a good line up. Once again, it show, I think there is legs out there for independent wrestling. I think if it’s done right and it’s promoted right and people put a lot of TLC into the promotion and to the wrestlers and into the details, I think you can do well in this day and age, 2013.”
If it’s true he and Jeff sent a tape to WCW while in OMEGA in the 90′s and instead of signing them, they ripped off their name, “High Voltage”: ”Yeah, that’s 100% true. Chris Kanyon, who was one of the regulars at the Power Plant, later when he came to the WWE, we were friends. He was really close friends with Hurricane Shane Helms. He was the main reason that Shannon were hired in WCW. Once he came to WWE he actually had told us that that tape sat there for a long time and they had these two guys, they were looking for a name and they said oh, this guy that does this demo tape here, his name’s High Voltage. I think that would be a good name maybe we can use that for your tag team. And it stuck. So I actually changed my name, on the indie scene at that time, from High Voltage to Surge, something along the same personality and character traits. That is a true story. It’s absolutely 100% true.”
Was he upset over WCW taking their name: ”I’m sure I was. Looking at it now, it’s just wrestling. Whoever gets it on TV first, they kind of own it. That’s the way it works now. I’m sure looking back then I was upset because I’m sure it took a lot of pride and coming up with the name High Voltage and this persona that I used. Although very few people knew who I was at the time. It wasn’t going to be a big deal to change my name. I’m sure I had a lot of pride and just that being my first real name sake and first character persona in the pro wrestling business. Looking back now, it’s funny. I’m sure it didn’t make a big difference. But back then I was probably upset.”
If he came close to signing with WCW during that time: ”We really didn’t. A couple times we got really close to just being booked by WCW as extras. We actually came close to working something out with the original ECW right before we went to WWE. Which, some people know that. Not everyone does. We actually had worked a match in Greenville, North Carolina, myself and Jeff against Sabu and Rob Van Dam, that went really well. We had met Sandman up in Philadelphia and he saw a few of our demo tapes, our demo reels. He was pretty interested in what we had to offer. We actually had been talking about going on an international tour with some of these ECW guys and that was actually starting to turn up conversations of us going to do an opening match in the arena at one of the ECW events, but by the time that actually came to be we had already signed developmental deals.”
Signing with WWE when he did: ”We were really blessed and we were really lucky to come in whenever we did. Whenever we first started, obviously we did jobs. We worked on TV as enhancement guys from 1994 to 1998. We actually signed our deals in March of 1998. Then we went to a few dojos over the course of the summer that were in Stamford, CT, the WWE dojos with Terry Funk and Tom Prichard. September of that year is when we started on TV. Basically we came on TV, we defeated Kaientai via pin fall on Heat, a live episode kind of just to reintroduce us to the crowd or whatever. The next on Shotgun Saturday Night we beat Too Cool by DQ and then we lost probably 20 matches straight on TV until we beat the new version of the Road Warriors that were out at that time. We were still used very sparingly and we came in at a time and we came in in a very believable way, I think. Once we did, we got put with Michael Hayes and we got the character makeovers. We started on the road full time, which once we got thrown into the thing with Michael Hayes we were full speed ahead from that point on. Every night we were on the road we had sold out houses of 20000, 25000. There was Rock and Stone Cold, DX was red hot. We were so blessed to be able to land in that era. It was insane.”
How his ROH deal came about: ”It came about, originally I did the Shane Shamrock Cup at Maryland Championship Wrestling. Been good friends with Dan McDevitt, the guy who runs that promotion, we did indies for him before we ever got a break with WWE. While we were there that day, it just happened to be the Shane Shamrock Cup that Adam Cole was going to win. Hunter Johnston, Delirious, was there that day and I really got to interact and speak with him. I can’t even remember if I met him previously in the past but I spoke to him briefly, then Cornette, I talked to him later after that. We threw around a couple ideas. I was extremely busy at that time as well. I couldn’t really start on a full TV and iPPV schedule with them until December.
“I had a day, there was a cancellation, I went and did the shot in September and then in December I started my storyline arc with them that was kind of going to go from December to Wrestlemania originally with Adam Cole, which has been a blast. It’s one of the funnest things I’ve done in my career and maybe now I just enjoy stuff a little more than I did before. I really love this. Adam Cole, can’t say enough about him. He’s 22, maybe he’s 23 now. He’s so far ahead of the curve as far as an athlete and his mentality and his promos, the way he carries himself and it’s been a lot of fun to work with him. And I see a couple things I can give here, maybe fundamentally. I definitely can’t make these guys better athletes or more exciting than they are, because they’re great. They’re young, they’re healthy and they’re driven and I know just what their passion is about. It’s been a blast working with Ring of Honor, especially being a heel, the particular way I’ve been a heel, because I don’t really have to be a fake, phony heel. I just get to be me and they dislike me because I’m me. That makes my job easy, but it also makes it very fun.”
How long he’ll be with ROH: ”I’m going to be at a couple of their live events coming up. I’m going to be in a pretty important deal in the Best In The World pay per view. I’m at the TV after that. And then we’re negotiating dates going forward but I think I’m going to be around for a little bit. I think it’s kind of worked out for everyone.
“Fortunately, like I said, we came into wrestling at a very ideal time with the Attitude Era and there’s a lot of Matt Hardy and Hardy Boyz fans out there that will tune into Ring of Honor to see me even though the Ring of Honor diehard fan base definitely want to boo me and they have their issues with me, whatever they may be. I think it’s kind of worked out for everyone. For me, it’s been a fun forum to go out there and perform and do my thing again. With them I think it helps them because it kind of puts some new eyeballs on their product as well.”
What are some of the differences in ROH since his last run in 2005: ”It’s obviously different management. A little bit of a different mind set. I really think now, with the Sinclair broadcasting people running it and Hunter Johnston, Kevin Kelly, they are both very important power brokers behind the scenes, I just think there’s a very good mentality of trying to stay loyal to the Ring of Honor brand, but also trying to expand out as a TV show and as an entertainment company as well. I think that’s important because when it’s all said and done, wrestling is of course, story telling and there is going to be an entertainment aspect to it.
“I think Ring of Honor can always stay true to the Ring of Honor brand and stay true to the, the most important thing is the in-ring product. That’s what comes first. But I do think that you have to have some entertainment mixed in there with it. You have to have characters developed and you have to have stories. I think that the biggest difference now with Ring of Honor, compared to back then, would be that there is more of a focus and more of a realization that that entertainment needs to be there. Before when I was there in 2005, that’s when Gabe ran the promotion, and I almost think Ring of Honor was focused on just being an in ring product and really trying to make those fans happy, the die hard fans, as opposed to growing their circle of fans larger. Now I think Dragon Gate USA or Evolve is more of a product like Ring of Honor was in 2005 when I worked there as opposed to Ring of Honor now, if that makes sense.”
How does SCUM compare to Aces & Eights: “In some ways I would say it’s similar to Aces & Eights, a little bit. But Steve Corino, who I think has been masterful at doing what he’s doing now, I’m a big fan of his work. Especially pulling out, as far as being the bad guy on the show, pulling out the things the Ring of Honor fans come up with that are hypocritical. As far as saying oh, you were upset because BJ Whitmer didn’t hit me with an unprotected chair shot from behind, or you want him to hit Rhett Titus with an unprotected chair shot yet you’re the wrestling fans that claim you care about the wrestler. You know, he’s very good at taking and getting on that pulse, as far as being a bad guy who can pull out the points that are hypocritical from the fans, which gives them a lot of legitimacy.
“For me, that’s what’s fun to do in this gig as well. I think SCUM has a point. Steve said, because Jim Cornette came in and Ring of Honor went away and got away from what it used to be, now maybe it is focusing on being more of an entertainment company or whatever, that they want to destroy the Ring of Honor. At least there is an agenda there. So there is a story to follow that’s a little easier. With the Aces & Eights, I think, I guess they want to take over TNA. I don’t know if they want to destroy it, or whatever. So, I’m real big on making the story telling be as real as it could possibly be and as sophisticated as it could be possibly be and I’ll be honest. In my mind, I’m not a mega fan of the groups and the alliances, especially like that. I’m really a big fan of making the story telling as believable as possible so that every casual fan can follow it and it totally makes sense because I think wrestling, from a story telling standpoint.”
If he feels that it would be a better time to sign with TNA now, as opposed to when he did: ”I do agree with that [that he signed at the wrong time]. I needed time off. I needed to live life. I needed to heal. I need to get away from the wrestling bubble. I needed to not let wrestling define me and not let the wrestling business become me, which I did.
“As far as now, what I’d be interested in if something did come along, with ROH now I’m not under contract. It’s a very nice working agreement. It’s been wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about Ring of Honor right now. If something came along with TNA or WWE where it could be some sort of part time gig where I thought I would be healthy and happy, and with saying that, I’m not some sort of star like Stone Cold or Shawn Michaels or Undertaker that can command a schedule like that, I just know I need to be realistic with myself. I’ve been very blessed. I’ve made a lot of money in the business. I’m financially secure and set for life. I do this because I love it. If something worked out where it would help both sides, I would definitely be open to it. But I’m not just going to put myself through a strenuous effort because I’ve done that and I’m past that. At this age now, I know what my limits are and I want to make sure that first and foremost, Matt Hardy the person is happy and healthy.”
His thoughts on WWE adding him to their Alumni section: ”It was a little bit of a surprise when it happened. I knew it was kind of in the works to happen. It’s one of those things, looking back in hindsight, even though I was very frustrated and needed time off, I probably should have been very vocal about needing time off, more vocal than I would have been.
“Leaving WWE probably was a mistake. In hindsight, if I could have worked something out where I could have had time off or done whatever because WWE still is, it is the greatest entertainment company in the world. As time has went on I think they’ve made some great changes and are really a lot more focused on the health and the well-being of their employees and that’s great because it’s something that wrestlers really need to do. That’s kind of what they said they wanted to do years ago and they’ve truly got there now, I think. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I think in time it continues to get better.
“It’s one of those things. I made a lot of dumb decisions and I made a lot of people upset when I left there, but I can tell over time, time heals everything. A lot of those wounds are starting to close and relationships are getting better. So, I kind of knew it was happening and it was really cool when it did and I was very honored because when it’s all said and done, the WWE was, is, my home. That’s where I truly made a name for myself and Jeff as well. I will always be appreciative of everything they’ve done for me.”
How would he compare WWE, TNA and ROH: ”That’s a tricky question. The strength of the WWE, first and foremost, is that it’s so entrenched everywhere, across the globe. Their TV is so powerful. Even still today, I haven’t been on WWE TV since 2010 and still everywhere I go, everyday, virtually, I’m recognized somewhere and they recognize me from WWE TV, first and foremost. The power of their branding is just unbelievable. They’re really great at doing big events. I think they’re doing a lot of things, as the company continues to evolve, as far as taking better care of the guys. That’s one thing that’s really hard with wrestling because when you’re storytelling and you have certain characters, like Dolph Ziggler for instance, who I just read about had a serious concussion recently, it’s hard when you kind of have something planned out for this guy for months in advance and all of a sudden you have to pull him out of there and take him off the show. A lot of times in the wrestling business it’s one of those things where people would say suck it up and go and the guy continues to push through. He might get through okay or it could really jeopardize his health later on in life. But now, I mean even WWE made the conscious decision to pull him out of that match, make sure he had mandatory time off and I do respect that. It’s one of those things, if they really want people to be healthy and they want people to be very aware of what their lifestyle is as a wrestler and be extremely healthy across the board, then they have to do their part as well. And I really think that by doing this thing with Dolph Ziggler, I know Christian’s been out for a long while because he’s been injured. I think they’re doing their part in a lot better of a way now than they have in the past
“I think TNA is a great place for newer guys to go, especially get some TV exposure to work TV for the first time. I think it’s a great move for TNA to get their TV program out where it’s in front of a different audience besides just the Impact Zone in Orlando. It’s just one of those things. TNA is in a growing process, they’re in a learning process. I think they’re going to make missteps along the way, but I think if TNA can continue to improve and continue to get better it’s really important because the more places we have to be, somewhat of a competitive level between brands, I think that does help the business and it helps the boys try and look better on each program and I think it helps the people in the office to try and make the show better as well.
“And then I think Ring of Honor is great because it’s on the edge in many ways where it focuses mainly on the in ring product and I think there’s steps being taken in Ring of Honor to try and grow into the next level as well, I guess into an entertainment company, what I said earlier.
“I think all companies are beneficial and we need them to all be around and we need them all to continue to get better. I think there’s a lot of talented guys out there, and I’ve seen this first hand from working on different independent events across the country. There’s a lot of really talented guys out there that deserve an opportunity and the more spots that open up and the more companies that are able to help guys make a living from this crazy business, it’s just more opportunity for everyone. I think that’s better for the wrestlers and the wrestling fans.”
Final words: For all you guys trying to keep up with me, you can check me out on the web at MattHardyBrand.com and I also have a web store where you can get everything related to Matt Hardy, if you’re interested that’s ShopMattHardy.com and on Twitter and YouTube you can follow me both at @MATTHARDYBRAND.
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