On the Line with Matt Hardy

Matt Hardy is one half of one of the greatest tag teams of all time and highly accomplished as a singles wrestler. He’s been prominently featured throughout the years in WWE, TNA and Ring of Honor. In 2015, he can currently be seen his brother, Jeff, on Impact Wrestling (Wednesday nights at 9 on Destination America). He’s once again proving his worth in singles competition as the North Carolinian has been looking to take the TNA World Heavyweight Championship away from EC3. With the remarkable story that is his life in and out of the ring, we had an engaging and insightful conversation about his TNA experience, what it takes to be a heel, his new YouTube series, his memorable entrance theme in WWE and more.

You’ve been working with EC3 a lot and that includes a couple recent title matches. I feel that when wrestlers like EC3 and Drew Galloway come in, they’re able to reach their full potential and really have a character with meaning. What’s your take on that?

I think it’s nice to see someone, like Drew for instance, get to go out and show everyone his full potential. When he came to WWE as The Chosen One and I was working with him, they had a lot of grand plans on the table for him. But I don’t know what happened along the way, there was some sort of monkey wrench thrown in or whatever. Then he ultimately ended up doing the 3MB gig and it just didn’t allow him to live up to his potential. He was becoming typecast in a certain role. It’s one thing that’s great about TNA because some characters may not have gotten great opportunities at WWE. They actually get the opportunity to realize their full potential on Impact Wrestling.

How does it feel to be back in a TV-14 environment?

It’s enjoyable. I feel as I get older and now a father, I try to be a little more conscious of the things I would say and do. I try to be more creative as opposed to using a cheap word, cursing or something vulgar, to get a reaction. I try to be more thoughtful about that, but it is nice to have that freedom and that wiggle room to go out and be edgy if you really need to be in a particular situation.

It’s no secret that you’ve utilized YouTube over the past several years. Now you’re delivering once again with Thoughts From The Throne. There’s a lot of competition with podcasts hosted by wrestlers, but it seems like this is your unique outlet to do something similar and talk about recent news in wrestling. Is that what you were going for?

I was yearning to do more YouTube videos, even from an entertainment aspect. My wife helps me with it right now because I’m so busy, she films for me and does the editing and puts it up. We’ve been busy just because we have a newborn obviously. But yeah, it is. It’s my way of getting my opinion and maybe a fresh take out there. People might watch the video and get a different perspective on whatever might be circulating, the hot news and whatever’s being talked about in the wrestling community. I try and go out there with a healthy mind. I don’t try to be biased, I try to be fair. That’s my whole thing in life now. I’ve been through ups, I’ve been through downs, but I need to look at things from fair perspective. That’s what I try to do with Thoughts From The Throne.

With all those ups and downs throughout the story that is your life, have you ever considered doing public speaking in a setting such as a school so you can share what you’ve been through and what you’ve done?

I would. I would totally be open to doing that, especially down the road. I had actually just tweeted that I feel the best I’ve felt in seven or eight years. For the last couple years, I’ve just done a lot of resting and repairing my body. I’m constantly evolving my training schedule and my diet. I’ve gotten myself into really good groove. Physically, I’m not gonna be able to wrestle and take bumps forever. Afterwards, I would love to speak. I’ve worked very hard on my speaking through promos and in general over the last few years. So yeah, I would love to do public speaking and share my story with people. Once again, I want to talk with them on the same level and give an interesting, fair and honest perspective.

One of your closest friends, Shane Helms, has recently come to TNA in a behind the scenes role. How was that arranged?

I was speaking with Josh Mathews and they were wanting to update some of the agents and producers. Shane Helms was a name that we talked about and I thought he would be great for the job. That is a tailor-made gig for him just because he has such a great wrestling mind. I suggested Shane and they brought him down. They tried him out and lo and behold, he was hired almost immediately. No disrespect to any other agents, but I think Shane is the most creative and fresh producer that is working in TNA right now.

Both of you come from North Carolina, so I have to ask, how do you feel about South of the Border?

It’s definitely unique. When I was in high school and also college, we’d go to Myrtle Beach and we would always drive through South of the Border from where I lived in Cameron. I always loved stopping at South of the Border and doing all the touristy stuff and whatnot. It’s still very interesting. My wife was born and raised in New York and she moved to Florida for a little while, she’d driven through there a few times. We’ve stopped in and it’s just such a fun little tourist attraction. It’s such a unique gimmick. It totally reeks of wrestling because if you go down there, everything is a gimmick. There’s a little piece of merch for every little idea that exists there. So yeah, I’m a South of the Border fan.

When I first started watching wrestling, I was introduced to you when you were just starting out as Version 1.0.One of the biggest things that stuck with me from all of that was your new entrance theme from Monster Magnet. It’s easily identifiable and impactful when it first hits, it really helped you to reinvent yourself and fans have really gotten into that theme over the years. How do you feel about it?

I love that song. It would be very hard to have a better entrance song than that. I had turned in ideas to WWE about using a different style of music and I’d given them a couple samples that I was thinking of. When I first heard the Monster Magnet song, I said “Well, it’s okay. I’m not crazy about it.” Then we got to the point where they really wanted to differentiate between myself and Jeff, so they wanted us to have different theme music. And then they said “Oh, we’ve got other music and we’ve got some ideas for it. We’ll eventually use that, but we’re gonna use the other one for tonight.” I’ll be honest, after two or three entrances with using the Oh Yeah Monster Magnet music, I couldn’t imagine having it any different. It’s such a great tempo for the whole environment and the excitement of coming down to the ring. It makes me hyped and it makes the crowd hyped, it’s a great, great entrance song.

You went over to Smackdown to reinvent yourself as a heel singles competitor with much more mic time, all things that were relatively unfamiliar to you at the time.

It was interesting. I look back now and I liked a lot of the things I did, they were very entertaining. Sometimes it was hard for me to get booed in some arenas and I realize why when I look back now. You know how the saying goes, man, if you knew then what you know now. My approach to being a heel now would be different now, so drastically different. I feel like I could be a great heel. I actually feel like there’s more money in a heel Matt Hardy as a singles competitor than a babyface Matt Hardy as a singles competitor. I have a good grasp on what it takes right now to be a heel and what it takes to make the wrestling fans dislike you and want to see your opponent whoop your ass. Looking back, it was good for me because I was able to go out and show that I was a solid singles wrestler and entertaining in a singles role. It gave me a chance to showcase my own personality. But looking back, I could’ve been such a better heel. I think I was just in that mindset where I had just split from Jeff and everyone knows that Jeff was much more of a representation of what the Hardy Boyz were meant to be than I was. He’s the guy that is the natural daredevil and he does such beautiful, graceful, athletic moves. He is more of an extreme guy than I am. Once we split, he continued down the Hardy Boyz path and I had to do something drastically different. In my mind, I just wanted to be good and to succeed. I wanted people to like what I was doing with my act. I just wanted to make sure that I was going to be established and successful, that was probably my priority even over being a heel at that point.

Who do you think is the best heel right now in wrestling?

Eric Young is an excellent heel. I think Eric Young is a really, really good heel because he does things intentionally so that you don’t want to cheer him, you don’t want to get behind him and you don’t want to support him. Who are some of the heels that stand out in other companies?

Definitely Kevin Owens.

Yeah, Kevin is good. I worked with and against Kevin in Ring of Honor when I was there. Kevin Owens is good because he is very good at seeming normal. He’s a father and he loves his kids and his wife, you would think that describes a babyface. He’s able to turn things around. He’s able to do the things that seem cowardly, although he’s projecting an image of being tough. Kevin really knows who he is and that’s important. If you’re a wrestling character, especially as a heel, you have to understand who you are and you have to understand how the crowd views you. Kevin is really, really talented in doing that. Kevin Owens and Eric Young, those are my two top heels right now.

Something that I’ve always been curious about, what was the filming process like for when they would show you posing on the on-screen match cards in the WWE in the early to mid 2000s?

They were filmed in front of a green screen. It was very simple, you would turn to your right, you would turn to your left and all angles. With the posing, they would just ask what our signature stuff was. We’d be told to do our signature stuff, poses or hand gestures or whatever your mannerism is. We’d represent our character. Most guys that have a grasp of who their character is, they have their own creative control to do whatever.

There’s a lot going on right now with GFW and Impact Wrestling. PJ Black, formerly Justin Gabriel in the WWE, has been making appearances on Impact Wrestlings. You two are no strangers because he was your rookie on the first season of NXT back in 2010. Was your rookie/pro relationship solely an on-screen thing or did you take the time to mentor him outside of the ring as well?

We became buddies. We grew a relationship out of the professional aspect of being paired together. We hung out and stayed in touch. It was real cool to see him show up in TNA and be back around again. I was happy for him, just like Drew Galloway. I don’t think they utilized him to his full potential when he was on WWE television, so it’s nice to see him getting an opportunity now to be one of the staples of Global Force Wrestling. Unfortunately they aren’t on television yet. Hopefully that does happen for them. I would love to see him be on a television product and be highlighted as one of the top stars.

So in closing, what is your plan once you finally hit one million Twitter followers? You’re currently at 979,000 and getting closer every day.

Maybe when I hit one million followers on Twitter, I’ll buy myself a gift. Maybe I’ll buy myself a little present, it’ll be a celebration of a million followers.

Sounds like a plan. I wish you the best ahead in wrestling and in life. I’d love to thank you so much for your time and an insightful interview.

Thank you, man. I appreciate it.

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