Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com recently interviewed former WWE and TNA superstar Matt Hardy. In part one of our interview below, Hardy discussed his time an an enhancement talent for WWE, his favorite stars growing up, working with the Kliq, tag team wrestling today and much more.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of our interview, where Hardy discusses changes in the business from the Attitude Era, scripted promos, if wrestlers are punished for getting themselves over, if he signed with TNA too soon, if he's done wrestling full time and much more.

WrestlingINC: Obviously, you were a big wrestling fan growing up. Do you remember when you started watching wrestling?

Matt Hardy: Yeah, I was somewhat of a fair-weather fan, I would say, early on, all throughout my life. But, right around WrestleMania IV, I watched with my brother Jeff Hardy, obviously. We actually made a bet on who was going to win the WrestleMania IV title tournament. I actually picked 'Macho Man' and after 'Macho Man' actually won, we tuned in the following weeks and I've never turned back since then. I've been a huge fan since WrestleMania IV.

WrestlingINC: Did you ever get to meet Randy Savage?

Hardy: Yeah, I sure did. We actually met a Randy a couple times as we were just going to work as extras at WWE for the TVs.

WrestlingINC: Who were some of your favorites growing up?

Hardy: Obviously, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage just because he was the first guy I was really drawn to and I think he was one of the top guys in the company at the time and his finishing move was a flying elbow drop off the top rope. For me, I thought it was really cool. A lot of guys did moves that seemed more boring. There was the Hulk Hogan leg drop. 'Macho Man' always flew off the top to do his elbow drop and it was very exciting.

Obviously, growing up in North Carolina, I was a big Ric Flair fan. I dug him, he was from Charlotte. The Four Horsemen were very cool. I was a big fan of the Freebirds as well. It was very ironic that later on, I'd work with Michael Hayes. When I first started wrestling and Jeff and I were on a trampoline, I actually emulated Michael Hayes and the Freebirds to a degree with the way my character wrestled, dressed and acted and whatnot.

WrestlingINC: So, when you got the call, even as an enhancement talent, to go to WWE, what was that feeling like?

Hardy: It was exciting. We actually went the very first time with 'The Italian Stallion' Gary Sabaugh and we did shows for him all across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee. We'd work Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometimes for free. But, as long as we would work all his shows, he would take us to WWE every few months when he got the opportunity to. So, we were really excited. The first time walking in the dressing room and just seeing the guys you've grown up watching on TV. They're real human beings and they're interacting. Actually, getting to see that every superstar was actually a human being was a pretty amazing feeling.

WrestlingINC: Was there anybody that gave you any advice during that time that really stood out?

Hardy: There wasn't really anyone that gave us an overload of advice. But the one thing I will say, the first time me and Jeff went up, we both wrestled Scott Hall/Razor Ramon and he was really good to both of us. The first night, he wrestled Jeff and Jeff was only 16. He had to lie about his age and move his birthday back by two years and he kind of banged Jeff's knee on the pole when he was doing a certain move in the match. He checked on him the next day and the day after that. All the Kliq guys, especially Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were really cool to Jeff and I in the beginning. Jeff has his hair cut like Vanilla Ice, they actually called him Ice. They always knew the Hardy Boyz and the Ice guy. So, they were really cool to us overall.

You hear a lot of horror stories about those guys, but Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac were all really good to us early on.

WrestlingINC: When you signed your first contract in 1998, what went through your head?

Hardy: It was in March of 1998 when we signed up, and it was exciting. It was obviously something that had been a life-long dream for both of us. So, it felt like we had really attained something that we had worked for and busted our asses to get. So, when we signed that, we knew the work was just starting in so many ways, but to have that realization of achieving a life-long dream was really special.

WrestlingINC: In your first run there, you saw all sorts of crazy stuff. Wrestling had hit these heights that it had never been. What were some of your favorite memories during that first run?

Hardy: Man, it's really amazing that we were able to come in during that time. Once again, looking back, 'Stone Cold' was white hot. The Rock was white hot. DX was a huge deal. For Jeff and I, once we got out on the road full time, we were wrestling Too Cool/Too Much every night as the opening match. For us, we almost became accustomed to it. Every night, we were in a building that was sold out with 20,000 people. That was pretty amazing, pretty special. I think we were almost spoiled a little bit because in 2001-2002 when the business slowed down a little bit and the big, hot Attitude cycle ended and the shows weren't sold out anymore, we were like, 'Oh, my God. What is this? We've never seen this before. This is new to us.' So, we were really lucky and really gifted to be there.

I mean, there were so many great memories between the 'Stone Cold'-McMahon thing. Just for us, obviously, our feud with Edge and Christian and going through with the first ever tag team ladder match and having that and the TLC matches. Winning the tag team titles, which was our only goal that we really set for ourselves when we started in the business. There were so many great, monumental moments that there's too many of them to list now. But, it was a really special time in the wrestling business.

WrestlingINC: You mentioned your feud with Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boyz and I kind of look at that period as the last great era for tag teams. It's been kind of downhill ever since then. Do you think tag team wrestling will come back or do you think it's being pushed aside and there's not much of a future in it.

Hardy: I do agree, that was the last time that tag team wrestling was really great during that era. I think you had an era in the late '80's when you had the Hart Foundation, The Bulldogs and all those other great teams then. I think the biggest thing that affects tag team wrestling in this scenario -- because I get asked this question a lot and this is usually the answer that I go with -- in the late 80's, they had the Hulkamania era and the Rock & Wrestling connection. Hulk Hogan was white hot and they had their top guy. Hogan was selling out arenas everywhere and they could focus on other aspects and other areas of the company.

Same thing in that period when they had The Rock and 'Stone Cold' and they were white hot, selling out buildings everywhere. They could focus on other things besides their main acts. Right now, they're in a period where they're still looking for something. John Cena is the face of the company, but John Cena isn't setting record numbers on TV. Time and television has changed a lot as well.

John Cena's not setting record numbers on TV, he's not selling out every house show, this, that and the other thing. They're going to be worried about finding the best guy that's going to be selling out every event, that's going to make pay-per-views sell more than ever before, that is appropriate for whatever the time is before they're really able to focus on tag team wrestling.

Over the last few weeks, they've tried to have a little bit more focus on tag team wrestling but they will never get the full devotion and focus of creative, Vince and likely Hunter until their completely comfortable with the top guy situation.

WrestlingINC: You had a short period where you were released in 2005 where you had the whole situation with Edge and Lita. Is everything cool with them now?

Hardy: Yeah, every thing's cool, man. Looking back now, in hindsight, it was a crazy, interesting period to say the least. But every thing's cool now and I definitely chalk it up now to a learning experience more than anything else.

WrestlingINC: You're actually booked on some of the same shows as your girlfriend (Reby Sky) and Lita. Do you keep in touch with her?

Hardy: Not on a regular basis, but it's definitely going to be an interesting scenario to say the least.

WrestlingINC: When you returned, it seemed like they pushed you down to the bottom again and you had to work your way back up. Was that kind of how you saw it?

Hardy: I obviously came back and I was real hot when I came back and I still think the cage match I had with Edge and Unforgiven 2005 was one of my best matches ever. I'm a huge fan of that match. But, yeah, there was definitely a period I went through there of trials and tribulations. I definitely had to prove myself once again. Sometimes, the WWE is in that mindset where if you end up forcing their hand into making a decision, sometimes, there can be a little bit of a repercussion for it. They want to be the people in control, they want to be the people with the power. It takes a while to learn and figure out how that system works.

So, yeah, I think there was a little bit of a scenario where I had to learn to earn my keep once again. It's one of those things, man. You're living the dream and you're making money and you're getting to go out and wrestle and do what you love. You're earning a paycheck for it. Just go out and do it, man.

It's really easy to get frustrated or aggravated with your situation. But, at the end of the day, regardless of whether you win, lose or draw, you are getting a paycheck for wrestling. So, just do the best you can, work hard and be happy.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of our interview, where Hardy discusses changes in the business from the Attitude Era, scripted promos, if wrestlers are punished for getting themselves over, if he signed with TNA too soon, if he's done wrestling full time and much more.

You can follow Matt Hardy on Twitter @MATTHARDYBRAND, or check out his YouTube channel at youtube.com/MATTHARDYBRAND. You can also check out his online store at shopmatthardy.com.

Follow Raj Giri on Twitter at @RajGiri_303. Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.