I had the opportunity to speak TNA Wrestling's Matt Hardy today about his TNA career, as well as his huge match on tonight's Impact against EC3 for the TNA title. We even get a surprise question from "Ethan in Cleveland."
We'll have part two soon where Matt shares stories about working as an extra in WWE, as well as his relationship with the company
You have a huge match on tonight's TNA Impact. What does that mean to you to be in such a high profile position at this stage?
"It's always an honor to be in a top position. When it comes down to it, I'm a kid who came from a small down in North Carolina and the dream was to become a professional wrestler. Obviously my brother and I have been very successful, but I still have a passion to be as good as I can be. I realize after 24 years that it's hard to be as athletic as I used to be, but I feel like I have a lot of mileage in the tank. To go into this Full Metal Mayhem match tonight and challenge for the world title is very special. I guarantee people will walk away from this match in disbelief that Matt Hardy is still doing these things when he'll be 41 in a month. That's my goal coming out of this. I feel like no one can represent TNA better than I can right now."
Many people didn't think you and your brother would be able to compete at this stage due to all of the damage you all have taken. Did you see yourself wrestling until you were 40?
"I don't know, man. I never try to predict the future. Even when we started with the WWE and were doing regular matches, the pace, the moves. We were doing splashes and Jeff was taking flat back bumps to the floor, and our finish was a legdrop/splash. The veterans who watched our matches said we wouldn't be able to walk by the time we were 35. It was very scary. To still be a part of that right now and be able to do the things I do, I've had to totally change my thing. It's a lifestyle, and you can tell the changes I've made in the last year. I really just try to work hard and stay passionate about things. I'm very lucky, I think."
You two haven't slowed down a lot. You were putting on matches of that quality and violence in TNA against the Wolves, too. Did you see yourself working these kinds of matches again?
"Honestly, I didn't expect it. I'm pleasantly surprised that I feel as good as I do. I try to be a statement for someone who is a regular person in this business and their longevity. I'm living proof that it can happen. I've been through struggles and survived. I was with the Young Bucks this weekend and we were talking about how intense Kevin Owens' schedule was. For 12 years I was doing ten days on, four days off, then 5 days on, a day and a half off. There's no way to describe the damage that puts on your body, especially if you wrestled a high impact style like I did. These TNA TVs are a little challenging sometimes because we have several days back-to-back. We did that recently. It was aggressive and tough for me. As soon as I was done, I'd get back to the room and sleep for an hour, then I'm up training, stretching, staying in survival mode. I really had to change my game. I have to make wrestling my lifestyle and what I build my schedule around."
Didn't you have a JCW booking right in the middle of those tapings?
"Of course on the off day. I had that booking before the TV was scheduled, so I had to shoot off to Columbus, Ohio and wrestle at the Gathering of the Juggalos. I'm on the last match that night and it was 4:02 AM. It threw a monkey wrench into my schedule, but I look at those at personal challenges. I think when people watch tonight they'll come out of their chair."
You have a child now, and put your life on the line in matches like this. How does that affect things?
"It's weird, I feel like I'm much better now than ever at calculating the risk. When you're in the ring, a shoulder tackle can damage you. You see the type of injury that Tyson Kidd just had where he could have been killed. Your body isn't meant to be slammed on wood and still. I get in the ring and I just worry about surviving and making the match great. When I get out of the ring, my priority is my son. You look at life completely different, and the bond you have with your child is indescribable. My son motivates me. Not just to be a better father, but to take care of myself, be healthier, be in better shape. I want to be around to spend as much time as I can with him. It makes you appreciate your mortality. He depends on me for everything. Once I get in that ring, I worry about surviving, kicking ass, and entertaining the fans."
You were there working right after your child was born, right?
"My son was a week late from his due date, and I'd blocked out about nine weeks with his birth in the middle. The only commitments I had were the TNA television tapings. He was born, and 20 hours later I was on a plane to Orlando. It was tough. It was a commitment, and I thought that was a good thing to show him in the future, that these were my responsibilities and obligations. I was very fortunate I was there for the birth, and my wife and I spent 20 hours together. It was hard going into a match with Kurt Angle without sleeping for two days, I'll tell you that. Looking back on it, I think I showed my dedication and love for professional wrestling."
You worked Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, a Full Metal Mayhem match and a KOTM match all within a week of you having a child.
"It was brutal. It's funny, one of my best friends Shane Helms is working with us and he said 'They're going to put your motto to the test. They're going to see if Matt Hardy will die or not.' It's always an honor to be in that spot, the timing was just odd. But I love being in that spot and trying to prove I can be great. Sometimes I get frustrated that my body can't keep up with my spirit and my mind."
We've also been given a fan question of sorts. This comes from Ethan in Cleveland. The question is EC3: great or greatest ever?
"I would just say great. I think I'm better than him, so he can't be the greatest ever."
I'm sure Ethan from Cleveland is really disappointed.
"Aw, bless his heart. I can tell you one thing, Ethan from Cleveland is never satisfied. Nothing's ever good enough for Ethan Carter the Turd, as I call him."
What are your thoughts on TNA as a whole?
"I encourage fans to check out TNA on Destination America not just tonight, but each week. We have a lot of really great programming and wrestling, and I think maybe some older fans who fell away from the brand would really enjoy it."
Where can fans follow you on social media?
Don't forget to check out part 2, where we talk about Matt's WWE career, and him leaving the company.