Matt Hardy shocked many fans during AEW Dynamite when he made his AEW debut siding with The Elite against The Inner Circle. Hardy appeared on the latest episode of Talk Is Jericho where the two talked about how Vince McMahon views older talent in WWE.
"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating. I mean, I think everyone goes there being optimistic that you can break through or maybe achieve something different, but it's definitely frustrating. And then once again, once your a little older, you probably experienced some of this as well, like I was not a star on your level, you know, you did stuff as a singles competitor world champion several times over, but once you get to a certain age, Vince's like well, this guy's kind of old," Hardy said. "Even for himself, at his age, he doesn't even want to be on TV because you're old. Nobody wants to see an old person. It's just like if you're a talent and you get to a certain age, it's kind of like, I don't know."
Chris Jericho has talked about before about how WWE's creative woes are helping AEW, and he brought up the idea of those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. He used that to bring up the time when Hogan, Savage and other big WWE stars left for WCW in 1994 and were still big stars. Jericho likens that to what AEW is doing right now.
"I really think that it's really, what's the saying, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat," Jericho said. "He didn't learn when Savage and Hogan and Piper left in '94-'95 and became legit pay-per-view draws in '96, '97 and '99.
"This has the magic fruit lined up on the on the on the slot machine, right? You have a passionate billionaire who knows what he wants and understands the business. You've got six to eight legit headliners whose contracts are all [up] at the same time and don't want to go to Vince, and you have a television station that wants to put on a show. I couldn't believe it. Perfect Storm."
Jericho has revealed before that Vince asked him if he could get out of his AEW contract. Jericho reiterated Hardy's point of older wrestlers that are not given much to do but still have a lot left to give.
"I think once I signed, it changed the whole landscape for him. I went from being a guy [where] he's like go ahead do it, until it's like what? Why did you sign it? Because you told me because I was 48 years old, and you probably thought oh, we're done with it," Jericho said. "Meanwhile, there's 10 more years left in guys like you and I that are smart on how to work but are creatively stimulated."
Hardy talked about the many ideas that he was pitching backstage. However, he said he never heard back from anybody and believes that Vince did not see a prominent role on TV for him like he wanted.
"Then I pitched idea after idea after idea to WWE and I never got any feedback. I would hear a little chatter here a little chatter there, but there was never anything that like stuck or like, you know that anything that ever like sparked any kind of like creative fire in Vince's mind," Hardy said. That just became frustrating, and then later there were just trying to re-sign me just to have me under contract so that I was a WWE employee, and I kept turning down money, which was good money. But like I wanted to be in a prominent role in television and I don't think Vince saw that for me."
The Randy Orton segment changed things for him where WWE brought him back because the segments were doing so well. He talked about how there was a two-segment match planned that was nixed due to Hardy's unknown status in WWE. He said that, at that point, he had already made up his mind that he was going to leave.
"Then even right towards the end, when I did that stuff with Randy, apparently the first time we did a deal with Randy, the promo that was supposed to be my write off.
"I did that and then they brought it back the next week, and then we ended up doing two. And that that week in the production meeting, we were going to have a two-segment match. It was going to end Raw. A two-segment match after I had a concairto, and I was going to come out selling on a neck brace, and okay sure. I already pretty much made up my mind. I was gone at this point even though they actively try to sell me," Hardy said. "I couldn't have any kind of creative assurances and that's what I wanted at this point, and I wanted like a dialogue with Vince. Like hey, I need to know that you have my back and you're going to like protect my creative interest. This isn't just like hey, I want this older guy because he has some star power to his name or whatever. So that day in the production meeting, Vince is like I don't think we should have this match because I think Matt's leaving. I don't think he's going to stay. I don't think he's signing. I think he's leaving, and I remember Paul Heyman grabbing me. He said tell me the truth, are you leaving? I said, I don't know. I said if there's nothing for me to do here, I can go elsewhere and be utilized in a better way and that's what's important to me here towards the end of my career."
Hardy said that he told everyone that he was going to leave, and it was reported before that Hardy did not want to re-sign with WWE due to how he was being used creatively. He said that even Triple H had tried to contact him to try to stay after his contract had expired. Hardy believes that if Triple H were in charge, then there would have been more opportunities for him creatively.
"What a weird day, and it was like I'm very honest and open with everyone. I told everyone from Vince all the way down what I wanted and what I expected if I was going to stay around. Once we were on the same page, and I said, okay, well, thank you guys very much," Hardy said. "I'll just go my own way, and even days after I left, I talked to to Triple H. It's just like he was cool, and I feel like if if Triple H would have been the guy that was solely in power, I would have probably had a much better opportunity of kind of getting to do what I wanted creatively, but it is what it is."
Jericho asked Hardy what was the final straw that led him to not want to come back to WWE. Hardy went back to the point of not being able to do what he wanted creatively. He said that he did not want to just sit around and collect a paycheck.
"I very quickly, I mean months ago came to the reality [that] they're really not going to utilize me in a way that I hope to be utilized," Hardy said. "I'm not just there to get a paycheck at this point. I want to enjoy what I'm doing. I want to go out there, and I want to have fun. I want to be excited. I'm just not here to collect a paycheck."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.