Matt Hardy was part of an Inside The Ropes live show where he talked about his early career in WWE. While he was left off the announcement for “WWE’s Greatest Ladder Match Special”, he noted that the history of the ladder match would have his name as well as his brother Jeff’s, and he talked about how the No Mercy ladder match against Edge and Christian put them on the map.
“I knew in 1997 was the first time they said they wanted to do something with us,” Hardy said. “We were pretty confident that everything was going to be OK at that point, but the match that changed everything and we knew we weren’t just pro wrestlers, we were going to be WWE superstars was the first ever tag team ladder match which was No Mercy 1999. The fact is that match was what put us on the map because we absolutely turned a corner.
“We became something more at that time. We became a special attraction at WWE.”
The Hardy Boyz were managed by Michael Hayes early in their career. Matt talked about the experience of working with one of The Fabulous Freebirds, who made his name in the territory days.
“It was quite the interesting experience because he came up when there were a thing known as territories around the United States, which was a very different era,” Hardy said. “You would work in one territory for a year or 18 months. Michael Hayes and The Freebirds were huge in the Texas, middle and southern territories area.
“I can say this, I truly learned more about the professional wrestling industry from him than anyone else. He truly did help us a lot, but also, afterwards, he had a very old school mentality. He was like, ‘alright now you two little sons of b–ches, now that I’m gonna help you and you’re gonna work with me, you’re gonna ride with me just like me and The Freebirds did, Terry and Buddy. We’re gonna head in a car, all three of us. We’re gonna ride together, stay together, eat together and do everything like a family. That’s how we learn.’ The first couple of weeks were pretty good, not bad, but by week three, we ready to kill this son of a b–ch.”
Matt continued discussing how old school Hayes was. However, he reiterated that Hayes was instrumental with how much he learned from him.
“We would want to leave after a long day of television, house show or whatever it may be. We’d just like to get in a good meal before we’re gonna do this. ‘Get a good meal in? What the hell? You just did a six-pack of beer and a thing of liquor,” Hardy said. “That’s what all the old school boys did back in the day.’ And we made a deal that we could stop and eat if the place we’re in had a bar. That’s the only way.
“But there would be some nights where we would put him to bed when he was toasted, wasted to his very end when we very vigilant Matt Hardy and Brother Nero.”
Matt has also been one to try out different characters, even on social media, and he talked about the most important thing he learned from Hayes. He talked about the believability of a wrestler in regards to physicality and how he always tried to incorporate that in his style.
“In professional wrestling, the biggest, most important thing of being a performer in the ring is that when fans watch you, they have to really believe that you can kick their ass, just the physicality,” Hardy stated. “It doesn’t make a difference if you can do a million great-looking flips, if you do all these cool moves, if people don’t think you can fight, if they don’t believe you can be physical, then it’s going to be an issue because that’s actually how they believe you. It’s almost like less is more, simpler is better. I started to incorporate more of that.
“Sometimes it worked against me in some ways because Jeff was always the one that did the flashy stuff, and sometimes, that would overshadow the things that I was doing. I was a bit more of a solid worker than him. I always made sure I was rough and tough. Physically, I was OK as far as being able to fight and scrap, so I was able to incorporate that more and become more believable, a lot more legitimate. That’s a very important thing in this professional wrestling industry.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.