On the first episode of The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, the AEW superstar spoke about No Mercy 1999 where he and his brother Jeff faced Edge and Christian in the first ever tag team ladder match. Matt Hardy also talked about the payouts the four wrestling legends received that night, detailing how they had to ask for more money.
“JR ended up bonusing us each $5,000, so we made $10,000 on that night,” Hardy said. “The No Mercy 1999 match, this fact has never been publicly stated or revealed. $10,000 ended up being the ultimate payoff after we questioned the $5,000 and we got a $5,000 bonus because we said there’s so much buzz and hype behind this match and people are buying the replays specifically for this match because everyone wants to see this match.
“JR’s explanation was perfectly logical and reasonable, he said ‘Coming into this match, it was a big platform and opportunity for you guys but you guys weren’t the ones selling this pay per view. You weren’t a Stone Cold Steve Austin, you weren’t a Triple H, you weren’t Undertaker or DX. You weren’t one of the main draws that brought people to the show to buy the pay per view.’ We did get highlighted that night with them so that was understandable. He did buy into our point of people buying the replays because of our match and we know that a lot of people were buzzed and created this unique ‘oh my god, these guys are crazy, you’ve got to watch this ladder match.’ “
During an appearance with Josh Graham, Matt Hardy revealed that he and Jeff intend to end their career together following the news of Jeff’s release from WWE. The AEW star continued to talk about the pay situation back in the day and revealed the differences between today’s pay structure compared to the late 90s-early 2000s.
“Back in these days, there was much more of a hierarchy and I feel like people were more looked at as top tier acts, a little bit underneath that, middle of the card and opening acts,” Hardy said. “For us to not get a huge payday off this match, ended up being like a monumental deal. I do understand it looking back in hindsight, looking back at business, and understanding how the WWE works. I feel like over time, this system has changed in many ways. The pay structure has changed to where people are treated a lot more equally in this day and age. Back then you had downside guarantees, you were guaranteed to make x amount of dollars. My downside guarantee in 1999 was $75,000.
“If you busted your ass, if you worked hard, if you got over, if you were on every show, then you could make double or triple or quadruple your guarantee. I’ll be honest, in that year, we tripled our guarantee of $75,000 in 1999. Then in 2000, we made 13x our guarantee. You could bust your ass, you could work hard and get over and you were supposed to use that as motivation to try and be better and make money. That’s how they wanted talent to work harder to move up the card or become a bigger act. Now in this day and age, whatever your downside guarantee is, I think it’s more or less a salary. Where they pay a little more money but it’s like that’s pretty much what you’re going to make. They advertise it as a downside guarantee but whatever you end up making, it’s not going to be much more than that amount.”
Being a member of the AEW locker room, Hardy also spoke about the pay structure within Tony Khan’s company. The former WWE Tag Team Champion said WWE has different avenues for pay that AEW doesn’t, given the television deals and Saudi Arabia deal they have in place.
“Even at AEW, you look at the media, there’s so many different sources of revenue coming in besides your television deal,” Hardy said. “Which is like the main payday that’s coming in from the company, which is where they pay their wrestlers out of. In WWE, it’s huge, they’ve got the two television deals, the Peacock deal, the deal with Saudi Arabia, and plus other little things where money continues to trickle in. Media and technology has expanded so much more so there is so much more money they are making. TV is the main focus but it’s not the entire focus in this day and age.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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