When Matt Hardy left the WWE in 2020 to join AEW after his contract expired, it wasn’t because Vince McMahon and Triple H didn’t want him to stay. It just wasn’t what the tag team legend envisioned for the end of his storied career.

On the latest episode of “The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy”, the current AEW star discussed his final days in WWE. Hardy says he could tell McMahon had started to see him in a producer role, using his mind and his knowledge of the wrestling industry to help WWE behind the scenes. While Hardy doesn’t object to taking on such a role in the future, he didn’t think his in-ring days were over yet, and he knew that McMahon didn’t agree.

“I just told him, ‘I know how you see me,'” Hardy said, recalling his conversation with McMahon about leaving WWE. “You’re trying to move me to a producer role, and I’m not ready to do that quite yet. I’m ready to still finish up in the ring, I know I have a few more years left and I’m going to go until it’s time for me to step out. That’s what I want to do, that’s my passion, that’s what I love, and also it’s where I can make the most money, and at the end of the day, pro wrestling is a business and it is all about going where you can make the most money.”

“He absolutely respected that and he said ‘Well, thank you for being honest,’ because so many people just bullsh*t him all the time … They knew where I was going to end up.”

The overtures weren’t quite finished, however. Triple H, who was then the executive producer of NXT, made one last-ditch effort to get Hardy to stay by pitching him a role as leader of an NXT faction.

“He called me afterwards, he tried to work deals with me doing stuff in NXT,” Hardy said. “It’s so funny because this shows how much Vince wanted me as a producer. [Triple H] said ,‘Well, we can pay you x amount of money if you do this NXT thing … I’ll put you with a group of guys so you don’t have to do all the work, being an older guy, you’re like the leader of the group. And then you can also still go to TVs, “Raw” and “SmackDown” … and start being a coach, because that’s really what Vince wants to see you as, is a producer.’”

The idea as originally pitched by The Game would have seen a group of three or four NXT wrestlers pulled into the “Broken Universe,” the bizarre wrestling world Hardy created back in 2016, when he developed the “Broken” Matt Hardy character for what’s now Impact Wrestling. But even if Hardy had been tempted by the offer, which potentially came with a double paycheck (one for NXT, one for producing), it was already too late.

“My contract had already expired at this point,” Hardy said. “I had already talked to the Bucks and Tony Khan and the powers-that-be at AEW, and I’d already made a handshake deal to go there. It was a good deal, and I thought that was my best route going forward, so I just once again respectfully declined and said, ‘Thank you very much. I want you to know I appreciate you reaching out to me like this and I’ll never forget it.’ I always remember when people are good to me and I always hold that dear in my heart, and I always remember that I owe them.”

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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