It’s a real showdown at the Alamo when TNA Impact Wrestling champion Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray battle in a steel cage Sunday, March 10 during the TNA Lockdown pay-per-view from San Antonio.
From tag team competition to making names for themselves in the singles ranks, it’s the latest chapter in the decade-long rivalry between the two. Hardy looks forward to meeting his longtime opponent with the lights on bright in the main event.
“It’s really cool,” Hardy said during the Lockdown media conference call earlier this week. “You think about the TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) matches many years ago with the Dudley Boys and the Hardy Boys. To see those old matches and now to see us in TNA in full affect, and the way Jeff Hardy looks and the way Bully Ray looks. By the way, props to him because he is in the best shape of his life.
“We both have reinvented ourselves over the years, and it’s just so exciting to be headlining such a huge pay-per-view with Lockdown on Sunday and still be able to do what we do. Even watching all those TLC matches and now on our solo paths and doing so well. It’s really something to be proud of, and I can’t wait to see what happens on Sunday.”
The high-flyer appears in a mindset to give fans something they will never forget against someone he has met before on a different stage. Together they helped revolutionize tag team wrestling in the 2000s, so Ray and Hardy are no strangers to raising the bar.
“What’s going to be different, hopefully, is the unknown of a cage match,” Hardy said. “Especially, with my mentality and Lockdown last year probably had one of my favorite cage matches of all time against [Kurt] Angle. This year if we come close to topping what we did last year, it’s a challenge in itself. I’m not going to do nothing differently and give it my all.
“…There are flashbacks of those TLC matches when I think about our match [on Sunday] and how things change and people change. Now here we are. Bully is in the best shape of his life. I think I am, and it’s going to be so interesting to see what happens. We are both from the tag team areas, but we have pretty much dominated our solo paths and are going to take it to the next level.”
The Cameron, North Carolina native has matured inside the ring and out. A big proprietor of that has been his daughter, Ruby. These days Hardy thinks about how the risks he takes could impact his family, which is his top priority. With the match against Ray in the steel cage, the chance of injury is greater than normal.
“I’m really not limited, but I try to work smarter now,” Hardy said. “I’m excited because it’s a challenge. I’ve had so many great cage matches and ladder matches, and it’s just another challenge to top myself again. I’m a little more afraid to try things, but I’m still the same Jeff Hardy…It’s because I have a two-year-old daughter now.
“…Being a pro wrestler and a father, you do think a lot more about having to be there for my daughter. You do whatever you can to stay healthy, but there is a good balance with family.
“…It’s way tougher now to [rebound from the bumps and bruises of a match] just being older, but I’ve taken extreme care of myself. I see a chiropractor three days a week. I try to get massages. I ice every part of the body that’s hurting after every match. I workout more than I ever had, and I take real good care of myself.”
That wasn’t always the case, but Hardy managed to get his life on track in recent years. The company recently announced re-signing one of its most popular stars to a new two-year deal. Among the factors that influenced Hardy’s decision was how supportive TNA has been in nurturing his musical and artistic projects. His band Peroxwhy?gen collaborated with the company’s composer Dale Oliver and finished their 10-song album in Nashville last week. Look for it to be available in June or July.
“Just being in TNA there are those times where I can be home for a week straight,” Hardy said. “However, for example, March is crazy busy for me. Me being in TNA, I just like being the alternative. I like being the other place to be or to believe in. Who’s to say 15 years from now it can’t reach those WWE heights? Time will tell.”
The promotion is taking its next step in its evolution later when the Impact Wrestling show on Spike TV leaves the comfort of the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando for the road fulltime. Chicago gets the first taping 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 from the Sears Centre Arena.
“It’s time to get out of there and on the road,” Hardy said. “I’m sure there will be an opportunity to come back there for a reunion show, but I think it’s time.”
The TNA champ is optimistic about his employer’s future and his own as well. At this point in his career, Hardy has no signs of stopping.
“It’s always going to be in my blood, and I think my body will tell me when I need to stop,” Hardy, 35, said. “Hopefully, I’ll be 45- or 50-years-old and still want to have a match. Time will tell, and my body will tell.
“…In 2013, I think it’s going to be the most exciting time in my wrestling career. In 2012, I set a goal to have a great 2012, and I had a phenomenal 2012. It was the best year of my professional career so far. In 2013, it’s going to be even more exciting because more of the true Charismatic Enigma is going to be seen. There is going to be lots of exciting things that are going to happen.”
• Jeff Hardy defends the TNA championship versus Bully Ray in a steel cage at the TNA Lockdown pay-per-view 8 p.m. EST Sunday, March 10 from the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The event is also highlighted by the Lethal Lockdown match featuring the Aces & Eights (Devon, Mr. Anderson, D.O.C, Garett and Knux) battling Team TNA (Sting, Magnus, Samoa Joe, James Storm and Eric Young).
Kurt Angle will battle Wes Brisco.
Bobby Roode and Austin Aries defend the TNA tag team titles against Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero.
Velvet Sky wrestles Gail Kim for TNA Knockouts gold.
One-time bros Robbie E and Robbie T will also face off.
A limited number of premium seats for Lockdown pay-per-view event have been released to the public. The newly available tickets, primarily floor seats previously held for television production purposes, can be purchased through the arena’s website www.alamodome.com or through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket prices start at $15.
• Follow Jeff hardy on Twitter @JeffHardyBrand.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.