When TNA Impact Wrestling makes its Pop TV debut on Tuesday, Jan. 5, Matt Hardy will be an integral part of the Pop.
“I heard rumors there were a couple of networks that TNA was talking with [at the time], and I knew [Pop] was one of the networks in the running,” Hardy said. “I knew it was official whenever TNA announced it.”
Hardy knew Pop, formerly the TV Guide channel.
“I followed Paragon Pro Wrestling out of Vegas on [Pop],” Hardy said.
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Paragon Pro Wrestling with Wes Brisco, Tyshaun Prince, Jessy Sorenson, Alex Chamberlain, Gangrel, Darin Corbin and more aired on Pop from July to November.
Hardy continued: “I try to be a student of the game. I try to keep up with everything -- all wrestling across the board. I want to know what the competition is doing, what the up-n-comers are doing. So I was actually familiar with [Pop].”
After ending its time with Destination America, TNA President Dixie Carter once again saved the company domestically by luring Pop, a network with a bigger audience reach.
“[The deal] means a lot to me because TNA is going to continue to have a home in America,” Hardy said. “We would have been OK, in theory, if we would have just had our overseas programming, but if you’re an American brand, you need to have American television.
“So it was a big deal, and it’s important, and I really think the Pop TV people understand and have a good grasp of what it takes to make professional wrestling successful on their network -- much better than the Destination America people did.
“I think Destination America just thought, ‘Wrestling is a very popular sport/entertainment type industry. We can put it on our network, and viewers are going to flock over and watch the program, and it’s gonna make money.’
“That’s not it. There’s a lot more to it than that. It entails much more, and I think the Pop TV people have a good grasp of what it entails, and I think they’re really gonna stand behind Impact Wrestling, the performers and management. I think we’re going to work together, and it’s going to be a great group effort to make this successful.”
Pop TV already began that effort by airing “Best of Impact Wrestling 2015,” leading to its debut of Impact Wrestling on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
“One of the most important things Impact Wrestling needs to do to evolve -- or for that matter any wrestling promotion -- is you have to take into consideration not just the casual fans but also the smart fans. There’s so much information accessible to everyone now because the Internet is so powerful; social media is so powerful. You have to play off both of those. You have to cater to two different fan bases.”
He noted: “You need original ideas. You don’t need rehashed ideas. You don’t need to do the same thing in a different capacity over and over again, because wrestling needs something fresh, something original, something different. Me, personally, that’s the direction I want to take. I’m certainly going to do my damnedest to get some new original content and cross over some unchartered waters that’s never been touched before.”
Hardy expanded further on the subject.
“I think it should be a challenge to each of us -- no matter what your title is, whether you’re the head of talent relations, a creative writer or a performer -- to do something new, to do something different that’s never been seen before. I think that’s what sparks major interest that brings a boom to your product. Obviously, the whole Stone Cold Steve Austin [persona], when he was the anti-hero, had never been done like that before. It brought a huge boost to the business and the industry. The nWo, when [Hulk] Hogan was a bad guy for the first time, was a big deal. Even when Hogan started with the rock-n-wrestling era. You need to be creative. You need to be different. Think outside the box.
“It’s tricky now because it seems like everything has been done, but it still hasn’t. So as artists and as creators, we have to challenge ourselves to be even more creative now.”
The Internet and social media make it an even greater challenge.
“If you go on YouTube, you can pretty much watch any kind of wrestling from any era,” Hardy said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible.
“As a performer, it helps us because fans are even able to go back and watch the past. If you’re a new fan and all you know is Matt Hardy is the guy who’s in a heated rivalry with EC3 on Impact Wrestling, they can look back and learn all about the Hardy Boyz and Team Xtreme, and they can see Jeff and I doing the first-ever TLC matches, and they can know our history. They can know Matt Hardy had this feud with Edge; Matt Hardy had this feud with MVP. Then they can look past that, and they can see older things. That makes it a little trickier from a creative standpoint to come up with new ideas, because it seems like so many things are rekindled.
“I’ll be honest. On WWE programming, I really feel like the bad guy Authority figures have been overdone to death. My goal in 2016 is to do something that’s new, do something that’s fresh, do something that hasn’t been done before.”
Hardy, 41, did something different in 2015. He not only won the TNA world title on Oct. 4 at Bound for Glory in his home state North Carolina, but he also became a dad.
“When I won the title, my newborn child [Maxel] was there, and my beautiful wife [Rebecca Reby Sky Reyes] was there to celebrate with me,” he said. “What I do now, I do for my family, and that’s certainly going to be a big part of my motivation going forward in 2016.”
What’s it like being a dad?
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s truly amazing. You really can’t understand how amazing it is, until you actually experience it. Once you have a small child who depends on you for every little thing. You’re responsible for him. It’s a huge responsibility. For me, it makes me into a more responsible person. A stricter schedule...it makes me better, makes me want to be better.”
Family man, Hardy is also a solid company man, interested in the present and future of TNA.
“Personally, I try to be very hands-on now, and it’s really important to me to try to give back,” he said. “I was constantly on the phone with my superiors, my bosses, and I had a pretty good idea what was going on [with the TV deal process].
“I didn’t know exact details, but I was extremely confident they were going to land back on TV.”
He added: “It’s good, and it’s also important, because the wrestlers need Impact Wrestling to be successful. The fans need Impact Wrestling to be successful. They need to thrive. They need to roll. It’s important to keep the industry healthy right now.”
Thanks to Carter, TNA enters its 16th year, quite an accomplishment for any pro wrestling company.
“I like Dixie Carter as a person a lot. I think she’s great,” Hardy said. “Every step of the way from when my wife was pregnant to when my son, Maxel, was born, she was so supportive and always checking in, text, calls. She’s very accessible and very sincere as a person.
“As a business person, that’s different. I haven’t dealt with her on that level as much. I think she has a lot of drive to be great, and she’s trying to put all the right pieces in the right places to get the correct formula to make TNA successful. We have a good locker room. We have management and creative who are open to ideas and are listening to feedback from the guys. I think we can make a good run at this thing.”
Hardy is thinking future, too.
“I’m probably trying to work behind the scenes more than I probably should be,” Hardy chuckled. “Every time I get an opportunity, and I have an idea, I’ll put in a call to [TNA Executive Vice President of Television Production/Director of Talent Relations] John Gaburick or to the writers or creative, and I’ll give my input on it.
“My good friend Shane Helms is an agent/producer, and he’s in on the creative meetings, and we have a lot of interaction week to week. There are a lot of new things and a lot of great ideas we have that we put on the list to try and make [an impact] on Impact Wrestling this year. I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to be beneficial to the roster, to the programming and most importantly to the fans. The more I can be behind the scenes the better.”
- Social media
““I truly enjoy it.”
He continued: “When it comes to social media, it’s hard to get to me, because I have few insecurities. I have weaknesses and flaws. I know what they are, and I’m comfortable with them. I do what I can do to make them better, but I’m truly comfortable in my own skin.”
He added: “I really enjoy getting a reaction out of people who are haters. They’re going to dislike Matt Hardy either A) because of some event that has taken place in my personal life or B) because I made my name in WWE and now I’m in TNA or C) just because they don’t like the way I carry myself on Twitter.
“When it’s all said and done, Twitter is just words, and it’s simply entertainment, and I love to treat someone who is like a hater or coming at me as a troll, I love to treat them like a keyboard and push their buttons and almost be a puppeteer and turn them into my puppet. I really enjoy that. I almost find it euphoric in some ways.”
“I have learned a lot about myself as time has gone on,” Hardy said. “I come from a very small town [Cameron] in the middle of North Carolina with a population of less than 300 people. I wasn’t the most educated or the most emotional. Through good times and bad, I’ve learned so much. Going through those tough experiences really truly introduces you to who you are, and it makes you learn to have resolve. Everything, whether it’s good or bad, I use it as a learning tool. I really feel comfortable with life, who I am. I know who I am. I totally understand that.
“Every day I get up, through my good experiences and bad, and I just enjoy life to the maximum. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do in life, so it’s been a great ride.”
- TNA Impact Wrestling on Pop
TNA Impact Wrestling announced the semifinals and finals of the World Title Series, a tournament-style competition to crown a new undisputed World Champion, will occur during the live debut of Impact Wrestling at 9 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday, Jan. 5 on Pop TV.
Watch a video package about the World Title Series semifinals and finals.
Thirty-two competitors entered the World Title Series. After weeks of group round and single elimination round matches, four Stars, each of whom has previously held the World Championship, will compete to regain the gold.
The semifinals, which will kick-off the Jan. 5 live premiere, will feature Matt Hardy against Eric Young, and Lashley squaring off against Ethan Carter III (EC3). The winner of each match will compete in the main event, where one man will become the undisputed World Champion of Impact Wrestling.
“If you look at the final four guys, I think it’s a really great combination of different talent from different places. You have me who’s been doing this 23 years and received the validation of being the man recognized as a global promotion’s world champion at Bouind for Glory and then having it stripped away from me due to the actions of EC3 getting a lawyer and an injunction.
“I think EC3 is one of the best characters to come down the pike in quite some time, and I think he will probably go down as being the greatest TNA homegrown talent there’s ever been, and there’s a lot of great guys on that list.
“Bobby Lashley is a guy who is legitimate. He’s another version of Brock Lesnar. He’s not quite as flamboyant or flashy as Brock Lesnar, but he is the real deal, He’s as dangerous as they come. He’s also an amazing athlete and an amazing professional wrestler.
“EY, Eric Young, in my opinion I think he’s the best mic guy in the business currently. I have a ton of respect for him. He’s been there since day one, when they opened the doors, and that’s just the very top of the iceberg.
“You have the Wolves, which is a great tag team. You have Bobby Roode. X-Division guys. There’s a ton of talent from top to bottom. Not only from a talent perspective but from an attitude perspective it’s a great locker.”
Thousands of fans from around the world have made their picks of who will become the next Champion by completing a bracket in the World Title Series Bracket Brawl Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to a future Impact Wrestling television event.
Tune into Pop at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
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- TNA tickets on sale
Following the announcement of IMPACT WRESTLING moving to Pop beginning in 2016, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling will return to the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa. for five action-packed nights of television events, beginning with the live broadcast debut of IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
The tapings continue Wednesday, Jan. 6 and Thursday, Jan. 7 with Friday, Jan. 8, and Saturday, Jan. 9 featuring One Night Only pay-per-views and international television shows.
Tickets, which start at $10 (no additional fees), are on sale and can be purchased at sandseventcenter.com, the Event Center box office, ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 800-745-3000.
A limited number of VIP packages, which include a front-row ringside seat and special meet-n-greet session with photo and autograph opportunities, are available for $75 at shoptna.com.
IMPACT WRESTLING features some of the world’s top athletes, including Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, Jeff and Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Ethan Carter III, Drew Galloway, Bobby Roode, Gail Kim and the lovely and lethal TNA Knockouts, and the high-flying risk-taking X-Division including Tigre Uno.
For up-to-date information, go to
at Sands Bethlehem Event Center
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8
7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9
- About Pop
Fans don’t sit at the outskirts of pop culture making snarky comments. They live right smack in the middle of it, sharing, creating, and connecting their passions with others. At Pop, fans finally have a destination that celebrates the fun of being a fan. Fans aren’t even fans anymore — they’re gladiators, tributes, human beings and blockheads.
Seen in more than 80 million homes, Pop gives fans a dedicated channel that loves being a fan as much as they do. A channel that respects talent over celebrity. A channel filled with optimism, passion, humor, and excitement. A channel that understands the fun doesn’t stop when the credits roll… it’s really just the beginning.
Pop is a joint venture of CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF). The partnership combines CBS’s programming, production and marketing assets with Lionsgate’s resources in motion pictures, television and digitally delivered content.
Pop’s ownership structure is comprised of the company with the #1 broadcast network and many of the top first-run syndication series (“Entertainment Tonight,” “The Insider”) and the studio that produces and distributes the blockbuster “Hunger Games,” “Twilight” and “Divergent” franchises and produces such award-winning TV series as “Mad Men” and “Orange is the New Black.”
- About TNA
TNA Entertainment, LLC, is a privately held sports entertainment company represented by United Talent Agency and based in Nashville, Tenn., specializing in television properties, events, products, merchandise and music, as well as the management and promotion of professional wrestlers.
The roster features such greats as Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, EC3, Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode, Mr. Anderson, Drew Galloway, the high-flying X-Division and the lovely and lethal Knockouts, through its highly successful flagship IMPACT WRESTLING weekly broadcast, which will begin airing in 2016 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Pop network.
The product is the world’s most innovative experience in professional wrestling and is broadcast in more than 120 countries.
For information, visit www.IMPACTWRESTLING.com or follow @IMPACTWRESTLING and @TNADixie on twitter.
- Pro Wrestling On The Web
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