When Matt Hardy returned to TNA Impact Wrestling in the summer, he entered with an open mind.
The former WWE superstar reunited with his brother, Jeff, working a series of critically acclaimed matches with Team 3D and the Wolves. The elder Hardy enjoyed the experience, doing some of his best work in recent memory. A handshake deal with TNA Executive Vice President John Gaburick turned into a contract signing that benefited both parties.
“I am at a point in my life where I’ve been the most well-balanced than I’ve ever been, from a personal and professional perspective,” Hardy said, days before he and Jeff challenge for tag team gold 9 p.m. EST Friday, April 17 on TNA Impact Wrestling on Destination America.
“I think TNA slowly altered and evolved their contracts a little bit, especially since they have downsized initially coming from Spike TV. Now they are on Destination America, which is awesome. They are totally centered and focused on building the Impact Wrestling brand. Basically, we got to a point where we worked it out between myself and Impact Wrestling where I would do their television, four days a month as far as tapings and primary big shows. They pay me so much to have me block out those dates on my calendar. I don’t work for any rival televised wrestling competition, but any other date and independent promotion, any reality show, commercial and anything else I do is fine. My shop, website and everything else I am open to do. I truly am what a professional wrestling independent contractor should be.”
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Along with the freedom, Hardy is genuinely pleased with how he is treated by TNA and how accommodating they have been. He says he is committed to helping the company develop their brand and help build a place where young and up-and-coming talents can go to work.
“The wrestling business needs other areas besides WWE to grow and get big and get television exposure,” Hardy said. “There needs to be other places to give other guys an opportunity to live their dreams just like I did when I was a young man. So to come in and be a part of this movement when it is so positive is absolutely phenomenal for me.”
Despite TNA putting on consistently solid shows, the negativity remains on social media with rumors and news floating around. Hardy takes pride in some ways pushing people’s buttons, especially if they are haters or detractors. An example came this week when the veteran posted a photo of his recent paychecks on Twitter in the midst of reports performers on the roster weren’t being paid on time.
“It’s a positive and a negative when it comes to the strength of the internet,” Hardy said. “People have so much information that is accessible to them. They can come to learn to respect the individuals behind the wrestlers in some ways, but they also hear things that aren’t necessary true. Some people don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. Me, I’m not afraid to play with these people on Twitter or get in their heads. Even when I did that with the checks I‘ve had. I never had an issue with TNA paying me.
“When I was under contact or didn’t have a contract, I’ve been paid on time. Maybe someone was paid late or something, but I’ve never had any issues personally. I think people can get a little thread of a story. They take a small grain of sand and turn it into a mountain. I love how things fire them up and gets them talking. I will stand up and say TNA has been great to me. They’ve paid me on time. It’ hasn’t been an issue.”
The North Carolinian has learned from his mistakes when it comes to getting emotional and being reckless on social media. He tells young people if they feel upset, it’s not the best time to respond online.
“I have learned through trial and error,” Hardy said. “I feel I’m very good at it now. When I started doing MySpace and Twitter and everything even back in WWE, I feel like there was a little bit of a judgment or stain. I was criticized for being the online guy. Now I’m praised for it in many ways. I realize and saw early on that this would help promote companies, individuals and stories and matches. That’s pretty satisfying to me that I was right with my initial thoughts.”
A wiser Hardy has so much knowledge to pass on to his son when he arrives. He and his wife Rebecca (Reby Sky) are expecting their first child in June.
“I think fatherhood just motivates me to be a better person because I know I’m going to have a child that is going to be a human being that I created along with my beautiful wife,” he said. “I know they are going to love me unconditional. It also helps me be more discipline in many ways because it gives me another reason to work hard and follow my new training plan now that I’m back on TV on a regular basis. It carries over to my diet. I eat a lot stricter and cleaner, especially as I get older. This all inspires me to be the best father I can be. It’s such a positive across the board.”
Hardy says they are going to play it by ear when it comes to if Reby will continue wrestling.
“She has a very motherly instinct,” he said. “She always wanted to have children. We are both excited. This is something we planned and wanted. Everything went perfect as far as planning went and getting married and then having a family. After we have our boy we are going to have him for the first six to eight months, she is strictly going to be a mom….She enjoys wrestling, but I don’t think she loves it like I do. If she still wants to do it, I would support her. That would be her decision to make at that time.”
As he awaits the new addition to his family, Hardy is proud of his TNA family and the strides they continue to make.
“The locker room is great, but also the writing staff and the way they handle talent relations,’ he said. “…From Gaburick to the writers Dave Lagana and Matt Conway to President Dixie Carter herself, they have just been so accommodating. They really give you a feel that, along with being your bosses, they are these coaches on a team effort. They want you to do well. They don’t pretend to know it all. They ask for input. That’s something you don’t’ get in a lot of places.”
The competitor also likes coming to work because it means he gets to test his abilities against diverse talent and young guns. Many of these athletes are also in the chase for the vacant tag team gold on Impact Wrestling.
“EC3 and Bram were in developmental at WWE for a while and never got utilized,” Hardy said. “How do you miss the boat on those guys, both are incredible. They are in this tournament. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries are two other guys I’m a fan of. Those guys are extremely talented. Then you have Rockstar Spud, who is teaming up with Mr. Anderson. You have Khoya with James Storm. It’s nice to see guys get that opportunity. You have to put newer guys in that position where they either succeed or fail. It helps them grow regardless. You have to give talent those chances.
“That is what wrestling is all about, continually building guys. I think that is why I’m very beneficial to Impact Wrestling is that I can work with someone and make them look better, but still keep myself at the same level I’m at. I think that is the secret and trick to having longevity in this industry. TNA has a great working vibe in the locker room and the office right now.”
The Hardy Boys are looking to add another accolade and tag team title to their impressive resume. The two have grown up inside and outside the ring. After more than 20 years, Hardy says they are at a point where they are not only looking to showcase their own abilities, but give back. He hopes to continue to see new and old faces show up on the show, adding a bit of unpredictability.
“I think there is a great amount of extremely talented wrestlers across the United States that aren’t under contract,” Hardy said. “Guys that can come in and work, even on a part-time basis, I think smarter fans would really fans be excited about seeing some of their favorite wrestlers come and interact with the Hardy Boys or EC3 or Bobby Roode or Austin Aries…You know when you watch WWE Raw you are going to see the same amount of talent on that show. I’m still a big advocate of doing some work agreement with Ring of Honor or Lucha Underground. I think surprise is really important to the wrestling fan in 2015. You just have to try different things and keep fans guessing, which I think is a hard thing to do when you produce a new television show every week.”
The TNA representative knows some fans haven’t watched the product before or have felt burned by the company’s past decisions and direction. However, Hardy asks these groups to give the company a chance to entertain you.
“I really think with the new management, new structure, new locker room in some ways, I really think they are putting on the best programming regularly each week. There is some great stuff out there, and I’m not going to take away from other promotions. Impact Wrestling had a stain on it for a while or a bad rap. I really think since June or July the shows have been amazing. I f you haven’t seen TNA Impact Wrestling in a while watch, DVR it, check us out. Give us a few weeks, and I promise you they are doing some of the best programming that any wrestling promotion is doing right now. If you watch, you will enjoy it.”
- Tag team gold hangs in the balance as teams such as the Hardy Boys compete in a series of matches leading to the Ultimate X finals when TNA Impact Wrestling airs 9 p.m. EST Friday, April 17 on Destination America.
- Follow Matt Hardy on Twitter @MattHardyBrand
- Follow Impact Wrestling on Twitter @ImpactWrestling
Visit www.ImpactWrestling.Com for details on everything TNA, including their upcoming free Impact Wrestling tapings May 8-11 at Universal Studios Orlando.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN
- Pro Wrestling On The Web