Jeff Hardy is one of the most recognizable faces in wrestling and is known for his daredevil style that has attracted fans all over the world. Jeff has won numerous tag team and singles titles but has also had to battle his demons.
The Charismatic Enigma started wrestling in his backyard with older brother Matt and they dreamt of becoming world champions. Matt and Jeff known simply as the Hardy Boyz would go onto become one of the greatest tag teams; competing in the first TLC matches along with Edge & Christian and the Dudley Boys and becoming seven-time tag team champions.
The 35-year-old from Cameron, North Carolina would then go on to enjoy a successful singles career winning numerous titles including a six-time world champion.
We caught up with Jeff to talk about battling his demons, the TLC matches, becoming a six-time world champion at last years Bound for Glory PPV, working with CM Punk and much more.
How did you and Matt first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
We actually got a trampoline at Christmas one year, and we started with a garden hose around the trampoline as the ring ropes and started putting on our own shows. That then led to us getting a real ring and taking our shows to fairgrounds, we met a guy who went by the name of Italian Stallion and he took us to WWF where we were nobodies for about four years before we signed a developmental deal and the rest is history.
Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you to get into the sport when you were growing up?
More than anybody I would have to say Sting and Ultimate Warrior combined with Sting’s charisma and the Ultimate Warrior’s insanity, those two combined just pretty much inspired me back in the day to paint my face and act strange, so I would have to put down a lot of what you see in Jeff Hardy today down to those two.
What has it been like getting the chance to work with Sting during your spells in TNA?
It has been awesome, working with Sting was a dream come true, there were a few guys that I always wanted to work with Sting was one of the names that I would always mention, so it was a real pleasure to step inside the ring with him and hopefully you will see the pair of us in the ring together again at some stage.
Along with Matt, you started your own wrestling promotion OMEGA, what was that whole experience like?
OMEGA was a great part of our history, Matt pretty much ran it. I wrestled as two characters, my Jeff Hardy character which was a good guy role and Willow The Wisp which was my bad guy character.
I think Matt is actually working on a documentary about things that went on in OMEGA and spotlighting the people who succeed from the promotion, it was a really special time.
When you signed for the WWE, your were trained by Dory Funk along with the likes of Kurt Angle and Christian, what was it like coming through with guys like that?
That is where we learned more than we ever had previously, Kurt was just starting and he learned so fast, I’ve never seen anybody pick it up as fast as he did. Edge and Christian had been there prior to Matt and myself but those weeks were brutal, it was like boot-camp. We had to lift weights, we had to do tons of cardio, taking bump after bump, wrestled so much, cutting promos, it was really aggressive but we learned so much. Matt and I spent two weeks there before they sent us to our first show Sunday Night Heat.
What was it like when you made your WWE debut as the Hardy Boyz?
There were three or four years when we were no bodies, just being used for guys to beat us, and my thinking was I’m going to do something so somebody up there remembers me and that first television show with Matt and I as a main tag team was the pay-off. It was a huge moment for me, it was wow we’ve succeeded, now we’ve got this opportunity we have to make the best of it.
From there it led to a great era of tag team wrestling with ourselves but also the Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian and that was very memorable.
You were involved in a great era of tag team wrestling along with the likes of Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boys, what was it like to work with those guys and to be involved in those great TLC matches?
They are legendary matches, I had a ladder match against Austin Aries at one of our recent PPV’s Turning Point which was huge. But before going into that match I actually watched some of those TLC matches and the ladder matches that I’ve had with The Undertaker, Edge and CM Punk.
Whilst watching them back I was just thinking, “oh my god these are so memorable,” we have done so much it is kind of hard to stay creative, fresh and new.
But anytime I go back and watch those TLC matches I always think how magical they were to be a part of and they always will be, fans will talk about those matches for decades to come.
You are known for your daredevil approach and always coming up with new and exciting ways to entertain the crowd, how long do you spend coming up with new ideas for moves and matches?
It’s wild, when I have time if I can’t sleep or I’m on a long flight or if I’m just at home and in that thought process, it’s crazy how much time I will spend just trying to figure out is this possible, do I have something here with this idea. It’s amazing if you added altogether over the last 10 or 15 years I’ve thought about ladder matches and possibilities it would probably end up being a year’s thought I imagine.
Has anyone approached with an idea for a certain high risk move that you have had to say no to doing because you deemed it too dangerous?
There have been a few things that some people think are possible and they’ll ask me and I will just feel it is completely dangerous, then again and it might be now more than any time ever before in my life if there is something that I’m really uncomfortable with I won’t even try it.
What do make of the current state of tag team wrestling in both WWE and TNA?
Personally I have really enjoyed watching Daniels and Kazarian as a tag team here in TNA and they are very entertaining. As far as the WWE goes I’ve not been watching a lot of their stuff so I can’t really comment on the state of their tag team division.
I do think the tag team divisions in both companies has taken a bit of a back seat recently but I feel the time will come where it does become crazy exciting again but I guess you just need a few new teams to spark and make it their own.
The match when people realised you could make it as a singles competitor was the match on Raw in 2002 against The Undertaker, what was it like working that match with The Undertaker?
It was just unbelievable, he is such a legend, star, role-model and was a massive influence on my career. To be able to go into a main event on Raw, tear the house down and tell such a good story, it really did a lot for me and I’ve lived off taking an ass-whooping and coming back all the time to defy the odds and that really stood out that night because I just kept standing up and I eventually earned his respect.
I watched that match the other week and I was going ‘oh my god, that’s crazy special.’
When you returned for your second spell in the WWE, you became a singles main eventer, and won three World Championships, what was it like the second time round for you in the WWE?
It was great, three years of a lot of shows and a lot of wrestling and during that spell it was my first time becoming Heavyweight Champion which was another dream come true for me. That is the thing every youngster wants to eventually achieve and to be able to have done that is just amazing.
I’ve been so lucky to have been in the ring with guys like The Undertaker and Sting so I am just thankful for my life.
During that time you were feuding with CM Punk, what are your thoughts on Punk and his title run in WWE?
It was great working with CM Punk, we have different beliefs in terms of our outlook on life but he is so talented it’s crazy, we had many great matches together and it was a pleasure to work with him.
Your now back in your second spell with TNA and after an up and down year for yourself, what did it mean for to you to capture the World Championship at Bound for Glory?
That night in Phoenix was glorious for me because after my dark period of life and the ups and downs, it all came down to that night and I was chasing it for over a year. It was such an unusual atmosphere that night in Phoenix, Arizona, they booed the hell out of me but it was so exciting and to win was that big pay-off I had been waiting for, I took full advantage of my one more shot.
I had a new song that night, it was just another magical night again for me. My daughter was there and the coolest thing about that night other than a fantastic match was I came back with the World Title and my wife and my daughter were right there when I got backstage and the first thing my two-year-old daughter said me was, “daddy’s a champion,” and I didn’t even know she could say champion, that was so special to me. This by far is the most important World Title I’ve ever held.
TNA are heading over to the UK in January for the Road to Lockdown tour, what will it be like for you to come over to the UK as World Champion and what can fans expect from this TNA tour, with four episodes of Impact also being filmed?
I can’t wait, the fans in the UK always provide us with so much energy, especially with four tapings of Impact, it’s going to be crazy exciting. Hopefully I’ll still be the champion by the time I arrive and it is just going to be so memorable, fantastic and all of that good stuff.
I can’t wait to get back over to the UK, I missed out on the tour last year so I’m looking forward to my return. And the creatures of the night over in the UK can expect some special stuff with a cage match on each show.
What can we expect from Jeff Hardy in 2013?
Hopefully to remain the world champion for as long as I can, even before the start of 2012 I set a goal for myself just to have a tremendous year and it went well beyond my expectations. I’m setting another goal for myself for 2013 and that is at Bound for Glory I want to perform a song from my bands album live on the PPV and hopefully I can achieve that.
With TNA you have brought in your outside interests including your music and your art, is that something you enjoy?
Yeah I love it and that is one of the coolest things about my career here in TNA, that was the third year of a new song at Bound for Glory and my vision is to keep it going for as long as I’m here, if that’s six more years, that’s six more new themes. I really like that pattern because it is unique and different and I think it is a pattern we are going to continue to have.
Outside of the wrestling ring I have been in the studio with our guy here who is a great producer Del Oliver and he is producing my bands album right now which we are five songs into a 12 track album. I can’t wait for it to be released by the middle of 2013 hopefully.
Having worked for both Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter, how would you compare your two bosses in terms of their similarities and differences?
I love Vince McMahon, I don’t have anything bad to say about him, we get along, we have had our ups and downs but he was a great boss. With Dixie it is more about family, like my daughter actually knows her kids and it is much more family like here in TNA and that is kind of what I like.
Naturally the schedule is a lot more laid back so whenever I can have more time with my family that is crazy important. I think Dixie is a lot more personal whereas Vince is more professional.
As the world champion is there anyone you would love to have a match with?
I would love to feud with Rob Van Dam again, at least have a best two out of three or something like that because I love working with Rob and he is just an outstanding talent and hopefully that is just around the corner. It would also be great if we could have some sort of title versus title match as he is the current X-Division champion.
Tickets are available for TNA’s Road to Lockdown 2013 UK Tour and can be bought from GigsandTours.com / 0844 811 0051 or Ticketmaster.co.uk / 0844 826 2826. Full details of the UK and Ireland events are:
Monday January 21 Dublin National Stadium 0818 719 300
Wednesday January 23 Glasgow Braehead Arena 0844 499 9990
Thursday January 24 Nottingham Capital FM Arena 0844 412 4624
Friday January 25 Manchester Arena 0844 847 8000
Saturday January 26 London Wembley Arena 0844 815 0815
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