17 April 2015

TNAMecca Exclusive: Q&A with Matt Hardy

Tomorrow night on a special episode of Impact, Tag Team Gold, eight teams will compete for the chance to become the new TNA tag team champions. One of those teams are the Hardys, and although they've held many championships in their career, the TNA tag team championship is not one of them. Can the Hardys outlast seven other teams to become the TNA tag team champions for the first time? Well, let's hear from Matt Hardy, who has taken the time to answer some questions for us. Our exchange is below:

First of all, Matt, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us. I know our readers truly appreciate it. And also, on behalf of everyone at TNAMecca, I'd like to congratulate the dad-to-be. We're so happy for you and Reby. Let's begin with your return to TNA last Summer. Unfortunately, you didn't leave the company under the best of circumstances in 2011. How eager were you to return and to do so in a much more positive frame of mind? 

"Thank you! It was extremely exciting to return, especially to team with my brother again and show the world that we were still great as a tag team. In 2011, I needed to take some time away, I had to. I needed time to heal my body, mind and soul after busting my ass for 14 years straight as a full time pro wrestler. I've really learned how to pace myself as I've gotten older, especially from the perspective of optimizing my physical health. That's one of the main reasons that Impact Wrestling is such a great fit for me. My schedule with TNA allows to me to recuperate enough so that I can continue to perform at the level that I expect of myself and that the 2015 wrestling fans expect of me. It's a great time for me to be part of TNA. I know I have lots to contribute to the TNA brand, especially when Jeff & I ultimately become TNA World Tag Team Champions."

Since your return, you reunited with your brother Jeff and competed in a series of tag team matches against the Wolves and Team 3D that culminated with what many have called the best match of 2014, Full Metal Mayhem. Firstly, share with us how it felt working with Jeff again. And secondly, that tag title series, tell us a little about that experience. 

"Considering Jeff & I have been doing this together for 23 years, it's more magical than ever when we team now. Teaming with my brother just feels right, it's natural. I am very proud of the tag team series, it was such a pleasure to work with the talented Wolves, as well as our longtime rivals, Team 3D. It was nice to have 3 excellent teams, plenty of time and creative control to make this series special. I honestly believe that the Full Metal Mayhem match we had stands up to any of the old TLC matches of ours."  

We saw a lot of crazy spots during that tag title series. I'm curious, what is the process behind planning these spots, and do you ever feel pressured by TNA or the fans to perform these high risk maneuvers? 

"There's always a pressure to please the fans...always. That's what makes good wrestlers GREAT WRESTLERS. Considering we've raised the bar so high in similar matches in the past, there's always expectations during a Matt & Jeff Hardy tag match. Jeff is a cyborg-like anomaly, he still does maneuvers like he's 20 years old. Me, on the other hand, am very calculated about the risks I take. I'm at a point in my career where I want to be exciting, but I also want longevity."

Unfortunately, you and your brother fell short of capturing the tag titles then but this week you have an enormous opportunity to finally become the TNA tag team champions in Tag Team Gold. Could you tell us who your opponents are in your qualifying match? And how exciting is it for the Hardys to potentially add another championship to your list of achievements in this business? 

"Our opponents in our first round qualifying match are James Storm & Khoya. I'm sure everyone is familiar with our history against the Revolution, as James Storm attempted to end both of our careers. We have two reasons to be motivated to win this match: #HardysRevenge and going into the Ultimate X to compete for the TNA World Tag Team Titles. The thought of adding another championship to our title history is very cool. At this stage in the game, being considered the greatest tag team in the world means a lot to myself and my brother. We're at a point right now where we feel like we're cementing our legacy as one of the greatest tag teams of all time and becoming the TNA World Tag Team Champions would definitely help that cause."

There are some impressive teams in Tag Team Gold. Which team(s) do you feel present the toughest competition? 

"The team that really stands out & gets my attention is The Dirty Heels; the pairing of Austin Aries & Bobby Roode. These guys have teamed together, have great chemistry together and are very dangerous as singles competitors. They're both great wrestlers on their own, but when they get together it seems like they give one another a certain confidence that makes them even more successful than they are in singles matches."

From what I understand, each tag team that wins their qualifying match will advance to compete in the finals, which is an Ultimate X match, and it all takes place in one night. Let's talk about Ultimate X. Some fans feel that Ultimate X has always been an X Division staple and shouldn't be used for other divisions, simply because the rules are often changed to accommodate the talents in the ring. For example, a ladder was brought into the ring for Ultimate X at Bound for Glory 2013 in order to retrieve the title belt. How do you feel about that? Should Ultimate X remain an X Division staple? And should props such as ladders be permitted? 

"That's a great question. When I initially learned that to win the titles it would be in an Ultimate X match, the first thing that went through my mind was, 'Isn't this an X Division exclusive match?' My advice to TNA management is this: You need to decide what the Ultimate X match is; either strictly an X Division match which features X Division wrestlers for the X Division title, or The Ultimate X Match is a TNA brand match that can feature anyone on the roster. Regardless of what TNA management decides, they need to etch the premise of the Ultimate X match in stone & stick with it."

Let's move on to TNA and the television product. You said in an interview, I believe, about a year ago that wrestling fans are much more informed and sophisticated than they were in the past and that wrestling promotions will have to adjust creatively. Do you feel that TNA caters to those fans enough with their nuanced and complex storytelling or do you think they need to go even further? 

"I think TNA is moving in the right direction. I think they're doing a good job of telling strong stories that allow for worthy payoffs in the ring, in the form of a great wrestling match. One thing I think TNA needs to remember when dealing with these fans is that often the shows are taped in advance & when that is the case, you don't want to 'spoil' your own product. You have to be careful how you word things, as not to insult your fans."

In another interview, again some time late last year, you said that TNA might have a stigma problem which is why some wrestling fans won't give the product a chance. Do you still feel the same or do you sense the tides are changing? Do you feel like wrestling fans are more and more coming around lately? 

"I absolutely feel the tides are changing. I think TNA has been on the right track since last June, as they've been consistently producing great weekly television. I think as long as this trend continues and TNA continues to think outside of the box, the stigma will be reversed and fans will have confidence that every Impact Wrestling episode that they tune into is going to be great."

I'd love to hear your opinion on the current TNA Tag Team Division. How do you feel it stacks up? And how would you improve it? 

"I think the current TNA Tag Team Division is strong; they have a stout roster of tag teams. I think it would be nice if there were 2 or 3 more sets of exclusive tag teams in the division, meaning strictly tag team guys. I think The Wolves are great, The Dirty Heels are awesome, James Storm has an interesting thing going with The Revolution and The Bromans are underrated."

I'm going to put you on the spot here...are the Wolves the best tag team in the world right now? 

"I think they're the greatest young tag team in the business right now...but, the greatest tag team in the world is Matt & Jeff Hardy, and there will be no questions about that after Friday night."

Speaking of tag teams, I think I speak for many fans when I say that I'd love to see the Hardys and the Young Bucks face off inside a TNA ring. Is there any chance of it happening? 

"If it were up to me, it would be #1 on my list of priorities. I have the utmost respect for The Young Bucks and would love nothing more than to see them come to TNA and be utilized correctly. Selfishly speaking, I would love to see Hardys/Young Bucks in a Best of 7. MONEY $$$"

And lastly, before I let you go...some of our readers would like to know if Reby has any plans, after giving birth, to return to the ring? And if so, is it possible that we could eventually see her in TNA? 

"First and foremost, Reby's priority is to be the best mother possible to our son. I do know that Reby enjoys wrestling and she had a blast doing TNA's One Night Only (Knockouts Knockdown) PPV last May. I would certainly think it's a possibility if everything goes well at home and we have a pretty good grip on our family life. I imagine that you could see Reby on a TNA television screen again one day in the future."

Matt, thank you so much for doing this. We really appreciate it.

If you haven't already, you can follow Matt Hardy on Twitter at @MATTHARDYBRAND. Also, make sure to tune in to Impact on Destination America tomorrow night at 9/8c for the much-anticipated Tag team Tournament, in which new tag team champions will be crowned. It promises to be a fun night so make sure you set your DVR if you can not tune in.

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