Extreme Spring

The word "extreme" has many meanings. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy took on the name "Team Extreme" mostly because they represent the "drastic and severe" aspect of word -- in the moves they do, the way the dress and the way they carry themselves.
But since WrestleMania X-Seven, the careers of the Hardy Boyz have taken off in an extreme fashion -- meaning "very great and intense." "It has happened so fast," Matt said, "it really hasn't had a chance to sink in." By "it," Matt could be referring to any number of achievements for the Hardy Boyz over the last few weeks. It may have seemed impossible after their Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at WrestleMania X-Seven for the stock of Matt and Jeff to rise any more than it already had. But after laying low for a week -- recovering from the bumps and bruises of TLC -- the Boyz teamed up with Lita to take on Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley on the April 9 edition of RAW IS WAR.
That night, during a backstage segment, Jeff declared to his teammates that Team Extreme had a phenomenal opportunity and that they should take advantage of it. They did. Sure, they got brutalized by the Two-Man Power Trip, but business continued to pick up on subsequent episodes of RAW and SmackDown!
In fact, on the very next episode of SmackDown!, Jeff pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Federation history, pinning Triple H to become the youngest Intercontinental Champion ever, at 23. Perhaps significantly, the record had previously been held by The Rock.
"It's a tremendous feeling to be in the ring with somebody like Triple H," Jeff said. "It's just awesome to go out there with someone of his status and be able to compete and entertain these crowds."
Of course, Triple H regained the title on RAW the following Monday, an occurence that was much debated on the Internet, to say the least. For his part, Jeff was ecstatic to hold the Intercontinental Title, even for just a few days.
"Even if I only had it for an hour," he said, "just the fact of being the Intercontinental Champion was tremendous."
On the same episode of RAW, Austin was interviewed backstage and was attacked from behind -- not by Undertaker, Kane, Triple H or The Rock, but by Matt Hardy. According to both Matt and Jeff, watching on the monitor and seeing Austin rant to Triple H that he just got his ass whipped by Matt Hardy is something they won't soon forget.
The following week, the Hardy Boyz got a rare opportunity to speak on the microphone in front of several thousand fans live on RAW -- and they were "cutting a promo" on Austin and Triple H, no less.
"We've totally been waiting for that," Jeff said. "Hopefully that was the beginning of more. The only way to learn it and get used to it is to do it." On that week's SmackDown!, Matt won a singles title of his own, the European Championship. At 26, Matt is the second youngest European Champion, behind only X-Pac. Out of all the diverse comments that fans e-mailed to WWF.com about Team Extreme, particularly after Jeff lost the title back to Triple H, not one fan said that they weren't ready for the spotlight. The seed has been planted that they can hang with the big dogs.
Many fans, however -- and particularly those of the teen-age girl variety -- are very concerned that with Matt and Jeff both winning singles titles, the end of Team Extreme could be imminent.
"We're not going anywhere," Jeff said. "We're getting along just as good as we ever have. You've seen some singles work among the three of us (including Lita). It's good. It doesn't mean we're breaking up. We're still as strong as we've ever been. We don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon."
Adds Matt, "I'm glad fans feel like that. The Hardy Boyz as a tag team still have something left to prove."
For example, the Hardys have never had a lengthy reign as Tag Team Champions. While they're four-time titleholders, they've held the belts for a total of less than three months.
Ironically, if Matt ends up keeping the European Title for just a week after Judgment Day, he'll have the longest reign as champion for the Boyz, together or separate. The Hardy Boyz had also never successfully defended a title of anykind at a Pay-Per-View until Matt kept the European Title at Backlash.
"It's a bit of a legitimate run," Matt said. "It looks like I might get a legitimate run." The Hardy Boyz won't be together forever. "I'd love to be World Wrestling Federation Champion," says Matt.
Nobody -- not the fans, not even the Hardy Boyz -- knows what happens from here. Do they continue their feud with Austin and Triple H? Do they go after the Tag Team Titles? But no one can deny that things have warmed up for the Hardy Boyz in the spring of 2001. "It's been a fun ride," Matt said. "Let's see where it can lead to."