Interview with Matt Hardy

by Seth Mates

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Prior to the SummerSlam Pay-Per-View, had a chance to sit with Matt Hardy to talk about a myriad of subjects, including his European Title reign, the lovely Lita, and the recent bouts between Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam. You've been putting together a pretty impressive reign as European Champion.

Matt: I've held it since April 24. I just looked at the calendar, because I looked back in the wrestling almanac to check the date. Last week I beat Eddie Guerrero to have the third-longest reign ever, and if I hold the title past RAW tomorrow (which he did), on Wednesday I will break Triple H's record. If I can do that, I would be the second-longest reigning European Champion. The first was Davey Boy Smith, at seven months. I'll be at four months in another week. So I'm quite a ways from that. But I would take pride in being the longest-reigning American European Champion. (laughs) Have you had the chance to see Lita's new home video?

Matt: I thought it turned out terrific. It had a different feel to it, and I like how it was very fast-paced, and how it went through a lot of different things and had a lot of cool graphics. It really hit a lot of great bullet points. I really enjoyed it. Tell us a little about "Extreme" - the special-edition magazine devoted to the Hardy Boyz and Lita, which hits newsstands in early September.

Matt: We were really hands-on, from giving them photos, to writing, to putting it together, to editing it. I think they did a great job. I've almost read every bit of it; I'm still absorbing it. I feel really honored that the World Wrestling Federation has the confidence in myself, Jeff and Amy (Lita) to put out a special magazine with just the three of us. I think it's great. I've always thought the three of us have something to offer everybody. The kids look up to us because we're so young and because we're crazy and daring in the ring. The guys love Lita. The little girls look up to Lita as their hero. Even the older fans respect Jeff and I for the way we wrestle. Didn't the three of you do some writing for the magazine?

Matt: Sure. I'd love to write all the time; it's just a matter of finding the time to sit down and hammer something out. When I have a few moments, it's nice to just sit down and relax and not do anything. I would like to write more. It was fun to write for the magazine. Speaking of being short on time, tell me how the August travel schedule has been treating you. Matt: Wow. It's tough, to say the least. I haven't been home a full day in two and a half weeks. We had the Pillman Show in there, and then we had a couple of days off, and then we went on the live schedule. I don't go home until August 29. So I'm on the road for over three weeks straight. I brought pretty much the same amount of clothing; I'm just having to wash it here and there, cycle everything in and out. It's really rough when you travel so much and wrestle so much. It's nice to have a day just to sit back and unwind and not do anything, and it's tough to do that now. I think the most important thing is not to think about going home, because when you're on a four- or five-day loop, you think "only two more days." If you get in that mentality, you're screwed. You just have to take it one day at a time. So you're on the road for three weeks in a row, and you get home and open that front door - what's the first thing that goes through your head? Matt: Ugh. Time to start paying some bills. (laughs) You're always backed up. What do you think of the recent matches between Jeff and Rob Van Dam? Matt: I'm a big fan of both men. They've had a couple of sizzlers. They really work well together. They're both really flashy and really high-spotty; they're both sizzling type wrestlers. Tonight should be a hell of a ladder match. In fact, it was a year ago today that we were doing the TLC Match, which was definitely one of my favorite matches of my career. We were in there with Edge & Christian and the Dudleys, and we all built a name off one another. I hope Jeff and Rob go out and have a show-stealing match tonight. WWF. com: You've had the chance recently - both on television and at Federation live events - to work with Hurricane Helms, who you have known and trained with for years. What has that been like? Matt: It was fun. And I think last week did a lot for Hurricane on RAW, with the Green Lantern stuff. Last week when we worked together, you had to keep in mind that he had only been on RAW one time. The vignettes he did with Steve Austin with the Green Lantern, I think it really did a lot for him already, because I could tell the reaction this weekend was so much more responsive to him. The crowd was on fire the whole while. Last week they were good, but a little quiet just because they didn't know him as well - "Oh, it's just a WCW guy." It's been hard for all these guys, because when one guy comes in, you have time to build up and tell what he's all about. Here you have 25 guys coming in at one time; they're pretty much lumped into a big group. A little bit of individuality has helped him. It's been a blast working with him; we worked together back in the day, and things are only getting better. The more he's on TV, the better reaction we'll get. He's a great talent, and it's good to work with him. How was the Pillman Show? Matt: It was good - real hectic. We were really busy, but it was for a good cause. We worked with Edge & Christian and DDP and Kanyon in the main event. I think we were the last match of 37. (laughs) But the crowd was still hot, and they were there for everything. It was us and Edge & Christian teaming up in the end against those two, which was great. We never really get to do stuff like that with them anymore. At the end, we all did the guns, and we also did a five-second pose - the first ever Edge, Christian, Hardys and Lita five-second pose. What did you do for the pose? Matt: We mimicked them, and did Christian's shoulder shrug a little bit. I did that a few times. It was a lot of fun. It was one of those deals where it made the match good. On live TV, everything has to move fast, because you're on a very strict schedule. But this was like a house show where you can go out and take your time and have some fun. At the Pillman Show, there's not really any worries or concerns. You just have a lot of fun. You still have to go out there and perform, but we don't have to stay on top of every little thing. What do you think of the new look for SmackDown!? Matt: I think the new SmackDown! set looks pretty good. It was the first time I was seeing it, so I think it'll take a little while to grow on me. I saw the new open for the show, and to be honest, I like the other one better. But the set is really cool in concept. The last episode of Superstars aired this past weekend. As a lifelong Federation fan, do you have any especially fond memories of watching that show while growing up? Matt: When I was younger, Superstars came on at 1 a.m. on Channel 13. I used to go to bed, and I would set my alarm clock so my dad wouldn't know. I was waking up at 12:30, and going sneaking to the TV to watch it. This was on Sunday night - I had to go to school the next day. It didn't come in real good, but I liked getting my dose of Superstars. It's amazing to me how far wrestling has come since those days. Now, every major TV show has competitive matches, star vs. star, every match. It's unbelievable how people criticize wrestling now, saying we should make it like it used to be. Those shows were always stars in enhancement matches. But still, people criticize what we have today. Do you remember the first time you saw yourself on Superstars, years back when you worked as an enhancement talent? Matt: I think one of the first times I worked on Superstars, I worked with the "Underfaker," when they were doing the storyline with Brian Lee as the fake Undertaker. I wrestled him, and that was memorable because Undertaker had such input into the match. It was pretty intimidating, too, because it was a really important match - Underfaker only had a few matches before his SummerSlam match with Undertaker, so everything he did was watched pretty heavily.