MONTREAL – Feb. 23, 2003 – There are only two singles titles on SmackDown!, and Matt Hardy has one of them.
Matt’s goal is to one day be WWE Champion. Defeating Billy Kidman tonight for the Cruiserweight Championship is a nice consolation prize – for now.
“Any time you’re a champion it’s an honor,” Matt said. “I consider it prestigious to be put in a position to carry a title for WWE. I want to do the best I can with it.”
It’s Matt’s third singles championship, as he’s previously held the Hardcore Title and the European Title. He says he would have loved to be Intercontinental Champion and hopes perhaps that that title will be brought back. Along with his brother, Jeff, Matt is also a five-time WWE Tag Team Champion and a one-time WCW Tag Team Champion.
Not bad for a guy who is currently competing with a torn MCL in his left knee.
The injury happened a few weeks ago at a non-televised event in Milwaukee. Wrestling Nathan Jones, Matt jumped off the top rope to deliver a flying clothesline, but landed awkwardly.
This sort of injury would sideline a football player for six to eight weeks; Matt returned to a full-time schedule a week ago.
“It’s getting better,” Matt said of his knee. “It’s still a nuisance.”
For example, Matt has a hard time doing cardiovascular exercises since the injury – humorous backstage vignettes showing him trying to “make weight” notwithstanding -- so he says he’s not currently in “ring shape.”
Regarding his match tonight, Matt said, “I knew we were going to have more time. I didn’t want it to look like I was moving in slow motion.”
But he said his wind held up fine during the 12-minute match – he didn’t become overly fatigued.
“Billy Kidman did a hell of a job out there,” Matt said, adding that Kidman has been a great opponent over the past few weeks.
Matt also said he doesn’t necessarily agree with people who say that winning the Cruiserweight Title may be a step back for him – that it’ll pigeonhole him as a non-heavyweight and prevent him from contending for the WWE Championship.
“Your career is what you make it,” Matt said. “(Winning the Cruiserweight Title) is just another notch in my belt.”