12/8 Wrestlezone Recap: WWE PPV Buyrates Are In, Matt Hardy Hits the “Finish Line” in Pro Wrestling, PWG Matt Rushmore Review Plus New Features, WWE/Impact Wrestling Discussion & We Answer Your Questions

Mike Killam

file_185231_6_MattHardy(1)Matt Hardy is a professional wrestling legend, winning 13 championships during his two runs with World Wrestling Entertainment. In the late '90s, Hardy was part of a revolution that included tables, ladders, chairs, a Canadian Hall of Famer, a "charismatic enigma" and two brothers from Dudleyville, USA. He is the longest reigning American-born European Champion in WWE history, an ECW World Champion and a former United States Champion, proving his dominance over the singles domain as well as being a tag team icon. 

But after more than 20 years in the business, the native Carolinian claims he has reached the finish line in pro wrestling. 

"I've kind of reached the finish line. I look back, and I really do feel I've evolved a lot as a human being, for several different reasons. I'm in a very happy place. I'm married, and we talk about having a family going forward … I reached the finish line when I won the WWE tag team championships for the first time. That's all my brother and I ever set out to do. 

Matt made a name for himself alongside his brother Jeff Hardy – a former WWE & TNA World Champion in his own right – performing crazy stunts off the top of 10-foot ladders, crashing through tables and taking unprotected steel chair shots to the head. Over time, no matter how in shape and athletic you are, that kind of assault takes its tole on your body. 

"Towards the end of my WWE run I wish I had just taken time off. My body was so beat up, and so hurt. It had been decimated by 12 years of working 300 days a year. Until somebody is on that schedule, they cannot understand how hard that is on your body." 

The bumps and bruises associated with pro wrestling take their toll not just on the human body, but on your mental and emotional person as well. In 2011, Matt was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated – a mistake that would cost him his job in TNA Wrestling. After a few negative stints in the media through 2011, Hardy completed WWE-sponsored rehab, took some time off to spend with family and collect himself as a person, battling demons to come out on the other side a new human being. 

"I cannot stress enough how hard that schedule is on somebody physically. You get beat up and hurt, and you get in this strange dark places. Bad things can happen, and they can happen very easily." 

At 39-years-old, Hardy has some rough mornings, and after accomplishing just about everything a person in his trade could, not one person could blame him for hanging up the boots and riding off into the sunset; especially with the beautiful Reby Sky waiting for him at home. But despite reaching the proverbial "finish line", Matt is dedicated to the pro wrestling industry, and is now driven by something else: having fun and giving back. He is currently an active performer on the American independent scene, and is gearing up to step between the ropes for Ring of Honor once again, next weekend at Final Battle. 

"I still love wrestling. If I stopped tomorrow I would be fine. I don't have to wrestle – I wrestle because I want to. And I feel like I can help some of the younger athletes. 

My last two or three years at WWE were not fun. It became miserable, where it was just a job. I have a lot of sympathy for guys that get in that position. It's really easy to do. But now I have total creative freedom over everything I do; everything I say. 

Matt's relationship with the Ring of Honor crowd is a heated one, as the ROH faithful do not readily embrace him as they would their usual suspects like Davey Richards, Roderick Strong and Jay Lethal. Because of his mainstream affiliations, the style of match he works now, and in large part his on-screen persona, Hardy is one of the biggest heels Ring of Honor has ever had. 

If I wrestle in front of a casual, mainstream crowd, I'm always cheered. I'm a life-long babyface. But those people kind of out-think themselves. They're looking for their cult favorite guys who are going to do the craziest spot ever, give them a 5-star match, or take insane crazy bumps. I did my 10 years of that. Go back and watch the original OMEGA stuff I did. The original ladder matches with Edge and Christian; the TLC stuff. We were doing that stuff on the road too, and I have put in my time … I want to have a good match, but I also want to be healthy when it's all said and done. I want to be able to work." 

For more, check out Matt Hardy on this weekend's edition of the Wrestlezone Podcast with Mike Killam

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