Matt Hardy had a run in WWE’s Cruiserweight division during his “Version 1” days, and part of the storyline saw him attempting to cut weight so he could defend his title, including his match against Rey Mysterio at that year’s WrestleMania. Mysterio finally beat Hardy for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on the June 3, 2003 episode of SmackDown, but it almost took place a few months earlier at WrestleMania XIX.
Speaking on the latest episode of his The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy podcast, Hardy explained what went into the decision to wait for the title switch as well as his thoughts on competing in the Cruiserweight division and “Version 1” in WWE.
“We had built up some momentum from the WrestleMania matchup where we had opened up the show and we had once again, maybe the story of my life, the story of being a pro wrestler and the story of my career in the WWE, we lost a lot of time right before we went out there, so we burned through a lot of that match as well but we were still happy with it,” Hardy explained to co-host Jon Alba. “It was a good pace setter of WrestleMania as well and I know we had specifically waited until Anaheim [for the title change], it was the closest location to Rey Mysterio’s hometown and almost against WWE policy, we were going to put over the local guy huge and it was cool because his family was there.
“When I first pitched the Cruiserweight Title thing, I had initially gotten over as Matt Hardy Version 1 and I was originally going to go into a program with Edge but there were some political forces, WCW had just gotten there and I don’t think they were in my corner. I got pushed out of this and Edge ended up working with A-Train and Adam at that time was pushing to work with me and to elevate me as a singles as well. Obviously, we had been friends off of our past rivalries and always working together. So, that was out the window and I didn’t get to work with him on the US Title or Intercontinental Title level and then they offered me the Cruiserweight thing and the story of losing weight and whatever,” Hardy explained.
Hardy says that some people might have looked at his Cruiserweight run as a downgrade, but he embraced the situation and shared how they were able to get much more out of the feud with Rey because fans embraced Matt’s new gimmick so much.
“I thought as ‘Matt Hardy Version 1’ I could do something good with that and we had Shannon [Moore] as my trainer and he was trying to help me lose all the weight and I was supposed to be this pseudo-Cruiserweight and win the Cruiserweight Title and then do something with Rey at WrestleMania. I think because I embraced it and looked at it the best we can, I think the initial plan was for me to win the Cruiserweight Title and then probably drop it to Rey at WrestleMania but I started getting over. I was really getting into it and I think even Vince saw how much I was into it and that’s where they changed the finish. The original finish was that Rey was supposed to beat me at WrestleMania,” Hardy shared, “but they changed it so we could drag it out and build it to a bigger match where Rey could end up winning the title because they thought the story had legs.
“So, that was pretty cool, it was quite the compliment and we ended up going to the big match in Anaheim on the television show,” Hardy added. “Rey overcame the villain and won the Cruiserweight Title in his home state of California.”
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