Q&A with Jeff Hardy [Kevin Eck 25-01-2008]
After thrilling viewers with spectacular high-risk moves on consecutive episodes of Raw recently, Jeff Hardy has become the talk of the wrestling world.
Receiving the biggest push of his career, Hardy faces WWE champion Randy Orton for the title Sunday at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
What was going through your mind right before you did the Swanton off the scaffold and the Whisper in the Wind off the top of the cage?
Not much, actually, especially when you’re out there in front of everybody. Once you commit to doing such a thing, you have to follow through with it, so there’s not much time to think. When it’s really hard is before the match. When you know you’re really going to do something nuts, that’s when you really have time to worry about, “Man, what if I break a leg? What if I break my neck? Oh, my God.” I’ve usually been real confident in trusting in my instinct to do things like that. Luckily, I’ve done a lot of wild things like that and I’ve never gotten seriously injured. That Swanton was probably one of the biggest ones I’ve ever done, and I was able to – not walk away from it – but I’m walking today, so I was fortunate.
When you know that you’re going to be doing a big high-risk move like that, do you practice it before the show?
I’m not a big practice guy at all. There was talk about me even practicing the deal at WrestleMania [last year, when he did a legdrop off a ladder onto Edge, who was lying on a ladder outside the ring], but I just like to do it in front of the crowd and I’m a one-taker when it comes to stuff like that. If I feel comfortable doing it, I’ll just do it one time and that’s it. I’m really not a fan of rehearsing that stuff.
You mentioned earlier that you have never suffered a serious injury doing one of these big bumps, which is pretty amazing. What do you attribute that to?
I don’t know, man, luck probably more than anything. I don’t think there’s any explanation for it. My body feels weak in a lot of places. I know I’ve got herniated discs in my neck and my back, which isn’t extremely serious – they could lead to being serious. I’ve got [bone] chips in my elbows. I can’t wrestle a match without getting my ankles taped because they feel like they’ll shatter on me. Recently, I think I got a chip in my right kneecap, which is really starting to bother me. But it’s just little nagging things like that. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be 30 years old now and not to have had any surgeries.
By raising the bar with the death-defying moves the past few weeks, are you worried about people constantly expecting you to top yourself?
In a way. I think you always can as long as you spread out your risk-taking. I’m talking like maybe two a year, something like that. That was so big the other night, so, naturally, it’s going to be hard to try and top that. But it’s always an interesting challenge to try and top yourself. I know back in the day when we were doing the TLC matches, that was the scenario then. It kind of got to where we were raising the bar so high it was like, “How are we going to continue to top the last match we put on?” But now that things have slowed down a little bit, I think it’s a lot easier to top yourself when you stretch things out.
After all your years in the business, are you surprised at all to be in this spot – headlining a pay-per-view?
Not really, man, because I know more than anything that I have a really cool connection with the fans. That’s been my No. 1 as far as getting me to where I’m at right now. You can’t go wrong with reading the fans and letting them tell you who they like. I think that’s really paid off for me in the long run – being down to earth and just really cool with each and every fan that I meet, and they’ve really supported me through thick and thin. Stepping up to the plate as far as being 100 percent committed to wrestling, too, has really showed my maturity to the company. Just knowing that I don’t have time to write music or paint or ride motorcycles. I’m pretty much 100 percent consumed by WWE. They’ve put me in a spot that’s one of the biggest I’ve ever been in, and I’m just trying to roll with it.
From a professional standpoint, can you describe what the past couple months have been like for you?
It’s been great. There’s been a lot of pressure to live up to whatever their expectations are. Being a top guy, there’s a lot of pressure and stress that comes with being in situations like this. I think I’ve lived up to their expectations, and, hopefully, I’ll continue to do that, with my promos maturing as well and just me getting in more of that comfort zone to be able to go out there and talk on the mic and be confident in it. I think more than anything it’s real important for me just to still be myself and not let any stressful mentality get to me. Being myself is what got me to where I am.
Is it fair to say you lost your passion for the business a few years ago? And if so, how did you get it back?
Yeah, I think it’s extremely fair to say I lost my passion when I first left WWE. Getting it back – I don’t know if I’ll ever have it (pauses). When I fully most had it was when Matt and I were first trying to make it to the big time. Back in those days it was off the charts. Then it becomes a job and you do it so much and things get old. Now, more than anything what’s brought my passion back is just knowing that I can be where I am now, and knowing that before I came back and now being here. Being in one of the main events at the Royal Rumble – you know, this is something I’m good at so why not take advantage of that while I can and do it until I can’t.
Earlier, you referred to your promos maturing, and you do seem more comfortable on the mic. Is that something that you’ve had to work at to get better?
The more I do it, the more natural it feels. When I first started talking, it was hard not to be nervous. But now, it seems like I’m more nervous before I go out there. When I get in the ring, it’s like I’m all cool and collected. Remembering certain things that you have to get across is always tough, but it feels like it’s maturing really naturally for me, and I do feel confident that the more I do it, the better I’ll get. I’ll eventually one day find that comfort zone for me to just be able to go out there and talk forever and explain whatever description I need to get across.
What was working it like working with Triple H?
It was kind of a nerve-wracking experience, man, because I knew I had to go out there and go a long while with Triple H. I’ve worked him in the past, but this was a totally different scenario because I’m out there with him for like 20-25 minutes. It was a lot of pressure, man. Once that match was over, I was extremely happy it was over because I was a little creeped out going into that match. I think it turned out decent. A lot of times I feel like anything can be a lot better once you review your tapes, but it was good for what it was worth.
A feud between you and your brother, Matt, has been teased in the past in WWE, but they never went all the way with it. Is that something that you would be interested in doing?
Oh, yeah, definitely. I think somewhere around WrestleMania 25 would be really cool to have a Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy match. I was a huge fan of the Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart matches back in the day and the brotherly feud. I think Matt and I could really have a good long natural feud with the old brother vs. brother scenario.
Just out of curiosity, if that were to happen, do you see yourself as the face or the heel in that feud?
Honestly, I think it could go either way, man. Matt’s had his V-1 time and his little heel moment, but it seems like there’s a lot of people out there that think I might not even get away with being a heel, but down the road I think that’s definitely something that could possibly happen and be really good.
How much would it mean for you to win the WWE title at the Royal Rumble on Sunday?
Oh, it would be a dream come true, and it would complete my collection of titles – I would have held every title in the company. That would be extremely cool, man, and it would be another boost for me. Just having the responsibility of walking around with that title would really scream to me, “Man, you’ve done it. Here we are.” Either way, if I win or lose, I still feel like a champion no matter what.