Jeff Hardy is one of the world’s most popular wrestling stars whose high-flying risk-taking athleticism and puzzling persona have made him a main eventer in WWE and now TNA Wrestling. Hardy came back from some serious personal issues outside the ring last year to regain the TNA World Championship and continue his reign as the ‘Enigma’ of Pro Wrestling.
TNA is presenting Lockdown this Sunday on Pay Per View where Hardy will face a former tag team rival in a Steel Cage for the World title, IMPACT is also hitting the road in Chicago on March 14th, and Hardy is working a new music career. Things are looking up for the man whose been defying gravity and anything else that could hold him back for most of his pro wrestling career.
Pro Wrestling Examiner spoke with the TNA World Champion Jeff Hardy from Orlando as he prepares to the final IMPACT at Universal Studio’s ‘Impact Zone’.
TNA is making the big move out of Orlando and on the road. The first big IMPACT broadcast and taping is March 14th at Sears Center in Chicago,IL. This is a make it or break it move. What is the feeling inside the TNA lockeroom about this move to get on the road with IMPACT?
Hardy: It’s a huge step. It’s huge move for TNA. It’s been a big day here around the IMPACT Zone, tonight’s going to huge, but next week in Chicago, we’re gonna rock it. It’s about time. It’s been way overdue.
PWE: Is this transition in TNA scary at al? Is it exciting at all? You are the TNA World Champion. There is more pressure on you in this situation.
Hardy: Oh yeah, every night. It’s a risk, and I am a risk taker. There has been times when we have done Television tapings around the country that have gone really well. For example, I remember we did a great TV taping in Fayetteville. Yeah, and it’s time. I am excited, not scared.
PWE: You have had some challenges in your personal life recently, you come back from that, your the TNA World Champion. That’s kind of been the story of your life recently. How do you feel coming out on the other side of that? How do you feel looking back and looking forward?
Overall, better than I was before. It has all made me better. And that’s one extremely exciting thing about my band’s album is going to be out in June/July. And a lot of those songs were inspired through that dark period and the feel-good times of getting over all that. And just expressing myself in all these unique ways. So I am excited for that to be heard by all the ‘creatures’ and wrestling fans. Overall, I am just better..better after all.
PWE: You are known for an extreme style. You made your mark in WWE with the infamous Ladder Matches, tables, and chairs. And just straight up wrestling, you are also extreme. You brought that all over to TNA. Is there pressure on you every time you get in the ring to top what you’ve done before? Because there is so many things that people have seen you do, that no one else has ever done. And how does your body hold up with all that especially after being a veteran wrestler?
Well now I work out more than I ever have. Ya know in the mornings I am always running if I able to, but I think more than anything I have been extremely lucky. I have had no surgeries..yet. I hope to keep it that way. It’s always a challenge to top what I have done in the past. This Sunday is a great example. There are all types of things going through my head, but it’s a Cage Match and it’s Lockdown. Last year was so good with me vs. Kurt Angle, and naturally I want to top that, so it’s gonna be fun.
PWE: This Sunday on Pay Per View, it’s Lockdown. What is your feeling going into this TNA World Champiomship Steel Cage Match with Bully Ray? What is the story for the fans to follow here going into this main event ?
Hardy: The coolest thing as far as I am concerned is you look back at those classic TLC matches between the Hardy Boys, Edge & Christian, and the Dudleys. Bully Ray was on one team, Jeff Hardy was on the other. Now we have created our own solo paths and been successful. And this Sunday we’re going to clash for the first time on a big stage and it’s just cool that we are still able to do these types of matches. First time, Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy in a Steel Cage. Fans can expect the unexpected. I mean I don’t know what’s going to be happen, but I know it’s going to be classic.
PWE: TNA is coming to Chicago, a city well known for having loud wrestling crowds. You have wrestled in Chicago many times, what is like to wrestle for there?
Hardy: It’s so exciting, especially to be on the way there with IMPACT. I mean even with WWE, the crowd is so into it. You feel their energy throughout the match, it’s so electric. It’s a town like no other when it comes to professional wrestling. It’s gonna be completely awesome.
PWE: You just re-signed with TNA, your the TNA World Champion, you are at the top of the mountain. So what is next for you to accomplish in TNA, in Pro Wrestling, and in entertainment in general?What’s next for Jeff Hardy?
Hardy: Right now my main focus is in music, the creative process. Working with Dale Oliver here from TNA, I have learned so much. And I am still learning each time I get in that studio in Nashville. It just gets better and better. And I have needed to do that for a long time, ‘cause ya know since I started working with Dale in Nashville, I would just sing in my basement. So I finally came out of the basement. That’s been a huge inspiration, just the whole creative process of songs.
Then you know to be a wrestler with it all, and the artist. I paint all the time. Each night I wrestle, I paint my face because I am an artist. It’s kind of all coming together where I am able to do everything I really love to do and need in my life. If we can find some time to do some motocross in there, I would be good to go but other that in 2013, your going to see more of Jeff Hardy’s talents.
PWE: Now you paint your face every time for the matches, it’s become your signature look for fans to see you with that loud look. Do you do that for yourself every night? Do you do that entertain yourself and keep it interesting? Wrestling every night should be exciting, is that why you do it?
Hardy: Naturally as a kid, I was inspired by Sting. I remember seeing him with the blonde hair, the neon tights, and the painted face.
PWE: The man called Sting!
Hardy: Yeah, I remember thinking why did he paint his face? But I also remember thinking ‘but damn! He looks cool!’. And with me, just being strange anyway. With Instagram, has really inspired me. Each night I document it. And I have got such a collection of all the different designs.
I just challenge myself to keep it going because I have done so many cool ones and like ‘Oh my god, how am I going to top that?’ It’s just keeps it exciting for me and for me being the ‘Enigma’, it took face paint to the next level.
PWE: So what’s next in TNA for you? Your at the top of TNA and you can look down at what’s coming up your way. When you are not wrestling who do you enjoy watching in TNA?
Hardy: I love Kazarian and Daniels. I love watching Austin Airies. Bully Ray is good on the mic. Rob Van Dam, I always enjoy watching him. Bobby Roode, there is so much potential here. Overall a lot of these younger guys, these Gut Checks we have done, that have a lot of potential that just need to be molded a little bit and here is where they have the opportunity.
PWE: What is the next ‘dream match’ for you? You have wrestled many World Champions and legends in your career. What is that one opponent that you have never faced but always dreamed of wrestling?
Hardy: I don’t have one...well there really is one. And that’s Jushin Thunder Liger from Japan.
That would probably satisfy me. I have been in the ring with pretty much everybody I have ever wanted to wrestle. Other than Jushin Thunder Liger, I have pretty much done what I have wanted to.
PWE: Your the TNA World Champion. You have also been a World Champion in WWE. You have performed for both companies, how do they compare? What are the real standout differences between both companies?
Hardy: I don’t know...When I am in this world, I really don’t compare. You can’t really compete with that world. It so big it’s like when I am in this world, I am in this one. When I was in that world, I was there. I don’t know why fans should choose to watch which show they want to, but it just depends.. Ya know if I was a kid right now watching professional wrestling, I would watch TNA over WWE. That’s just my perspective.
PWE: You are allowed to have your opinion, Jeff. You have always expressed it. TNA is known for having fantastic live events, and they are impactful, no pun intended. So what is the hard sell for fans who might be on the fence about going out to get tickets to see TNA IMPACT at the Sears Center on March 14th?
Hardy: Basically it’s our first main big show on the road. It’s going to make history. I plan on being the champion by time we get to Chicago, hopefully I survive the Cage Match this Sunday at Lockdown. And if I am still the World Champion, I mean that alone is a reason to come and check us out.
PWE: Jeff, where can fans find out about your music? What is that Twitter handle for those that don’t know?
Hardy: Yes, Peroxwhy?gen’s album is going to be around June or July, the release date hopefully wil be out in April. We’ll know for sure, but we completed the songs. There is 10 killer tracks that I am extremely happy with. And anything you need to be updated with, follow @JeffHardyBrand.
Fans can catch TNA World Champion Jeff Hardy on TNA IMPACT every Thursday night on Spike TV and this Sunday live on Pay Per View when he defends the title against Bully Ray in a Steel Cage at Lockdown. Hardy will also be in action at the Sears Center with TNA IMPACT on March 14th, tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com. For more info go to TNAWrestling.com
Pro Wrestling Examiner would like thank TNA Wrestling for the great interviews they have made available to us in the past few weeks. Check out these other exclusive Q&A's with TNA wrestling stars. Speacial Thanks to WXAV 88.3 FM for giving us access to their production studios to conduct these interviews.