March 27, 2007 - Jeff Hardy, ladders, Wrestlemania. This recipe has given WWE fans some of the most breathtaking moments in sports entertainment history. Only thing is, Hardy says you haven't seen anything yet.
"Luckily for me, I'm being showcased in my comfort zone, and with ladders at my side, I have a good chance of getting that briefcase," Hardy told me over the phone as he prepares for his Money in the Bank Ladder match in Detroit. "I've talked to Matt a few times, and we'd love to knock everybody out and have the match come down to the two of us. We'd look each other in the eyes and respectfully beat the hell out of each other. May the better brother win."
He's watched the tapes of Shelton Benjamin, RVD, and the rest of the Money in the Bank crew, and his goal this Sunday for Wrestlemania is to top them all.
"Last year I was watching Mania from home, and Matt was in the match, and when Shelton did the springboard and landed on the ladder…so many impressive things that guy did, but one of the first things, one of the first goals I set is to try to top that. I know some of the moves Shelton did are going to be hard to top, especially when he ran up the ladder, but I have a few things up my sleeve that I'm going to try and pull off."
Here's what else the former Will O' the Wisp had to say about Mania, tag teams, and getting speared by Edge in X-7.
IGN Sports: What's your favorite Wrestlemania moment?
Jeff Hardy: Our first Wrestlemania when I climbed to the tip-top of this big ladder and did a Swanton through a table that had Bubba Ray on it. Every now and then you still see that clip, and it's such an unforgettable memory in my mind because you get to do something so cool, you've done it in your backyard before imagining you were in front of a bunch of people, but then to actually do it and see all the flashes, it's very dreamlike. Every time I look back and see that clip, it makes me proud of what I've accomplished.
IGN Sports: The other iconic Wrestlemania moment you were involved in was the TLC match when Edge speared you from up high.
Jeff Hardy: That's another one that's so cool because it's something I saw in my mind, but to bring it to life, that's another one of those clips that I'm proud of, even though I'm on the defense on that one. [laughs]
IGN Sports: You're hanging by the belts and Edge jumps off the ladder. What goes through your mind?
Jeff Hardy: There's not much time to think of anything. It's almost like a car wreck. It's like bam! That was unbelievable, I can't believe that just happened. Once the breath comes back and you can feel your toes move, it's a good payoff when you can live through something like that.
IGN Sports: Did you have a favorite Wrestlemania moment as a fan watching the sport?
Jeff Hardy: I remember Wrestlemania 6 with The Ultimate Warrior against Hulk Hogan. It was so cool to see those guys go in there and the fans getting into the match so much. Warrior got the upset win, but when they hugged at the end and showed respect for one another after all of the buildup of animosity between the two and the fans gave them the standing-O, that was one of the best moments to me. Warrior was always such a weird, methodical type character anyway, but he was coming out of his realm and being human for a moment and hugging Hulk Hogan and hitting him on the back and that's still one of my favorite moments from Wrestlemania. That show of respect.
IGN Sports: You mentioned the fan response to the match and it brings to mind your own fan loyalty. Why do you think you have so many loyal and devoted fans, win or lose, when so many other wrestlers and the crowd reactions tend to fluctuate more based on storyline?
Jeff Hardy: I think it's because if I have the time I take the time to sign every autograph I can after a show. I'll go out of my way when a lot of other guys wouldn't do this. Things like that create so much longevity in your career because that guy or girl you met that night will go home and talk about how cool Jeff Hardy was that night and then that makes their friends want to come out to the show next time you're in town. I've always believed in that, I've always believed in going out of my way and just acting like anyone else in this world. I never put myself on another level and that's done well for me. Just spending time with fans and acting normal and talking to them just like I was one of their boys, that's what it's all about.
IGN Sports: It's like you've built up this grassroots popularity that keeps spreading through word of mouth.
Jeff Hardy: I remember what it was like to see guys on TV and then you see them in person and it's surreal. TV kind of makes you seem a little different and I always remember that and I was always like 'Man, I wish Sting would've been as cool as I was back in the day', he was an asshole. When you try to get an autograph and they ignore you, not necessarily an asshole, but coming across as better than you or something.
IGN Sports: Who were the wrestlers who influenced you as a kid?
Jeff Hardy: Early, when I first started wrestling, I wanted to be a combination of Sting and the Ultimate Warrior. The Ultimate Warrior's craziness and weird personality and Sting's coolness and the way he carried himself to the ring. But then later on, when it came to physicality and athleticism, Shawn Michaels topped the cake. Just watching that guy and seeing the types of matches he's had at Mania and throughout his career, pound-for-pound he's the best wrestler in the world. He has always been a great influence in Matt's and my career. He has a knack for stealing the show.
IGN Sports: Shawn is one of the big matches at Mania, but the one with the most buzz right now has to be the hair vs. hair match. Would you ever put your hair on the line in a match?
Jeff Hardy: Yeah, I probably would…I guess I would depending on who it was with and what story surrounded it. If the situation was right, and the money too [laughs] I might take part in it. I really hate my hair when it's not braided because it's so big when it dries. When it's wet it looks cool, but when it dries it gets all in my mouth during a match and I hate it. I wouldn't mind shaving it off. But then I love it when it's braided. It looks cool and it's long and it doesn't get in my mouth. So if the writing is right, I'd be a part of it.
IGN Sports: You seem like the kind of guy who is always looking for something bigger to jump off of. Are you still looking for that big jump or are you starting to slow down?
Jeff Hardy: I think I've slowed down quite a bit. I don't try or attempt even half of the stuff I used to want to try way back in the day when I was a lot younger. It takes a toll on the body throughout the years, but still, The Swanton is something I feel extremely confident and safe in doing. I would still like to do an extremely high one one of these days. It would be great to do at Mania, but I don't think this year because it's not the right type of match, but when I was wrestling in this other organization, I did one that was crazy, it was 34 feet high where I jumped from and I nearly had a heart attack before I did it. I would really love to do something like that in WWE because it would last through time a lot more and a lot more people would see it. When the time is right, I plan on doing an extremely high Swanton Bomb. I always wanted to bring out a hydraulic lift somehow, ride it to the ring like in a Stone Cold type scenario, back it up then jump off of it and go through some tables.
IGN Sports: I couldn't believe you did the Swanton on top of the ladder in your match against Nitro?
Jeff Hardy: Yeah, that was pretty cool but it was also pretty stupid. Wow, I felt it, that's for sure.
IGN Sports: You guys are on the road so much and putting your body on the line with every match, how difficult is it for someone to commit their lives to being a professional wrestler?
Jeff Hardy: It's tough. The biggest change is that time just goes by so fast when you're on the road. It seems like it's only been a month or so since I've been back and it's already been more than half a year. I can't complain, though. I'm in a great spot right now and it's up to me to take advantage of it while I can.
IGN Sports: Why did you feel the need to walk away from the sport a couple of years ago?
Jeff Hardy: I was big-time burned out. I needed that year to get away from it for a while and more than anything, that's what straightened my ass up for sure. Just to get away from it for a while and breath a little bit, take it easy. I was able to complete a motocross track at my house, and that's something I've always enjoyed. That time away is really what developed the passion I needed to come back and compete. The fans too, having such a huge fan base, it's hard to see that and be motivated when you have so many people who support you and want to see you perform.
IGN Sports: What's more dangerous, wrestling or riding motocross?
Jeff Hardy: They go hand in hand. Motocross might be more dangerous because it's hard to tame the machine sometimes. Wrestling, you're dealing with yourself and your own body, but when you're trying to tame the machine, that sh*t can be kind of hard sometimes. Those things are strong. It's also so cool to be able to develop the talent to be able to jump and control the motorcycle which is a very fun thing to do but it's hard to manage the two. It's so easy to get hurt, and that's the last thing I want to do. I would be screwed if I got hurt on my motorcycle and couldn't wrestle.
IGN Sports: You're having matches right now both as a singles competitor and as a tag team with your brother. Which do you prefer?
Jeff Hardy: I'm all for tagging. I love tag team wrestling and I would choose that over singles any day. It's also cool that we can tag if we need to or we can be successful in the singles ranks, and that's one thing that makes the Hardy Boyz stand alone in their success is that we can go our separate ways and still be successful, but I love tagging with Matt, and I think I prefer tagging over singles wrestling.
credit - ign.com