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By Mike Johnson on 2020-03-09 13:05:00

On March 1st, the clock struck midnight and Matt Hardy, 45, once again became a free agent, departing World Wrestling Entertainment.  Since then, his “Free the Delete” YouTube series featured one of the most buzzworthy wrestling-related videos in forever, trending worldwide on Twitter itself after The Young Bucks appeared on an episode.  There’s theories he’s heading to AEW, there are theories he’s working everyone but Hardy is once again preparing for a new chapter that will see him on the independent scene and beyond. 

I sat down with Hardy to take in the moment, discuss what could have been had he remained with WWE, how close it was to that actually happening, the AEW speculation, The Bucks on Free the Delete, what Hardy really wants at this stage of his life and career and even whether everything that has gone down is all one big Kaufman-esque work.

The following interview has been edited for clarity.

Mike Johnson: It is Saturday morning March 7, 2020. We're at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel. The Big Event convention is about to begin. And I'm sitting here with perhaps the most talked about talent and professional wrestling over the last couple of weeks, and that being Matt Hardy, who as of March 1st is free and clear as a talent. We will see what is next for you and we're here to talk about it. So sir, you haven't signed anywhere. As of today, you are still technically a free agent, correct?

Matt Hardy: Yes, I am a solo free agent. I do not have any kind of contractual obligations to anyone. I'm still playing the field, as they say. And you are right. If you watch Free The Delete earlier episodes, if you watch episode four there's a point where I take it the call and this is future or two others. I had three different endings for Free The Delete, depending on where I ended up, and it was initially written to end up in WWE, so more or less there was one wildcard but it was going to be Bray Wyatt or the Young Bucks end up on Free The Delete when it was all said and done.

Mike Johnson: So the end, it was either going to be one or the other in terms of who was going to show up at the end of this thing?

Matt Hardy: Yeah, there were three options originally.

Mike Johnson: Would the third have been Jeff Hardy or do you prefer to leave that one out in the open?

Matt Hardy: There was an idea, it was a big idea that I gave to Vince and the WWE creative guys. I don't know if it got pulled off. But it's also a guy who is very well known for digging graves and burying souls.  It would have been super cool if we'd been able to incorporate it, but that was the other idea and that might've been being a little too optimistic in what I could have got out of it.

Mike Johnson:  Let's talk a little bit about the end of your WWE run first. There was some talk that we had heard that there was a pitch for you to possibly take Broken Matt to NXT or work in the NXT system. How close was that to come in and what sort of offer was it? Was it a behind the scenes thing or a kind of migrate Broken Matt over as an on-air character to the Wednesdays?

Matt Hardy: It was kind of like a dual role. It was to maybe do something in NXT and be Broken Matt and maybe have some sort of stable there and help some guys. But still my whole big thing was like for these last three or four years that I have left to do this, I want to be involved in a prominent role. I don't want to be the champion. I don't want to be undefeated. I want to help people along the way, but I still want to be utilized in a prominent way.  I think Hunter had a vision of making that happen. There was a talk of doing that and starting in a backstage role as a Producer, maybe even do some stuff creatively. It would kind of be like a double role and I'd make a little more money. And that was the mindset behind that. It was kind of like, I really, I appreciate Hunter because I think triple H was really trying hard to keep me there. And really I didn't want to leave WWE. I wanted to stay with WWE. But if they didn't have something for me creatively that I could do in the next three or four years, it was very important to me just because I love it so much that I'm maximizing it the most of them the last few years.

Mike Johnson: That was what we had reported along the way on, that this wasn't a financial issue, finances were fine. So, allow me to ask this.  There's going to be someone who's going to listen to this interview and they're going to say, "You're in your 40s, you're towards the end of your career. Why don't you just sit down and take the money?" If you can, explain from your perspective why the creative and why being prominent was so important. It's not a case of you're being a mark to be the WWE champion or anything like that. It's kind of like put me in coach, I want to be able to pass on what I've go, but explain to someone out there who's like, well, you could have made six or even seven figures just sticking with them and just being part of the system. Why was it important to you to have your creative voice still felt and to still be utilized? Because somebody is going to look at it and go, that's a bad decision. You've got kids, you should just stay for the money.

Matt Hardy: The money is still going to be greater outside even with what I'm going to end up doing, especially with the collaboration of events I'm going to be doing, but the one thing I want to say is that I love this. I mean like the reason I got into this wasn't to make $1 million. It's because it was my dream and my passion and something I love. It's like I know physically I feel very good now and I know what I'm capable of and I know how I have to be utilized in a certain way. It's just I have to get into an environment where I can be utilized like that.   The reason I just walked away is like I know I can do more and with sometimes with WWE it's a huge system. I have a great respect for it. It's an enormous machines obviously all across the world, but if you are kind of in Vince's mind in a certain role, that's where he's going to keep you and you can't get out of it. I want to get into an environment where I can kind of excel and do other things.

Interview continues on Page 2!

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