ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NOV. 3, 2000 in The Kingston Whig-Standard. All rights reserved.
Without a doubt, fans have put the World Wrestling Federation where it is today — on top of the world.
Just ask Jeff Hardy.
Jeff, one half of the high-flying tag-team champions, The Hardy Boyz, spoke one-on-one with The Whig-Standard last weekend in Toronto.
Jeff, along with his real-life brother Matt, certainly know how important the fans are to the business. After all, the Hardys have a loyal following.
“Our fan mail is totally overwhelming … it’s amazing,” said Jeff. “We go home every week, and [the mail] is just so backed up. It’s still kind of hard to swallow … registering this whole superstardom thing and knowing that so many people grow to love you.
“I’ll say it a million times more than I already have that if there was no fans, there would be no us and we owe it all to them. [We would just like to] continue to say thank you for supporting the World Wrestling Federation and the Hardy Boyz.”
There are many reasons the Hardys have achieved superstardom in the WWF – their talent, charisma, a great gimmick and great push from both WWF brass and other superstars – but perhaps what fans love most about this dynamic duo is their aerial abilities, their willingness to put it all on the line and their seemingly suicidal tendencies as far as stunts are concerned.
This style does, however, come at a price. Leaps from 25-foot ladders, chairshots to the head and crashing through tables are bound to take their toll on the body.
So what does Jeff feel like when he gets out of bed every morning?
“It’s tough and myself being still young, I’m actually wild and crazy and feel invincible at times, but I know that I’m going to eventually slow down and I’m going to have to, but, as of now, I feel pretty good. But there are still times when I get up and I’m like ‘Whoa, what am I going to feel like when I’m 30 and, I’m like, Jeff, what are you doing, man? Chill out.’ You get so far into doing crazy moves, high-risk manoeuvres, and you get to a point where you can’t go any higher … you feel you cannot do any better than what you did at the last pay-per-view or at the last show.”
Asked what advice he thought the hard-core legend Mick Foley, who was forced into early retirement because of injuries suffered by taking risks, might offer, Jeff had this to say:
“[Foley] would say, ‘I know the only way you’re going to find this out is through yourself in the long run, but take it from me, just think about your family 10 years from now. Think about living a long life comfortably … feeling good, not being crippled up in a wheelchair, struggling to get out of bed every day.’ He would basically tell you that.”
Asked what runs through his mind in the seconds before Jeff puts it all on the line for a stunt, he had this to say:
“I don’t know. I get asked that a lot and I really don’t think about it, but it’s such a great feeling to be on top of a 14-foot ladder – a 14-foot ladder that appears to be a 28-foot [ladder] – and just be standing on [it] and doing your best just to be balanced on that sucker and just to be surrounded by all the power of a huge crowd. You know everybody’s looking at you and it’s just like ‘Whoa, I’ve made it. I’ve succeeded. This is something I’ve dreamed of and I’m totally living it. Let’s do it.’
“And I’ll worry about what happens when I land. If something happens, I’ll find out soon.”
And what about injuries? One would suspect from watching Jeff that he has in all likelihood suffered some pretty serious injuries over the years. Surprisingly, Jeff’s serious injury list is still pretty short.
“I broke my collarbone and dislocated my shoulder at the same time,” he said. “That was pretty brutal. It took a long time to get over that, but I’ve been very lucky, considering my style and the things I do as far as [injuries are concerned]. That’s like the only break I’ve ever had, is my collarbone. There’s always strains and pulls and tears and stuff. That’s just a part of the job. You’ve got to get used to it.”
In a tag team division packed with Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz, T and A and The Acolyte Protection Agency (APA), the Hardys have had to work hard to reach the top of the game. Perhaps their toughest challenge was to equal, if not surpass, the extreme popularity of the former tag-team champions, Canadians Edge and Christian, the Hardys’ former friends turned bitter enemies?
“I love working with [Edge and Christian],” Jeff said. “Straight-shooting, they’re the best team I’ve ever worked with. We totally click. As far as getting away from the normal lifestyle and jumping into that wrestling world, I think we’re a great feud that’s going to go down in the books. I’d really like to see a turnaround one day where we come back and join [forces] again. Maybe [we could be] the next version of D-X or something.”
THE PEOPLE’S CORNER
– The family of Owen Hart, who was tragically killed last year while performing a stunt at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the WWF and the city. Details of the settlement were not released, but the Kansas City Star quoted an unidentified source close to the negotiations as saying the WWF had agreed to pay the Hart family $18 million US.