Last week when WWE put WrestleMania tickets on sale in New Orleans, there was a lot more fanfare than just a general announcement and publishing a link to buy tickets. There was a ring set up in the SuperDome and a handful of Superstars in attendance to talk to the media.
We managed to snag some time with the Hardy Boyz, who gave us their WrestleMania 34 wish list and explained how their surprise return in Orlando went down.
WITH SPANDEX: It’s the WrestleMania on-sale celebration here at the SuperDome. Y’all been in New Orleans before. What’s your favorite New Orleans wrestling memory?
Matt Hardy: Oh man, there are many out here for sure. I’m trying to think of one specific that we’ve done in the course of our career. Do you have one off the top of your head?
Jeff Hardy: I really don’t. There’s nothing specific. It’s funny like, maybe it’s 25 years of doing this, everything kind of runs together and it’s funny to stick things in specific cities and put them in a certain compartment, but I’ve always loved coming here. It’s a great city, it’s a great wrestling city.
It’s actually a thing that I think is pretty interesting. In football, basketball people are able to tie geographical locations to important moments but you guys are so damn busy it’s got to be really difficult to do that. Is there a market that you can say, “We specifically like being in this market for this specific reason,” or does it really all blur together at this point?
Jeff: I think it all blurs. Very good, but yeah, after 25 years of doing this, yeah, it blurs extremely well.
Matt: One is Charlotte, because we know we’re gonna get to go home and sleep in our own bed that night. That’s pretty special, especially after doing this for a quarter of a century. It’s great getting home, especially when you have kids, which we both do.
You two have not done a WrestleMania in New Orleans yet. Anything about that that is particularly exciting? This is, in my opinion, the ideal WrestleMania city. Everything is so centrally located, and we’re known for being a party town that can handle big events. What are you most looking forward to?
Jeff: Well, first of all, it’s always cool to be here. There’s so many different forms of music everywhere and wrestling merges with that so well. But my biggest goal is to be ready by WrestleMania. Hopefully it’ll be a huge comeback. I had rotator cuff surgery six weeks ago, so that’s my goal, just to be ready by New Orleans April 8 and come back real strong.
What’s the timetable right now? Is that anything you can talk about?
Jeff: Five months.
So it could be cutting it a little bit close.
Jeff: Oh, for sure. It’s really close.
We’re all pulling for you. What about you Matt?
Matt: I think you summed it up well when you said New Orleans. Obviously when you think about party cities, I think probably the first two that come to mind would be New Orleans and Las Vegas. What a better place to have WrestleMania, which is a party. It’s the celebration of the year. It’s the biggest night of the year for us and it truly is a party, almost like that week celebrates the end of our year. It’s our Christmas in many ways, so to have it here in New Orleans I think is very fitting. It’s absolutely perfect.
So you guys made your return at WrestleMania last year. We’re still a few months away from WrestleMania 2018, but it’s starting to feel like it’s already been a year since the last one. What are some of your general thoughts and vibes about just being back in WWE for almost an entire year?
It’s a long time coming. I was away for seven, almost eight years and just to come back to the reaction we got last year at ‘Mania, it was just incredible. The goosebumps were incredible and they were so strong. It was just like we were home, you know? It felt good.
I’m sure you’ve heard a million stories about what fans did when y’all came back. I was in a terrace area in Orlando where there was a lot of room to move around and as soon as the music hit, the amount of people that got up and ran in different directions, almost running away from it because they were just so excited, was really bizarre. People just didn’t know what to do, they were so excited.
Matt: Yeah, there were so many great reaction videos in the stadium and also at home. The chaos and the bedlam that it created was so amazing. It was such a beautiful thing. We tried really hard to keep that secret under wraps as much as possible. We knew about it three weeks out, and it was just like getting to the finish line and actually walking into the building and walking out in front of that sea of humanity was wild.
It was one of the most exhilarating, exciting things I’ve ever done for sure in my career. The payoff of that crowd and just returning home under those circumstances and getting that reaction was absolutely amazing.
How nervous were you about that surprise getting out before it actually happened? In terms of you being at the facilities; getting off the bus or limo or whatever it is and getting into the locker room. Is that super nerve wracking or what?
Jeff: Oh yeah, my heart was pounding, man. Michael Hayes actually had to remind me to breathe. He said, “Just breathe.” And then I started yelling, kind of getting it out. Once we went to the curtain it all just went away. But yeah, leading up to that it was crazy and nerve wracking.
Matt: Yeah, I mean to begin with, we started watching WrestleMania when the pre-show and the kickoff show was going in our hotel. We had an appearance that day that was like four hours long. We did a signing. I’d put a picture that I took when we first flew in to the airport with myself and Jeff and the crew we were running with at that time, my son King Maxel, Senor Benjamin, and Queen Rebecca, our whole clique and said, “Thanks for an amazing week.”
Which we did have an amazing week, doing other events. We did WrestleCon, and we did Ring of Honor the night before. I had a great match with The Bucks of Youth but then we did that last signing and I just kind of left it very open, like, “Thanks for a great weekend.”
I didn’t say we were gone, and then we went back to our hotel, we relaxed, we had some dinner, and we were supposed to be there right after WrestleMania started. Then we sat on a bus for the whole while and then literally just walked in right before our match, so the surprise or secret didn’t get out.
For me it was tough, too, because I always get myself in like this mental zone. So I need like 20 or 30 minutes before the match to kind of think about it and get ready and prepare myself mentally and stretch and loosen up. We really didn’t get that. It was just like we were hanging on a bus and then rushed into the building. To get there and to get that reaction made it all worthwhile. It was an amazingly cool moment.
The amount of trust that goes into the work that you do with your opponents, your partners in the ring, I think wrestling fans generally understand and appreciate and respect the things that go into the creative backstage side of it, but the amount of trust that has to go into keeping that secret is crazy. How many people knew? Less than 10? More than 10? And you have to trust that they’re not gonna go into business for themselves and let someone know about it for their own personal gain, right?
Matt: The other three teams that were in that match only knew two days before. There were a handful of people in the office that knew about it. I would say there was probably under 15 people that knew about it at that time, maybe under 20 at the most. It was so contained. In this day and age, in age of technology and the age of social media, it’s amazing to have something stay under wraps that long.
Any non-Hardy Boyz predictions or things that you would like to see WrestleMania in New Orleans? Whether it’s a match, whether it’s a comeback, whether it’s just the way that this city can embrace what y’all do.
Jeff: Let’s see. More than anything I would love to see The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels come out of retirement and have one more match at Mania for sure.
Matt: It’d be great to have AJ Styles in a world title match. I think right now he’s the best performer in the world. To have a AJ Styles with Shawn Michaels would be pretty amazing. I know that’s kind of AJ’s dream too. It would be hard to lure Shawn out of that but I think he might work with AJ, because he knows that AJ could carry whatever load he couldn’t carry at that time. That’d be very cool.