In his first interview since being released by World Wrestling Entertainment, Matt Hardy blasted Edge and Lita for their role in his firing, but thanked the promotion and Vince McMahon for giving him the opportunity to realize his dream of becoming a WWE superstar.
“The WWE provided me with a lot of great things I never would have had,” said Hardy during an appearance on the popular Between the Ropes radio program on April 20. “My only gripe is how the situation went down in the end. It was just poor decision making and I think things should have been handled differently.”
The situation Hardy referred to is the alleged off-camera affair between Edge (Adam Copeland) and Lita (Amy Dumas), Hardy’s former real-life girlfriend. In a March 14 post on his message board, Hardy called Copeland “feces,” claiming he was betrayed by one of his closest friends in the wrestling business. Consequently, the company asked Hardy, who lives in Cameron, N.C., not to attend a March taping of Raw in nearby Raleigh, fearing a potentially volatile situation might occur backstage. Hardy was also left off the WrestleMania card, attending an autograph signing instead.
On April 11, WWE posted a note on its website informing fans that Hardy had been released, eliciting a strong backlash from his loyal online following. During the interview on Between the Ropes, Hardy revealed the phone call he received from John Laurinatis (Johnny Ace) informing him of his release came as somewhat of a shock.
“Once I did get my release, it did kind of surprise me, but at the same time it didn’t. Once again, it was one of those things where it was very obvious what the release was about,” said Hardy. “To think that the company would ask me not to be at the shows and leave me at home from WrestleMania and then release me, taking the cheap way out of the situation, that was not cool.”
The day following his release, Hardy posted a message on his website thanking fans for their support. “I have been kicked down before (although probably not this much, in such a short amount of time), but I always find a way to rebound and make my life a better place. Thanks for the outpouring of emotion and letting me know how much you care — I need that now. For all of you who believe in me, cheer for me, and care for me, I am not going away — I will rise above,” wrote Hardy.
A petition began circulating the Internet in the wake of Hardy’s release, quickly amassing over 15,000 signatures from fans urging the WWE to bring Hardy back. At the April 18 Raw taping at Madison Square Garden, fans loudly booed Lita, a storyline fan favourite, and Edge. Deafening chants of “We want Matt” and “You screwed Matt,” left Lita visibly shaken during her segment with Trish Stratus. Hardy, again writing on his highly-visited message board, said the New York crowd’s response moved him.
“After just watching Lita and Edge on Raw, it’s very obvious what the WWE fans feel and believe. Madison Square Garden, which has been the WWE’s barometer for years about what the fans really think, let them know tonight. Matt Hardy got shafted — by a one-time close friend, by a women I have given everything within me, and by a company I loved with everything I am,” wrote Hardy.
During his Between the Ropes appearance and on his message board, Hardy likened his situation to the controversy surrounding Bret Hart in the aftermath of the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view.
“Hearing those chants over and over on Monday night, in some ways it made me feel like Bret Hart, which is quite an honour. I was a big Bret Hart fan, and I always hated the way Bret’s career ended,” said Hardy. “I never even got to the point in my career where I could get to where I wanted to get. I just feel like I was screwed out of getting that opportunity. I’m not saying I’m in the same league or same category as Bret Hart, but that’s very much who I felt like, especially watching on Monday night with the people backing me.”
Hardy’s fellow wrestlers also publicly backed him following his release. During an appearance on the Opie and Anthony radio show on April 18, Chris Jericho said the situation was “wrong and shouldn’t have happened,” adding, “it’s bad business, man. They fired Matt Hardy as a result, and how could you be sitting at home rehabbing your knee and, a month later, you lose your girlfriend and your job for doing nothing wrong.” Hardy thanked Jericho on his message board later that day, calling him, “incredibly supportive during this extremely tough time in my life, and I think very highly of him as a person and a professional.”
In an April 19 post on Hardy’s message board, Lisa Ortiz Copeland weighed in on the situation involving her husband and Lita, writing, “I am trying to forgive Adam and Amy but it will take a while … Good riddance to them both. They deserve each other. Just remember what goes around comes around. I may not have handled this in the best way possible, but I never expected this to be my life right now so please forgive me.”
Had he not been released, Hardy claimed he would have remained a professional backstage, revealing that while he still speaks with Lita, he has nothing to say to Edge.
“I would have went to work every day and been a professional,” said Hardy. “I would have walked into work every day and never said a word to him. I think the easy solution would have been to send me to Smackdown, which I would have been more than happy to do.”
Hardy mentioned that prior to his release, he personally created vignettes for a new, Punisher-like character, whose scar from knee surgery served as a constant reminder of the mental scars he suffered after losing everything in his life. “Because I had lost everything, my motto when I came back would be, ‘the scar becomes the symbol,'” said Hardy.
During the radio interview, Hardy mulled over the type of message that his firing sent to the WWE locker room. “I think they’re just kind of closing their eyes and hoping it goes away, but what kind of message is that sending to your locker room?” Hardy mused.
Although Hardy thinks that bringing a private situation into the public eye may not have been the best decision, he doesn’t regret standing up for himself.
“Do I regret doing it? Maybe. Maybe some of the things I did were a little rash, but I really don’t regret standing up for what I believe in, what I believe is right,” said Hardy. “If I have to be a martyr, lose my girlfriend and my job because I stood up for what I believe is right, I stood up for my First Amendment right to speak the truth, then so be it.”
During the show, Hardy revealed that his no-compete clause expires on July 10, leaving him free to work elsewhere, effective the following day. He mentioned TNA and ROH as two promotions he’s considering working for, adding that he may also promote his own shows in North Carolina. On the independent circuit, A.J. Styles has impressed Hardy, and he looks forward to working with Styles after he’s free to compete outside the WWE.
“I think A.J. has done great for himself. He’s one of the most exciting wrestlers there is,” said Hardy. “I would love to get in the ring and wrestle for an hour with him, because that guy can do anything.”
While he waits for his no-compete clause to expire, Hardy plans to pursue other projects outside of wrestling. He remains optimistic about the situation, refusing to let it get him down.
“It’s just the way things are and I can’t bitch and moan about it. I just have to pick up the pieces and move on,” said Hardy. “I was living my dream, as far as being a WWE wrestler. I seemed to be with this great girl, who was wonderful and we were best friends. It was a lot to swallow in one time. It’s a good thing I’m me and a good thing I’m as thick-skinned as I am. I don’t think a normal person could even survive this, because it’s a pretty big blow.”
“It’s not exactly been the most shining period of my life. It’s been very stressful; it’s been very aggravating; it’s been very frustrating,” Hardy added. “I’ve pretty much covered all the bad emotions. It’s a lot to come down on you at once, especially when you think you’re getting into a groove in life.”
Still, Hardy doesn’t rule out a possible WWE return down the line.
“Who knows? One day I could be back in the WWE. It could be tomorrow, it could be in ten years, maybe never, who knows? Right now, I have achieved my original dream of me and my brother being in WWE and being tag team champs. And I did achieve a lot more than I ever set out for, but there’s more I would have loved to do.”
Between The Ropes wrestling radio show airs from Orlando, Florida and can be heard every Wednesday night from 10pm – 12am Eastern on WQTM Sports Radio 740 AM and live on the Internet at www.betweentheropes.com.