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Following Matt Hardy - Day 2
Following Matt Hardy - Day 2
By Zack Zeigler with photos by Rich Freeda
March 29, 2007
As a child growing up in rural North Carolina, Matt Hardy and his brother Jeff dreamed of one day competing in the Mecca of sports-entertainment—World Wrestling Entertainment. At age 18, Matt achieved that goal. He and Jeff went on to form The Hardys, capturing numerous tag team championships as well as the respect and admiration of the WWE fans.
Now Matt is all grown up and has matured into a well-rounded, level headed SmackDown Superstar fueled by competition. His dream of competing at WrestleMania has once again become a reality. WWE.com will follow Matt Hardy all week before he steps into the ring to face seven other Superstars, including Jeff, in hopes of earning the opportunity to compete for a World Championship. What does the frenzy of WrestleMania do to Matt's life? Check with WWE.com through the week leading up to WrestleMania 23 to find out.
Rest at Last, 11:47 p.m.
Anyone that claims life as a WWE Superstar is easy obviously hasn't spent a day in Matt Hardy's boots. "Last night I spent some time hanging with friends — it's kind of like a tradition when you come to WrestleMania," said the exhausted Superstar. "There are always those nights where you have to sacrifice and you only get three, maybe four hours of sleep. Tonight I'm banking on getting at least seven hours." It's been a long day for Hardy. It started at 7:15 a.m. with a question-and-answer session with high school students; then he had lunch, met with Michael "P.S." Hayes -- Hardy's mentor -- about a game plan for his Money in the Bank Ladder Match, drove an hour both ways to sign autographs for two-and-a-half hours, went shopping at the mall, worked out and enjoyed a (very) late dinner. Now, pushing the midnight hour, it's finally time for bed.
Down Time, 7:40 p.m.
Matt and Michelle McCool stayed an extra half-hour to ensure that everyone in line was able to get some WWE memorabilia signed. After signing autographs for more than two hours, Matt kicked back, sipped on a Coke and relaxed with a tire store mascot in the florescent lights of the Bell Tire break room.
Say Cheese, 7:10 p.m.
Michelle Lee, a Michigan native, is such a Matt Hardy fan that she once drove all the way to Matt's hometown to snap a picture next to the Cameron sign that welcomes visitors. "We were heading through North Carolina and saw Cameron on the GPS map, so we decided to stop and take a picture next to the sign," she said "I've been to 12 or 13 of Matt's appearances in the past; the furthest I've gone to see him was in New York. I drove 10 hours for that one, hung out with him for 15 minutes and then drove back to Michigan." At Bell Tire, Matt recognized Michelle immediately. How? "I won a trivia contest in 2002 and won a Valentine's Day date; it was awesome," she said grinning uncontrollably. "Matt is just such a nice guy. He's never above stopping for his fans to take a picture, give a hug or to sign an autograph."
On the Road Again, 4:10 p.m.
The ride to an autograph signing at Bell Tire from Matt's hotel took approximately 60 minutes. To kill time before he'd converse with hundreds of his fans, Matt surfed the Net, caught up on e-mails and checked his official MySpace page (www.myspace.com/theonlymatthardy). "I use MySpace to talk about my life outside of sports-entertainment," he said. "I might talk about the grind of being on tour or to let people know that I'll be on SmackDown or maybe to say thanks for cheering for me, but usually I use WWE.com to talk about my life in the ring."
An Emotional Moment, 11:05 a.m.
Following Matt's appearance, 16-year old Deanna Huff broke down in tears when the SmackDown Superstar granted her an autograph. The lifelong Hardy fan had gotten wind that Matt would be at the school, and waited patiently for two hours in the parking lot for her opportunity to approach her idol for his signature.
Turning the Tables, 10:36 a.m.
Matt turned the tables and began asking the kids questions. Curious about their future plans, Matt hopped off stage and asked students what it is they wanted to do with their lives. There were future doctors, nurses, animators and of course, WWE Superstars, scattered throughout the audience. Matt's advice to them —never give up, especially when the chips are down. "Life is like a wrestling match; a lot of times things are looking good and then something happens and you're fighting from underneath."
Ladies and Gentleman: Matt Hardy, 10:11 a.m.
As he emerged from behind the curtain to a raucous ovation from Western International's 9th Grade Academy, all of Matt's drowsiness evaporated. "I don't have to manufacture a story when I talk to these kids; I only have to tell the kids about my life," he said. And that's exactly what he did. Speaking to the awestruck crowd, he answered questions ranging from how much longer he'll perform in WWE, what it will be like to compete against Jeff at WrestleMania 23 and what his favorite aspects of his job are. "The best part about being in WWE is that I followed my dream. Whatever you have as a dream, don't let anyone tell you it can't happen; give it your all. If you're not giving it your all, you're robbing yourself."
Rise and Shine, 8:23 a.m.
become more frequent as WrestleMania approaches. With a hectic appearance schedule paired with the lingering reality that his WrestleMania match could potentially end his career, Matt Hardy gazes out the window of his limousine with a cup of coffee in hand before his 9 a.m. appearance at Michigan's Western International High School. "I got about four hours of sleep last night," said a bleary-eyed Hardy. "I finally went to bed around 3:30 a.m. and then got back up around 7:15."