Following Matt Hardy - Day 5

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April 01, 2007

Following Matt Hardy - Day 5
By Zack Zeigler with photos by Rich Freeda
April 1, 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. Upon achieving 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 followed Matt Hardy all week before he stepped into the ring to face seven other Superstars, including Jeff, in hopes of earning the opportunity to compete for a World Championship. What did the frenzy of WrestleMania do to Matt's life? Find out here:

 

Blood is Thicker Than Titles, 7:50 p.m.
 
Matt and Jeff were able to put aside their differences following the match. Separating their lives in the ring from their lives outside of WWE has been something they've learned to do over the years. "Jeff and I are closer than we've ever been. We're at the level where we can go out and compete against one another when we have to, but nothing is going to split us up this time. We know the next day no matter what happens, we're still going to be brothers."

 

Coming Up Short, 7:41 p.m.
 
Bruised and physically spent, Matt headed to the locker room area without the coveted briefcase that held the World Title opportunity. It wasn't from lack of effort. He did exactly what he said he would do—lay it all on the line. "I definitely thought it was a WrestleMania-caliber performance, but I came up a little short. But trust me, Matt Hardy will not die."

 

Heat of Battle, 7:34 p.m.
 
In a match with multiple ladders and seven other Superstars hungry for what's locked inside the briefcase, avoiding injury becomes nearly impossible.  "There are so many objects in there at one time that you have to keep your eye on everything."

 

Friends or Foes, 7:14 p.m.
 
Jeff and Matt had a "handshake agreement" going into the match that they'd work together until they were forced to become adversaries. They meshed well as a team for as long as possible, but the circumstance and the reality that a chance to compete for the gold was on the line brought an end to their union.

 

The Other Side, 7:10 p.m.
 
Matt never hid the fact that there's a major difference between Matt Hardy the person and Matt Hardy the in-ring performer. "Right before I go through the curtain I get in the mood where I change my mindset completely. I make my way to the ring, execute my trade and whip some ass."

 

Flipping the Switch, 6:50 p.m.
 
The intensity on Matt's face spoke louder than any words could describe. The moment he waited his entire career for was seconds away. His lifelong dream to own a World Title will be a road that sends him through seven other Superstars.

 

Breathe, 5:30 p.m.
 
It seemed as if the magnitude of WrestleMania may have caught up with the man who will lay his body on the line for a chance at WWE gold.

 

Gearing up, 5:14 p.m.
 
The biggest show of the year deserves some new duds. With more than 70,000 screaming WWE fans to impress, Matt decided it was finally time to showcase his new ring gear. "I started wearing these boots in Mexico," he said. "I got these pants three weeks ago, and I've been saving them for WrestleMania. It's been hard because I like them, and I've wanted to break them out."

 

Best Foot Forward, 4:35 p.m.
 
Matt asked one of the WWE trainers to wrap both ankles before competition—something he normally doesn't do. "Usually I get my right ankle taped before matches, but today I'm getting both taped because of the possibility of me falling from some extremely high heights."

 

Phoning in, 3:19 p.m.
 
Matt got a laugh while reading text messages from some of his closest fans. "I was answering messages from friends and family wishing me good luck and to be safe tonight."

 

Contemplation, 12:17 p.m.
 
Beyond the impressive, elaborate construction and overall size of the WrestleMania 23 set, Matt also made mention that his mind was also on his health. "Whenever I'm in the ring and I think about what my body will go through later or the chances I'll take in my match, I still know in my heart that I'll do anything it takes to win. As a singles competitor, this is the most important match of my career. It's easy to get overwhelmed when I stand in the ring and think and look at everything. But I'm going to slow down, breathe, take it step by step and get myself ready to win."

 

Game Day, 9:07 a.m.
 
On a chilly, damp morning in Detroit, Matt rolls out of bed after a seven-and-a-half hour slumber. Before eating, showering or speaking a word to anyone, he pulled the curtains open and peered out the window of his hotel room. "To conserve energy on the days when I have big matches, I stay low key during the day. When I walk down the ramp, I'll release everything I've conserved."

Check out Matt's gear at WWEShop!

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