Dueling Diaries: Day 4
Dueling Diaries: Jeff and Matt Hardy
By Craig Tello with photos by Rich Freeda and Eric Johnson
April 4, 2009
The descent, 7:13 a.m.
The alarm sounds and it's another day closer. There is little time to be wasted on the eve of the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania.
Matt surfaces from the seclusion of his room and heads to the fitness center, ensuring an early day workout. He walks down the corridor past trays of half-finished room service outside other guest rooms en route to routine training. On the elevator, Matt peeks out over the hotel vacant lobby at an early hour.
Reflection, 7:30 a.m.
Perpetually focused, Matt engages in intense physical training. Rigorous and efficient in his exercise, Hardy pauses for a brief examination of his physique. A mildly raw look upon his visage raises questions about what type of thoughts could be twisting and snaking around in his mind.
As Matt stands before the honesty of a mirrored wall, it's possible that his anger hinders him from recognizing the changed man he sees.
Inspired, 9:47 a.m.
Levels above his brother's relentless strength training, Jeff Hardy spins a drastically dissimilar narrative. Cuddled up close to his girlfriend, Jeff speaks with Beth in a delicately mellowed tone. The couple rests atop the plush bed, distilling an impenetrable harmony and their overwhelming adoration. Jeff doesn't need to search far for inspiration.
His concentration breaks as the two pass lighthearted words that easily yield laughter, while their intertwined legs start to slowly detangle. (Videos of Jeff: Immune to Fear | High Expectations | This Time, It's Different)
Morning challenge, 10:01 a.m.
As part of the WrestleMania week festivities, the Houston Public Library played host to the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Finals to celebrate the enthusiasm for reading shared by 15 very special teenagers. Pictures are flashing feet away, but Matt Hardy could barely be any less interested. According to the callous Superstar, he agreed to his participation a long while ago which he strongly regrets. This is time that could be used for additional time preparing for his approaching bout.
Reading between the lines, 11:22 a.m.
Two students from Houston prevail in the national WrestleMania Reading Challenge, earning polished trophies as well as front row seats to WrestleMania. Matt half-heartedly congratulates the commendable winners, covetously inspecting the symbol of their efforts. His attention drifts as someone strikes up a brief conversation about the battle with Jeff the next day. Capping off his defamatory, anti-brother statements, Matt gets outspoken about the gravity of the match.
"It's probably the biggest match of my career," he claimed.
Fly gear, 1:29 p.m.
Up and about for some time now, Jeff drudges through the loosely packed clothing in his luggage and the pieces strewn about his hotel room. He is piecing together his ensemble for one of WWE's most meaningful evenings: The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This occasion calls for formal wear -- not exactly Jeff's forte, but it's only appropriate for this night. Still, even the high-flyer's more crisp attire bears Hardy's standout style.
In a handful of hours, Jeff sits solo in the crowd while an esteemed set of the squared circle's most famous names join so many others.
Back to the future, 2:18 p.m.
On the way back to the hotel, Matt opts to take a detour, leading him to a future destination: Reliant Stadium. Inexplicably, he almost traces his brother's exact steps from two days earlier at the site of their imminent clash.
The last time Matt the stars aligned for Houston and WrestleMania was eight years ago. Matt was there. Then together with his brother, Matt fought fearlessly in a TLC Match against Edge & Christian and The Dudleys. Flash forward to find Matt's eyes fixed upward, perhaps reliving matches and moments like this with Jeff.
Waiting game, 4:41 p.m.
Before he can roll to the Toyota Center for the Hall of Fame Ceremony, Jeff Hardy finds himself in a green room setting. The day after Kofi Kingston championed the THQ Superstar Challenge, the video game of choice -- "Legends of WrestleMania" -- is still being played. Surprisingly, however, it's just not Jeff's thing. Instead, the enigma waits patiently for his transportation, finding enjoyment in the likenesses of old school Superstars' character models.
Matt can take a joke, 5:00 p.m.
Once again at the mirror today, Matt admires the sheer shimmer of his elaborately tailored suit. Perhaps triggered by the shade of violet accenting his sleek ensemble, Hardy channels another villain in a sinister monologue.
"This town needs an enema," he uttered, quoting The Joker. "Where does he get those wonderful ties?"
Capturing contrast, 5:14 p.m.
Spend enough time with Jeff Hardy and you're bound to experience an interesting sight. In this case, the former WWE Champion's body art creates a deeply contrasting visual. Against the formal attire for the Hall of Fame, one of Jeff's newest tattoos -- a gremlin peering through the pulled back skin of his throat -- connects its wild eyes with the camera lens. Jeff explains that this ink work is the mastery of Shane, the lead artist at Gas Chamber Ink -- Shannon Moore's tattoo parlor in North Carolina.
Gotta be the shoes, 5:25 p.m.
Unparalleled style, cool without effort. As Jeff applies the finishing touches to his evening wear in the locker room of the Toyota Center, he zips up his leather shoes and exposes fine detailing at their tops. He earns compliments from several Superstars in passing.
Betrayer betrayed, 5:46 p.m.
Carefully stalking his WrestleMania enemy in the rear passages of the Hall of Fame venue, Matt Hardy stumbles across Jeff Hardy sharing discourse with a common mentor, Michael "P.S." Hayes. None too pleased, Matt's mood expresses that he -- the betrayer -- somehow feels betrayed.
Called to the Hall, 5:55 p.m.
Matt ensures that he is far, far apart from Jeff as he enters the fan-flooded arena, moments before the Hall of Fame Ceremony commences. He examines his ticket and skulks his way from the shadowed entryway toward his seat.
In the air tonight, 6:03 p.m.
It's finally time for the showcase of WWE's most legendary names. The entire WWE roster -- including Legends and producers -- is wrangled up in the narrow halls of the Toyota Center and transited out to the arena floor to their assigned seats. Despite the great number of huge events he's experienced, the glitz of this spectacle is enough to inspire wide eyes in Jeff.
Causing a seat stir, 6:06 p.m.
Ushered to his assigned seat, Matt learns that he will be only a couple of rows from his own flesh and blood, Jeff. And it makes him irate. Matt creates a scene, even describing to Edge -- of all people -- the "audacity" of producers to position him so close to his estranged brethren. The seething Hardy seeks a new location on the complete opposite end of the arena, where he is flanked by a trio of temporarily unoccupied chairs.
With honor, 6:18 p.m.
Years ago, Jeff and Matt Hardy both underwent intensive training at the infamous Funkin' Dojo -- the breeding grounds of Dory Funk Jr. Tonight, Dory and his brother, Terry, find fulfillment in their careers by their Hall of Fame induction. Seated beside his girlfriend, Jeff beams at the honor bestowed upon one of his mentors. It's fair game to wonder if Jeff (along with his sibling) might one day achieve the same status as the brothers Funk and fellow familial honorees, the Von Erichs.
Spoil of fame, 6:38 p.m.
Within the Toyota Center, 15,000 WWE Universe members and a floor filled with WWE Superstars and Divas from all decades respectfully rise to their feet for Hall of Fame Inductees, the Von Erichs. All but one individual participates in the standing ovation: Matt Hardy.
His mood was spoiled by the earlier interaction between his sibling and the Von Erich's presenter, Michael Hayes. The sight of Matt's mentor on stage maddens the poker-faced Hardy and compels him to sit indignantly.
Tonight, two great family names are being added to the revered WWE Hall of Fame, while Matt and Jeff meet under such extreme circumstances 24 hours later. Irony stabs deep this evening in Houston.
Twenty-four left, 8:43 p.m.
The atmosphere is vividly joyful and Jeff Hardy shares this emotion with the entire Toyota Center. Doused in celebratory confetti that illuminates his disposition, he doesn't permit the rapidly approaching "big day" to curtail his merriment for so many respected squared circle veterans.
The week has run empty like fleeting sand in an hourglass. And all that stands between he and his brother are 24 hours.
Absence of color, 8:44 p.m.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin's closing comments leave the entire auditorium in a deafening roar. The confetti falls from the echoing rafters, dressing every Superstar beneath it in multicolored bits. Smiles abound except for the lone Hardy, who stands fantasizing of tomorrow night's outcome -- his version. As bright hued as the paper shreds enshrouding him are, Matt Hardy's dark intentions are discernible in his frosty glance and they eclipse all.
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