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Dueling Diaries: Day 5
Dueling Diaries: Jeff and Matt Hardy
By Craig Tello with photos by Rich Freeda and Eric Johnson
April 5, 2009
The morning blues, 8:29 a.m.
Day breaks in Houston and April 5 has finally crept its way to fruition. The first thing, however, that races through Jeff Hardy's mind when he wakes at 6:30 is getting to his early morning WrestleMania Axxess Q&A session at 8:30 sharp. Shaking off any early morning grogginess, Jeff glides down the aisle and rounds the ring to slap five after five.
This morning, Jeff appears with a new look, a refreshing cerulean blue tint to his hair. A "real rush job" as he describes it, something he did in less than an hour last night after the Hall of Fame.
Popping the questions, 8:40 a.m.
Among many insightful questions directly from the WWE Universe members, Jeff talks alternative careers if he had never become a WWE Superstar. His responses are musician, graphic designer, even landscaper -- anything creative with an opportunity to make art.
Next, one female fan in attendance shouts above the rest, hollering a marriage proposal to Hardy, which he politely declines with a humble smile.
Before heading out, Jeff reverses roles and asks the attendees if they would like to see him go with or without face paint for his match later today. They respond with a resounding "YES!"
Facing the event, 10:43 a.m.
Jeff travels from WrestleMania Axxess across Reliant Park to the home of the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. He passes production trucks on his way inside the stadium bearing the face of the one and only Phenom. The demon's glare doesn't faze Hardy, though it reminds Jeff of Undertaker's legacy at WrestleMania -- a showcase at the absolute pinnacle of WWE events.
He is a long way from his first match against Razor Ramon in the early '90s, and even further from the Moore County Fair in North Carolina, where he and Matt first started performing so many years ago in front of (modest) crowds.
Go away, 11:02 a.m.
Refuge is within Jeff's crosshairs as he maneuvers through the halls of Reliant Stadium with bags containing his ring gear. In the locker room area, Hardy turns around many bends for a quiet, unoccupied space. His steps have been traced for the entirety of the week and he has welcomed the company. Still, the subtlety of some oddly appropriately signage conveniently displays the thought that likely lingers in Jeff's mind.
40 (or less) winks, 11:14 a.m.
It's been a long beginning to the an important day. With plenty of time to spare before he assumes his game face, Hardy finally hits the snooze button hours after his alarm first sounded. Jeff kicks off his loosely tied Adidas sneakers and stretches out on a couch within a stadium lounge. This will be his last rest prior to locking up in an Extreme Rules Match with Matt.
The arrival, 12:10 p.m.
A bit later than his brother, Matt makes his grand entrance at Reliant Stadium. It's been a fairly restful morning for this Hardy, who rolls his suitcase behind him. Afflicted by deep rooted hostility, Matt's pace is deliberate and methodical. If you ask him, this is his day.
A glimpse of destiny, 12:18 p.m.
The lone, aggressive Hardy saunters around the wide stadium passageways, searching for the locker room to unpack. He suddenly pauses in his stride, tilting his head leftward down a corridor to his destiny: The ground floor of Reliant Stadium. Just yesterday, Matt made his visit to this spot, but not with the aura of so many beaming spotlights and colorful cascades of light.
Routine ready, 12:33 p.m.
After considering a trip out onto the stadium grounds, Matt opts to keep moving. As he has insisted for five full days, Matt is relying on intense physical training to secure an advantage over his brother and, ultimately, victory. Consistent with his mantra, Matt pauses beside a glass window that overlooks a gym facility within Reliant. This will make do for one final workout shortly.
Unzipped, 1:09 p.m.
Matt finds an unpacking point at last and quickly unzips his luggage. Its contents include a knee brace that's usually concealed beneath the pant legs of his ring attire. Hardy also reveals his ring boots, which he fully intends on connecting with his brother's body in mere hours.
True colors, 1:39 p.m.
Last night, while Matt Hardy scowled in the fourth row of the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, his fellow North Carolinians clinched their spot in the NCAA Championship Finals. Matt's Carolina blue Tar Heels jersey is his standard issue warm-up attire, but their triumph just one night earlier gives him an inflated sense of pride. He tightens his sneaker laces for a rigorous exercise routine.
Just as UNC topped rival Villanova, Matt believes he will not just conquer, but also obliterate Jeff tonight.
Superstar-struck, 2:06 p.m.
The stars are out in Houston, and it's not just the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania logo. While Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger is meeting and greeting various Superstars and Divas, the one and only Kid Rock is rehearsing his live performance in front of 70,000 unoccupied seats. In the dressing room area, Jeff Hardy passes by a monitor displaying the run-through and stops to catch the culmination of Rock's preliminary performance.
Suiting attire, 2:14 p.m.
Just as Jeff plans to unveil his new gun metal and purple boots, Matt has his own new garment that he saved just for WrestleMania. The item is a stark, black velvet jacket with meticulous stitching of a menacing gargoyle, its hypnotic eyes suggesting themes of malice and sheer wickedness -- ideals recently embraced by Matt Hardy.
"It's the start of a new beginning, a new look," Matt ominously uttered. "More details to follow …"
Funked up, 3:20 p.m.
The night before at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Jeff Hardy witnessed Dory Funk Jr., officially join the class of 2009. With all the pomp and circumstance at the Toyota Center, The Charismatic Enigma couldn't get an intimate moment with his former Funkin' Dojo trainer. Jeff's genuine congratulatory handshake is firmly received by Funk who reciprocates with some advice, ever the teacher.
The bottom line, 3:47 p.m.
Sans glass shatter, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's path intersects with that of a war-bound Jeff Hardy. Earlier in the week, Hardy revealed that despite his strong connection with so many of this year's WWE Hall of Fame additions, the most influential inductee to him is The Texas Rattlesnake.
Austin briefly describes the honor of joining the Hall, then segues to encouraging Jeff to supply his brother with a much deserved thrashing a few hours from this moment … because Stone Cold said so.
The key to success?, 4:22 p.m.
Matt Hardy truly does intend on making WrestleMania the dawn of a brand new day. The details he earlier alluded to surface near the seamstress table in the locker room. Fresh off the sewing machine is Hardy's newly fashioned ring attire. Tonight, Matt ditches his recognizable cargo pant-inspired gear and embraces an entirely new style: Classic tights.
Matt's set of black and cobalt tights boast an interesting symbol -- a key -- that houses his "MH" insignia. He does not hesitate to describe the relevance of this theme.
"I'm going to unlock my destiny and prove that I am the superior member of the Hardy family," Matt said.
Putting his face on, 5:32 p.m.
Like strokes on a canvas, Jeff Hardy slowly applies a thick coat of color to his wrinkled brow, leaving a brilliant tincture. Using Kryolan Aquacolor Day Glow Effects, Jeff begins with his forehead, then moves down the bridge of his nose and below to his throat.
He puckers and tilts, reaching the jaw line, clef -- all the right sects of his contoured face.
Hardy's palette is a five-piece tray of fluorescent color wells. He only uses the purple -- the first time he's ever used this particular shade, which he describes as a "traditional Hardy Boy color." This tint also syncs well with not just his brand-new boots, but also his matching belt, which he strips from a pair of jeans he wore days earlier.
Maintaining the mane, 5:40 p.m.
In a rare glimpse of a Superstar with their hair down, Matt glowers beneath his combed forth mane. He peers at the reflective glass feet away from him as the hairstylist brushes and teases his thick, dark hair. Despite this primping, Matt's deep brown eyes remain concentrated.
An artist, 5:44 p.m. (Videos of Jeff: Gearing for battle | Putting his game face on)
"It's easy to blend in sometimes but it's harder to stand out," Jeff asserted. "It's art. This whole business is art. I'm a piece of art, myself."
No more waiting, 7:16 p.m.
"Time has come …" as Matt's brother and enemy's entrance theme suggests. Matt is well aware. Barking intensely on his way toward the arena entrance, the elder Hardy's wrists and fists are tightly taped, creasing with each clench. Outside the partition lies a sold-out Reliant Stadium crowd that has waited for 16 years of the Hardys' career for this "dream match." One questions how long Matt has dreamt the same.
Here and now, 7:20 p.m.
Fifteen years ago, Jeff watched Bret "Hit Man" Hart and his younger brother, Owen, collide at WrestleMania X. The high-flying, risk-taking Superstar recalls witnessing this classic encounter in 1994 beside his sibling and saying, "Wow, wouldn't that be cool if we were doing that someday?"
"Someday" is here. It's now. Right through one single curtain.
Matt in the middle, 7:26 p.m.
The action is relentless as the pair of Hardys hold nothing back. It's a much different sight from their earliest days training atop a buoyant trampoline in their North Carolina backyard. Steel steps are dented and chairs are swung -- one connecting with Matt's skull as penance for his Royal Rumble betrayal done in the same fashion.
Just when it didn't appear possible to get much more extreme, Jeff creates a sandwich structure of which Matt is the core. Driving the Houston audience to its feet, the enigma launches and crushes his brother in wood shards and wreckage.
Ladder leaping, 7:33 p.m.
Suddenly, Matt Hardy's prophecy that his brethren's risk-taking ways would be his ultimate ruination is fulfilled. In a flashback-like instance, Jeff scales up a ladder, then propels his body forward for a ladder leapfrog that mirrors the maneuver he exacted in a war fought alongside his fellow Hardy at WrestleMania years earlier.
This time, the leapfrog of faith is fruitless and leaves Jeff susceptible to his brother's vicious clutches. His neck locked in a steel folding chair, the purple-faced warrior takes a Twist of Fate which seals Matt's triumph.
Stadium seething, 7:39 p.m.
The eyes of the world are fixed exactly where Matt Hardy wants them -- and they express their disgust. For so long, he has craved this glory, the right to be called the "superior Hardy." As he slithers from the ring, a grin forms on his face -- one of very few captured the entire week. His ego swelled and self-prophesied conquest fulfilled, Matt declines comment. Perhaps his actions have bellowed loud enough for one evening, perhaps a lifetime.
Feeling loss, 7:43 p.m.
Defeated and despondent, the violet color has been smeared from Jeff's pained face. Despite a performance not soon to be forgotten and the support of fans calling his name as he retreats, Jeff is crushed. In his slow stagger, it's difficult to determine if the anguish on his face is the result of lingering match bruising and tenderness or perhaps something less physical, much deeper.
He's lost the match, he's lost his the chance to earn his first victory at WrestleMania. Most of all, he's lost his brother.
Diaries: Intro | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Photos: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Dueling Diaries Video Gallery
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