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Dueling Diaries: Introduction
Dueling Diaries: Jeff and Matt Hardy
By Craig Tello with photos by Rich Freeda and Eric Johnson
April 1, 2009
"With the two of us together, we felt there were no odds we couldn't overcome."
These are the words uttered just two years ago in an interview with WWE.com by a much different Matt Hardy. Since then, a certain set of odds have materialized - as orchestrated by Matt - that contradict his statement and, more importantly, compromise the blood-bound covenant between two brothers.
Normally, participation in WrestleMania - let alone the milestone 25th WrestleMania - is something that Superstars look forward to all year, finding pride in the opportunity to perform on the absolute Grandest Stage of Them All. But not for the Hardys - one filled with wrath, the other jealousy. For Jeff and Matt, this is the moment even they never thought would happen: A day where brother must take up arms against brother ... under Extreme Rules.
How did it come to this? That's the single question the WWE Universe - though admittedly excited about a dream match between Jeff and Matt Hardy - have been asking for months now. While moving onward to The Biggest Spectacle of Them All and WWE.com's week-long 'Mania trek beside Jeff and Matt Hardy in "Dueling Diaries," the WWE Universe glances back at the shards of the past now strewn about a cold arena floor.
In the beginning ...
Before the ring, before the hot arena lights, before the successes and failures, Matt and Jeff Hardy were brothers, bound by blood. From sharing family vacations to sharing the seemingly far-fetched aspiration to one day perform in the middle of a wrestling ring, the Hardys lived side-by-side.
Developing their soon-to-be-renowned craft atop a trampoline in the tree-engulfed woods of Cameron, N.C., Jeff and Matt ultimately achieved a dream long dreamt when they joined WWE's tag team ranks in 1993. Together. Enthusiastic, they embarked upon a shared journey first tasted in their wildest imaginations.
Boys to men
Playing the part of the "new guys," the "young kids," the Hardys' desire to earn the admiration and respect of their in-ring peers and fans worldwide was immediately noticed. No matter the competition, the Hardys were unquestionably living their dream but aspired to climb higher and higher ...
Hardys' first 'Mania
... which they did, most literally, at WrestleMania 2000. Together, Matt and Jeff competed at their first WrestleMania, almost nine years ago exactly in a Triple Threat Ladder Match. The Hardy Boys proved themselves men in Anaheim, Calif., against WWE's top teams of the time: Edge & Christian and The Dudleys. Anyone who's ever seen Jeff Hardy's dauntless, bold Swanton Bomb from the ladder's peak has never forgotten it. Though Edge & Christian triumphed that night, Matt and Jeff found future success, capturing the World Tag Team Titles on several occasions.
In May 2003, Jeff Hardy was released from WWE, leaving Matt on a solitary quest to reach the top. Enduring fate's many twists for several years thereafter, Matt and Jeff found themselves ultimately competing in the same WWE ring once more when The Charismatic Enigma returned "home" in late summer 2006. Back together in WWE but competing on separate brands, the Hardys were reinspired and reignited.
Their destinies would again intertwine to form of a cohesive tag team unit seven years to the date of their "loss" at WrestleMania 2000. On Raw, the Hardys once again captured the World Tag Team Championship on April 2, 2007 - their first time sharing tag gold since 2001.
As both brothers continued to grow and excel, they each found significant success in singles action. Jeff carried the Intercontinental Title on a handful of occasions and Matt held the United States Championship. The first Hardy to snare a World Title proved to be the older brother, Matt, who secured the ECW Championship in one of three Unforgiven Championship Scrambles in September 2008. Though it was one Hardy's finest career achievement, both shared the celebration of a long journey fulfilled.
Brothers and champions
Early Hardy holiday merriment kicked off the night of Armageddon when Jeff won the WWE Championship on Dec. 14, 2008 in Buffalo, N.Y. For years, Jeff struggled to crack the glass of the symbolic ceiling that lingered overhead. Yet, with one seismic Swanton Bomb, Jeff pinned Edge to silence naysaying critics and finally fortify his position at the top of Friday Night SmackDown and the squared circle.
With Matt as reigning ECW Champion and Jeff as the newly crowned WWE Title holder, the Hardys collectively held two-thirds of WWE's most coveted gold. Their father, watching at home in North Carolina, couldn't have been any prouder.
Unseating his brother
In the weeks that followed The Charismatic Enigma's biggest triumph, misfortune met Jeff at every pass. Behind the wheel and in the arena, Jeff was the victim of a series of accidents including a late night car crash and a bizarre pyrotechnic malfunction on SmackDown. Though seemingly circumstantial, the truth would later be learned ... but not before the greatest tragedy of all: The outright betrayal by his own brother at the Royal Rumble.
Consumed by jealousy and angst after losing the ECW Title, Matt Hardy wrapped a steel chair around Jeff's skull, costing him the WWE Championship. Less than one month after standing beside his sibling with a false smile for photo opportunities, Matt made sure he wasn't the only Hardy devoid of championship gold.
The elder Hardy later revealed that Jeff's many hazardous incidents were all manufactured by the same individual he'd spent a lifetime trusting and supporting. This dangerous, treachery-laden slope would ultimately become the Hardys' Road to WrestleMania, a rugged and rancorous path they now share much like so many other experiences in their careers.
But this time, there can be no hugs distributed or arms raised in solidarity, together. Under Extreme Rules, there will be only one Hardy left standing, for better or worse.
Diaries: Intro | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Photos: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Dueling Diaries Video Gallery
More on Hardy vs. Hardy at WrestleMania
WWE.com explores infamous "Brotherly Betrayals"