It has been a long road back to the ring for Jeff Hardy.
The daredevil suffered a broken leg in a dirt bike accident last year. Now the popular TNA Impact Wrestling performer is revving up for a return to regular competition in a match against Eric Young Tuesday y 9/8CT on Pop TV.
“It’s going to be exciting to see the Orlando crowd again,” Hardy said.
“The Impact Zone crowd will be on fire, I’m sure. I’m going to push myself the hardest than I have since I started wrestling again. It’s kind of like when I did with James Storm when I came back for revenge that time. We had a killer match. I feel the same will happen with Eric Young. Plus, I would love to piledrive him through a table.”
Hardy believes he is about 80 percent at the moment. A brace on his knee has helped build his confidence when it comes to what he is capable of in matches.
“It’s working great, and I feel safe with it,” he said.
“My knee is still unstable. I just have to be careful. Every match I’ve had since I started working again, I try to push myself a little bit more each time. I just did my first Swanton Bomb a few weeks ago, and it turned out alright. I mean I crushed [brother] Matt, but at the same time I didn’t hurt my knee and ended up alright. I just do a little more as I go and play it day-by-day.”
Hardy built his career on his high-risk style as he jumped off countless ladders, balconies and everything in between. So it’s crazy to think the broken leg was his first serious injury after more than 20 years in pro wrestling.
Hardy says the rehabilitation was not only physically challenging, but mentally as well.
“It made me realize how much I loved wrestling,” he said.
“A couple of weeks after the surgery, the pain was horrible. It was throbbing. Then when I went back to do a few shows, I wasn’t having any matches. I would do things with EC3 or be by Matt’s side. It made realize how much I loved wrestling because, naturally, when I’m at a show, I want to be part of it, in the Jeff Hardy way I normally am. So getting hurt and going through everything helped me realize how much I love being in the ring. I think it was all meant to be because I modified my style. I protect my knee, but also protect myself more and not do as many insane things as I normally do. That’s how I have been able to deal with it.
“The signature things, I can pretty much do everything — except I’m terrified to try a Whisper in the Wind because I’m worried about the turning and momentum. I always land different, so I’m not sure how that is going to happen. I’m sure I will try it during the tapings. Other things like a splash I can’t do. I can’t land on my knee. As long as I don’t land on my knee or try to jump out of the ring to the floor, I feel safe with the brace. The more matches I have, the better it gets.”
During his time on the shelf, the 38-year-old decided to sign a new deal with TNA. He has remained loyal to the company during his time there and is grateful for what they have done for him.
“It was pretty simple,” Hardy said of his reasoning for re-signing.
“I got hurt outside the ring, and I hurt TNA in the process. I felt like I had to. I feel the least I could do was sign for another year. I wanted to go out with a bang and give them a good year at least before I make any major decisions. So that was the main reason because my contract would have been up completely had I finished out the year. Being that I got hurt, I owe them that.”
The “Charismatic Enigma” enters back into the fold with his brother Matt reigning as the villainous TNA champion. The older sibling has reinvented himself, and the younger Hardy has been impressed.
“It’s great to see him doing his thing,” he said.
“His wife is also a wonderful editor and photographer. The videos they make on their own are just hilarious and fun to watch. I think he is the best he has ever been in the ring. I’m loving every minute of it. Honestly, I’m looking forward to another Jeff Hardy versus Matt Hardy match. We teased it before I got put through a table by Eric Young. I think we will have to get back to that some time. I would ultimately love to win the world title from my brother. It may end up being from EC3 and Bobby Lashley. There is a lot of stuff going on. It’s very exciting. I’m just glad I can be able to get in the mix.”
The two have worked against each other in the past while in WWE. However, Hardy believes this time would feel different.
“It’s closer to reality now,” he said.
“Matt is arrogant on TV and tends to exaggerate a little bit, but it’s a bit how he can be in real life. He has always been that kind of guy. He is the social networking guy in the spotlight. I try to stay away from it all. I don’t read timelines. Just for that clash, it will be something fresh. People will be more invested. It’s pro wrestling, so anything is possible. I can see him being a heel and me being a face. Or I can say I want to make up for the way I failed him because when I broke my leg we had just won the tag titles. So we didn’t even get to defend them. So down the road I can even see us teaming again. Even if he is still acting like Big Money Matt, I can see us trying to win back those titles.”
Aside from his TNA commitments, Hardy has appeared at numerous independent events. He has a good time and is able to see what other talent is out there.
“I would love to do a documentary of me going around, because there are so many innovative things that happen. Whether it’s meeting the local guys in the locker room or what happens during the shows, it’s so free. You don’t have anybody telling you really what to do. You can go out there and do what you want as long as you give the crowd a good show.”
As far as more mainstream products outside of TNA, he watches WWE Raw now and then.
“I never knew how over-the-top New Day was until I watched a few weeks ago,” Hardy said. “I have never watched NXT. I just hear that it is really good…. I saw pictures of [Finn Balor] from my wife. I just hear about him and that he is good. I see all the face paint. I can only imagine how cool his entrance is. People have said. ‘Jeff, it’s crazy and cool. It reminds me of you.’ But I haven’t watched NXT at all
“…It still excites me to know I am loved there. I don’t watch it that much, because I miss the crowd. It kind of hurts when I watch any shows because I want to be a part of the show just like in TNA when I wasn’t able to work. I had to go to shows, and it was sickening; I wanted to wrestle. Professional wrestling is as cool as it has ever been. It has had its ups and downs, but I think things will be picking up in TNA with the shows coming up.”
Even though he isn’t an avid viewer, Hardy likes the idea of Sting going into the WWE Hall of Fame.
“Back in the day I was a fan of the Ultimate Warrior and Sting,” he said. “That kind of helped create Jeff hardy. I’m glad it’s finally happening for him. It’s well deserved.”
Hardy refers back to his controversial match with Sting in 2011 at Victory Road as a catalyst to get his life back on track. The main event caused concern for Hardy’s wellbeing when he appeared under the influence.
“It was an eye-opener for me,” he said.
“After all the chaos of what I went through with addiction, that pretty much saved me, because I saw myself in a state of not being able to perform. Then 2012 I would call my best year ever. I won the title from Austin Aries at Bound for Glory. That was probably my proudest moment in TNA. I felt like I had done it. I had defeated the demons and felt better than ever.”
The colorful star has been persevering ever since. The young TNA locker room can learn from the veteran’s mistakes and story of redemption. Hardy believes there are talented members of the roster that have bright futures if they can connect with the audience. Helping them accomplish that is TNA creative member and Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan.
“I’m starstruck every time I see him,” Hardy said. “I don’t want to act that way, but I do. In my demo videos on my four-head VCR back in the day, I videoed two of his songs. I’m a little fan when I see him.
“He is such a big wrestling fan, which is so cool. He understands what it’s all about. It’s great. As far as my own music, he inspires me because he told me one time he hated the way his voice sounded. I kind of felt that way now, even with the songs I’m working on currently. There are so many parts that are good and others where I feel I can’t go places with my voice.
“I’m still trying to learn. I always remember my talk with him when I get frustrated. He told me how he felt about his voice. Now to know how signature his voice is. I’m still trying to find my happy spot with my voice, my music and my songs. I still try, but it’s challenging. But just to have Billy there at Impact Wrestling is really cool.”
A source of inspiration and motivation for Hardy has been his family. His wife, Beth, gave birth to their second daughter, Nera, in December. The couple’s first is Ruby.
“I don’t know how these single parents do it with three, four, five and six kids,” he said.
“It’s amazing just the work it takes. There are the long nights with the crying, the pooping, the changing and all that stuff. It’s all good. I have two Hardy sisters. I’m in love with them. I can see them tag teaming in the future and winning the women’s tag team titles in 2036. It’s a blessing to have another baby. It’s nerve-wracking and scary when a woman is pregnant in the first place. So much can go wrong. But everything turned out okay, and I couldn’t be happier.
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Photos Courtesy: TNA Entertainment