Matt Hardy recalls his 18-year-old self having to hold his ground against The Raging Bull Manny Fernandez.
Appearing on the latest edition of AEW Unrestricted, Hardy spoke about his time working as a promoter in the 90s. He and his brother Jeff created and ran OMEGA Championship Wrestling from 1997 until they signed full-time deals with WWE in 1999. Hardy explained how during that time he was working three jobs while also attending college.
"You know, I used to do that back in the day before I had any idea what I was doing," Hardy began by saying. "There was the old OMEGA promotion. You know, the tapes got traded quite a bit. I think Tony Khan ended up grabbing some OMEGA tapes back in the day. Here's a very funny story for you, and Tony Schiavone, I'm sure you know the Raging Bull Manny Fernandez. On the second show that we were promoting and running, and this is back in 1994, we still didn't know what the hell we were doing, obviously. But I was the promoter. I had three jobs during that time when I was starting to go to college. The Hardy Compound; I would rake pine straw and sell pine straw per barrel. I thought myself how to sew. I got my mom's old sewing machine, dusted it off and learned how to sew so I could make our own tights and gear for myself and Jeff because we were two broke kids from the middle of nowhere in the middle of North Carolina. Then I started making gear for other guys locally in the area too. So I did that to make money. Then I would try and sell enough sponsorships to whatever venue we were going to go to, whether it be Southern Pines or Sanford North Carolina, we had two towns we ran in the beginning, where I had enough money to pay the boys a little bit and then also make some on the side. So that was kind of my three jobs at the time because I was also going to college."
Hardy continued on, saying that Hurricane Shane Helms warned him that Manny Fernandez heard about the show and insisted that he would be there, even though he wasn't booked. He said the following:
"So, the second big show that we were having, it was in Sanford, North Carolina and we had just become friends with The Hurricane Shane Helms and his partner Mike Howell and they were very like-minded like us. They were young guys who were kind of thinking about the greater good and kind of had the same mindset as far as the work style. The style that we worked on those Omega shows were kind of like the current AEW style where we would go all in. It wasn't a building process. The first match didn't have to stay in the ring, they could go crazy. I wanted every match to steal the show and it was full of highspots. That was another thing that Big Money Matt said in the beginning, that I created the whole AEW style. I'm responsible for it. I was doing it in the early 90s. So the second show we're doing, Hurricane Shane Helms had come and said 'Hey man, I saw Manny Fernandez last night and he'd asked where we're working today and I told him Sanford, and he said 'Yeah, Sanford, I'm there too. I'm in Sanford tomorrow.'' Shane said 'I don't think you're there, they only have young guys. They don't really use any names or people of value.' He said, No, no, I'm there. I'll see you there at the show.' He warned me and gave me the heads up."
Right on queue, The Raging Bull showed up the next day and tried to strong-arm his way onto the show.
"Manny Fernandez showed up and I'm an 18-year-old kid. He walks up and says 'Yeah, who's the booker here today? Who's taking care of me today?' I said, okay, well I guess I got to stand up and face him. So I got up to Manny and go 'Hey, Manny, how's it going?' I said 'My name is Matt Hardy. I'm the guy who booked all this. I'm sorry there's been a misunderstanding, but you're not booked on this show today. I'm sorry this happened.' He goes 'Oh, I'm booked on this show today.' Then I'm like 'Sorry, there's been a misunderstanding.' I see some of my guys starting to get beside me. He had one person with him. Also, Shane and Mike Howell were standing by. At first, we told him that there's been some confusion, there's been a mistake. I said 'I'm sorry, you're not booked on this show today. We don't use anybody that really costs anything. We have all local guys here. He said 'Well I'm going to tell you this, I'm going to get paid tonight or somebody's going to get their ass whipped.' He gets in my face and he says 'And it might be you.' All I had heard about was that he would carry a gun with him to shows and he was a violent guy. He had this crazy reputation. I remember he got up in my face and I said 'Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, sir.' I didn't back down. I noticed Shane and Mike Howell had got beside me, I said 'But I got to tell you, I can't pay you because I don't have any money to pay you. So I'm sorry, I can't pay you anything.' He saw that all my guys kind of had my back and were supporting me and he said 'Well, would you at least let me set up my gimmick table?' I said 'Sure, go ahead. Go right ahead and set up your gimmick table. That's good because I don't have any money I can give you because I'm broke as a joke and I'm 18-years-old and I'm terrified right now.' That was a real thing like right from the jump. That was one of his things, he would go kind of bully his way onto shows," Hardy said.
Matt concluded by sharing how this story has become an inside joke between himself and Cody Rhodes, whose father, Dusty, was former NWA Tag Team Champion alongside Fernandez.
"Tony, I didn't pick the Raging Bull, he picked me. I share this story with Cody all the time where he says 'Oh I'm going to get paid tonight or somebody's going to get their ass whipped.' And he said 'And it might be you.' Every time I see Cody at TV I just go up to him and I go 'It might be you.' It's like our inside joke, especially considering how well his dad knew him. Such good stuff. Yeah, that was 18-year-old Matt Hardy with 16-year-old Jeff Hardy and the other teenage crew there standing up to Manny Fernandez on an indie show," he said.
Hardy now leads the Hardy Family Office stable in AEW. During a recent interview, he explained who inspired his Big Money Matt character. You can find those comments here.
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