During an appearance on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Matt Hardy talked about the end of his WWE stint prior to joining AEW:
“So the last eight or nine months I was there, they were working on resigning me, especially when AEW was there. It was almost like they didn’t want anyone to go to AEW. That was kind of the feel or the mindset there. So they offered some good deals with money. I said, ‘But, it’s also important to me that I’m going to be treated appropriately as a wrestler’ because there’s kind of this thing there with Vince and older wrestlers. He just feels like they’re done. I think Tony Khan does a masterful job of putting older guys into certain positions where they can succeed and you can optimize their efforts and their talents. After talking to Vince a little bit, I saw that he wanted me to wrestle a little bit, but he wasn’t up on utilizing me a lot in different roles. I never wanted to be champion. I don’t want to be champion. I don’t need to be champion. I just want to be in a good role where I can work with other people, help younger guys, and also stay relevant on my own. He said, ‘Yea, but I kind of see you transitioning to a producer behind the scenes.’ I know that once he says that, that’s kind of what’s in his mind. I’m like, if I can wrestle, I want to wrestle because I know I only have a few more years left to do this, plus I’m going to make the most money there. This is my dream and my passion. I love it. It’s really what I want to do while I can do it, especially as my kids are getting a little older. For them to be able to see me wrestle is so cool to me too, so I definitely wanted to wrestle. As time went on, I didn’t sign. They said, ‘Ok, well we’re going to take you off TV for a while.’ I said, ‘Ok, cool. No big deal.’ Again they said, ‘Are you ready to sign yet? If you sign, you can come back to TV.’ They ended up bringing me back to TV and had me work with some younger guys and had those guys win. That’s no big deal. At this stage of the game, I’m Matt Hardy. I’m going to be fine either way. People know who I am. I’ve done enough. I’m established. You’re really not going to change that fact. It’s almost like it felt like they were trying to do whatever they could do to force me to resign or I’m going to lose matches, or I’m not going to be on TV, or whatever it may be. Then at the very end, they did like a big Hail Mary where I was going to work with Randy Orton and they had some things that were promising, and also a big money contract which was really, really huge and would have been a great deal. I was appreciative of it, but I know Vince had saw me transitioning into a producer role and that’s where I was going to end up. If Vince has something set in his mind, that is what ultimately is going to happen. He will get you back there. It’s always like that.
So, I spoke with The Bucks and Tony. We talked about some things like wrestling on a limited schedule, whatever it may be, and maybe represent some guys. Tony was just amazing to talk to. He was so respectful. Tony Khan is so respectful of guys who have contributed to this business. Just the way he talks to you, the way he treats you, the way he books you, everything. It was great talking to him. After talking to The Bucks and talking to Tony Khan, my mind was made up. I knew I was going to go to AEW. It was just a great experience, and I have nothing but the best things to say about Tony Khan, especially considering the state of dealing with him and him compensating you, and him also taking care of you. He is just great across the board, so I was very happy I ended up coming to AEW.”