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Matt Hardy reveals what he was paid for 1999 WWE No Mercy Ladder Match, Mick Foley and Steve Austin backstage reaction

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On the debut episode of "The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy," Matt talks about WWE No Mercy 1999 and his brother Jeff does a run-in during the podcast.

Matt Hardy said the Shawn Michaels - Razor Ramon from WrestleMania was his first introduction to seeing a ladder match:

“Our first introduction to a ladder match, like most people in pro wrestling, first introduction to a ladder match at WrestleMania X was ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon. That was a match that when we watched it truly got a hold on us. We had just started wrestling then, so we hadn’t been wrestling that long before that. We were very new to the game. We were young, green rookies that were super hungry. When we saw this ladder match, we were like, ‘Oh my God. This is something we can thrive at.’ We thought it was an amazing spectacle because it had a great story, but it also had these amazing stunts. I’ve always thought pro wrestlers are like living, breathing, superheroes because you have these real people doing real time stunts in front of you. It’s like the closest to a real life superhero you can get in many, many ways, and there’s good guys and bad guys. When we saw this ladder match and some of the incredible things they did in it, we were like, wow these guys are truly real life superheroes, and that’s what we wanted to do. It very much inspired our style, especially as far as wanting to do ladder matches. Knowing that we were smaller guys at that time, we knew if we could do ladder matches, we could pull off new things that hadn’t been done yet, and there were a lot of groundbreaking things we could do. We could be trailblazers in this. Myself and Jeff, we’ve had some insane, crazy ladder matches on the independent scene here in North Carolina. A lot of them were never even recorded, but there are some that have been documented and a lot of those matches were inserted into ideas that happened in the No Mercy ‘99 ladder match.”

Matt talking about his payoff for the No Mercy 1999 match:

“We got $5,000 for the match. We thought this was the show stealer, and then people were buying the replay for this match. We knew it was definitely special, and we addressed J.R. about this. J.R. ended up bonusing us each $5,0000, so we all made $10,000 on that night. The No Mercy match payoff ended up being $10,000 after we questioned the $5,000 and we got a $5,000 bonus because I said, ‘I know there is so much buzz and so much hype behind this match. People are buying the replays specifically for this match because everybody wants to see this match.’ J.R.’s explanation was perfectly logical and reasonable. He said, ‘Well, coming into this match, it was a big platform and an opportunity for you guys, but you guys weren't the ones that were selling this PV. You weren’t Stone Cold Steve Austin. You weren’t Triple H. You weren’t Undertaker or one of the main draws who actually brought people to the show to buy the PPV.’ We did get highlighted on that night with them, so that was understandable, but he did buy into our plan that people were buying the replay because of this match. We know a lot of people were buzzed and that created this unique like, ‘Oh my God. These guys are crazy. You have to watch this ladder match.’ So people were buying the PPV. It did really well on replays, so they did bonus us as far as that goes.”

Matt talking about his pay in 1999:

“We had a downside guarantee. What a downside guarantee was is that you are guaranteed to make a ‘X’ amount of dollars. In 1999, it was $75,000. If you busted your a**, if you worked hard, if you got over, if you worked every show, then you can make double, triple, quadruple that guarantee. I’ll be quite honest. In that year, we tripled our guarantee of $75,000 in 1999. In 2000, we made 13 times our guarantee. You could bust your a** and get over, and that was the motivation to do better and make more money. That’s how they wanted talent to try and work harder to move up the card or become a bigger act.”

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On whether the veterans asked them to tone down their act:

“As far as I know, they’re wasn’t any pushback, but I definitely could sense there were some of the top tier talent guys that thought, ‘Oh, you have all these young guys out here and maybe they are doing too much. This is going to kill the flow of the show.’ I kind of had a bit of that sense. One thing that I remember very well is that when the match was over, Mick Foley came in to congratulate us. It was just the most heartfelt congratulations. He is a guy who made such a name doing death matches and taking insane crazy bumps. He saw us go out there and do this amazing match that was a breakthrough scenario as far as ladder matches go. The other person that really stands out to me is Stone Cold Steve Austin. Steve was obviously the hottest person in the industry at this time. One of the biggest draws and biggest attractions ever. He came up to us at the very end and said, ‘Hell guys, I have to tell you. You can’t lie about this one. You guys stole the show tonight.’ To get that compliment from him, that was mind blowing. He said, ‘Here’s a Stevewiser on me. Cheers.’ We cheered with Edge, Christian, adn Steve and we had a beer after the match. Considering Steve was the top guy who could put a thumb on somebody if he wanted to, or say, ‘These guys did too much sh*t. They need to scale things down or tune things down a little bit’, he did not. He was cool. He was complimentary and was like, ‘Hell yea, full speed forward.’”

On the rumor that some of the ladders they used as weapons were lighter:

“None of the ladders were different. They were all the same weight. They were all heavy. Those ladders are probably 35 pounds. Anytime we were throwing them, they were a regulation ladder. There was no alteration to make them lighter or safer.”

On whether these type of matches should be romanticized knowing the risk vs rewards:

Obviously, it is a risky genre of pro wrestling and you’re taking a lot of chances. At the end of the day, it’s really easy to forget that pro wrestlers are human beings, but we are. We’re made of flesh and bone and blood like everybody else is. But I feel like from an entertainment aspect, these matches are heavily entertaining. They are heavily fun to watch. You can understand why the people who perform these types of matches have these cult following and people really enjoy it and romanticize it. Is the risk worth the rewards or the consequences so to say? In my opinion, as I’ve gotten older, I would say you have to be responsible all the way throughout. I don’t mind this genre of wrestling, but I think you have to know what you’re in for. I think it’s very hard if you don’t have good self control and self discipline. These matches are going to hurt. There’s going to be injuries. You have to take small, calculated risks. I don’t have a problem with romanticizing these matches and these concepts, but I think if you’re a performer in there, you need to understand what you’re getting into. That’s also one of the tools I think I can offer the guys going forward in the future about what you’re getting into, and also the traps and the vices that can come out of it if you’re not careful.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit "The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy" with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.