Matt Hardy has discussed how The Undertaker was “nervous” ahead of the now-legendary Ladder Match where he put the Undisputed Championship on the line against Jeff Hardy.
In 2002, The Undertaker was riding high as the WWE Undisputed Champion during his heel run under the “Big Evil” persona. Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy was branching out into a singles career after mainly being a tag team specialist for much of his time in WWE up to that point.
As part of this, Hardy challenged ‘The Phenom’ to a Ladder Match with the title on the line on the July 1st episode of Raw. Little did anyone know at the time that it would go down as one of the most memorable matches to take place on Raw and be a star-making performance for the young Hardy.
The match saw Hardy as the underdog, taking a huge amount of punishment from his bigger foe, but refusing to quit.
In the end, The Undertaker was finally able to put Hardy down long enough to climb the ladder and grab his title before giving ‘The Charismatic Enigma’ one final Last Ride. However, Hardy was still able to pull himself to his feet once more to the shock of The Undertaker. Taker returned to the ring, but instead of continuing the assault, he raised Hardy’s hand as a sign of respect.
Now, Jeff’s brother has given his take on the match on the latest episode of his podcast, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy. Matt revealed that The Undertaker was “a little nervous” ahead of the bout because he wanted it to be great.
“I remember the match pretty vividly because [although] Michael Hayes was the main producer, I helped with the match. I remember hearing from, maybe it was Michael or Vince, that [Under]Taker was a little nervous about being in this ladder match, but he did wanna do it with Jeff and he wanted to be great. He wanted this match to be built to his legacy, like, ‘Taker had a ladder match. It was like bada**.’ Taker was always very passionate about the things he would do.”
Hardy went on to explain that The Undertaker was “all-in” on the match and determined to do more than people might expect.
“He didn’t want to go in and just have it be like, ‘OK, the little guy takes bumps off the ladders and Taker didn’t really do anything.’ It was important to him. He wanted to make this match great on his end too. I know he was a little nervous about that, which was cool and I love the fact that he was so into to what Jeff was doing and how he was such a great underdog and fighting from underneath. He was all-in on this the whole day.”
H/T to Sportskeeda Wrestling for the above transcription.