Matt Hardy lifted the lid on the culture within WWE in the 1990s.
In recent weeks the culture within WWE has come under increasing scrutiny following allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault made against former boss Vince McMahon. This has led to several veterans recalling their own experiences of working with WWE, while Shawn Michaels was asked about allegations made against him during a media call.
During a recent episode of his podcast, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, the now-AEW star discussed the Vince McMahon scandal and reflected on how wrestling culture has changed. Looking back at the start of his career in the mid-1990s Hardy said wrestling was a “different business,” explaining that he saw things that people would be arrested for in 2024.
“I would even probably use a stronger adjective than contentious. There were some times [where] the culture was malicious, I mean, really, really bad. Not a lot of people, especially with the mentality people have in this day and age, and not saying that in a bad way. Just people are much more caring and giving and open and willing to help everyone out and give everyone chances and opportunities.
But I mean, just the culture, when we first came in the way, they would bring you in and haze you and test you and do things to you to make you earn your place in that dressing room. You had to earn a seat, you had to earn a locker in the dressing room, there were some things that I saw done over the course of my first few years that people would be arrested for nowadays. So it was a different business.”
Matt Hardy Recalls Seeing “Terrible Things” Happen To WWE Stars
Continuing on, Hardy recalled several incidents he witnessed including people having “terrible things” done to them. He added that fellow AEW stars the Young Bucks “would never have made it” in wrestling during that period as they’re almost too nice.
“I mean, you would see guys that would have heat, so to say, and they would just have terrible things happen to them. I saw things where guys had heat where they would take their suitcase, as soon as they went out, they would cut up their clothing, they would put it into the shower.
I’ve seen where guys had heat, they would be in the showers, and guys would make fun of them and say terrible things and push them to limits physically which would horrify them, just to put them through what they did. That was a test. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of stuff over the years that I’ve been there, which was like, Whoa, looking back, in hindsight.
I did a promo with The Bucks on a BTE before we wrestled The Bucks, I want to say Vegas. But there was a thing where I said like, if you guys would have come up when we came up, you never would have made it. And I was like, that was a legit statement. I mean, because they’re they’re both nice guys. They’re both sweethearts, but like a lot of people just like, just could not have survived through that. It’s crazy. The culture was just so different.”
It’s been reported that Vince McMahon is under a federal investigation relating to the allegations, but continues to deny any wrongdoing.
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