Matt Hardy was rose to fame alongside his brother Jeff as one of the WWE's defining tag teams.

Following a solo career in the WWE that saw him claim the ECW World Championship along with a host of other titles, Hardy finds himself a fixture on the independent circuit, performing for crowds around the country, often accompanied by his wife Reby Sky.

Hardy teams with Adam Cole to take on The Briscoes and the duo of Michael Elgin and Chris Hero in the ROH Wrestling's Finest main event Jan. 25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

There are many roads to professional wrestling success, but few start with the formation of a new federation.

“My brother and I were big wrestling fans growing up, and our first ever match was PWF, Professional Wrestling Federation. It was run by the Italian Stallion and George South. They had some shows, and we weren't trained at the time, and they wanted us to pay to go to their school,” Hardy said. “We didn't have the money to go to their school so we got together with some other guys and that's where OMEGA started.”

Through OMEGA, and the avenues it opened, the brothers honed not only their in-ring ability, but also learned a lot of the psychology of wrestling and production. Among the promotions he works with, Hardy has restarted OMEGA along with longtime friend Shane Helms, known to WWE fans as The Hurricane.

“We both realize that there is a lot of young talent looking for experience and wanting to work right now. So the thought of using our experience to promote shows and have full creative outlet to call the
shots instead of just being pawns in someone else's chess game. Whether you're working for WWE or TNA or whoever, once you're there your creative freedom certainly has a limit.”

WWE gave Hardy worldwide exposure, but these days he relishes the benefits of the independent circuit.

“I make my schedule; if I want to take off, I can take off; if I want to work more, I can work more. I choose when I work, where I work, I choose who I wrestle. I pretty much get to choose everything.

When you work for WWE they tell you where to go, they tell you when you work, they tell you when you're not going to work, they tell you what to do. There is a huge part of your personal life that leave once you sign your contract because you become their property in many ways.

It is great because they put you in front of great big crowds at the shows and the television saturation is incredible, it's global. But there is something to be said for having complete freedom, and with me just getting married and talking about having kids, I need that freedom. It helps give me a very good balance in life as far as doing things that fulfill my passion by working about places like Ring of Honor or Extreme Rising, and keeping my name out there circulating among mainstream fans and casual
fans, and then also going on vacations, take family trips, do things with my father.”

Hardy is enjoying the variety of wrestling in for diverse promotions, with distinct opponents and fans.

“Not only do I get to constantly work in front of different crowds, but I get to work with a variety of different opponents. If I wrestle in front of a hardcore audience, like a ROH audience or Extreme Rising/ECW audience, those fans are a lot more tempted to boo me because I am representation of the WWE talent. I get to play that up, and I thoroughly enjoy that.

If I wrestle south of the Mason-Dixon line, I'm like the most popular good guy there is because I am a representation of the little kids' heroes, I'm one of the Hardy Boys.

Depending on where I'm at, depending on who my opponent is, it always keeps if fresh and creatively rewarding. A lot of times when you're working for WWE or TNA, you end up working with the same opponent night after night, and sometimes I think those matches become stagnant because it feels like you're doing the same old song and dance over and over.”

Hardy married Reby Sky, who works many shows alongside him, in October 2013. The couple have found benefits to their shared career.

“It's really cool because we can combine things like, when we go somewhere to wrestle, the trip is paid for, the hotel is paid for and we can turn it into a mini-vaction We can work for a day or so and make it into a two or three day vacation, so that works out really well. She is not only my wife and she's also one of my best friends, so it's good to be with her all the time.”

Hardy has been making recurring appearances with Ring of Honor for several years.

“I like Ring of Honor because I think they stand out as an alternative. They are the modern-day 2014 ECW. When WWF and WCW were going to war, they were doing the same thing. Their television product was very similar, whereas ECW offered something completely different, very unique and
cutting edge. TNA, I think, tries too emulate WWE in many ways. WWE is Wrestling 101, as far as it goes with athletics and entertainment. Ring of Honor on the other hand, has a hardcore edge, with very die-hard fans.

“They make their matches honorable, the in-ring action is first and foremost. That comes before entertainment, that comes before the promo or the character. They really are a wrestling organization. WWE is entertainment and character-driven, and because they have talented wrestlers they have great matches from time to time, Ring of Honor always has great matches day in and day out.”

At Wrestling's Finest, Hardy teams with Cole, with whom he had been feuding over the past year. Their time as competitiors gives Hardy confidence they will work well as teammates.

“I realized, not only from a character perspective, he is the guy. He is the most talented guy there. We have transitioned, I see him almost as a student and I have become his mentor, and I give him secrets to the game that you can only gain from having been there.

“I do think it gives us an advantage having battled one another. The harder you fight with one another, the better of teammates you will be. When you fight someone so many times, you get a better respect for someone, and a sense of their instinct and their timing.

We became very close outside of the ring. Not only are we close as allies, but we are close as personal friends, so that's definitely going to help us. You have two guys, Michael Elgin and Chris Hero that have never worked together, they're not friends, they're just kind of stuck together. Obviously then you have The Briscoes, who are a legendary tag team in Ring of Honor, but I think myself and Adam are going to be an extremely well-gelled unit on Saturday in Pittsburgh.”

In addition to triple threat tag matches, another of Hardy's enduring legacies are the “Matt Facts,” random factoids that began appearing in his “Version 1.0” entrance over a decade ago, and continue to appear on his website, matthardybrand.com, to this day.

“I think the Matt Facts lasted for so long because they were very unique, very entertaining and there had never been something like that before. It's funny, my wife is actually finishing editing a video that has a couple Matt Facts in them as a promo for my Ring of Honor match.”

Looking at wrestling as a whole, Hardy sees an industry waiting for the Next Big Thing.

“The wrestling industry is looking for something to spark it again. It's looking for the next act to make it exciting. In the 80s it was Hulkamania and Rock n Wrestling. In the 90s it was the Attitude Era with Stone Cold, The Rock and DX while on the other side WCW had the nWo.

What I would suggest to the promotions is to make a sophisticated product that doesn't insult fan's intelligence. For many, many years various promotions have had the attitude that “It's just wrestling. The fans will buy it.” I don't think wrestling competes with other wrestling programs now, it competes with the great dramas on TV now: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead. Sure it's a fictional show with zombies, but it sets parameters so you know how the Walking Dead universe
works, and they stay very consistent mythos. It's good storytelling that does not insult the fans' intelligence and I think wrestling has to follow that lead.”