TNA's Jeff Hardy Enjoying Latest Title Run
----Code word for ticket contest: Impact----
Throughout the years, professional wrestling has seen its share of face paint, whether on icons such as Sting, the Ultimate Warrior, or even the legendary Legion of Doom tag team.
But nobody in the business has taken it to the level that former WWE World Heavyweight and current Total Nonstop Action World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy has.
Every night before he gets in the TNA ring, Hardy, 35, uses his face to create his latest artistic creation, giving each audience a look to remember him by.
"When I'm at home I paint a lot, with acryillics and spray paint and markers, I do all kinds of things on canvas, but when I'm out on the road, and even tonight (at the Impact Wrestling television taping), my face is my canvas and I've kind of just taken the face paint to maybe the final level of my career," Hardy said by phone Tuesday from Orlando, where the TNA was filming its weekly television show for Spike TV.
"I impress myself sometimes when I do my Instagram picture after one of our shows and I'm going 'Wow, that's a really cool thing I did.' It's really evolved."
It's merely a piece of what makes Hardy, nicknamed the "Charismatic Enigma", one of the most unique performers in the business and given him a spot atop both WWE and TNA at different points in his career.
He'll bring both his face paint and his TNA World Heavyweight championship to Fargo Dec. 1 when he headlines the promotion's Impact Wrestling World Tour show at the Venue at the Hub.
It's merely the next stop on a career that has spanned the entire globe. Hardy got his start in the sport in the 1990s, when he worked as a tag team partner with his real-life brother Matt.
The two eventually got into WWE and spent years wrestling as the Hardy Boyz, where they developed feuds with tag teams such as Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boys.
After numerous reigns as champions, the duo parted to develop as singles wrestlers. After runs as WWE's World Heavyweight Champion in 2008 and 2009, Jeff returned to TNA in 2010, and got the World Heavyweight Championship back last month at the promotion's biggest annual show, Bound for Glory.
It's a storied past that's defined him as one of the sport's risk takers, a man who has made a career performing high-risk stunts off ladders.
He relived many of those moments recently as he prepared for a ladder match at TNA's Turning Point pay-per-view earlier this month, a match that requires the wrestlers to scale a ladder to retrieve a belt hanging above the ring. A match type he help redefine in the early 2000s when the Hardys were innovators of the now-common "tables, ladders and chairs", or "TLC" match.
"Leading up to our last pay-per-view, which was Turning Point here in Orlando, I watched a lot of our TLC matches with the Dudleys and Edge and Christian, and then I watched my match against the Undertaker, a ladder match, just to get some ideas," he said.
Of his career, it's the ladder match with the Undertaker in 2002 on WWE Monday Night Raw, that he said stands out most to him. Though Hardy lost the match, he seemingly gained the respect of one of the most respected performers in the business.
"That's when I really stepped up and it was just such a cool story," Hardy said about the match.
Hardy's most recent battles have been with an up-and-coming star named Austin Aries, who earned his reputation in the Ring of Honor promotion in the eastern United States.
Hardy watched Aries' rise through the ranks at TNA, first taking the company's X-Division title, and later sacrificing it for a shot at the Heavyweight Championship, which he won in July and defended until losing it to Hardy in October.
"Throughout early 2012, we'd be on the road back when he was the X-Division Champion, and I'd always his match," Hardy said. "I was like 'wow, this guy's crazy talented and fun to watch.' Seeing what he's done and where he's at now is very impressive."
Hardy credited Aries for bringing out the best in their abilities.
"Even Bound for Glory will go down in my history books as one of my favorite matches of all time. I won the TNA world title against him and thought we'd have good chemistry, but I never thought it would be that special."
Though no card has been announced for the Fargo show, Hardy said he expects another match with Aries to headline the show.
Outside the ring, Hardy remains focused on his artistic side.
In addition to his face paint, he is an avid painter, but also works musically with his band, Peroxwhy?gen, which has produced some of Hardy's entrance music in TNA.
"We're five songs into our 12-track album and the guy here, (TNA music composer) Dale Oliver, he's producing us and it's so exciting, so while I've been busy with TNA wrestling, I've also been busy with the creative process for music," Hardy said. "I'm so excited about getting that stuff out for the fans."
He said some of his music was produced last year during a rough patch in his life that resulted in a seven-month long absence from television as a result of addiction issues.
"Through all the dark periods of my life, it's really been like journal entries," Hardy said about his music.
But with the darkness he's overcome, it's given him perspective about holding a top belt that he had to earn back.
"It does kind of justify me proving myself to everybody and taking my last chance seriously," he said about holding the belt.
"This probably is the most important world title I've ever had just because I have been through such dark periods of my life. To be able to come back and succeed just feels really good."