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Jon Alba Details New Podcast with Matt Hardy

Emmy-winner Jon Alba opens up about his newest podcast with Matt Hardy

Some wrestling podcast records are about to be BROKEN! The legendary Matt Hardy has finally decided to tell his story and people are obviously excited to hear the tales. Without having launched a single episode, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy is already charting near the very top. 

The industry legend and current AEW star will be joined on this adventure by Emmy Award winner, Jon Alba. Alba is no stranger to broadcasting, hosting podcasts, telling stories, or the wrestling business, which makes him the perfect co-pilot for Hardy.

I recently spoke with Alba about how his influences in broadcasting, how The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy came to be, and what we can expect from the new podcast that is set to debut on January 7th. Continue reading to see what he had he had to say.

Emmy Award Winning Broadcaster Jon Alba

Jon Shartzer: Thanks for taking some time to speak to me today. Let’s get straight to businesses because I know you’re a busy man right now. Obviously, you have the new podcast coming out with Matt Hardy, appropriately named The Extreme life of Matt Hardy. What can you tell us about this new venture?

Jon Alba: Well, what would you like to know about it? *laughs* There’s so many layers to it. It’s something that I’ve been working on, personally, for more than three years at this point and now we finally have the right platform to make it happen. The stars have aligned and I’m really excited to see what we can educate people about with this podcast.

JS: You’re a big fan of Matt Hardy, as we all are. But what made you really want to do this and how did you finally get the ball rolling to get started?

JA: I grew up a huge Hardy Boyz fan. Many people grew up idolizing The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin and of course, I loved those guys. But, the act that made me tune in to Raw was The Hardy Boyz. Jeff was the guy that caught a lot of people’s attention, but there’s something about Matt, to me, that I resonated with and I don’t even know what it was. But it was something I connected with. Over the years, we saw his consistent reinvention and how he always seemed to be one step ahead of the curve when it came to pro wrestling.

So, as my broadcasting career grew and I continued to delve more into pro wrestling podcasting, I thought of different options for “What would make great programming?” I had a podcast at the time called Living the Gimmick that I wrapped up this past July, and I just said to myself one day, “What would a Matt Hardy podcast sound like?” He’s got so much to offer to the world as not just a storyteller from things that he encountered but also adversity that he’s overcome and understanding character development. There was a lot that could be picked at, in my opinion. As a journalist, that really intrigued me. 

So, I never really had the platform and then when I signed with my new job this past year and found out that I was going to be part of this growing Podcast Heat network that has such an amazing platform of talent, I reached out to Matt. After about three weeks of waiting, I heard back. We had a five-minute conversation on the phone. He expressed that he was interested. Then, we had a two-hour lunch at a Chipotle before an episode of Dynamite where we banged out a year’s worth of programming and here we are. We are ready to go with The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy on January 7th.

JS: Did you and Matt have a previous relationship before this?

JA: No. I had always followed Matt and been very in tune to his career and what he was doing and I want to say probably a year ago maybe, he followed me on Twitter. I cordially just reached out to him and he mentioned to me that he had been following my work for a while, which I thought was pretty cool. Then, I kind of waited for the time to be right and when all of the stars aligned and I had the right platform, I said “Ok, it’s time to make this pitch.” Thankfully, he got back to me and he was pretty interested right away, so I’m really grateful for that. 

JS: Explain to me that internal feeling when he agreed to do it. What that meant to you as a lifelong fan. 

JA: Aside from me walking into my apartment, fist-pumping to no one, and shouting LFG…You know, I’ve been completely enamored with storytelling my entire adult life and I spent that last decade pretty much in TV news and telling stories. I just knew that Matt would be a great storyteller because he is a great storyteller and I knew that this medium would be so great for him. So, having grown up wearing the purple and neon shirts and wishing that I could jump off 20-foot ladders, to have this guy that as a kid I thought was the coolest thing ever, I thought he was the coolest guy on the planet, to now he’s MY tag team partner. It’s pretty surreal. He’s had a lot of kind things to say about me and my mind for wrestling, which is the highest compliment that I could possibly get and that has really just meant a lot to me.

JS: Is there one story that you’re looking forward to that you just HAVE to cover?

JA: Yeah, there’s a few. We’re starting with the 1999 No Mercy ladder match, which that one was a no-brainer to me that had to be the launching point because that was the night the Hardy Boyz proclaimed themselves to the world as superstars. So we had to do that. 

An episode that I can’t wait to get into is TLC II, which to me, is the greatest hardcore match in the history of professional wrestling. I’m really looking forward to learning about the Expedition of Gold leading up to the Wrestlemania 33 return because I was there for that as a spectator. That’s one of the most memorable moments of my lifetime for me, as a wrestling fan. 

But most importantly, the episodes that I’m most looking forward to are the ones where we talk about real-life stuff. Where we talk about overcoming addiction. Where we talk about Jeff’s battles. Where we talk about becoming a father. Those are the elements that I feel I connect really well with as an interviewer and I think that that’s going to mesh really well with Matt and get the most out of him. 

JS: That is exciting. I hoped and assumed that it would be more than just a wrestling podcast. Of course, these guys are human and have real lives and real struggles just like the rest of us. It’s nice to kind of pull the curtain back a little bit and see what we don’t normally see.

JA: Let’s be real here. The podcast world, especially the wrestling podcast world, is so over-saturated now, right? Everyone has got a podcast. So before you even pitch a podcast, the first question out of your head should be, “How can this be different?” Nostalgia podcasts, right now, are in. We’re going to have that element of nostalgia where every episode will hit on a topic that is related to his past. 

But our goal here is to bridge the past to the present and we’re going to look at how these events that happened in the past have affected wrestling as we know it today. Who did they influence? How did they influence the industry? Then most importantly, how can we educate our audience from the things that happened? Whether they’re normal fans or even if they’re other wrestlers themselves listening. How can we educate them?

But I think Matt is a great teacher. That’s what I’ve learned from getting to know him, that he has so much to offer from a teaching perspective. Matt will be a hell of a coach one day, should he choose to ever do that. Not just talking about what you do in the ring, but every little detail. He really just has such a fantastic mind for it. So I think if we can use this podcast as an educational tool for whoever listens, that’s huge. 

One thing I always hear from wrestling fans, when they’re watching a match or want to analyze something, is “Oh, the psychology of this was great.” Half the time, I say to myself, “Do they even know what they’re talking about when they say ring psychology? Do they have any concept of that?”

I don’t mean that in an insulting way. It’s just, do they actually know what they’re talking about here? I’ve been fortunate enough to where I’ve been working on the indie scene for the last six years and I’ve been able to be front row in-person to laying out matches and understanding how someone gets heat and how to tell a story and all that. So, I feel that I have a very modern perspective of that and Matt has a very old-school perspective that he’s been able to adapt to overtime. I’m just really excited to see how all of these elements come into play together. 

JS: That’s something that people should be excited about. To hear kind of the old school versus the new school. Right or wrong, things have changed so much over the years. To hear that contrast between you two should be really fun.

JA: Yeah and Matt’s not stubborn about it. Matt is very in tune with the trends of the industry and I believe that will become very apparent from episode one. 

JS: You said that you have a whole year of episodes mapped out. Is that every episode going forward or do you just have some points that you definitely want to hit and the rest will just fill in along the way?

JA: We pretty much just came up with a list of 50-plus topics and, you know, we don’t have it down to, “We’ll talk about this topic this week and then the next week we’ll talk about this.” But we have a pretty good list of topics going. The thing is, a great show adapts over time, right? So we’ll see what works and what doesn’t work based on feedback from everyone and we’ll take whatever measures to keep it interesting. I guarantee you that episode one will sound very different from episode 25. I think that’s important. You have to do that. 

I was just texting with Matt before. We’re so overwhelmed at the support that this has gotten. I did not expect this positive feedback. I am so used to getting people on Twitter and Reddit every day trying to come after me or my career with negativity, so to see the positivity that has come out of this is amazing. 

I just checked an hour ago. It’s the number three pro wrestling podcast in the country right now and the number 38 sports podcast in the country, and we haven’t even released a single episode yet. That is so overwhelmingly positive. 

JS: My hat is definitely off to you, as well, because that’s not just Matt. Matt may be the attraction, but you’re sort of the conductor that makes it all go forward. Are there any plans for guests to come through and join you guys from time to time, or is it more simply about Matt and him just sharing his story with you?

JA: I appreciate the kind words. One thing that I think is going to stand out about this show, and I hope people give it a chance in that sense, is I think my interview style will translate really well. If people haven’t caught some of the interviews that I do, I have my one-on-one series on Adfree Shows, but I do interviews in a lot of different places. I hosted an episode of the Kurt Angle podcast and I got a lot of positive feedback on how I interacted with Kurt. So I’m looking forward to using my interview style with Matt on a much bigger platform. 

But as far as guest stars, yeah, we’re open to guests. I don’t want to get into specific plans or surprises, but I think people can expect guests along the way. People who are connected to Matt’s life throughout the industry. Some that you probably have never heard of and some that you have definitely heard of. So, I’m excited to use the platform in different ways. Maybe one episode is just an entire episode of interviewing a guest with Matt. We’ll see how things go.

Jeff Hardy is almost certain make an appearance with his brother. Matt Hardy

JS: Separating from the podcast here just a little bit: Who is somebody that you, personally, have looked up to sort of based your style of journalism around? 

JS: I have two answers to that question. Ian Eagle is my mentor. I’ve known Ian for probably 11 or 12 years and he really helped me and coached me into the broadcaster that I am today. The thing that I learned most from him is preparation. He has a saying that he used to tell: “Pre-production is production.” So, I take a lot of my work ethic as a broadcaster using that mentality that I learned from him. I think that he is just the very best at what he does. I don’t think anybody touches him in that aspect, quite frankly. I’m biased in that opinion, but I genuinely believe that. 

Then, as a storyteller, my last gig I anchored a Sports Center style show in Orlando. When I wasn’t anchoring, I was doing long-form human interest storytelling. So, you really learn how to interview well and how to craft reveals and develop characters. All of which I believe will come into play in this podcast and that’s what I think will make it really different from some of the others. 

As far as people that I grew up watching do that, I loved Boyd Huppert, Steve Hartman, Tom Rinaldi. Just off the top of my head, those are probably on my Mount Rushmore of storytellers. I think if you listen to my interviews, there’s kind of elements of all of that meshed together. 

JS: That will pretty much wrap it up. Thank you again for your time. Before we do though, can you let us know where we can find The Extreme Life of Matt and where we can find you on social media? One last hype job, if you will.

JASure, yeah. The podcast will be available where you listen to your podcasts, so Spotify, Google, Apple Podcasts, etc. Wherever you go, you’ll be able to find it. 

It’ll also be on YouTube at MattHardyBrand, which is his personal YouTube. So you can go right to that and watch it and it will have the videos. So if anybody wants to see Matt and I, you’ll be able to see it there. 

I’m on Twitter, @JonAlba. Lose the h, H’s are for losers. (This writer tends to agree.) Jon_Alba on Instagram. You can find The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, @MattHardyPod on both Twitter and Instagram

Yeah, man. Listen, I’m so excited for this. This is a show that I’ve had in mind for three years. Matt is an all-time favorite of mine and now he is becoming a friend of mine. That is the coolest thing on the face of the earth. I hope that people will enjoy the show as much as I’m going to enjoy recording it because I’m going to get a chance to help share the stories of one of my favorite performers of all time in an industry that I just continue to fall more in love with by the day. I really hope that people give The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy a chance and I’m looking forward to the debut on January 7th.

The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy will debut on January 7th. with Jon Alba

Written by Jon Shartzer

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