Matt Hardy was, like many, greatly concerned following the events of September 11, 2001, and remembers the first SmackDown after the attacks vividly.
Today marks 22 years since the 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent September 13, 2001, SmackDown would be the largest gathering of people in the U.S. following the attack.
On his “Extreme Life” podcast, Hardy recalled the sentiment in the WWE locker room at the time. He said,
“I remember we were waiting like, ‘What is going to happen?’ because we have ‘SmackDown’ [in Houston, Texas]. This happened at what 9 [or] 10 o’clock is when the planes hit the buildings, right? Early in the morning. Our call time is noon, 1 o’clock. I know we’re on Central Time in Houston. We’re just like, ‘What is going on about the show?’ We were trying to find out, and then there was a company-wide email, and they were texting people, whatever. And they said, ‘We’re not sure what we’re going to do; just everybody stand by. Everybody stand by. We’ll have you an answer by this afternoon.’
“So we don’t know if the show was [going ahead], whatever. And then, obviously, everything shut down, so the show was not a go. And they said, ‘So we’re going to get back with you.’ I remember me and Jeff [Hardy], we just wanted to drive home. I just wanted to get home and be with my dad, be with my family, because we didn’t know. And everybody was like that. Shane [Helms] was like that. Nobody knew what was happening or what was coming … Everybody wanted to go home.”
Hardy recalled receiving a company-wide email, informing talent that WWE was going to extend their hotel bookings for the SmackDown show.
Hardy also pointed out that all WWE performers were given a choice as to whether they wanted to appear on the show or not. He added,
“Vince is a fearless human being. He wasn’t afraid of stuff. There were so many people that were just worried, like, ‘If we’re the first big public gathering, does that make us a target?’ I felt like that. It was very strange. I was very concerned and worried during that day, but Vince had his mind made up. He was like, ‘Nobody stops me, nobody stops World Wrestling Entertainment, and we’re going to do the show, dammit.’”
Matt said that he was not against the idea of running SmackDown so soon after the attack but admitted that it was a “long two days” for the roster and crew in Houston.