By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
The 2019 WWE Royal Rumble will take place on Jan. 27, 2019, at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. WWE Superstar Matt Hardy was at ISM Raceway on Sunday (Nov. 11th) to promote the event along with enjoying the action of the final race of the Round of Eight. Hardy, the Cameron, North Carolina native, was the honorary pace car driver before the Can-Am 500.
“It’s going to be a huge week,” said Hardy. “Royal Rumble is taking over Phoenix, we’re turning it into like a Wrestlemania-level event. We’re having a couple of days of access, NXT TakeOver on a Saturday night before. We have the Royal Rumble on January 27th and then we’ll have RAW and Smackdown in Phoenix as well. For five days WWE is taking over Phoenix.”
Despite being off-screen as of late, Hardy has been spending his time lately being an ambassador for the WWE. Almost all of the superstars on the roster have spent time as ambassadors including superstars like Titus O’Neal, Nia Jax, and others. Hardy noted that it’s really cool the things he’s gotten to do as a WWE Superstar.
“It’s great,” Hardy said about ambassador for the WWE. “I love doing stuff like this, I love traveling and interacting especially now being able to have the opportunity to come out and do something I have never done before, driving the pace car, so that’s like something I never expected I would do. It’s like one of those cool things I never expected to do but I’m getting to do. That’s one of the advantages of being a WWE superstar and being somewhat of an ambassador.”
WWE and FOX will be teaming up in 2019 as FOX will be broadcasting Smackdown Live starting sometime next year. NASCAR has been broadcasted on FOX since 2001 with the first half of the season lately. This could open the door for ways that the WWE and NASCAR could cross-promote to benefit both parties shown on the network.
“You can certainly have some interesting crossovers right there,” Hardy said about the new FOX deal with the WWE. “I think it would be amazing to have a full-fledged NASCAR race with the superstars driving. Maybe as opposed to drawing numbers for the Royal Rumble we just pick out numbers and you have to get into that racecar and that’s how it works.”
WWE’s version of the Daytona 500 is hosted annually in April and has been held in multiple stadiums and arenas across the country. In 2019, WrestleMania will be held in MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey. It’s the second time the stadium has hosted WrestleMania but one of the things that have been discussed over the last few years was what NASCAR track would be the best fit for WrestleMania. When asked where he thought it should be, Hardy noted it would be awesome at ISM Raceway. He also noted Bristol would be amazing but it would be hard to do it as it’s so far from a major city like Knoxville.
“It would be awesome to have it here (ISM Raceway),” Hardy said about what NASCAR track he’d like to see WrestleMania hosted. “I like this place. I have started gaining a fine affection for this facility so maybe here. Bristol would be amazing but the hardest thing would be the location.”
Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography