Founded - September 14, 2011
The Hardway Podcast started off with a vision.
Months prior to the debut edition of the Hardway, Jon Harder was a heavy duty listener of talk radio and podcasts. When Jon discovered Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling on iTunes in the Spring of 2010, he was inspired to possibly starting one of his own.
After multiple conversations with American Championship Entertainment owner Mike Morgan and Jon’s girlfriend Haley, Jon decided to put preparation in for formatting the inaugural Hardway Podcast.
Wanting to make the show different than the standard interview show, Jon wanted to do skits, characters, and current independent wrestling talk into an amalgam. Further inspired by New Jersey cult legend “Uncle” Floyd Vivino, Jon aspired to make the “Uncle Floyd Show of Wrestling Podcasts”.
Debuting on September 14, 2011, thanks to Podomatic.com, the Hardway Podcast made its debut to the air waves. Making its home base at JonHarder.Xanga.com, using Adobe Audition and two desktop microphones bought from Target for $9.99, Jon Harder recorded the opening segment of the Hardway in his garage attic. His first interview was with independent wrestling standout Mo Sexton, now known as Mario Bokara in WrestlePro, during a training session at the ACE Arena. With a rough recording, it would only get better from here on ALL levels.
Throughout the first year of the Hardway, Jon was able to gain some legitimate interviews with world renowned talent, such as former TNA talent and Ring of Honor World Champion Jay Lethal, former WCW Cruiserweight Champion Alex Wright, Evolve commentator Lenny Leonard, and even former Super Bowl Champion from the New York Giants Dwayne Hendricks!!! With the improvement of equipment, combined with a brand new website, TheJonHarder.com, the Hardway became legitimate.
It wasn’t just the interviews that came together: it was the content. In Episode 30, “Good News” Tim Hughes jumped on board to become the official sidekick of the Hardway. It was kind of ironic, due to the fact that Jon and Tim were in the midst of a blood feud regarding to Beyond Wrestling against Jon’s Professional Revolution. However, the pair made for extremely entertaining podcasting. In Episode 2, Jon introduced the world to independent wrestling standout Too Hot Steve Scott, whose sole objective was to be a guest on the show. Instead, Jon took things to another level and played Steve’s voicemails, which were left for Jon privately, on the podcast forum. Stan “the Man” Styles came aboard within the first few episodes with his Hottie of the Week segment, which entailed who he considered to be the hottest girl of that particular time period! Even through the Hardway was the debut of Jon’s brother Ben, who was 15 when he made his debut on the show.
However, it wasn’t until Episode 50 when Jon got a rude awakening into his past. Thanks to Tim Hughes and his belief Jon had an alter-ego, Jon’s arch-rival from childhood made his podcast debut: MASTER H 2. Tim’s interview with this drug-addled, alcoholic, degenerate gambling bum kick-started a long drama for the Hardway in general.
Thanks to a posted interview on TheJonHarder YouTube, Master H 2 was able to demonstrate how to make his signature alcoholic beverage “the Capriweiser”. When Tim (not Jon) posted the video on the page, a lawyer named Nicholas F. Reigota walked in during a Hardway episode and proceeded to lay down a lawsuit on Jon for illegally using his “client’s” intellectual property. Being funded by wealthy professional wrestler Darius Carter and kidnapping Jon’s brother Ben for ransom, Jon settled out-of-court by allowing H 2 to host Episode 70 of the Hardway with annoying guest STEVE SCOTT. However, as H 2 and Reigota took Tim and his house hostage, Jon and Ben made the save, ridding the podcast world of evil, at least for the time being.
Throughout the 2nd year of the show, Jon re-established his game, interviewing one of his hero’s DGUSA and EVOLVE booker Gabe Sapolsky, WrestleCrap’s RD Reynolds, Bandido, Jr, and Brutal Bob Evans. Also, the Hardway showcased non-wrestling talents, including Jon’s father Big Norm, his old science teacher Mr. Russ, and Somerset Patriots play-by-play guy Justin Antweil. Other than interviews, Jon also stepped his game up with concept podcasts, including the FAN PARTICIPATION series, the Roundtable, the State of the Hardway Address, and the renowned THIS IS YOUR LIFE, GOOD NEWS HUGHES episode.
On April 6 and 7, 2013, during WrestleMania 29 weekend, Jon and the Hardway crew recorded the LIVE from WrestleCon episode, which contained multiple interviews with talents throughout the entire convention in Secaucus, NJ. Combined with a concept revolving around an air hockey table that started at National Pro Wrestling Day in Philadelphia, PA on 2/1/13 and continued at WrestleCon Weekend, it was the precursor that helped set up the Tim Hughes-created Universal Air Hockey League of the Universe. The golden age of the first era of the Hardway Podcast was at its peak.
It only got more insane, when Jon’s brother became christened known as B-Sizzle, after a rap song for a school project was released by Tough Tim on Episode 75. B-Sizzle became a delusional wannabe rapper and it turned out that he helped manipulate his own kidnapping by Master H 2 so he could host an episode of the show. Also, Sizzle introduced his new catchphrase: #YaHerd?
When Episode 100 came around on September 4, 2013, Jon hosted a Roundtable with Tim, Stan Styles, and B-Sizzle. Not only that, Sizzle and H 2 released a combined rap song called “The Greatest Rap Ever”. It seemed like one of the all-time great episodes.
Then, it was announced that, thanks to the Hardway Podcast Board of Directors, that Jon’s girlfriend “the Barb” became Chairwoman of the Hardway. Tim, in pure disgust, quit the show. A few weeks later, Stan’s Hottie of the Week was cancelled. A week after that, B-Sizzle’s contract, which expired, left the Hardway to start his own podcast #YAHERD with H 2. The door was closed on that generation of the Hardway.
Over time, Jon went and attempted to search for a new sidekick and characters for the show, but none clicked with Jon as much as he wanted. Once the frustration set in, on Christmas in 2013, “the Barb” gave Jon a Christmas present: to bring everyone back to the show.
Although Good News came back via a contract signing, it was not the same between the two men. Both Jon and Tim were in different places philosophically, and it just didn’t click. Also, B-Sizzle would NOT come back to the show. With the struggles of the Hardway in clear view, it was shocking to see the announcement made that the debut of the #HardwayHQ Podcasting Network would happen on July 2, 2014. Also, the switch was made from Podomatic to a brand new RSS feed on SoundCloud.com! The game was changing once again with all things Hardway!
With that announcement, everyone filtered into #HardwayHQ slowly but surely. Master H 2 received a contract to host his own podcast. The former “lawyer” Nicholas F. Reigota signed to start Nick and Jon: “Live” in New Jersey. Tim would kick-start a grand vision for the Universal Air Hockey League of the Universe in August 2014 before leaving #HardwayHQ as a full-time member at the end of the year. And yet, the Hardway still chugged along. However, the mothership of #HardwayHQ lacked a sure fire direction.
Throughout 2015, the struggle was attempting to determine the next evolution of what the Hardway would become. Suddenly, the Hardway disappeared.
After a three-month sabbatical that started in September of 2015, the Hardway returned in January 2016 with a re-inspired vigor and passion. The podcast has become more of a show discussing Mets baseball, mixed in with a little pro wrestling and the ‘Stu Hart’ appearance, mandated per episode. It truly has become a different show. With Jon doing a little more talking and a lot less interviews, the Hardway has evolved once again.
Stay tuned for the ride, as the Hardway continues to change the way podcasting is looked at! #HardwayHQ