Forever Hardcore: The Documentary (2005)

DVD Cover (Big Vision Entertainment)
Genres: Documentary, Sports, Sports & Recreation, Wrestling
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Jeremy Borash Jeremy Borash
Charles Ashenoff Charles Ashenoff
Terry Brunk Terry Brunk
David Cash David Cash
Chris Chetti Chris Chetti
Shane Douglas Shane Douglas
Movie Connections:
Wrestling: ECW
> ECW: The Night The Line Was Crossed (1994)
> Barbed Wire, Hoodies & Chokeslams (1995)
> The Rise + Fall Of ECW (2004)
> Forever Hardcore: The Documentary (2005)
> Extremely Crazy Wrestling Fans:... (2005)
> ECW: Blood Sport: The Most Violent... (2006)
> ECW December To Dismember (2006)
> ECW: Extreme Rules (2007)

7.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: August 18, 2009
Back in 2004, WWE released a documentary on the rise and fall of ECW entitled, appropriately enough, The Rise + Fall of ECW. I'm no longer a fan of professional wrestling, but during my teen years, I was a borderline addict: I just couldn't get enough of the stuff, and ECW was by far by favorite of the big three companies. Needless to say, I loved that trip down memory lane, I loved hearing the stories straight from the people who were there, and that is one of the very few discs that I will pop in to watch over and over again.

My only real complaint about that documentary was the fact that it was released by WWE. You see, WWE is the undisputed king of professional wrestling, and as such, they felt that they could get by with only featuring the performers that they had under contract at the time. Granted, they had a fair amount of the big names, but they were also missing some of the most important people in ECW's history. Those men never got a chance to weigh in on the company that they devoted years of their lives to, and as a fan, it was quite disappointing.

Enter Forever Hardcore, a documentary that attempts to tell the same basic story from the other side of the coin. There are no WWE guys here as there's no chance in hell that Vince McMahon would allow his boys to be involved with a competitor's product, but it's packed with the other guys who never got the opportunity to sit down with the camera and tell their stories. It's a shame that this release is missing the likes of Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Taz, and The Dudley Boys, but it's certainly not lacking in the "big name" department. No, this is where the film shines, as we find that Sabu (yes, he speaks!), Shane Douglas, Terry Funk, Raven, The Sandman, New Jack, Joey Styles, and Tod Gordon are the star attractions here, while Francine, Jerry Lynn, Terry Taylor, The Blue Meanie, and Kid Kash also get their time to talk. Axl Rotten and Gary Wolfe also get rather brief segments to discuss specific incidents.

Forever Hardcore follows the same general format of The Rise + Fall Of ECW, so those of you who have already seen one film will have a good idea as to how the other plays out. We start off at the inception of the company and cruise along throughout its history, stopping frequently to take a look at specific incidents: Shane Douglas breaking Gary Wolfe's neck, Paul Heyman exposing Americans to the Mexican lucha libre stars for the first time, the first ECW PPV, the Mass Transit incident, and yes, even the Kimona striptease. It all ends with the downfall of the company, as well as a rather moving discussion with Terry Funk where he reveals why he didn't show up at WWE's "One Night Stand" ECW reunion show.

Depending on how much of a fan you are, this could either be a huge negative or a huge perk. You see, there's only so many ways that you can tell the same stories; sure, the people telling these stories are different, but at the end of the day, it's the same general story that is being told. However, as a huge fan of the product, I enjoyed the hell out of the entire two-hour affair and was left wanting more. The best part about this telling of the tale is the fact that the guys who were telling these stories were free to say what they wanted to. As mentioned, WWE's release only featured the guys who were under contract to WWE, but this is an independent project: nobody had to worry about saying the wrong thing and winding up on the unemployment line. The result? People are called out by name and every last bit of the dirty laundry is brought out into the open for our viewing enjoyment.

I enjoyed the fact that this was an independent release for the aforementioned reasons, but this was also the basis for my only complaint. You see, this film was produced outside of the WWE umbrella, and as it turns out, WWE owns the entire ECW video library. Therefore, there is no footage to be found from the glory days of ECW, and I have to admit that it's a bit disappointing to hear Funk talk about the infamous barbed wire match with Sabu or Raven discussing the crucifixion with only amateur photographs to accompany the stories. There is some footage from XPW to illustrate certain points - New Jack's tendency to dive from high places, for example - but it's just not the same.

Regardless, Forever Hardcore is a great companion piece to WWE's release, and if you are or were a fan of the little promotion that could, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. It's not quite as good as The Rise + Fall Of ECW, but then again, Rise + Fall was an extraordinarily great release, so this is akin to saying that a steak dinner isn't quite as good as a nice lobster. One may be a little tastier than the other, but damn, they both hit the spot. 9.5/10.
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