The Rise + Fall Of ECW (2004)

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Overall Rating 82%
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Connections: Wrestling: ECW

ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling redefined professional wrestling in the '90s with a reckless, brutal, death-defying, and often bloody style that came to be known as "hardcore." It attracted a rabid, cult-like following that is still going strong today. --TMDb
Abdullah the Butcher
Abdullah the Butcher
Donna Adamo
Donna Adamo
Bill Alfonso
Bill Alfonso
Mike Alfonso
Mike Alfonso
Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle
Review by Chad
Added: December 30, 2004
Back when WWE (or WWF as it was known back then) and WCW were putting out some lackluster wrestling shows, there was a small underground promotion known as ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) that was putting on innovative, exciting shows that were blowing away the big two. This promotion didn't have anywhere near the amount of money as the other companies, they didn't have the benefits of television or PPV (in the beginning), but they quickly grew in popularity due to their cutting-edge style of wrestling and storylines. Of course, the big two promotions quickly took notice of this small-time promotion, and started ripping off their ideas and stealing their talent away in order to make their own shows better... nonetheless, ECW continued to prosper due to the genius mind of owner Paul Heyman. This three hour documentary starts with the beginning of the company, ends with the eventual closing of it, and covers a large chunk of the events and happenings that transpired in between.

WWE, run and owned by Vince McMahon, produced this history of ECW. Since ECW was a competitor of theirs back when they were thriving, I wasn't expecting too much... after all, this is the company that routinely mocked WWE, burned their t-shirts on television, and generally made no attempt to hide their disdain for the company. Therefore, I wasn't expecting too much in the way of a fair look back on the company, but I was definitely proven wrong. This DVD is mostly narrated by Paul Heyman himself, as well as some of the men and women who were with the company during that time frame... such as Tommy Dreamer, The Dudley Boyz, Dawn Marie, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Tazz, and a slew of others. There's also some insight provided by Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, the former boss of WCW, on how they viewed ECW back in those days. This approach definitely made things interesting, though I did find a few faults with how the documentary played out. For starters, there were a good number of people who were fundamental in the growth and success of ECW, yet were nowhere to be found on this DVD. This is due to Vince not putting on any commentary by people who aren't (at the time of the release) employed by the WWE. Where's the comments from Shane Douglas, the man who (on screen, at least) turned the NWA-owned Eastern Championship Wrestling into the Extreme promotion we've come to know and love? How about Sandman, Raven, Terry Funk, Mike Awesome, and the numerous other people who put so much time into the company? While each of these fellows did get some time in the documentary, none of them had any time to express their thoughts on the company... we merely get clips of them in action. Also, I found it to be a bit of a letdown when the time frame during the downfall of the company was skewed a bit... there was a good three or four months worth of happenings before ECW actually shut down that were completely skipped over here. While the documentary doesn't come right out and lie about the time line, it did try to make it appear that they were showing the full picture, when in fact, they were not. A bit deceptive, and maybe not even terribly important, but it did bother me a bit.

With the fan-boy criticisms aside, this DVD was quite entertaining. The facts that are presented were accurate, and the company got all of the respect that it deserved... just because this DVD was produced by WWE doesn't mean that they tried to put their spin on things, which was very relieving. The documentary runs for three hours (not including the second disc, which is full of bonus materials), yet it never gets boring. A huge amount of angles and happenings are touched upon, yet none of them are shown so much as to become repetitive. The wrestlers involved with the documentary have great stories to tell, and seemed to genuinely love the company they worked for... you can tell that this wasn't just a paycheck to many of these guys, and that they really wanted to do whatever it took to make this company work. Excellent work all around.

This DVD is a must-view for fans of sports entertainment. If you were a huge fan of the promotion, you're still likely to find out a number of things that will come as a shock; the people responsible for culling together the clips and events here really did their homework in order to put out a DVD that even the hardcore fans would enjoy. That's not even touching on the nostalgia factor, as that manages to flow out in abundance. If you never got a chance to check out ECW while it was around, but enjoy WWE or enjoyed WCW, you should definitely check this out. The history provided, the insight, and the memories are well worth it. Though it does have a few minor flaws in my eyes, this documentary was nothing short of perfect and would be enjoyed by just about any fan of the sport. 10/10.
wikkidpiggykilla #1: wikkidpiggykilla - added 01/08/2005, 07:24 AM
Big D #2: Big D - added 04/06/2005, 10:47 PM
turn the radio off #3: turn the radio off - added 03/31/2006, 12:51 AM
the greatest there ever was, and the greatest there ever will be.
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