One of the part of having a lot of time off during the holidays is that I finally have an opportunity to read and watch things that have been put off for a long time. One of these was Forever Hardcore, a documentary that looks back at the time when Extreme Championship Wrestling was running wild.
The film was done by Jeremy Borash, a longtime behind the scenes employee of WCW and TNA, who just happened to also be a super fan of the renegade wrestling company from South Philadelphia that went on to change the face of professional wrestling.
What separates this from the WWE produced The Rise and Fall of ECW is that this relies on interviews with people who were a part of the promotion at the time but never were able to parlay that success with the larger company. So in that sense, the stories that were told on this come across as a little more open. A lot of the stories I’ve read and heard before, but this documentary has the primaries going on the record about. There are some other stories that were new to me, like Shane Douglas and Francine never really getting along when they were outside of character.
Forever Hardcore was a decent enough documentary. There were a few things that I did frown upon though. The video quality wasn’t that slick, looking more along the lines of a student film or something made for hyper-local television. But in some ways, that keeps up with the spirit of the original ECW in that the presentation wasn’t what counted but the content you were experiencing. What was worse (and I’m sure was a huge challenge for Borash) about this was how they couldn’t use any video footage of ECW, thanks to it being the WWE’s. Random photography and indie wrestling helps fill the void, but doesn’t really illustrate the points being made.
The feeling I was left with was the story of how everyone involved with ECW believed in the product and the risks they took–both financially and physically–to support it. It ends with Terry Funk discussing being offered a contract to participate in the first WWE ECW tribute show. And pretty much sums up the experience of what it was like working for ECW with this quote:
“I said honey, I can’t do it. I want to go back to the guys that I love. The guys that I’ve been down the road. And that’s why I’m not a millionaire because I do the things I want to do instead of the things I should have done.”
And that’s exactly how I remember ECW.