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Forever Hardcore

Written by: Arnold Furious

An assortment of hardcore favourites tell their stories from ECW

Interesting story behind this one too. Well, a story anyway. I originally ordered Hardcore Homecoming from the official site. They gleefully took my money and then decided that would be sufficient to be considered service. Left “Hardcore Hom” on my VISA bill. Thanks a lot, assholes. Then didn’t send my DVD. I emailed them 3 or 4 times before just giving up on it. When the opportunity came to review a copy of the show and a copy of Forever Hardcore without paying the original distributors another cent I jumped at the opportunity. I can’t remember who it was who ripped me off but I blame Shane Douglas. It was his little venture in the first place so he robbed me. Bastard. I never liked him. It was either him or Jeremy Borash. Fuckers.

They try to cover their ass to start with saying that ECW is owned by the WWE. We’re at the corner of Ritner and Swanson. It’s the Bingo Hall in South Philly. Jeremy Borash is running the introductions and saying how he often spotted WCW employees in the crowd at ECW shows.

Intros

Terry Funk explains that ECW was a bunch of kooks and nutjobs. Sandman chips in saying everyone cared which is why it worked. Shane Douglas says they had the internet marks but didn’t realise how wide spread the influence was. Vince Russo talks about the energy levels in his only appearance on the documentary. Jerry Lynn calls it a travelling freak show, which he digs because that was how wrestling started out professionally. Konnan says it was real people. Bill Banks credits ECW with Attitude. Doy. Joey Styles says they came off looking like WWF by the time they were on PPV because their big stars had been bought out.

Eastern Championship Wrestling

Tod Gordon is credited with coming up with ECW and putting the money in. Gary Wolfe credits him with being a money man who knew how to make money. Tod says the first show was in a bar and there were 80 people there. A Philly sports channel bought an ECW show even though it wasn’t very good. Funk talks about how he advised against Tod putting money in. Tod talks about how Eddie Gilbert booked the shows. Gabe Sapolsky tells us the product was no good and it was too Memphis. Paul E came in as Eddie’s on air interviewer. After Eddie fell out with Paul & Tod it was Paul who ended up in charge. Tod talks about how incredibly fast Paul thought at the time. His first change was putting Joey Styles on PBP. Raven tells us his four favourite commentators were Jim Ross, Gordon Solie, Lance Russell and Joey Styles. Sandman says that Paul’s intelligence bordered insanity and he was a great motivator. Raven, Funk and others put Heyman over for being a genius and a guy who could change you around. Gabe says that Paul tried to break every rule in the book. The first match he booked was Public Enemy v Bad Breed. PE destroyed them and there was blood everywhere. Terry Taylor talks about the depth that PE had. Sandman credits PE with paving the way for the characters that followed. Mike Johnson talks about how Sabu was iconic for the Indies. Raven credits him for his innovation and Funk calls him the greatest creator in the last 40 years.

Sabu breaks his silence

Sabu interview! He says there was no plan. He rang Tod Gordon and asked for $300 to do a show. Paul wanted to put Sabu on a gurney with a mask, Hannibal Lector style. He says Paul asked him if he wanted to work with Taz and he said “no but I’ll do it”. He didn’t even know who he was. Sabu said he hated doing so much acting and going nuts all the time. Raven talks about how Sabu used his body as a weapon and no one did that. Sabu talks about using tables. He’d just moonsault tables for no reason. He did that for years before even coming to ECW. How is he not crippled?

The Night the Line was crossed

Terry Funk talks about it being one of his most memorable matches. Sabu says there was no plan to set the world on fire specifically in that match. Paul said the match would either make him or break him. Funk talks about how Shane & Sabu had the crowd in the palm of their hand after 15 minutes. Sabu got injured so Shane ended up doing the entire hour, which is exactly what Heyman wanted. Funk talks about the creativity of the three way dance. Mike Johnson talks about the hour broadway and how Funk put over new stars, which no one wanted to do in 1994. Funk talks about how the fans evolved that night as well as the wrestling. They became a cult. They all loved each other. New Jack puts Shane Douglas over for what a good promo he is. Yeah, when he can say “fuck” every other word. Kid Kash credits Shane for being the man.

The NWA gets Franchised

Shane talks about going on Mike Tenay’s radio show. Dennis Coralluzo was telling everyone not to book Shane because he’s unreliable. Paul came up with an idea of destroying the NWA with Shane throwing the belt down. Only Shane and Paul knew they were going to swerve the NWA. Mike Johnson tells us the NWA affiliates are all just Indy guys bar TNA who seem to have a high opinion of themselves. Shane says he paused before doing it because he wasn’t sure he was going to go through with it. Everyone talks about how it was a “holy shit” moment. Joey walks us through the company changing to Extreme Championship Wrestling and getting a world title. Shane talks about how Corralluzo didn’t know what was going on even as he threw the belt down. Tod Gordon had to talk him through it and explain what was going on. Tod just told him to kick ECW out of the NWA because he knew they were quitting it anyway. Raven says he wouldn’t have done it because he doesn’t like double crosses. He says it was the best thing for business but for karma? Maybe not. Terry Funk talks about how he didn’t like spitting on the heritage. Because the NWA had paid their dues and Shane hadn’t. Tod claims he knew about it beforehand making it three people or that Shane Douglas has Hulk Hogan selective memory syndrome. Joey talks about how he didn’t like it and didn’t think it was a good way to do business. Shane talks about how ECW wouldn’t have gotten the same legacy without that night. Shane doesn’t apologise.

Extreme is born

It was a natural progression because of Extreme Sports and they wanted to keep the ECW initials.

Enter Sandman

Sandman said he was getting heat because he sucked so they gave him the gimmick with smoking. Then the beer and the character got hip. Sabu says that the Sheik loved the gimmick. Raven points out Sandman’s a menace to society but he’s also a great father and a family man. Kash talks about how Sandman can’t wrestle at all. Francine talks about how she used to hate Sandman. New Jack points out he’s a drunken alcoholic but he doesn’t have a bad word to say about him. Sandman talks about coming in through different places rather than the normal entrance. Sandman said he loved it. Raven compares him to the fans saying the only difference between Sandman and the fans is he’s a bit drunker and bit more psychotic. Terry talks about how Tommy Dreamer gave himself for the business because he loved ECW so much. Raven says that Dreamer wanted to die in the ring. He was that into wrestling. Funk says Dreamer was a great performer. We segue into Cactus Jack and how he broke his back for ECW and its fans. Funk talks about the great mind that Cactus has. Joey talks about the Philly fans knowing their stuff and how they’d turn on anyone that sucks. Tod talks about the “you fucked up” chants. Francine talks about “she’s a crack whore” and how it was deafening. New Jack talks about the ring rats and how they’d come from everywhere. Including “midgets, blind people” and how he got everything from them. Gabe talks about how the fans could be real assholes. Raven talks about the fans being SO smart and crapping on everything. Most of the boys hated it. The fans hated Joey to start with. Gabe talks about how Cactus turned on the fans and worked them. Raven talks about how it was easy to work the hardcore fans because they thought they knew everything. Funk talks about calling for chairs one night and in they came. We get some great footage of it and Funk got told not to do it again because it was too dangerous. Sabu says his favourite fans were the ones that appreciated originality even if it wasn’t terribly well executed. Now there’s a shocker. New Jack wants a rat reunion.

Taz

Sandman talks about how Taz isn’t intimidating but his style was so believable. New Jack calls him a cartoon character. Raven says Paul got everyone believing that Taz was the toughest motherfucker on the planet. Kid Kash talks about how Taz was pissed off about the Moneymaker because it could have hurt Chris Chetti. Taz called it a fucked up Tiger Driver. Raven says he didn’t get along with Taz because Taz was miserable and Raven kept making him laugh and he hated that.

The Summer of Violence

They talk about Axl v Ian Rotten series where they upped the violence. Kash thought it went too far. Mike Johnson talks about how the main events got more violent through 1995.

The Arrival of Raven

Raven says when Paul called him about starting he was fucked up on drugs. Raven just showed up hoping he wasn’t too late but it ended up he was a week early. They talk about how the crowd related to Raven. Sabu talks about his great mind. Sandman says he’s too smart for his own good. Raven says he rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. Raven talks about Vince McMahon seeing himself as Ted DiBiase while Paul Heyman saw himself as Raven. Sandman talks about how many ideas Raven had and how the pacing of the shows picked up. Funk talks about how some guys make a living by doing the least they can and Raven is one of those.

Lucha invades America

Konnan says that he told Paul that Rey & Psicosis would blow away everyone they had. Konnan says he recommended Super Crazy too. Lynn says that a lot of the lucha guys got their North American break in ECW.

The Fire Incident

Meanie walks us through the Fire Chair. Raven talks about the towel being held on with tape, which was stupid. Sandman says it was great stuff because you can’t get more extreme than someone being on fire. The crowd was evacuated. Joey talks about how awful it was. Mike Johnson says he thought it was the end of the company. They talk about the bingo hall and how it was the MSG of ECW. It was hot, it smelt bad and was disgusting.

Shane Breaks Gary’s Neck

Wolfe talks about how his neck got broken on a DDT. No one knows what happened but Gary sounds pissed off about it still. Shane tells us that Gary tried to take it wrong to make the move look good. Francine talks about the great angle but it was horrible at the time. Gary STILL sounds pissed off. Shane thinks he was being ribbed when Tod rang him and told him Gary had a broken neck. Gary talks about doing the angles wearing the halo with the broken neck. They talk about people jumping the rail when Shane handled him when he had the halo. Someone punched Shane, someone punched Francine. Shane talks about how he kept checking to see if he’d been stabbed. They talk about the insane white heat. Shane was so over as a heel they had to sneak him into the building for 3 months. Gary and Shane still don’t agree on who was at fault. Gabe talks about how they didn’t get anyone else that over as a heel until the Dudleys. Raven says that was another gimmick he came up with. “Putting on the foil” and it was based on the Hanson Brothers from Slapshot. I love that movie. New Jack says the Dudley Boys aren’t shit and never will be. Awesome. Everyone else puts them over.

Girls Gone Extreme

Dreamer got Kimona to dance when the ring broke. Francine said she wouldn’t do lesbian stuff and get naked. Otherwise she’d do anything. She talks about how sex sells. First night she was there she took a chokeslam off 911. Francine talks about her gimmick being that she’d be with the champ. Saturn talks about how he got worked by Shane. He thought Shane & Francine were screwing around. Francine says she was seen with Tommy in public and that broke kayfabe. Francine talks about being in Shane’s corner but he didn’t talk to her for 4 months. Shane claims that Francine told him she hated his guts. Francine says she didn’t say that at all. Francine tells us she hasn’t spoken to Shane since 1999. My take on this is that Shane Douglas is full of shit. You’ll notice all the contradictions seem to happen when he’s on one side.

Crucifixion of Sandman

Raven talks about how he was in rehab for 10 days to stop his break down. He knew he’d have to make a big comeback. Sandman said he was fine with it and built the cross himself. Kurt Angle was there for the first time and Shane claims that was down to him. Raven talks about how he kept the cross hidden until it was used. Everyone, specifically the Christians, didn’t like it. People were really angry. Probably because Raven was Jewish. Raven says the heat was good and he was in the middle of it so he’d know but everyone says it didn’t get over. Angle called it bullshit and walked. Shane says it was never cleared by Paul but Raven says he thinks Paul knew. Thinks? Paul made Raven apologise but Raven thinks it was only to make Kurt happy but Sandman hated it because it hurt the characters. Raven says they didn’t go too far and no one wanted to see an apology. Sandman says if he’d been as big as he is now he’d have stopped Raven going out. Joey thought it was over the line. Sandman talks about Undertaker doing the exact same thing to Steve Austin in the WWE and no one had to apologise then. New Jack borderline cuts a promo on how stupid and useless Mustafa was so he was happy when he went. Raven talks about how New Jack knew his limitations and he was seriously over. It’s brought up that New Jack knows about protecting his opponent, he just doesn’t do it. “That guy has lost his fucking mind” – Kid Kash. Sandman says he had problems with New Jack but that’s because he’s his own person.

Mass Transit

Blue Meanie says no one knew that Mass Transit was a wrestler. New Jack says that Axl Rotten was a no show so they needed someone quick. A big kid (Eric Kulas) came up with a tape so they let him wrestle under a cop gimmick as Mass Transit. Apparently Mass Transit told New Jack what spots he wanted to do and asked New Jack to give him colour. New Jack says he cut the shit out of him. Kid Kash talks about how Transit screamed like a little girl when he realised how bad he was cut. New Jack says he used a surgical scalpel. Fuckin’ hell. New Jack had to leave right away so he didn’t get arrested. New Jack says Transit shouldn’t have been in the ring and he didn’t regret it. “Welcome to the business”. New Jack says he got charged with assault. He got offered five years but he went to trial and got acquitted. “Free like OJ”. DAYUM. New Jack is nuts. We go onto to the Blue World Order. Meanie got told he didn’t have to wrestle but as long as he was fat and could a moonsault it was fine. Raven says he made them do shit just to entertain him like the Baron Von Stevie thing. I loved that. Bill Banks talks about the invasion at the Manhattan Centre. They talk about how 90% of the fans were ECW fans. Terry Taylor says he was the head writer at the time and he borrowed stuff from ECW. Taker-Big Show with the chokeslam through the ring was stolen from the Taz-Bigelow angle. Joey talks about the WWF changing its style. Terry Funk talks about how ECW innovated and WWF used it to beat WCW.

Paul Fires Sabu

Sabu says he was double booked and he was working once a month in ECW so he choose Japan. They were still spot shows at the time so he didn’t see it as a big deal. But they both wanted to work together still because they needed each other so they got back together again. New Jack talks about the balcony dive and how he started doing it then it got really over so Heyman had to start paying him to take bigger and bigger dives.

The Danbury Fall

New Jack talks about a ridiculously high dive with Vic Grimes (Living Dangerously 2000, not to be confused with XPW Freefall where Vic just got thrown off a scaffold solo). Vic told him he couldn’t do it so New Jack told him they’d go on three and threw him off but Grimes landed on New Jack’s head. Terry Taylor says they should have died because they hit concrete hard. New Jack talks about the nerve damage and how he can’t see out of his right eye. He gets headaches all the time and sometimes insomnia but that’s just part of who he is now. Gabe talks about how the locker room fell apart right before the PPV because the entire show was based on Taz-Sabu. Terry Funk talks about it being a magical night. Sandman talks about the nerves. Joey tells us he was the first commentator to call a PPV solo. Sandman says he was too drunk to be nervous. Tod talks about how he lost his mind during the main event because they were running out of time and the generator blew right after the show went off the air. Joey says he’s happy to put that performance from himself on that show against any commentating performance. He says he cried because he was so happy. Everyone talks about Terry Funk and what a nice guy he is. Raven talks about Funk putting people over and still being a legend. Joey calls him crazy. New Jack says he wouldn’t have sex with him but he loves him. Sandman talks about how Terry told him he was going to moonsault and he was stunned. Funk talks about Sabu ripping his bicep in the barbwire match. Sabu talks about needing some tape and taping the wound shut. He says he wasn’t going to lose his arm so it wasn’t that bad. Holy crap. He talks about the match just going on the fly after that. Funk talks about nearly passing out at the end until he was cut out.

Public Enemies

Terry Taylor talks about bringing in PE to the WWE. He warned them that the APA were going to beat them up because they turned down the WWF when they went to WCW. Taylor says he was ashamed of himself for sending them out there to be humiliated and they were fired a week later anyway.

The Mole

Tod talks about there being a mole in the company and how it was an invasion angle. Tod talks about WCW offering him $300,000 a year. The whole mole thing got out of control. Raven talks about not wanting to leave but ECW weren’t an influence anymore. Sandman talks about the good money that the top guys were on just to keep them there. They talk about RVD being a great attraction for his athletic abilities. Raven talks about how he believed in storyline and RVD was all about high spots. Lynn says their matches took years off his life. They wanted to do something different and wow the crowd. Lynn talks about how losing matches isn’t important.

TNN

Francine talks about the locker room thinking TNN would be their saviour. Paul was desperate for TV so they took whatever they could. Joey talks about how bad the first show was and the production values were never good enough. Lynn says they were the #1 show but they were only a guinea pig to see if wrestling would fly on their network. As soon as they were on TV the Dudleys went and so did Taz. Joey talks about how haphazard the TV tapings were so they weren’t ready for the step.

Mike Awesome

He was ECW champion and WCW wanted him for a big Nitro show. He did one more show for ECW to drop the belt when he came in the back door because the locker room hated him. Bischoff tried to talk him into dumping the belt on TV. Raven talks about how much original stuff ECW came up with and it all got stolen so it wasn’t unique anymore. Lynn talks about how the pay stopped arriving and the atmosphere of the locker room changed. Paul talked about going to California and trying to get a better TV deal. Lynn says he was out there shooting Rollerball, which was horrible for moral. Francine said she got her bounced cheques covered but then the pay just stopped. Paul stopped going to shows and the wrestlers all worked for free so the locker room was unified against Paul. Mike Johnson talks about being told the company was done and not to tell the wrestlers because they didn’t know. Francine talks about Tommy ringing her and telling her that Paul was going to be on RAW. That was the end of it.

This documentary was shot prior to the original PPV and Hardcore Homecoming.

Terry Funk has the contract for the WWE show. He says it’s a good sum of money. Not Hogan or Flair money but more than Hardcore Homecoming. He had a choice and money wasn’t an issue. He couldn’t perform two shows that close. He says Vince did more to destroy ECW than Shane Douglas did. Hence his choice. He talks about wanting to do the 3-way dance again. His wife told him to do the Vince show because it was more money. Terry gets tearful because he wanted to go back to the guys that he loved. “And that’s why I’m not a millionaire”. He did what he wanted to do not what he should have done.

Jeremy Borash closes out by talking about Chris Candido passing away during the documentary being filmed. He says they found a tape of him at a TNA show a few weeks before he died. So he’s included it as a tribute to Chris Candido. It’s JB and Candido hosting a show. Candido is in a wheelchair after being beaten up by Kevin Nash. He’s selling an assortment of wacky injuries. He’s making up body parts that are injured as a tribute to Gorilla Monsoon. The best part for me is when Borash notices the plaster on his head has moved sides. “The pain travels” replies Chris. Oh, that’s brilliant.

There are some great out takes during the credits too including Joey Styles begging to get out of Atlanta claiming if he was going to give the USA an enema he’d stick the hose in Atlanta. There’s also a spot of bonus material…

Arena Tour

One of the current owners of the Alhambra Arena, formally known as the ECW arena, shows us around. He says they still have wrestling but not bingo anymore. The snack bar is the same but now there are computers in the building.

Joey Styles Word Association

Joey – glasses
Sandman – drunk
Raven – tattoo
Heyman – bald
Tod – beard
Sabu – scars
Dudleys – tye dye
Taz – orange
Lynn – “nothing really jumps out”. GWAR. “His favourite band now is Cattle Decapitation” – JB.
Shane – yellow. “The guys very proud of Pittsburgh. So much so he just moved to Florida”.
Funk – crazy. “That can’t be act. It’s either the greatest work in the business or he’s a little nuts”.
Foley – friend
Austin – loud
Vince McMahon – great, great hair. Helmet like.
Awesome – big
Spike – little
Kash – Kid Rock
Francine – boobs. He has a great boob story but that’s “to be continued”. Oh, you bastards.


Final Thoughts:
This just about covers more ground than the Rise & Fall of ECW DVD that the WWE put out. While it’s more comprehensive I feel the lack of footage shows it up. If they had the same sort of footage access as the WWE it’d probably make for a better documentary because it’s more emotionally attached. The Terry Funk bits in particular were amazing. Plus they have every other major player barring a few. Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer and Taz probably would have rounded it out. They have everyone else. It’s also a great array of interviews with Terry Taylor, Bill Banks, Gabe Sapolsky and Mike Johnson included. I really didn’t expect such a range of people and that really helps the documentary succeed. For ECW fans it should be purchased as a companion piece for the Rise and Fall of ECW. Between them they’ve got everything covered in terms of interviews. Here you get New Jack, Raven, Tod Gordon and Shane Douglas. There’s a slight issue over the documentary not following any kind of timeline and just jumping around a lot. As long as you don’t take the running order as a timeline you’re cool. There are also big chunks skimmed over in the later years probably because the principle players weren’t available for interview or it wasn’t that interesting. Oh well. Thumbs up.

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