Dot Net DVD Review: Seven Levels of Hate - the NWA Championship series between Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana
By Zack Zimmerman
Seven Levels of Hate is available for pre-order through September 15 at Sevenlevelsofhate.com.
The NWA World Heavyweight Championship has a lineage that can be traced back to the mid-1900s (some argue Frank Gotch as early as 1905) and was, at one point, considered the richest prize in professional wrestling. 25 years after the title’s last real heyday and five years after the last bit of mainstream recognition the title received, Seven Levels of Hate tells the story of two wrestlers who spent three years attempting to bring a sense of relevance and buzz to a title that the wrestling world knew had seen its best days come and go.
The film tells a multi-layered story anchored by and revolving around the mutual respect Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana have for one another as well as for the business. Viewers will gain the sense of a near 20-year friendship that is steeped in loyalty - motivated by a love for wrestling, a desire to entertain, and a keen sense of what modern wrestling is (or, in some cases, should be).
After pulling the NWA Title out of irrelevance post-TNA split, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood featured an eight-month main event storyline that eventually saw good triumph over evil and crowned new NWA Champion Colt Cabana. I remember reading that and thinking, "Huh, that might be pretty cool." Cabana wrestles all over the country, in Europe and Japan, hosts the popular Art of Wrestling podcast, and is arguably the most mainstream independent wrestler in the world. Well, the NWA didn’t care and six weeks later, he dropped the title.
As it turned out, the guy who won the title was a mark for himself and a pretty huge jerk (per the version of the story told in the documentary). The NWA got 20/20 hindsight, put the strap back on Pearce, and decided that his idea to do a Seven Levels of Hate series might be a good thing for business. Fans began buzzing a bit and promoters began booking the matches all over the country. Well-edited highlights, interview segments, and plenty of piledrivers tell the story of the brutal matches the two they had, including a first blood match, a dog-collar match, and an "I Quit" match. Everything went off without issue and they made this DVD about how great it was, right? Wrong.
Pearce, Cabana, promoters Dave Marquez and Bill Beherens, and longtime play-by-play voice Mick Karch, among others, go in-depth to reveal the baffling politics that once again interfered in what could’ve been a resurgence of the title that some people hold as "the godfather" of pro wrestling championships. Ultimately, the conclusion isn’t one that will send the majority of viewers away feeling fulfilled, but it gives a candid look into an ugly aspect of the business where politics and poor management get in the way of the very nature of pro wrestling: entertaining fans, telling stories, and doing what is best for business.
Despite the persistent troubles, Cabana and Pearce did what few others have done in the modern era of wrestling. They told a story from promotion to promotion, independent of any creative teams or corporate hype, while garnering attention and drawing fans. I would highly recommend picking up this DVD. It tells an intriguing story within the context of wrestling and shines a light on the behind-the-scenes politics that hinder what's left of the once-great National Wrestling Alliance.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections to @InVasionZim. I am always happy to discuss pro wrestling with readers.
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