Film Review: Seven Levels of Hate

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Seven Levels of Hate isn’t your typical wrestling documentary.

This isn’t some sort of broad, sweeping, teary-eyed walk down memory lane. It’s not shoot-laden revisionist history. It’s not a retread of a story told a hundred times before.

"Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce
“Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce

No, this is a film about a specific pro wrestling angle and the personalities involved in it. This isn’t something, on the surface, you’d think would make for a great documentary, but in fact this is probably one of the best wrestling documentaries to step into the cinematic ring in a very long time.

Seven Levels of Hate follows independent professional wrestlers and longtime friends “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce and Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana and their epic feud over the NWA World Title which culminated in a legendary seven-match series dubbed “Seven Levels of Hate.” It was a feud that set the independent wrestling world on fire and brought prestige back to a once legendary world title. Then, everything comes to a screeching halt when the governing body of the NWA decides to interfere and change the entire direction of the program despite the efforts of all involved.

This documentary is more than just a look behind the curtain of the professional wrestling industry. It’s about two men who have dedicated their lives to the sport of professional wrestling, who sacrifice their bodies to entertain audiences, who believe in the lost art form of telling a story in the ring. Yet, even more than that, it’s about two men who are not willing to compromise their beliefs for the sake of corporate conformity. It’s also about the love and respect these two wrestlers have for the tradition of professional wrestling — they’re willing to put themselves through hell in order to help bring a sense of honor, glory and prestige to the National Wrestling Alliance, an organization that has wallowed in mediocrity and obscurity for decades.

That’s what makes this documentary so fascinating. On the surface you could say the documentary is about a wrestling angle and how it was derailed. No, this is a multi-faceted look at almost every aspect of professional wrestling.

For example, you learn about the political beast that sometimes makes things ugly about the world of professional wrestling. It’s an honest, unflinching look at this often talked about but never fully fleshed out facet of pro wrestling.

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It’s also a glimpse into the creative process of pro wrestling, which, is not something privy to the everyday fan. Longtime wrestling fans will really be sucked into the creation of the Seven Levels of Hate feud as it dives headfirst into the psychology and storytelling aspects of the sport.

Seven Levels of Hate, despite being created and produced by Adam Pearce, one of the wrestlers involved in the angle, is a pretty fair documentary. It does not allow for Pearce or Cabana’a opinion be the only ones in the film nor does it downplay the opinions of those in opposition to them. The floor is given to all parties to tell their side of the story.

In addition to the actual documentary, the wrestling used in the film is pretty awesome. Cabana and Pearce’s in-ring work together is dynamite. They had such a chemistry together during this feud and while watching them throughout the film you are in constant amazement that neither one of them is signed to a full time contract to WWE. Both men are extremely charismatic and engaging and despite trying to be an impartial observer of the film, one often finds themselves rooting for both men to accomplish what the started out to do with this angle.

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As a wrestling fan, I cannot recommend Seven Levels of Hate enough. It’s an extremely well-done film that bucks the trend of normal wrestling documentaries. It’s a film that speaks from the heart and pulls no punches but never is disrespectful to the sport of professional wrestling. As a fan of documentaries, Seven Levels of Hate is equally as fantastic. Even if you don’t know a wrist lock from a body slam you’ll get sucked into the story of Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana. It’s completely unique and even though you could easily look up what happened on the Internet, you still find yourself glued to your screen, hanging on every word. It’s just so intoxicating you can’t help but allow yourself to lose yourself within the film. This is just damn good filmmaking.

To purchase Seven Levels of Hate, please click here.

Seven Levels of Hate will be screened on Friday, November 23rd at the Rocks Off Pro Wrestling Film Fest at the historic Craine Theater in New York City. There will be a special Q+A session with the film’s creator/star Adam Pearce after the screening. Click here for tickets.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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