A Tribute To Wrestling's Best Mic Workers
February 15, 2006 by Jim Rush
It was July 7th, 1990. The night that the torch was to be passed. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair was set to defend his NWA Heavyweight Championship against Sting. The man who had dominated the 1980's was facing the man who was going to dominate the 1990's. Sting had been a superstar since the two had faced off in their classic 45-minute time limit draw at Clash Of The Champions I two years earlier. He was a former World Television Champion. And had defeated Ric Flair in a non-title match at the previous years Starrcade to win the Iron Man tournament. This however, was for the championship, and "the Stinger" was going to do it. On this night Sting dominated, no selling some of Ric Flairs most brutal chops, press slamming "The Nature Boy" multiple times. And in the end, thanks to a small package reversal of the figure four leg lock Sting indeed pinned Ric Flair. The pop inside the then Baltimore Arena was deafening, fireworks went off, Sting celebrated in the ring with The Steiner Brothers, The Junk Yard Dog, and Paul Orndorff, and even granted an interview to Gordon Solie on stage before anyone would leave the arena. Yes, a new era of dominance had arrived; the decade was Stings for the taking. So why didn't it happen that way"
Horrible scripting marked sting's first title reign. At Clash Of The Champions XXII he defeated a bogus Black Scorpion, just the beginning of that horrible angle. At Halloween Havoc he successfully defended the championship against Sid Vicious in the infamous "Barry Whindam incident". At Clash Of The Champions XXIII he stood and watched while The Black Scorpion supposedly turned a human into a tiger. And at Starrcade inside of a steel cage he defeated The Black Scorpion to once again retain the NWA Heavyweight Championship. However, to make things worse, when Sting tore the mask from his opponent. The man who had supernatural powers, landed in a spaceship, and was a demon from Stings past was none other than Ric Flair. Then, suddenly, not even on a pay per view or super card Sting lost the title to Ric Flair in January of 1991. WCW separated from the NWA. And Ric Flair was the first ever WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Sting was relegated out of World Title convention. At WrestleWar his team lost War Games to the 4 Horseman. He traded wins with Nikita Kolloff. Beating "The Russian Nightmare" at Clash Of The Champions XV in a regular match and then losing the rematch in a "Russian Chain Match" at The Great American Bash. He did win the United States Title later in the year and led his team to victory in a "Chamber Of Horrors Match" at Halloween Havoc and then won BattleBowl at Starrcade. But it was over a year until he once again got a real shot at the World Championship. On February 29th, 1992 he defeated his long time friend Lex Luger to win the title for a second time.
However this title reign was less stellar than his first, with having no high profile successful title defenses. At the New Japan PPV he lost to The Great Muta in a non-title match, his team did win War Games at WrestleWar, and at Beach Blast he did defeat Cactus Jack in a non-title match. However his first high profile title defense of this reign was his last as Vader pinned Sting cleanly at the Great American Bash in July of 1992. Sting would go on to lose to Vader in rematches and also the following year take a back seat to Davey Boy Smith in the World Title shots. He did win the title from Vader in Europe but dropped it back about a week later.
Then the worst thing that could happen to Stings career did, even if it was the best thing that could happen to World Championship Wrestling. WCW signed Hulk Hogan. With the most popular wrestler of all time on board Sting would not get a World Title shot for over 3 years. Of course everyone knows about the New World Order and Stings battle with them. It is legendary and did thrust Sting back into the top of WCW. However once he won the title, once again he was not a great champion. The culmination of the Sting-Hogan feud was to be Starrcade 97, but the match was lackluster and had a dusty finish. The rematch at Superbrawl wasn't much better. And just a couple of months later Sting dropped the championship to Randy Savage at Spring Stampede.
He was then relegated to a feud involving rival "now factions" and a World Tag Team Championship angle involving The Giant (Big Show) and went on to lose a battle royal at Road Wild in which Bill Goldberg won and also came up short in a modified "War Games" at Fall Brawl in which DDP was the victor. Then to finish off the year on a horrible note he was KO-ed by Bret Hart in a US Championship match at Halloween Havoc and did not even participate at the Starrcade card.
After going on to lose a four corners match for the World Title at Spring Stampede 1999 (the first PPV of that year he competed in) he did go on to win the World Title on Nitro. But in grand fashion he dropped the title in the main event of that very same show, marking his most embarrassing title run. Over the next four PPV's he went to a no contest with Bill Goldberg, lost a World Television Title match to Rick Steiner, along with Kevin Nash lost a tag team main event to Randy Savage & Sid Vicious, and then capped off the amazing streak by losing a singles match to Sid. Then came the infamous and backfiring heel turn. He won the World Title from Hulk Hogan at Fall Brawl but lost it at the next PPV in just over three minutes to Bill Goldberg. Sting then finished off the lackluster year by submitting to Bret Hart and defeating Lex Luger by DQ at the final two PPVs of 1999.
Sting was once again completely relegated out of World Title contention. At PPV's in 2000 he did defeat Lex Luger, made it to the finals of the United States Championship tournament only to lose to Scott Steiner, went on his horribly booked two PPV feud with Vampiro, and was defeated in singles competition by Jeff Jarrett. In fact Sting (once the face of the company) didn't even participate at all of the yearly PPV's in 2000. Of course WCW was sold in 2001 and Sting did take part in the final Nitro and defeat Ric Flair in that famous emotional final match.
Sting will always be known as the man who never sold out to Vince McMahon, even now choosing TNA over the WWE. He is without a doubt a legend, an icon, and many other adjectives used to describe the best of the best when it comes to legendary wrestlers. Perhaps history will look back upon Sting like The Road Warriors and The Undertaker (once his career ends) as those who could lead a company and be completely over with the fans without having a title around their waists. And the argument here isn't that Sting didn't have his fair share of World, US, TV, and World Tag championship reigns. It's just impossible in my eye to find a truly stellar championship run. So the question posed is simple. Why did the late 80's/early 90's up and coming sure to dominate the World Championship scene of the decade not turn out that way"
by Jim Rush..
You're right in saying that Sting was much like the Undertaker and Road Warrior figures of the company, but there was something hollow to Sting, and that hollowness is easily defined in the terrible management of WCW. Yes things were going right; Ric Flair dropped the belt to Sting who was getting over well and was very promising. What WCW couldn't do, and no matter how hard they tried, they could not produce a solid and believable show like WWF could at the time, which was early 90s. Of course the gimmick era was coming in rather fast with characters and fillers alike, but WCW could never use anyone properly.
Sting, unfortunately, was a victim of poor WCW usage, much like Bret Hart was. Had Sting gone to WWF, I strongly believe he would have been the big Intercontinental championship style, which would form into a WWF champion if he got over as well in WWF that is of course.
His WCW career never took off as the Stone Cold type era style did simply because WCW was afraid of using newer style characters. Yeah Sting was around since the mid to later 90s and had been the one to beat Ric Flair, but WCW was clinging onto the past very much. The management and board positions show that, as well as the decisions made. Hulk Hogan also played a too large part in WCW by being handed too much power. That is another reason I believe Sting wasn't really able to get off the ground as well as the big company superstar. I mean if you look at it, WWF had Bret Hart, then Shawn Michaels, then Stone Cold, then the Rock, and then Triple H and so on. WCW was so mad and misusing talent, having a strong believable solid champion was hard for them, for some reason, to put at the top. The main difference as well is that WCW wasn't taking many risks as WWF would, so therefore they tried what had worked grand in the past. Of course new things would come much later in WCW, but it would be all too late anyway.
So Sting's poor usage you can just blame on WCW in general. Sting had the potential to be one of the greatest of all time, but WCW just never could use him effectively. The same thing happened to Bret Hart.
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