OWW Wrestler of the Week: Sting

HeadLocker — Jay Shannon

OWW Wrestler of the Week — Sting

Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, pays tribute to the new TNA World Champion, Sting. Sting is the biggest US wrestler to never work under contract to the WWF/WWE. Sting is also an 11-time World Champion.

At Bound For Glory, Sting captured his third TNA World title. He did have a little help from old friend, Kevin Nash, to do it. Sting has been wrestling from close to 2 decades now. He is hands-down my pick for the OWW Wrestler of the Week awaed, this week.

From Body Building to Body Bashing

Steve Borden was an up-and-coming bodybuilder in Southern California in the early 1980s. He was hired by Red Bastien and Rick Bassman as a scout for a new wrestling group that Bastien and Bassman were creating. After several failed attempts at finding a fourth member of Powerteam USA, Bastien and Bassman asked Borden if he would be interested in joining. Steve initially refused, but relented and became the final team player. Bassman and Borden created Borden’s first character, Flash Borden. The name was, of course, a take-off on the science fiction hero, Flash Gorden. Flash was joined by another future superstar, Jim “Justice” Hellwig. Justice would become World Class’s Dingo Warrior before joining the WWF as the Ultimate Warrior.

The Powerteam alliance didn’t last long, as the other two men left the group. Flash and Justice were sent to Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation, formally the Mid-South promotion. Watts and the other creative team members ran with the science fiction theme that Flash had originally used and dubbed the new team the Blade Runners (the name was based on the cult classic). Justice became Rock and Flash eventually became Sting. The duo worked a few matches for Watts and then were sent to Jerry Jarrett’s CWA promotion to hone their skills. The duo would return to the UWF in early 1986 and feud with several face teams in the area. Rock had a falling out with Watts and accepted an offer from Fritz Von Erich to jump to the World Class territory. Sting found himself on his own, but not for long.

The birth of Sting

After Hellwig left the UWF, Sting was placed in the HotStuff and Hyatt International stable, run by Eddie Gilbert and his then-wife, Missy Hyatt. Sting was still a major heel at this point in his career. Sting would partner with Eddie Gilbert, and later Rick Steiner, to win the UWF tag belts on three occasions. Sting was set to have a singles run as the UWF TV champion, when the organizaion was sold to Jim Crockett Promotions and merged with the NWA.

The new Sting that showed up in the NWA is usually referred to as Surfer Sting. Gone was the dark, sci-fi look, replaced by a beach bum look. Sting has a platinum blond crew cut and bright, colorful tights with a scorpion down the leg. Sting began to use the Sharpshooter as his finisher, although he called it the Scorpion Deathlock. The lock was a nod to Chris Adams, who helped teach the move to Sting, along with Konnan. Adams had used the move in World Class durin his bried heel run. Konnan knew the move from his years in Mexico. In the TNA tribute video to Sting, Borden gives the credit for the move to Konnan.

Dusty Rhodes, then the NWA Booker, saw potential in Sting and decided to push the young star. Sting was touted by many in the NWA as their counterpart to Hulk Hogan. Sting was from California, like Hogan. He had the same bleached blond, hard body look that Hogan had. Rhodes set Sting against the top heel in the company, NWA Champ, Ric Flair. Sting became an instant fan favorite. At the first Clash of the Champions, Sting wrestled Flair to a 45-minute draw. Sting fought Flair, several times, over the next few months. Sting would either lose or win by disqualification, thus not getting the NWA belt.

Sting’s first taste of NWA gold came by way of the NWA TV title. He tooke the belt off Mike Rotunda. sting wouuld defend the belt against mid-level competitors for several months, until the NWA brought in The Great Muta. Muta and Sting fought in a wild match, where Sting appeared to pin Muta. In reality, Muta had his shoulder off the mat at two. The NWA, booking a typical Dusty Finish, held up the belt. After many rematches, where both men ended up disqualified, Muta finally won the belt for the J-Tex Corporation. J-Tex had been amking life difficult for all the faces, including the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair actually recruited Sting to become a member of the Horsemen. This was seem by critics as a very bad move and Sting was booted from the team after only a few weeks. That led to the next round of Sting/Flair battles.

After Ric Flair ousted Sting for not giving up a title shot, Borden legitimately injured his knee during a run in for the main event. Lex Luger stepped in to take Sting’s spot, while Borden recovered from the injury. The booking team wanted Flair to drop the belt to Luger, but Flair flatly refused. Flair had promised to give Sting a run with the belt and he would simply hold onto the belt until Sting’s return. Flair was true to his word and dropped the belt to Sting on July 7, 1990 (my birthday) at the Great American Bash. Sting’s first title run had it’s share of odd occurencees, including a feud with the Black Scorpion (Flair in a mask) and a bogus Sting (Barry Windham). Sting would eventually lose the belt back to Flair in January of 1991.

The evolution of Sting

After dropping the belt to Flair, Sting moved forward in both singles matches and teaming with good friend, Lex Luger. Their battles with the Steiner Brothers are seen as some of the greatest pure wrestling matches in the history of the sport. During this time, WCW ended it’s ties with the NWA. The World title and World tag titles remained on the champions who held them and were simply renamed. The US title was decided by way of a tournament, which Sting won. Sting then feuded with various members of the Dangerous Alliance until early 1992. A major change pulled Sting out of that feud and thrust him into the spotlight.

Ric Flair shocked the wrestling world in 1992 when he defected to the then-WWF. WCW scrambled to pick up the pieces when Flair walked out. Sting was tapped to weat the top gold, once again. His next big feud was against the behemoth known as Big Van Vader. Vader, a stiff worker, actually ruptured Sting’s spleen and cracked three of the champs’ ribs when he threw his bulk onto Sting. Sting would lose the belt to Vader, only to recover and regain it. Sting and Vader would battle for over a year, switching the belt back and forth on several occasions, until Vader left for the WWF.

When Ric Flair returned from the WWF, he befriended the “WCW Franchise”. Flair would eventually turn on Sting and they had a brief feud. Sting was then partnered with the newly-arriving Hulk Hogan to battle the evil forces of Kevin Sullivan, who had dared to shave off Hogan’s trademark moustache. That alliance would dissolve when Hogan created the New World Order with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. In fact, Sting was involved in the match when Hogan officially turned heel and joined The Outsideers (Hall and Nash) as the nWo. Sting would feud with the ex-WWFers, who would attack all the WCW loyalists.

The Crow Sting

During the height of the nWo, Hall, Nash and Hogan unveiled a “fake” Sting, played by jobber Jeff Farmer. Sting was offended that so many WCW fans and wrestlers would buy that Sting had turned his back on WCW. Sting disappeared for an extended period. When Sting finally returned, the beach bum, bright colored Sting was gone. The new version of Sting was a variation on the Brandon Lee character from the movie The Crow. The new Sting had a death-white painted face, all black costume and a lack of voice. Sting, one of the best talkers in WCW, suddenly went silent and brooding. Sting also began to carry an ebony baseball bat, which he would occasionally use in the ring. That bat has stayed with Sting to this day. In the TNA Sting DVD, Sting mentioned still having the original bat that he used, but has replaced it from time to time with different ones.

Sting would actually join the nWo, once the group split into nWo Wolfpac (Red and Black) and nWo Hollywood (Black and White). Sting was a member of the Wolfpac edition, along with Kevin Nash. Sting’s face paint suddenly changed to a blood red and black version. In the WCW video game for the PC (which I have), Sting was shown in Wolfpac colors. Sting kept his silence for a full year and a half, until J.J. Dillon stripped Sting of the World title after a contraversial finish between a match between Sting and Hogan. Sting looked at Dillon and said “You’ve got no guts!”. He then turned to Hogan “and…you’re a dead man!”. Hogan and Sting would feud for several months. It was Sting’s feud with Hogan that would drive the wedge into the nWo that brought about the two factions.

The “death” of Sting

Sting moved on from his alliance/feud with the nWo to win the World Title from Diamond Dallas Page in early 2000. Sting lost the belt back, less than 2 hours later, at the same card where he won it. Sting then got into a bizarre feud with Vampiro. A stuntman did a Fire Stunt where it appeared that Sting was set on fire by Vampiro. Sting would come back to defeat and dispatch Vampiro. Sting then disappeared due to a suggested injury. The truth was a much darker thing. In the TNA DVD, Sting talked about “having many demons in his life” during this time. Sting was pulled from TV by WCW because of his change in personality and inability to continue to perform. Sting would return to WCW TV during the final Nitro, facing Ric Flair in the Main Event. That was the only time that Sting was seen live on a WWF/WWE card. He has never been under contract or worked in a WWF/WWE ring. He has turned down all offers from Vince McMahon and his agents.

The “Rebirth” of Sting

After taking two years off to rebuild his life, Sting returned with the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars. He toured Europe with several ex-WCW stars that had not moved over to the WWF. Sting won the WWA heavyweight title, defeating close friend, Lex Luger. During the tour, Sting began talking with Jeff Jarrett, who had created a new organization, TNA-NWA. Jeff and Sting agreed that Sting would join the roster of TNA. When it became apparent that the WWA was about to close its doors, Sting dropped the WWA belt to then-TNA/NWA World Champion, Jeff Jarrett. This loss unified the two belts.

Between 2003 and 2005, Sting made several appearances for TNA. He originally only signed on for four appearances. When Sting filmed his video biography, he used TNA as the vehicle to promote it. Sting signed on with TNA, full time, at 12:01 AM on January 1, 2006. He immediately set his sights on TNA champ, Jeff Jarrett. The company threw a swerve at the fans by having Sting returning “to finally get a chance to say good-bye”. Sting dropped his black bat and walked out of the Impact Zone, apparently announcing his retirement. Jarrett pushed for Sting to come back and face him. Jarrett sent Alex Shelley to video tape Sting and his family. Sting, under the name Steve Borden, returned to attack Jarrett and his forces. Sting would align himself with numerous partners, including Samoa Joe, to battle Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner and America’s Most Wanted (James Storm and Chris Harris).

Sting lost several matches against Jeff Jarrett. At the 2006 edition of Bound For Glory, Sting put his career on the line against Jeff Jarrett’s World Title. Sting won the title from Jarrett after a brutal match. The new Sting that debuted at Bound For Glory was a hybrid of his three former Sting personas (Surfer, Crow and Wolfpac). The new Sting was a more-religious person, mirroring Sting’s real life finding of religion. Sting would lose the belt to Abyss, by disqualification, at that year’s Genesis PPV. Sting was shocked when the belt changed hands on a DQ. He petitioned for a rematch to remedy this travesty. Sting began a long-running feud with Abyss with an odd twist. Sting tried to convert Abyss from the mindless monster slave of Father James Mitchell into his own person. The feud with Sting would eventually lead to the announcement that “Father” James Mitchell was Abyss’s true father. This was a storyline lift from the Paul Bearer/Kane story in the WWE.

After the storyline with Abyss ran it’s course, Sting began a feud with Kurt Angle. Angle forced Sting to tap out to the AngleLock (Ankle Lock Submission) to take Sting’s Number One Contender’s position for the TNA World title. Sting would also feud with “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels during this time. Sting would also team with Abyss, his old enemy, to make a run at the tag titles. He would win them, but not with Abyss. Sting and Kurt Angle won the tag belts, only to lose them to the novelty act team of Ron Killings and Adam “Pacman” Jones. After losing the belts, Sting refocused on Kurt’s TNA World title. Despite interference from Kevin Nash and Karen Angle, Sting defeated Angle at the 2007 edition of Bound For Glory to win his second world title in TNA. Sting would drop the belt back to Kurt just a few weeks later.

Sting then brought in his new mystery partner, Booker T. The duo battled against Kurt Angle and Kevin Nash. Sting would feud with Angle’s forces for a few months and then disappear, once again. It was announced that Sting wanted to spend some time with his family.

The Old School Sting

In March of 2008, Sting returned to aid Team Cage in their battles with Team Angle. After the battle at Lockdown, Sting disappeared, yet again. He returned in July to watch from the rafters. He had somewhat reverted to the more-mysterious Crow Sting of old. Sting’s new persona took it’s next step into creation at Victory Road. Samoa Joe was brutally beating on Booker T. When Sting tried to stop Joe’s vicious attack, Joe pushed Sting away. Sting then struck Joe with the black bat. Over the next few weeks, Sting’s bat would be used by Booker T and Sharmell in various battles against Joe. Sting would also attack A.J. Styles for his unrelenting attack on Kurt Angle. Sting hit the Scorpion Death Drop on Styles, shocking the TNA audience.

Sting then went on a rant about the lack of respect by the current crop of younger wrestlers. This was another “borrowed” storyline. WCW did the same basic story with the Millionaires’ Club v New Breed feud during the later days of WCW. Sting set his sights on both Styles and Samoa Joe as the main offenders in the angle. Sting then challenged Samoa Joe for his TNA World championship. Sting and Joe set the match as a “No Rematch” match. Kevin Nash assisted Sting at Bound For Glory in winning the title from Samoa Joe. Nash had turned on his protege, Joe, to assist on-again, off-again friend, Sting. Sting now hold his third TNA title, which is his 11th World title.

In Conclusion:

Sting has undergone several identity modifications during his 20+ year career. The current respect-oriented version is coming across as a bitter, older wrestler that is trying to grasp at the last seconds of a fading career. The character is rather sad, considering how much of a superstar that Sting has been for most of his career. Hopefully, this is only a temporary change in character. Sting will likely have a change of heart, once he realizes how he is being used by others. Sting will go into the history books as one of the top wrestlers of the 80s and 90s. He has maintained his career into the new millenium. While his career is winding down (Sting will turn 50, next year), he is still one of the most popular and talented stars to ever lace up a pair of boots. Winning his third TNA World title, along with a stellar career, was the reason behind my decision to award this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week to the man called Sting.

— Jay Shannon
[email protected]
(10/13/08)