HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week: Sting
Our resident philosopher profiles The Icon, Sting, who took control of the Main Event Mafia, after winning the Ultimate Sacrifice match on Sunday.
Sting faced off against Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and Mick Foley in the Ultimate Sacrifice match at Sunday’s Sacrifice PPV. Had Sting lost, he would have retired. Instead. Sting defeated his Main Event Mafia compadre, Kurt Angle, to become the new leader of the clique. Sting has had a long and successful career. This week-end’s win was the springboard that sent Sting to the top of the Mafia and also earned him this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
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 Hot Stuff 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 organization 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 during his brief 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 took the belt off Mike Rotunda. Sting would 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 making 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 occurrences, 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 wear 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 mustache. 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 Outsiders (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 controversial 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 the demise of WCW, Sting took some time off to get his life back on track. In various interviews, Sting mentioned about being “lost”, during the latter days of WCW> During his break, Sting fully embraced religion (thanks, in part, to Ted DiBiase). Sting was contacted by a European promoter who wanted to reunite some of the WCW stars that didn’t take offers with the WWF. The World Wrestling All-Stars worked through most of Europe in 2002 and 2003. Sting would win the company’s title on December 13, 2002. He would hold the title until it was merged with the NWA/TNA title on May 25, 2003. Jeff Jarrett would take his title, but offer him the next step in the Stinger’s career evolution.
Sting’s original TNA contract was for four appearances. He both teamed with and battled against Jeff Jarrett. After the quartet of battles, Sting sat down with Mike Tenay for a series of interviews. Sting talked about his career, his goals and his faith. It was basically a series of informercials to hype a video that Sting was preparing to release. After the interviews, Sting took another extended break. When Jeff Jarrett won the World title in December, 2005, the arena went dark. All the video screens began showing pictures of a scorpion. A spotlight hit the ring, showing Sting’s coat and bat propped against a steel chair. The video changed to a simple message: January 15, 2006.
On January 1, 2006, TNA announced Sting’s return, at 12:01 A.M. Sting made his return to action at Final Resolution, teaming with Christian Cage to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Monty (Marcus Cor Von) Brown. On January 28, 2006, Sting made his first appearance on national TV in almost 5 years. Most fans expected Sting to challenge for the NWA/TNA World title. Instead, he came out to say that he never got the chance to say “Good-Bye”. Sting dropped his bat and walked out of the ring, supposedly for good.
Never say Never
While Sting was “retired”, Jeff Jarrett enlisted Alex Shelley to spy on Sting and his family. Sting said that Steve Borden, not Sting, would come back to confront Jeff Jarrett. Sting came back to attack Jarrett at Destination X. Sting then had his first non-PPV televised match in five years, beating Eric Young. Sting was ambushed by Jarrett’s Army (Jarrett, Eric, Scott Steiner, James Storm and Chris Harris). Sting assembled his own army (Sting’s Warriors), which included himself, Rhino, Ron “R-Truth” Killings”,and A.J. Styles. The Warriors were successful, when Sting forced Harris to tap out to the Scorpion Deathlock.
After the match, Sting began a search to find a partner to battle Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Several of Sting’s old friends from WCW, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger and Rick Steiner, came out to audition to be Sting’s partner. Sting passed on all of them, in favor of Samoa Joe. Joe and Sting easily defeated Jarrett and Steiner. Sting then went on a crusade to take the World title from Jarrett. At Slammiversary, Earl Hebner pushed over a ladder that Sting was on to help Jeff Jarrett retain his title. TNA played up Earl’s notorious past as a crooked ref for the match.After several failed attempts at winning the NWA/TNA World title, Sting decided to put his career on the line against Jarrett’s title. At Bound for Glory,
Sting came out with a new look. It was a mix of his surfer dude, Crow, and Wolfpac personas. Dubbed the Patchwork Sting, Steve took the title from Jarrett by submission to the Scorpion Deathlock. With the win, Sting became to be the only person to win the NWA World title before and after TNA was created.
Taming the Monster
Sting’s title reign would not last long. He dropped the belt to Abyss at Genesis. In a odd twist, Sting lost the belt by way of disqualification (something usually not done, unless a special stipulation was in place).
Following the match, Sting went on a mission to break the bond between Abyss and his manager/father, James Mitchell. Sting’s religious leanings were really obvious as the storyline moved forward. Mitchell’s identity as Abyss’ storyline father was a dark secret that Christian Cage first hinted at and then Sting revealed, after going through public records. It was also revealed that Abyss shot his father, for abusing his mother. The storyline skated along a very dangerous line that got a lot of negative reaction from parents. The storyline reached a new low when Mitchell threw a fireball into Sting’s face. The feud was derailed when James Mitchell left TNA.
Following the battles with Abyss, Sting shifted his focus back on the TNA World title. Before Sting could go after the top belt, he would feud with Kurt Angle. Both men wanted to wear the championship belt. Kurt, Sting and Christian Cage fought in a Three-Way Match. Kurt forced Sting to tap, but Sting was pinning Christian, at the time. The title was held up due to the odd way the Triple Threat match ended. \
Sting was working his way back up the ladder of contention, when (Christopher) Daniels attacked him. The two had a very brief feud, which Sting dominated. Sting would then team with an old enemy, Abyss. Sting and Abyss got into a bitter feud with Christian’s Coalition (Christian, A.J. Styles and Tomko). Sting would actually win the tag belts, during this time, but not with Abyss. Due to an odd stipulation, Sting ended up co-holding the titles with Kurt Angle. Sting and Kurt would drop the belts, almost immediately, to the horrible team of Adam “Pacman” Jones and Ron Killings. Jones was basically given the belts to play on his fame as one of the “bad boys” of football.
Following the loss of the tag belts, Kurt blamed Sting. The two began a vicious feud. The feud received even more heat when Karen Angle (Kurt’s then-wife) claimed that Sting slapped her, which he didn’t. Sting would take Kurt’s TNA World title at Bound For Glory, a PPV that was always successful for Sting. Sting would drop the belt back to Kurt, a few weeks later. During a rematch, Sting brought in Booker T (who had just left WWE) as his mystery partner to battle Kurt and Kevin Nash. Following that tag match, Sting took a small vacation to be with his family.
Sting would return in late March, 2008, to align himself with old foe, Christian Cage, to battle the forces of Team Tomko. After the match, Sting took another small vacation before returning for one of the most surprising turns in his entire career.
Booker T was battling Samoa Joe in a very brutal match. When Joe would not stop his blood-letting of Booker, Sting ran out to help his old WCW buddy. Sting tried to talk sense to Joe, who blew him off. Sting then struck Joe with his trademark black bat. Over the next few weeks, the bat would come into play against Joe, several times. Sting’s attitude continued to sour, as he got into altercations with A.J. Styles. Sting felt that younger wrestlers, like Styles and Joe, weren’t showing the proper respect to their “elders”. Sting began to pursue Samoa Joe, the then-World champion. At Bound for Glory IV, Sting continued his lucky streak at that particular PPV. He defeated Samoa Joe to win the World title, with a little help from Kevin Nash and the Black Baseball Bat.
Main Event Mafia
When TNA went to Las Vegas, Sting aligned himself with Kurt Angle, Booker T (and Sharmell) and Kevin Nash) to form a Stable of Champions known collectively as the Main Event Mafia. Scott Steiner would later join the group, as well. The group were based on the whole Respect angle. They feuded with various younger stars, who united as the Frontline. Sting was supposed to be pushed as a heel, but he ended up slipping into a “Grey Hat” position. Sting would battle against the members of the Frontline, while having issues with Mafia’s strong-arm tactics.
The Mafia would begin to come apart at the seams when Kurt Angle began to lust after the World title that Sting held. Kurt and Sting even faced each other in an Empty Arena Match, where Kurt spat in Sting’s face. The feud between the two, in many critics’ opinion, opened the door for Mick Foley to step in at Lockdown to take the title. Sting wanted his title back and was willing to put his career on the line. At Sacrifice, Sting put his career up against Mick Foley’s title, Kurt Angle’s leadership of the Mafia and Jeff Jarrett’s voting shares in TNA. Instead of getting the World title, Sting surprised everyone by taking advantage of a Stroke by Jeff Jarrett to pin his Mafia “brother”, Kurt Angle, to become the official leader of the Main Event Mafia. The new Mafia was set to debut on Thursday.
Sting has set all kinds of records during his career. At 50 years old, Sting has to be reaching the end of his career. Sting’s done some acting and will likely return there, once he hangs up his boots, bat and trench coat. Sting’s son, Garrett, is also reaching an age where he might be beginning his wrestling career. Regardless of what Sting decides to do in the future, no one can dispute that Sting has been a great success. What other star has his matches featured on WWE DVDs, without ever stepping inside an official WWE ring? Sting’s victory on Sunday showed that he still has what it takes to win in the wrestling wars. That victory also garnered The Stinger this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
— Jay Shannon