Batting cleanup in the 2016 WWE HOF series is a man called Sting. For anyone born from around 1978-1986, Sting is probably a guy who brought kids into watching wrestling. The Surfer Sting looked cool even if he couldn’t really talk like a top babyface on the microphone.
One Man’s Opinion: Sting has always been the other side of the coin with the Ultimate Warrior. While the Warrior went away and came back only sporadically, Sting was loyal to WCW and was around until the end. Instead of coming to WWE, he spent much of the 2000s in TNA and remained loyal to them. For the most part, you could at least count on the Stinger.
Rewind to 1988 and the famous Clash I match with Flair. This established him for good but it would not be until 1990 that he would get the world title. I covered that reign in depth here. For various reasons but mostly due to horrible booking the run wasn’t successful and he didn’t get near the world title again until 1992. He plugged away in WCW even through the low years like 1993, putting on good matches with Cactus Jack and Vader. By the time Hulk Hogan showed up in 1994, he was relegated to an afterthought. The Hulkster had a major impact on Sting’s career and not in a good way; his buddies took precedence over the established order. Sting was going to be the third man in the nWo before Hogan jumped in and finally agreed to turn heel.
The Crow gimmick saved his career. Never had a guy said so little and been the biggest act in all of wrestling. He said not a single word on WCW TV in 1997 and was the top guy, and it led to a Starrcade main event against Hogan. And that’s where it all came apart. Six months later, Sting is suddenly in an nWo faction and the head scratching commences. A failed heel turn, feuds with Vampiro and others….these are things I don’t like to think about. Kind of like TNA in general, where he was after WCW folded in 2001.
Most Famous Moment: There are so many to choose from because he was integral to WCW’s hottest period. The choice here is his run-in at the end of Uncensored 1997 where he came down from the ceiling to lay waste to the nWo one at a time.
Most Infamous Moment: Honorable mention to the crappy match with Triple H at WM31, the time he inferred Steven Regal was a homosexual at Bash ’96, Ric Flair turning on him, the Black Scorpion, White Castle of Fear, much of his TNA run, standing there and introducing the Shockmaster, Flair turning on him that other time, blowing out his knee while trying to climb a cage, and the other other other time Flair turned on him.
There is one answer: Starrcade 1997 vs Hogan, a match that should have been a decisive win after a 15 month build. Instead, Sting was a bit out of shape and Hogan used that to make the case that he shouldn’t get the belt. The match saw Hogan on offense most of the time and getting a clean and normally paced three count. Yeah he won in the end but it was completely hallow and started the WCW death spiral.
Best Match: The Flair match gets all the attention because of how it made him, but my choice is the 1992 Starrcade match against Vader. Great story told here; Sting had his ass kicked in the summer by Vader and had to battle from underneath, getting the win by catching the 400+ lb Vader in a powerslam coming off the ropes.
Legacy: Sting is a testament to the power of reinventing one’s self. Surfer Sting was a cool thing in 1990 but was passe by 1996 so the move to the Crow gimmick was well timed. This allowed him to remain a top guy for more years even if he was never quite the great draw that he needed to be. Young Sting before his knee injury was a marvel to see with dives out of the ring when it was not commonplace. That injury was such a shame because he was never able to bring that back to his repertoire. He was still very enjoyable to watch even if he probably should have spoken up and against storylines on a more regular basis: Black Scorpion and Vampiro with the blood are two that come to mind. He had a lot of leverage as WCW’s “franchise” and never truly used it. In that way, he is kind of a counterbalance to what Triple H would become so maybe it was destiny that they would meet for that match.
He’s obviously a huge star and this is well-deserved, and let’s hope that Flair doesn’t turn on Sting one last time while inducting at the ceremony.