Part1: The Rulebreaking Days
It seems that Steve Borden's evey move has be watched by everyone since his debut in November of 1985.
The man who would become known as Sting began his career as a member of PowerTeam USA in California. While I can't remember the name of his other two partners, it is notable to say that one of his partners in this foursome was Jim Hellwig aka The Ultimate Warrior.
In early 1986, PowerTeam USA dissolved but Hellwig and Borden remained together and formed the Blade Runners. Hellwig took the name Rock while Borden took the name Flash. While I have never actually seen them in action, I have it on good account that they were pretty impressive!!! They later moved to the UWF area and joined up with the late Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert and a young Rick Steiner. By this time, Borden had changed his in-ring name to Sting. Rock, citing problems with UWF President Bill Watts and Gilbert, left the UWF and went to the World Class area while his partner remained in the UWF.
In reality, that could've been the best thing that could've happend to Hellwig and Borden as both went on to great success. Sting, meanwhile, teamed with Gilbert to win the UWF tag titles from The Fantastics. I'm not sure but I think they later got stripped of those belts due to the controversial way they won them. Anyway, Sting would win those belts again in 1987 with Rick Steiner. The defeated the team of "Gentleman" Chris Adams and Terry Taylor for those belts. This partnership didn't last long though as Sting grew tired of Gilbert. This led to a big blowup between the three men with Sting becoming a face as a result. He has, more or less, remained one for the last 10 years. What is interesting to note is that the UWF were doing joint cards with the NWA at that time.
This led to Sting getting more national attention for the first time. One of his first feuds in the "national spotlight" was with Lex Luger. A man with whom he would have his ups and downs with over the years. Luger, then-US Champion, was sent to the UWF to take out Sting when, in late-1987, Sting started making some noise about challenging NWA Champion Ric Flair (Note: Flair was actually trying to regain the belt from Ron Garvin at this point. He would be successful in November of that year at Starrcade '87). JJ Dillion, manager of the Four Horsemen, didn't want Flair to face Sting right now so he sent Luger to battle him. The two fought several time with no clear cut winner in any of the bouts.
Sting's first real national appearance was at Starrcade '87 when he teamed with Michael Hayes and Jim Garvin to battle Gilbert, Steiner, and Larry Zybsco in a six-man tag match. This match ended in a draw but saw the beginings of a legend in wrestling. Part 2: Flair
After Starrcade '87, Sting began a campaign for his first major title. I, admittedly, though that this was just another war-painted, Road Warrior wanna-be, bigmouth who was all show and no substance. Well, I would've gave you that opinion when I first saw him during a peliminary bout on World Championship Wrestling. I mean, the "Stinger Splash" in the corner? Granted, Sting is a big man but that move works best for men weighing about 350lbs. or more. Then, he delveloped the "Scorpion Deathlock" as his finisher. By then, I was saying " much better, but let's see what will happen when he has to fight one of the NWA's top superstars."
Of course, that was my ignorance coming to the forefront for not recognizing (until years later) that the UWF had it's share of tough wrestlers in its own right. Guys like Rick Steiner, Eddie Gilbert, Steve Williams, Ted Dibiase (yes, this man was once a great wrestler), The "Original" Fabulous Freebirds, Chris Adams, Terry Taylor, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and others. Still, I wondered what would happen when Sting faced someone of high calibre on a nationally televised match. That question was answered in January of 1988 when JJ Dillion, during one of Sting's matches, scoffed at Sting challenging Ric Flair for the NWA World Title. He even threw champagne in the Stinger's face!!! Sting, incenced, dragged the manager into the ring and beat him senseless!!! This prompted Flair, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard to hit the ring. By that time, however, Sting had left the area.
Flair, feeling he had "Horsemen Pride" to defend, agreed to face Sting in February of 1988 on World Wide Wrestling for the NWA title (this was back when World Wide actually had good matches). Here I sit watching and thinking, "this guy (Sting) is about to get his a** whipped!!!" Bear in mind, I was no fan of Flair's but I just thought that he was far superior to Sting. While he did retain the NWA title, he took a tremendous beating from Sting. In fact, Sting put him in the "Scorpion" and did not release the hold for about 3-5 minutes!!! Barry Windham and Lex Luger held off the Horsemen (who were comming to save Flair). Flair left the ring on a strecher for one the rare times in his career!!!
This led to their famous 45 minute draw on the first Clash Of The Champions card on March 27, 1988. Again, Sting withstood everything Flair threw at him and nearly won the match by submission when the time ran out. That was when I started to re-think my assesment of Sting. I still though he had a long way to go but he definitely had what it took to be the best!! After that, Sting teamed with Lex Luger to win the Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup in Greensboro, NC. They defeated the Horsemen team of Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson in the finals to win. This is when things started to get interesting for Sting.
Part 3: Spikes and Mist
It goes like this: After making his big splash with his feud with Flair, Sting would continue to feud with Flair and the Horsemen. Often challenging Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson with various partners for the NWA World Tag Team Championship or challenging Barry Windham for the NWA United States title. While he did come close, he never defeated any of those men for their belts.
Then came October of 1988 in Richmond, VA. Sting was asked by NWA officials to take the place of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in a six-man tag team match against The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Rick Steiner). His partners were The Road Warriors (I covered this topic briefly in the IronMan: The Legend Of The Road Warriors series. The series is still in the back issue section.). Hawk and Animal, however, were not too pleased with this transaction and practically refused to tag in Sting. Finally, Hawk accidently tagged in The Stinger and he cleaned house!!! As he was getting ready to put away Mike Rotunda with the Scorpion Deathlock, Hawk pulled him away!!! Sting, bewildered by Hawk's actions, started an arguement with the Road Warrior. As they argued, Animal nailed him with a running double-axhandle in the back of the neck. They then threw him into the ropes and hit him with a double-clothesline in the neck again!!! Next, Animal military-pressed Sting and as he lifted him up, Hawk went to the top rope and drove a forearm into the back of Sting's neck as Animal was slamming him down!!! Last (and worst of all), they put him in the dreaded "Doomsday Device" (also known as "The Human Sacrifice" by me)!!!! The Stinger was left in a crumpled heap!!! Lex Luger came to help Sting but got nailed with a forearm to the back of the head and then clotheslined by Animal!!!
Luger and Sting would then challenge the Warriors to a match that was taped and then broadcasted on NWA Main Event (predecesor to WCW Main Event). I must say that Luger got his a** whipped but Sting held his own in this match.
The Stinger also teamed with Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade '88: True Gritt in Nolfork, VA to face the Warriors. The Warriors, by this time, had won the NWA straps from the Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton/Stan Lane) and were ready for the challenge. Rhodes looked lackluster in this match but Sting looked tremendous!!! In fact, he would've pinned Animal if not for timely interferance from Paul Ellering (then manager of the Warriors).
After this match, the Warrior/Sting feud would die down and Sting would go into March of 1989 to capture his first major title. The match was against Mike Rotunda of the Varsity Club and it was for the NWA World TV title. In addition to the title, Rotunda had made the offer of paying $10,000 if the Stinger won in 10 minutes!!! Sting, knowing that Kevin Sullivan and Steve "Dr. Death" Williams could get involved (Williams had replaced Rick Steiner), he brought then US Champ Lex Luger and then NWA Champ Rick Steamboat with him. The match ended with the Stinger using a basic roll-up to win the title!!! From March thru July, he defended this title with pride.
Then came July 23, 1989. The day of The Great American Bash: Glory Days. The place was Baltimore, MD. The opponent was The Great Muta. Part 4 : Muta
In 1989, Sting was one of the hottest stars in wrestling. His win of Mike Rotunda for the NWA World TV belt only cemented his status even more. But, in March of '89, another man showed up that would prove to be just as hot. That man was The Great Muta.
Muta, under the management of Gary Hart, was wowing American fans with his martial arts skills and high-flying tactics!!! His talent and undefeated streak practically demanded a match with a top NWA star. So, on July 23, he met Sting at The Great American Bash in Baltimore, MD for the TV title. Sting, to counter Gary Hart, brought former rival Eddie Gilbert to second him. The match was practically fought over two rings as well as outside the ring!!! Sting was practically the first real test that Muta had in the NWA and he rose to that challenge. He battered Sting with karate kicks and chops. Sting counterd with his strenghth and high-flying moves of his own!!! After about 20 minutes of good action, Sting ducked the green mist of Muta. Unfortunately, it hit the eyes of referee Nick Patrick. Sting then went for the "Stinger" splash but Muta moved out of the way. Muta then connected with a moonsault for a certain pin but Sting kicked out. By the way, Tommy Young had replaced Nick as the ref at this point. Sting then connected with a back suplex and bridge for the pin. As it turns out however, Muta had gotten his shoulder up before three but was counted out. As a result, the TV title was held up (which was a bullsh*t decision in my opinion. They should've just let the match continue).
But that was not the last of the action Sting and Muta would see. Later that night, they got involved in the Ric Flair/Terry Funk NWA World Title match and touched off one of the best post match brawls ever!!! It also saw Sting and Flair, out of respect, form an alliance against Terry Funk and Muta that would heat up the summer of 1989.
Part 5: A Flairfull Alliance
After the big Great American Bash brawl, Sting and Ric Flair began a duel feud with The Great Muta and Terry Funk. This war resulted in Sting losing the NWA TV title to Muta, Flair nearly getting suffocated, and Funk getting his arm and legs nearly broke!!! The duel feud came to an end at Halloween Havoc '89 when the four met in a gigantic steel cage with electricity around the edges!!! The match could only end when either Gary Hart (who was for Funk/Muta) or Ole Anderson (who was for Flair/Sting) threw in the towel. The most brutal part of the match came when Flair locked in the figure-four leglock on Funk with Sting continually splashing him from the top rope!!! Muta was taken out of the match thanks to a crotch shot across the top turnbuckle and a right hand from guest ref Bruno Samartino!!! Ole Anderson (showing the deviousness that made him famous) decked Gary Hart and caused him to drop his towel, thus ending the match.
The Sting/Flair partnership wasn't over though, as Flair was ganged up on by Muta, The Dragon Master and Lex Luger after his "I-Quit" match with Funk. Sting tried to come help but was laid out by a steel chair from Lex Luger. This wasn't surprising since Sting and Luger had a confrontation earlier in that card. This led to another series of matches between Sting and Luger (who was then NWA United States Champion).
They also met at Starrcade '89 in the round robin IronMan Tournament. A tournament which also featured Ric Flair and The Great Muta. Sting lost his first round match to Luger but rebounded to defeat Muta in his second match and Flair to win the tourney!!! This win, however, was the beginning of the end for the Flair/Sting friendship as Flair now saw a potential threat to his sixth NWA title reign (he had regained the belt from Rick Steamboat on May 7, 1989). Flair, feeling threatend, was now about to take drastic measures.
Part 6: Betrayal and Revenge
After Starrcade '89, the on/off relationship between Sting and Ric Flair was defenitely off!!! Originally, Flair had Ole and Arn Anderson come back to the NWA (now WCW) to take out Sting but thought better of it. Instead, Flair figured it would be better if Sting joined them!!! In other words, make Sting a Horsemen!!! The plan seemed sound but the NWA had other ideas as they granted Sting an NWA World Title match at WrestleWar '90 on February 25 (Flair's birthday, ironically). When Sting accepted the match, he pretty much dug his own grave because the Horsemen gave Sting an ultimatium: either he give up the match at WrestleWar or give up his career!!! They gave him until the end of the Clash Of The Champions to give his answer!!! Sting, obviously ticked off by this action, tried to attack Flair but was tripled teamed by the Horsemen. Sting tried to attack Flair later in the card but injured his left knee in the process!! This put Sting out of action for six months and took him out of the WresleWar '90 match.
Left with no challenger, the NWA gave Sting's title shot to then-US Champion Lex Luger. The Horsemen tried the same tactics with Lex but was far less successful as Luger, physically and verbally, laid out Flair and the Anderson's on World Championship Wrestling (now known as WCW Saturday Night)!!! Also on that show, Sting announced that he would be at WrestleWar to watch the match (yeah, right). The match saw the rekindling of the Luger/Sting relationship as Sting came down and slapped Luger back into the match. Sting's words were:
This spurred Luger on to regaining the advantage and nearly the NWA title, but as Lex had Flair in the "tourture rack", the Andersons was going to attack Sting again!!! Luger chose to save Sting rather than get the submission on Flair. This action resulted in Luger getting counted out and Flair retaining the title. Numerous rematches saw Luger getting the win but Flair leaving with the NWA title intact. Then, in June of 1990, Flair and Sting had an unscheduled match at the end of a Clash Of The Champions broadcast.
Flair, soon afterwards, accepted Sting's challenge for July 7 at the Great American Bash in Baltimore, MD (ironically the site of their "union" over a year ago). Sting was in good spirits that night and had good reason to be. The NWA, citing numerous times of Horsemen interference over the last six months, made the following stipulations: 1. DQ rule waived. If Flair was disqualified for any reason, then the title would go to Sting. 2. Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, and The Steiners would be at ringside for the duration of the match and 3. Ole Anderson would be handcuffed to El Gigante. So, as I pointed out in the "Ric Flair VS. Sting" article, Flair's only option was to win the match!!! To his credit, he did put up a tremendous fight but Sting was surprisingly up to the task considering the six months off. The match ended when Flair, while going for the figure-four, got caught with an inside cradle by Sting for the pin. Sting had gained revenge by winning the World title that he should've had the chance at back in February. Afterwards, Sting had this to say: "My mouth is dry, so listen to what I have to say. Ric Flair is the greatest world's champion of all time. As for me, I am a champion for one night and one night only because I have some big shoes to fill!!!" These were surprisingly gracious comments considering what happened to him at the hands of Flair but that has always been the character of Sting (until recently anyway). But crazy days lied ahead for the Stinger.
Part 7: The Black Scorpion
Sting had just won the NWA World Heavyweight Title and the world, it seemed, was rejoicing!! The Horsemen, however, were not among those that were happy. Ric Flair and Sid Vicious emerged as the two top contenders to Sting's belt during the latter part of the summer and were determinded to bring the gold back to the Horsemen.
However, a new challenger showed up in September of 1990. A man who claimed to be from Sting's past and knew him in California. He called himself "The Black Scorpion." Rumors ran amok about the identity of this man. Some suggested that it was another Horsemen plot, others said that it was Lex Luger (Luger did use a similar scheme that will be seen in pt. 9), and others even suggested that it was The Ultimate Warrior (which was the most unlikely scenerio because UW was WWF Champion at that time and Vince would never allow any of his wrestlers to be in WCW while still wrestling in the WWF).
In any event, Sting agreed to face BS at a Clash Of The Champions event in Savanah, GA. Sting dominated BS and was about to remove the mask when another man wearing a similar outfit showed up on entrance ramp. This startled Sting, who couldn't believe his eyes (the man he wrestled was Al Perez by the way). Sting was also attacked by Sid later on that night during an interview and this led to a title match at Halloween Havoc '90 in Chicago, Ill. Sid pretty much had his way with Sting but Sting came back as always. The match then went outside the ring and when it returned into the ring, it looked like Sid had pinned Sting to win the NWA title. But, seconds after the three count, Sting came back to the ring?!!! Well, Barry Windham had tried to impersonate Sting to allow Sid to get a cheap victory (this wouldn't be the last time that someone would impersonate the Stinger). The match was ordered to continue and Sting pinned Sid to retain the title. The business with The Black Scorpion, however, was far from done.
Part 8: Scorpion Unmasked
While Sting had, for the time being, ended the threat of Sid Vicious, he still had "Scorpion" problems. Namely, The Black Scorpion and his bag of tricks. Looking back on this angle, I see it as a terrible version of the "Spider-Man VS. The Green Goblin" wars where Peter Parker (Spidey) would fight different people under the Goblin mask. Sting must have felt like Parker because several men donned the mask of The Black Scorpion to battle him. None of them, however, were the real thing. Scorpion would also use magic tricks to psych out Sting as well as make references to Sting's past.
Finally, Sting signed to face The Black Scorpion in a cage for the NWA World title at Starrcade '90 in St. Louis. I don't remember but I think there were 4 different Black Scorpions at ringside as the real one battled Sting. The special referee was the late Dick The Bruiser. This match was surprisingly dominated by the Black Scorpion until Sting threw him up against the cage!!! From there, the match belonged to Sting as he used a flying body press to finish off Scorpy!!! Then, Horsemen members Arn Anderson and Barry Windham came in with the other Scorpions to attack Sting and Bruiser. Sting and Bruiser held them off as long as they could but were soon overpowered. Terry Taylor and Z-Man (Tom Zenk) tried to come to the aid of Sting but were lock out of the cage by Arn Anderson. The Steiners came down with some bolt cutters to cut the chain so they could open the door!!! By this time, Sting had pulled off the mask to reveal what some people had suspected all along!!! That the Scorpion was Ric Flair and that this was another Horsemen plot!!! (Editors Note: In fact, that night was the only time that Flair portrayed the Black Scorpion - in previous appearances, including off-camera rants, the Scorpion was played by Ole Anderson.)
This revelation made Sting even angrier at his rival. A rematch was set for January 11, 1991 in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. On this night, Ric Flair regained the NWA title from Sting by putting his feet on the ropes and knocking Sting's foot off the bottom rope!!! Sting's lack of success against Flair continued as his team lost to the Horsemen at WrestleWar '91 in a WarGames match when Brian Pillman was deemed unfit to continue after Sid Vicious power-bombed him twice!!!
Feeling the need for some different competition, Sting signed to wrestle on the WCW/New Japan SuperShow in March of '91 against The Great Muta. Muta won the close match when, as Sting was attempting the "Stinger Splash", he blew his "green mist" into the face and eyes of Sting. Muta then executed a flying bodypress and got the pin. Sting, however, was in for some more surprises in the months to come.
Part 9: A Red, Crazy, Rude Awakening
After his controversial loss to the Great Muta in Tokyo, Japan. Sting returned to the United States to team with then US Champion Lex Luger to face The Steiner Bros. for the WCW World Tag Team Championship at the first SuperBrawl in St. Petersburg, FL at the Bayfront Center. This match (along with the Ric Flair VS. Tatsumi Fujinami World title match) was the two main attractions at this event.
Some worried that the match wouldn't live up to expectations because all four men were good friends. Even I thought that this match would turn out to be all hype and no substance. Boy, were we proven wrong!! The match, while slow at first, really kicked into high gear after a Luger clothesline that sent Rick Steiner for a loop!!! I thought he had killed Steiner (that's how dramatic it was)!! From that point, the match was a war!! You might as well have had a sign up that said "Warning: Hell On Earth In Progress!!"
Anyway, the turning point in the match was when Sting reversed Scott Steiner's attempt at a "tombstone" piledriver. At that point, the Steiners were beaten and finished!!! Remember, this was at the point in time when the Steiners were truly the most awesome tag team in the world and Sting/Lex had them beaten!!! But, at the script would have it, Nikita Koloff would come in and try to give Lex a "chained" version of the Russian Sickle. Sting, seeing Luger was about to be clobbered, pushed him out of the way but was nailed himself. This enabled Scott, who had no idea what had happened, to cover Sting to retain the titles. Sting, in a fit of rage, went back to the dressing room area and a brawl ensued with Koloff. This led to a long but terrible feud during the summer of 1991. I know this is just my opinion but I didn't think much of this "war." The fight at SuperBrawl was the highlight of this feud.
The summer of 1991 was bittersweet for the Stinger. He had captured his first WCW United States title in tournament in Atlanta, GA in August. He defeated Arn Anderson, Diamond Stud (Scott Hall) and "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin to win the title. The way the tournament came about, however, had left a bitter taste in his mouth. Lex Luger had, in July, captured the vacant WCW World Title in a cage match against Barry Windham after Ric Flair abruptly left WCW for the WWF. Luger, however, had allied himself with Harley Race (a career rulebreaker) to do it. But before Sting could challenge Luger, he started to receive some "gifts." After a squash match on WCW Saturday Night, Sting opened this gift box to reveal the lethal present of Abdullah The Butcher (Ugh!! I demand an exchange)!!! Sting was lucky to escape with his life that night.
Then, in September of 1991, Sting received another gift box after a title defense against Johnny B. Badd (Marc Merro). This time the gift Cactus Jack (Take this present back to layaway)!!! This time, however, Sting was a little more prepared for this attack as he returned the favor by surprising Jack with a gift box. This led to the "Chamber Of Horrors" cage match at Halloween Havoc '91. Cactus teamed up with Abdulla, Diamond Studd and Vader (with whom both Sting and Jack would have memorable feuds with later) while Sting was joined by The Steiners and El Gigante.
This terribly done cage match ended when Rick Steiner put Abdulla into the electric chair and the switch was pulled, thus ending the match. A more significant event, however, took place later that night when "Ravishing" Rick Rude made his appearance in WCW with Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa. That night was the beginning of the "original" Dangerous Alliance and they made Sting their first target.
Sting accepted a match with Rude for a November Clash Of The Champions event. Before the match, Sting received his final gift box. This time, it was an Arabian style carriage containing a barely clothed Madusa (Nice gift!!). Sting was understandingly distracted by Madusa when, out of the gift box, came Lex Luger!!! Luger clipped Sting in his left knee (the same knee that kept him out during most of 1990). Sting was rushed to the hospital for observation. While there, he was told that unless he came back to defend the title, he would have to surrender it to Rick Rude. Ever the gallant champ, Sting returned to the arena and put up a valiant struggle against Rude but the injury proved to be too much as Rude rolled him up for the pin and the belt.
As devastating as this loss was, it was actually a blessing in disguise because this now left Sting free to face Luger for the World Title.
Part 10: Pleasure and Pain
"I had so always hoped that you would end this reign, but it is my destiny to be the king of pain."
- The Police, early '80's
Sting must have felt like that man in "King Of Pain" in 1991. He lost the NWA/WCW World Title in January to Ric Flair, lost a controversial match to the Great Muta in Japan, took a chained Russian Sickle clothesline from Nikita Koloff during his tag match with The Steiners, won the US Title but lost it four months later thanks to a conspiracy by Lex Luger and Paul E. Dangerously and got his knee re-injured!!!
But there was still more pain to come as Starrcade '91 approached in December. In this unique event, 40 wrestlers would participate in random drawn tag team bouts. The winning teams would then go on to "BattleBowl", which was a two ring over the top rope free for all. When there is a winner in ring #1 and ring #2, the two winners would go at it until there is one winner and he would be BattleBowl champ. Sting was one of those 40 participants and his luck, true to form, would be all bad!!! He drew Bobby Eaton (a Dangerous Alliance member) and Brian
Pillman as his opponents and Abdulla The Butcher as his partner!!! Sting must have thought he was in hell at this point!!! He spent as much time fighting Abdulla as his did Eaton!!! The match ended when Abdulla's regular partner, Cactus Jack, came down to hit Sting but hit Eaton. This allowed Sting to get a quick pin on Eaton and advance to BattleBowl but the downside was that Abdulla, by being Sting's partner, also advanced!!! When the BattleBowl match began, it was a crazy match to say the least.
This match featured Sting, Vader, a young Marcus Bagwell, Scott Steiner, Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, Rick Steamboat, Jushin Liger, Rick Morton, Lex Luger, "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin, Ron Simmons and others.
This was a good battle royal which saw Luger win in ring #1 when he eliminated Vader. Luger had about 10-15 minutes of rest time as Sting and Rick Steamboat battled "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin and Rick Rude. Stinf eventually won in ring #2 but not before taking a Rude Awakening from the "Ravishing One." Luger, seeing his opportunity to humiliate Sting, waited as Sting crawled over to the other ring.
Luger punished Sting and had various opportunities to eliminate him but didn't. That would prove to be his undoing as Sting slowly battled back and eliminated Luger to win BattleBowl. This victory led to a match in
February of 1992 as Sting face Lex Luger for the WCW World Title at SuperBrawl II in Milwalke, WI. What was expected to be a classic match was actually one-sided for the most part as Sting took it to his former partner, pinning him with a flying bodypress for the title!!!
However, Sting didn't have much time to celebrate afterwards as Rick Rude challenged Sting for his World title. In fact, Sting and Rude got into a brawl after the card. The Dangerous Alliance tried to gang up on Sting but was cut off by Nikita Koloff. But Rude would not be the only one to challenge for the belt, as you will see next time. In fact, look at the title for the next chapter below.
Part 11: VADER
After winning his second world title from Lex Luger, everyone assumed that then WCW US Champion Rick Rude would be the top challenger for Sting's title. But Harley Race had other ideas.
After Luger's departure, Race secured the services of Vader, the 400 plus pounder from Boulder, CO. Vader had a run in with Sting in 1991 in the Chamber Of Horrors Cage match At Halloween Havoc '91 but never had a feud with him until 1992 when, during one of Vader's squash matches, Sting came down to physically confront Vader only to be left laying after Vader powerslammed him and gave him one of his patented running splashes!!!
Subsequently, the two had matches all over the country after that. The most notable took place in April when Sting, while attempting a flying bodypress from the top rope, was caught and powerslammed by Vader.
This resulted in some broken ribs and a bruised spleen!! Vader, however, opted to punish Sting rather than go for the pin and was DQ'ed for hitting the referee (I personally think that this was real and not a work, otherwise Vader would've pinned him). Sting would be out of action until May of 1992. Nikita Koloff, one of Sting's former enemies, took Sting's place in most of his matches against Vader (including one match in my hometown of Bluefield, WV). Sting, impressed by Koloff's selfless act, asked Koloff to be on his team at WrestleWar '92 against Rick Rude and the Dangerous Alliance. Koloff accepted the invitation. The match was a WarGames match that featured Sting, Koloff, Barry Windham, Rick Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes against Rude, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zybszco, and Steve Austin. The match was probably one of the better WarGames matches since their inception in 1987. Anyway, Sting looked very good in this match (which was his first since his injury).
Honorable mentions would also have to include Rick Steamboat, Rick Rude, and Steve Austin. Their performances in this match were probably one the best ever in WarGames match. Anyway, the match ended when Zybszco accidently hit Eaton in the shoulder with a turnbuckle bar. Sting, seeing the opening, put Eaton in a basic armbar to get the submission.
In June, Sting took on one of his "bounty hunters" (Cactus Jack) in a falls-count-anywhere-on-the-gulf-coast match at Beach Blast '92. It was a war, to say the least, that saw Sting get the victory on the ring ramp after a clothesline from the top rope!!! But lurking in the wings was Vader, waiting for his chance to face Sting again. He got that chance in July at the Great American Bash when he face Sting for the WCW World Title. Sting, to his credit, had Vader going during the match and actually had the man pinned in a German suplex but the ref was knocked away for a couple of seconds. The match ended when Sting leaped too high on a "Stinger Splash" and his head struck the ringpost, causing a nasty gash on his forehead!!! Vader, seeing the opportunity, put Sting in the powerbomb and pinned him for the victory. Everyone, including Sting, thought that regaining the WCW title would take top priority but fate would intervien once again.
Part 12: Snake Bitten
After a crushing defeat at the hands of Vader. Sting was left to recouperate and plan for his next assault to regain the WCW World Belt. That march, however, would take an unexpected bump on August 2, 1992 in Baltimore, MD (the site of Sting's first World title victory). While commentating with Jim Ross on a US Title match between Nikita Koloff and Rick Rude, Cactus Jack came down and attacked Nikita. This prompted Sting to leave the commentary booth to help Koloff. Sting cleaned house but then a figure in black leather jumped over the railing!!! At first, it looked like an overzealous fan but it was Jake "The Snake" Roberts!!!
Jake slid (no pun intended) into the ring and brutally attacked Sting, giving him the DDT onto a steel chair twice!!! Roberts was chased off by WCW wrestlers but the damage had been done. Roberts was fined $25,000 for his actions but he didn't really care. He had made his mark in WCW at the expense of its franchise player. It should be noted that because of this attack, Sting had to forfeit his chance at Vader later that evening. Ron Simmons was chosen to take his place and he captured the WCW belt from Vader, making him the first African-American World Champion in a major federation.
Sting, meanwhile, was left so lick his wounds. While he was happy for Ron winning the title, he was furious at Roberts for attacking him. Roberts and Sting would face off at several arena cards while waiting for their showdown at Halloween Havoc '92. This match was to be unique because of the "Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal" rules. Before the match, Sting would spin a giant wheel that would pick his match with Roberts. In this case, the wheel pick the "Coal Miner's Glove Match." This match was not one of Sting's best performances and was not even the match of the night (that honor goes to the WCW/NWA World Tag Team Title match between champions Barry Windham/Dustin Rhodes VS. "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin/ Steve "Dr. Death" Williams). Still, it was significant because Roberts' plan was to have Cactus Jack bring a cobra to the ring and have it bite Sting but it was Roberts who ended up getting bitten!!! After this match, Roberts was not seen or heard from again in WCW!!!
Part 13: Limbo
After vanquishing Jake "The Snake" Roberts at Halloween Havoc '92, Sting's career just bounced around like a rubber ball. At Starrcade '92 in December, he defeated Vader in the finals of "The King Of Cable" tournament but was eliminated from BattleBowl early on by Vader as they both went over the top rope at the same time (The Great Muta won BattleBowl by the way). In February of 1993, he and Vader engaged in a brutal strap match that saw Vader as the victory at SuperBrawl III. Later that month, as WCW toured Germany, Sting defeated Vader for the WCW World Title but lost it back to Vader three days later.
In May of 1993, Davey Boy Smith had a brutal match against Vader at Slamboree '93: A Legends' Reunion for the WCW World belt. Smith won by DQ and was assaulted after the match by Vader. Sting came down to prevent any further damage. Smith, grateful for Sting's help, formed a tag team called "The Allied Powers." Vader, meanwhile, enlisted the help of "Sycho" Sid Vicious and called themselves "The Masters Of The Power Bomb" (a corny, but fitting name). The two teams met at WCW Beach Blast '93 in July. I must say that Sting and Davey Boy got a "six pack of whup a**" opened up on them because they got killed!!! In this match, it was the first time (to my knowledge) that Vader used his version of the moonsault (it should be called the "macsault" because that move would be the equivalent of a 18-wheeler coming down on you). Even so, Sting and Davey Boy would hold on to win the match.
Vicious, however, would continue to cause problems for Sting all summer and into the fall. The two met at Halloween Havoc '93 in New Orleans, LA (three years after their NWA World Title match in Chicago at this same event). Sting, after absorbing a pretty good beating, came back and won with some accidental help of Col. Rob Parker (Sid's manager).
From there, Sting would not be in a serious feud again until February of 1994 when he, Dustin (Goldust) Rhodes, and Brian Pillman (ironic here isn't it?) took on Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin, and "Ravishing" Rick Rude in a six man cage match. After Pillman got the pin on Austin, Sting was trying to leave the cage when Rude slammed the door on his face!!! From there, Rude put his patented "Rude Awakening" neckbreaker on Sting and left him laying. Sting, incensed, requested a WCW International Title match with Rude but Rude refused, saying that he would never give Sting a title shot (Dream on Rude). Then, during WCW Saturday Night, a female fan came out and wanted Rude's autograph. Rude, with ego soaring, signed the piece of paper unaware that it was a contract for WCW Spring Stampede for a title match between himself and Sting!!! When Rude found out later what had happened, he was P*SSED!!! This incident showed some uncharacteristic deviousness on the part of Sting.
So, with the match signed, Rude had no choice but to battle Sting. However, an unexpected visitor showed up right before the match. It was Harley Race!!! On behalf of Vader, he challenged the winner of the match to meet Vader in a title bout. Sting gave his answer in the form of a right hand!!! As for the match itself, it was a pretty good encounter that ended when Vader and Race came back out. They tried to hit Sting with a chair but hit Rude instead!!! Sting quickly covered Rude for the win and the title.
A few weeks after that, Rude regained the title in Japan but injured his neck doing so. This put him out of his Slamboree '94 match up with Vader. WCW Commissiner Nick Bockwinkle wanted to give back the title to Sting opted to have it put up for grabs if he would allow him to take Rude's place against Vader. Bockwinkle agreed and Sting regained the title.
By June of 1994, WCW decided that there should be one world champion. So they sign Sting to face then-WCW World Champion Ric Flair in a unification bout at a Clash Of The Champions event. Showing up unexpectedly was Sherri Martel, who had face paint on similar to Sting's. Everyone thought that she was on Sting's side but it turned out to be a ploy all along as she help Ric Flair win the match and unify both belts. Watching from the back, however, would be a man that would have a profound effect on Sting's career down the road. That man was Hulk Hogan.
Part 14: Hogan
The year is 1994 and Hulk Hogan had invaded WCW. Directly, his first target was WCW World Champ Ric Flair but Sting got caught in his cross-fire too. The night before WCW Bash At The Beach (at least according to the storyline), Sting wrestled Ric Flair on WCW Saturday Night. This was a match Hogan claimed he "wanted" to see. Personally, I really don't think he wanted Sting to beat Ric Flair for either one of two reasons: 1. He might not have gotten his shot at Flair at Bash At The Beach or 2. if he did, he did not really want to face Sting.
In any event, Sting won the match by DQ because of Sherri Martel's interferance. He left the match with an injured left eye that put him out of action for about three weeks. In September 1994, Sting accepted a triangle match against Vader and The Guardian Angel to determine a top contender for Hulk Hogan's title. Sting, after giving a supreme effort, was once again screwed (a la Bret Hart) by outside interferance. This time, a masked man came in and clipped Sting in his bad left knee, causing him to lose (Sting could almost sympathize with Bret Hart). Anyway, Sting made an appearance at Halloween Havoc '94 after the cage match between Hogan and Flair. Hogan was attacked by The Butcher, Kevin Sullivan, and Avalance. Sting came in to save him and would help him on and off his feud with "The Three Faces Of Fear."
In 1995, Sting's career was left in limbo once again. Feuds with Avalance and Big Bubba Rodgers were getting him nowhere. Even his WCW US Title Tournament victory over Meng got him little attention. He did raise more than a few eyebrowse when, in PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED, he said that he "would not take his belt and hide!!!" Making an obvious reference to then WCW Champ Hulk Hogan, who was going two or three months without a title defense!!! Personally, I think this is where the Hogan/Sting feud really began and not when the NWO was formed (as WCW would have us believe).
Part 15 : The Luger/Hogan Controversy
By the Fall of 1995, rumors abounded about Sting possibly warring with then-WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan. The rumors increased when former foe Lex Luger returned to WCW from an uneventful stint in the WWF.
Apparently, these two (Luger/Sting) had made up between the time period of 1992-1995 (as we know in real life, Sting and Luger own a gym in Atlanta so these two aren't really enemies. I'm just telling this according to the storyline). Luger, during the first ever WCW Monday Nitro show, challenged Hogan to a WCW Title match. Hogan accepted the challenge and the match was signed for next Monday Nitro show.
Now, from what films I have seen of this encounter, Luger had Hogan defeated in the "Human Torture Rack" backbreaker. The referee, inexplicatably, tapped Luger on the shoulder as if he had won. Luger, thinking Hogan had submitted, released Hogan from the manuvear (I hate to sound like a crybaby, but I think it was another Hogan setup). Hogan, of course, mounted an incredible (yawn!!) comeback and had Luger down for a possible pin after his legdrop!!! Kevin Sullivan and his Dungeon of Doom jumped Hogan and caused Luger to be DQ'ed!!! Sting and Randy Savage came in to help Hogan and the three cleared the ring!!! Hogan, however, was suspicious as to why Sullivan and Co. did not jump Luger. Savage agreed with Hogan but Sting sided with Luger.
Sting managed to reason with Hogan and Savage that Luger could be a great help to them at FallBrawl '95 for the WarGames since Vader went AWOL (actually he was fired from WCW for an off camera fight he had with Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff in which Vader got his clock cleaned). They agreed to let Luger join but was very wary of him (Savage and Hogan was at any rate).
At FallBrawl '95, the Hogan team was victorious. This was probably the most physically imposing team since the Nikita Koloff/Road Warriors/Dusty Rhodes to ever compete in WarGames. On this same card, "The Battle Of The Horsemen" took place as Arn Anderson scored a controversial win over Ric Flair. Sting didn't realize it but it was to begin another chapter in the long Flair/Sting saga.
Flair, in the weeks following FallBrawl, was attacked repeatedly by Anderson and Brian Pillman. Realizing that he needed allies, Flair turned to Sting for help. Sting, at first, wanted no part of Flair (which was understandable). Finally, Sting relented but offered Flair a stern warning: "Ric Flair!!! If you swerve me even in the slightest way!!! I am going to leave you for dead!!! DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!!!"
The two had a tag team match on Monday Nitro in which Sting (at the begining) didn't show up. Flair had to fight of Pillman and Anderson alone for about 10 minutes!!! Then, convinced of Flair's truthfulness, Sting came out and cleaned house!!! The two then signed for another tag match at WCW Halloween Havoc '95 against Anderson and Pillman. In this encounter, Sting came alone against the Horsemen duo. Reports earlier in the night had said that Flair had been attacked by Anderson and Pillman (shades of the recent incident at this year's FallBrawl). Flair, pretending to be injured, came out to "help" Sting. When Flair was tagged in, the trap was sprung!!! Sting was crumpled heap in the ring but fumming with rage!!!
Two weeks after the incident, Sting and Flair wrestled on Monday Nitro. Sting, for the most part, kept his promise to leave Flair for dead if he swerved him!!! Sting, after winning the match by submission with the "Scorpion Deathlock", refused to release the hold!!! Several wrestlers came out to pull Sting off of Flair but to no avail!!! Finally, Lex Luger (who had recently turned heel) came out and somehow talked Sting into releasing Flair!!! Sting turned Flair loose and walked back to the dressing room with Luger!!! This started rumors that Sting was an associate of the Dungeon Of Doom with Lex Luger (For the record, Luger was never officially a member of the group but did team with them to fight Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan)!!!
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan (who began wearing black during this period) outright accused Sting of being a traitor and questioning his loyalty!!
Hogan was so convinced that he challenged Sting to match on Monday Nitro. This was Sting's response:
"You know, at first, I didn't know what to think of it!!! But now, I am looking forward to it!!!"
Sting, as I had mentioned in the last chapter, had made several subtle but to the point comments about Hogan!!! The match was to be a night that many want to see again.
Part16: November 20, 1995
The new dark Hulk Hogan, suspicious of Sting's connection to Lex Luger because of Luger's ties to the Dungeon Of Doom (Hogan's enemies), challenged Sting to a match on WCW Monday Nitro on November 20, 1995 (hence the name of this chapter).
For this chapter, I will focus on the match itself. I will also throw in some impressions that I had watching this match (I will mark them with this symbol (*)). I think it is also interesting to note that on this same date, Shawn Michaels collapsed on WWF RAW.
Anyway, Sting is coming down the isle and is entering the ring. One of the first things that I notice is that Sting, though wearing his scorpion logo and face paint, was wearing them in Hulk Hogan's colors (yellow and red)!!! *Insult city* Sting was standing in the ring waiting for Hogan to arrive. When he hears "American Made" *Ugh*, he assumes that Hogan is coming out but it is Randy Savage with his arm in a sling. Sting is confused at this point. Then from out of the crowd comes Hogan. He starts to cheap shot Sting but chooses not to. Instead, he spins Sting around for a staredown. As they jaw back and forth, Hogan cracks first and gives Sting a shove!!! *Don't shove him back Sting, just nail him!!* Sting responds by kicking Hogan and giving him a flurry of kicks and punches *Yes, Yes!!!* Hogan does make a small comeback by suplexing Sting on the floor!! *Ouch!!! A good move though*
When they return to the ring, the gameplans of both men become clear. Hogan just wants to overpower Sting while Sting is concentrating on Hogan's left knee for the "Scorpion Deathlock." Sting does get Hogan in the "Scorpion" but Hogan powers out of it!!! *Oh, sh#t!!! They're going to make Sting job to Hogan!!! Damn!!!* Hogan makes one of his "miraculous" comebacks and goes for the big leg!!! *Remember the Warrior Sting!!! (making reference to his old partner and what he did to beat Hogan)* Sting moves out the way *YES!!* and puts the "Scorpion" back on Hogan!!! Hogan, at this point, was crying like baby!!! *SCREAM, HOGAN, SCREAM!!!* His comments were "He's breaking my leg!!! He's breaking my leg!!!" I think Hogan was about to submit when the DOD came out and cause the end of the match.
Here I am thinking *Damn!!! Hogan got saved from jobbing again!!!* Now that I look back on it, I think this more than any other reason, is why Hogan is going to avoid Sting as long as he can.
Part 17: Turbulent Marriage."
After his spectacular match with Hulk Hogan, Sting took care of some unfinished business with Ric Flair. They settled up at the first World War III PPV. Another good encounter, while no where near the standards of late 80's matches, was still entertaining nonetheless. It ended with Sting getting the submission victory over Flair. The two later returned to compete in the three ring 60 man battle royal for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, I mention this match because Sting was part of the controversial ending of it. Luger and Sting teamed up to take care of the Giant but was eliminated from behind by Hulk Hogan. The Giant, not wanting to see Hogan win, pulled him under the ring. The ref, not seeing what happened, assumed that Hogan had been eliminated too!!! He awarded the bout and the title to Randy Savage because Savage was the only man left in the ring. Meanwhile, Sting accepted Hogan's explanation that his elimination was an accident but looking at the film, it is plain to see that Hogan knew exactly what he was doing!!
On to Starrcade '95 and the Triangle Match between Ric Flair, Lex Luger and Sting. The match ended when both Luger and Sting were counted out of the ring. The controversial part of the match was when Sting was trying to get back into the ring, Luger held on to him!!! Needless to say, it caused some friction and led insiders to believe that they were headed for another feud. That never materialized as Sting and Lex went on to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship in January of the next year (1996) from the Harlem Heat. This six month reign was marked with controversy and confusion as Sting began to question Luger's true motives. In the end, Luger proved that he was on the level with Sting despite his shallowness. Then came July 1996 at Bash At The Beach when Sting and Luger, along with Randy Savage, joined forces to fight The Outsiders (Kevin Nash/Scott Hall)!! Luger was knocked out in the first minute by Sting when he executed a "Stinger Splash" that had Luger in the pileup!!! The worst was yet to come though as Hulk Hogan betrayed WCW and formed the NWO with Hall and Nash!!!
Sting thought he had seen some rough times but the strangest chapter of his career was yet to come!!!
Part 18: The Crow Arises
After his team lost to the NWO at Bash At The Beach, Sting and Lex Luger concentrated their efforts towards ending Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan's new organization before it got off the ground. Unfortunately, that effort would turn in a bizzare chapter in the career of Sting.
At FallBrawl '96, Sting and Lex Luger were scheduled to team with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson for the WarGames. About a week before on WCW Monday Nitro, Lex Luger was assaulted by "Sting" and the NWO!!!! Or so it would seem. Nonetheless, the NWO did what it wanted to do and that was put Team WCW in dissaray before FallBrawl. Luger and Co. was convinced that Sting had gone NWO. In fact, WCW had been convinced that Sting had defected. Personally, if you look at the Luger attack, you'll notice that the guy doesn't even attack like Sting (fighting styles are like finger prints)!!! After seeing Sting for a number of years, there is just a certain way that a guy punches or kicks and this guy doesn't fight like Sting at all (I know this was just an angle but I'm just pointing out some things)!!!
Anyway, Sting returns from a tour of New Japan to find out that Luger doesn't believe him and that he had turned traitor!!! Later on in the match, the real Sting shows up and cleans house of the bogus Sting and the rest of the NWO!!! But, after assaulting the NWO, Sting leaves the cage (I thought you couldn't leave after entering WarGames), more or less saying "you finish them yourselves!!!" Needless to say, the NWO won when Luger passed out from a "Scorpion Deathlock" and a front facelock by Hogan.
The next night, Sting came out to address the crowd and told WCW to "stick it" and became a "free agent." The NWO did what they wanted to do and that was to cause dissention in WCW. I think even an NWO loss at FallBrawl would've only slowed down their march to dominance that they have enjoyed over the last year. Anyway, Sting dissapears for a few weeks and resurfaces with his "Crow" persona. I am not going into every appearance of this Sting. But the most memorable was at WCW Uncensored when he whipped the NWO again by himself!!! He laid out Hall, Nash, Savage, and Hogan!!!
Now, the world awaits the rematch from November 20, 1995. The match of Hogan VS. Sting. That match will come (I believe) at this year's Starrcade.
Part 19: Book of Lists
Sting has been around this sport since November 1985 and has collected quite a scrapbook. Here are some lists that I have made up on him:
MOST FAMOUS OPPONENTS
GREATEST MATCHES (Bear in mind that some of these matches "The Stinger" didn't win but turned in a good performance nonetheless)
1. Sting VS. Ric Flair - March 27, 1988 (NWA World Heavyweight Title Match. Ended in a 45 minute draw.)
2. Sting VS. The Great Muta - July 23, 1989 (NWA World Television Title Match. Ended in a double-pin. Title held up.)
3. Sting VS. Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and Great Muta - December 16, 1989 (Round-Robin IronMan Tourney at Starrcade '89. Sting loses his first match to Luger but defeats Muta and Flair to win the tournament.)
4. Sting VS. Lex Luger - February 29, 1992 (WCW World Heavyweight Title Match. Sting wins his second world title.)
5. Sting/Lex Luger VS. The Steiner Bros. - May 19, 1991 (WCW World Tag Team Title Match. Steiners win after Scott pins Sting, who was knocked out by Nikita Koloff.)
6. Sting VS. Vader - July 1992 (WCW World Tag Team Title Match. Vader wins his first world title.)
7. Sting VS. Cactus Jack - June 1992 (Falls Count Anywhere Match. Sting wins with a flying clothesline from the top rope to the ring ramp!!)
8. Sting VS. Hulk Hogan - November 20, 1995 (Their first and only encounter to date. Ended in a no-contest. Hopefully, these two will meet again soon.)
UWF Tag Team Titles - Held them with Eddie Gilbert (1986) and Rick Steiner (1987)
WCW World Tag Team Titles - Held them with Lex Luger (January 1996 - June 1996)
MEN MOST DESERVING OF A "SCORPION DEATHDROP" (Reverse DDT) 1. Dennis Rodman
2. Shawn Michaels
3. JJ Dillion (for his stupidity)
4. Curt Hening
5. Vince McMahon
6. Brian Pillman
7. Jerry "The King" Lawler
8. Todd Petingill
9. Alex Wright
10. Mike Tyson (I know he's not a wrestler but after that stunt he pulled back in June, I would love to see this man get his!!!)
If you have a question, comment, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications.