Wrestler of the Day – March 20: Sting

Wrestling fans, this is STING!

Much like Flair, there’s no way I can compress Sting’s career into thirteen or fourteen matches. This is going to be a random collection of the first bunch of Sting matches that come to my head.

We’ll start off in WCW in 1993 for a matchup that would be very, very different five years later.

Sting vs. Bruiser Mastino

Mastino is a guy who would become more famous later but I’ll save his identity for the end of the match. Sting is just ungodly over. They shove each other around to start as the announcers talk about Vader being worried about Sting. Bruiser stalls for a bit before a shoulder sends Sting flying across the ring.

Sting is impressed but comes back with a front flip of all things (never seen him do that) to knock Mastino down. A slam drops the big Mastino and we hit the wristlock. Mastino fights up but gets sent into the corner for the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock for the submission. Mastino would become much more famous about four years later as none other than Kane, the Undertaker’s brother, which is information you know but I don’t want people to see the name at the end of the paragraph and spoil the surprise.

We’re going to jump around a lot in this one so don’t look for any connection to these matches. Here’s Sting vs. Vader for the International Title at Slamboree 1994. Sting had been awarded the title due to an injury to champion Rick Rude but Sting wanted to win the belt and picked Vader as the opponent.

WCW International Title: Vader vs. Sting

This falls under the category of matches that it’s really hard to mess up. The title is vacant actually here so Sting could leave with an extra title reign. At least the explanation made sense. Do you really need an explanation on this one? It’s Sting vs. Vader for typing out loud. They do their usual greatness with Sting starting fast but then Vader just beats the tar out of him.

This is a rare occasion where it was pure formula stuff but they made it work every time and to me that boiled down to one thing, and it’s what I’ve always said makes a match great: you didn’t know who was going to win. Think about Hogan vs. Flair or Hogan vs. DiBiase or any other big face or heel rivalry that isn’t considered great. The thing is, most of the time you know who is going to win. Now take a look at Rock vs. HHH or Rock vs. Austin.

The winner was much harder to predict, which made it much more fun and interesting. As for this, it’s your traditional good match with Sting doing a lot of stuff to hang with Vader, namely making Vader punch himself out, ala Rocky vs. Clubber Lang. Finally Sting gets out of the way when Vader goes for more offense than he should. A missed Race headbutt and a big splash, and keep in mind that Sting is the only guy of his size that could rival Van Dam for leaping ability, from the top ends it and that ends the show.

Rating: B. Dude, it’s Sting and Vader. This is by definition a good match. See what happens when you give talented guys time on the card and a chance to just go out there and have fun? YOU GET A GOOD MATCH!!! Learn this WCW.

Let’s get this one out of the way early. Starrcade 1997 and I’m sure you know the drill by now.

WCW World Title: Sting vs. Hollywood Hogan

 

So how does Hogan come out after running scared of Sting for a year and a half? He struts to the ring, playing the belt like a guitar. He looks like he’s about to face Sick Boy instead of Sting for the world title. Hogan should have had people literally dragging him to the ring as he was trying everything he could to get out of the match. Have him offering money to the security, have him trying to run, have him doing ANYTHING but walking out with that big grin on his face.

 

After a year of repelling from the rafters, coming through the crowd, and at one point ziplining to the ring Sting…..calmly walks out. Oh wait there’s some lightning and a voiceover that we’ve heard before so it’s cool right? They stare each other down and as the bell rings, Hogan shoves him away. Sting slaps him so Hogan walks around the ring and is loudly booed as you would expect. Sting is pushed to the corner but comes out with a right hand and it’s pretty much all downhill from there.

 

We’re about two minutes into the match now and that’s literally all that’s happened. Hogan kicks him in the ribs and a single right hand sends Sting flying across the ring. Sting is pounded in the corner as Hogan gives a shout out to his son, Nasty Nick. A shot to the throat has Sting in trouble as the crowd is stunned. There’s a slam but Hogan misses three straight elbows. A dropkick puts Hogan on the floor and Sting just stands there looking down at Hollywood.

 

Back in and the fans are chanting boring. Hogan grabs a headlock before running Sting over like he’s not even there. Two more dropkicks send Hogan to the floor and again just stands there. Back inside again and Sting puts on a headlock to take Hogan down. We’re six minutes into this and the entire sequence of action has been punches, headlocks, a shoulder block and dropkicks. Goldberg and McMichael went less than six minutes and had a full match while Hogan and Sting have fit about a minute’s worth of action in the same amount of time.

 

Hogan shoves him off and lays Sting out with a clothesline. As in Sting is down on the mat for about 10 seconds off a clothesline. A suplex puts Sting down but he’s on his feet before Hogan is. That’s more like it. He does the crotch chop sign to Hogan and pounds Hogan into the corner….so Hogan calmly rakes the eyes to take over again. Hogan is toying with Sting so far and he does even more toying by throwing Sting to the floor. Sting is thrown into the timekeeper’s area and Hogan hits him in the neck with Sting’s trademark baseball bat.

 

Sting is choked with a t-shirt up against the railing, but he comes back by whipping Hogan into the barricade. As usual though, Sting misses the Stinger Splash into the steel and Hogan takes over seconds later. Sting is crotched on the barricade and dropped with a single right hand. I’ve seen Hogan have more trouble dropping jobbers. Back in and Hogan hits an atomic drop before choking away. We’re over ten minutes into this now and Hogan hasn’t been in significant trouble at all.

 

And now, it’s going to get even worse.

 

Hogan hits the big boot and the legdrop for the pin in a little over eleven minutes. Now, the announcers start talking about a fast count, but the count was about as fast as you would expect it to be, albeit maybe a hair faster. It’s far from what you would call a fast count when you’re talking about a crooked referee though. I’ve heard stories over the years about Hogan actually paying the referee to count at a normal speed to count properly instead of doing it fast, and if that’s the case then he did a decent job at it. The count was close enough that you could buy it either way, but it looked good enough.

 

On top of that, the far bigger problem with the fast count theory is that it doesn’t hold up when you look at the aftermath. The idea behind a fast count is that the guy would have been able to kick out had it been at normal speed. Sting NEVER MOVED. He doesn’t push off, he doesn’t sit up after the count, he doesn’t kick his legs. Sting is still laying on the mat a good ten seconds after the three count. Even with the fast count, Sting looks like he’s out cold so the count doesn’t even make a difference.

 

On top of THAT, Bret Hart is seen walking in front of the camera as Hogan is going down for the cover. Not a few seconds after the cover, not as Hogan is celebrating, but as Hogan is getting on top of Sting. That would mean that he came into the arena probably before Hogan even hit the big boot. Why was he out there? He’s there early enough to grab the timekeeper’s hand before he can strike the bell, which makes even less sense.

 

Back to the “action” as Bret grabs the mic and mumbles that “he’s not going to let it happen again.” He complains about the count being fast and decks Nick Patrick (who has the most amazing overblown fall ever, throwing his arms in the air and falling over like a tree). Hogan tries to leave (as Sting is just now getting up) but Bret throws him back in the ring.

 

Bret calls for the bell, Sting goes NUTS and hits a quick Stinger Splash. He tries for another but Hogan holds the ropes, pretty much stopping Sting’s momentum cold. The NWO runs in but Sting fights them off and hits another splash on Hogan. The Scorpion Deathlock goes on and Hogan gives up, allowing Bret to call for the bell and give Sting the title.

 

WCW comes out to celebrate, Sting shouts something in what sounds like Spanish (the last word was mamacita. A quick Google search says Sting said something like “revenge is sweet baby”) into the camera, end of show.

 

Rating: W. As in where in the world do I even start. First and foremost, the match absolutely sucked in case you couldn’t tell. Hogan was destroying Sting for over ten minutes and then pinned him clean(ish) in the middle of the ring. It’s completely against everything that the match was supposed to be and was horribly boring on top of that. This made Sting look like a complete joke and did little for anyone else besides Hogan.

 

Now for the second ending, which has even more holes in it. First and foremost, there’s one huge problem with what Bret did: what if you didn’t watch WWF? Simple question: what if you had no idea that this was a reference to what happened at Survivor Series a few weeks ago because you don’t watch that company’s programming? What was Bret not allowing to happen again? Granted you can only be confused by that if you understood what Bret said, which was mumbled pretty badly.

 

Second, Bret was hired as guest referee for one match, but he now has the authority to referee any match he wants all night long. The fans live weren’t told that, so they either had to put it together in about a minute and a half, or they were completely oblivious to what was going on. The whole idea was a stretch to put it mildly and it was made even worse by how badly it was executed.

 

Finally…..just why? I mean, aside from Hogan, who could have possibly thought this was a good idea? The answer I’ve heard from either Hogan or Bischoff in one of their books is that Sting had some substance abuse issues and was in no condition to be champion at this point. The problem with that theory is that Sting just wrestled a coherent enough match. He was pretty much a shell of his former self, but he was able to throw dropkicks, punches, the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Deathlock. That’s really all he needed in this match, but apparently he wasn’t capable of doing those things, at least according to Hogan or Bischoff.

 

All in all, this match is the biggest disaster that I can ever remember for a major match. It was booked completely backwards, it did nothing that it was supposed to do, the ending was screwed up, and the fans were likely confused by at least one thing at the time. Sting may indeed have had a drug problem at the time, but if he’s even remotely capable of wrestling a passable match (which he clearly was), you give the fans this moment and worry about the rest later. It’s been over 15 years since this happened and I’m still amazed by how badly they screwed this up.

Quick jump to TNA for the main event of Bound For Glory 2006. Basically Sting had spent the entire year trying to get the title off Jarrett and this was his (second) shot on PPV.

NWA World Title: Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett

Oh wait Angle is guest enforcer. Sting’s big transformation after missing for two months: he has red tights. Tenay thinks the bat is a tribute to the Detroit Tigers. Someone smack him for me. I’m already annoyed enough that Joe isn’t in there but now I have to listen to Tenay’s stupid theories? After big match intros we’re finally ready to go. Feeling out process to start for some reason, after they’ve fought each other about a thousand times.

Jeff controls to start for no apparent reason, arm dragging and hip tossing Sting around with ease. Sting starts to Hulk Up…and Jeff throws him around again. Now Jeff drops him with one punch. Jeff dropkicks him to the floor and OH MY GOODNESS ARE YOU THIS FREAKING STUPID??? Why in the world would you have THE MOST BORING WORLD CHAMPION IN YEARS dominate one of the most charismatic wrestlers in history like this?

Back in Jarrett spits on him and Sting FINALLY takes over on him like he should have from the opening bell. Powerbomb of all things puts Jeff down and a clothesline puts him on the floor. Jeff shoves Angle who shoves right back and Sting starts hammering Jarrett outside. Sting gets whipped into the barricade but Jeff gets his chair taken away by Angle. They fight up the ramp with Sting hitting a suplex to keep Jeff down. Angle takes the chair from Sting too and Jeff’s chair shot takes Kurt out.

DDT on the ramp puts Sting down and Jeff hooks a sleeper back inside. Sting fights out of that and they screw up some spot involving Sting getting behind Jeff. Cross body puts both guys down. Angle comes in and hits the Slam on the referee so that it’s not a double countout. They slug it out and the Splash sets up the Death Drop for two. Stroke hits for two. Jeff tries a tombstone which Sting reverses into a dangerous looking one of his own.

Sting goes up so that Jeff can hit him low, but he can’t hit a Stroke off the top. Sting’s splash off the top hits knees and there’s the Figure Four. Sting turns it over so Jeff lets it go and hooks an ankle lock to taunt Kurt. It gets reversed and Jeff is sent to the floor so Sting gets the bat. Angle tries to stop him and Jeff gets the guitar. Jeff breaks it over Sting’s head…and Sting yells at him. Scorpion quickly ends this.

Rating: C-. Not much here as it seemed like they didn’t know if they wanted to do an old school Sting match or an Attitude Era style brawl. Either one would have been ok but mixing them really didn’t work. At the end of the day, no one wanted to see Sting get the title again because we had seen it before and the fans were all behind Joe. Naturally since this is the NWA, they don’t care what the fans want and go with the old guys instead. The match wasn’t anything that good either.

Sting would team with Lex Luger on and off for several years, including what might have been the best tag match ever in WCW, from SuperBrawl I.

Tag Titles: Lex Luger/Sting vs. Steiners

It’s face vs. face here and Luger is US Champion. I freaking love the way Capetta (the ring announcer) says someone is a world champion. He pauses before saying world very loudly. Ross says we’re starting with power vs. power but all four of them can do power stuff with I guess Rick being the weakest one? Geez there are a lot of titles in this match. It amazes me to no end that Luger would be top heel in less than a year, defending the title against Sting in February at SuperBrawl II.

The crowd is actually reacting to this match unlike almost every other match on the card which is really not a good sign. They’re doing a lot of technical stuff here which is a nice change of pace. In a bad looking spot, Steiner throws a shoulder at Luger and hits him solidly but Lex just shrugs it off and Steiner stays down. Sting jumps over the rope which is a spot that was more or less unheard of at the time and he nails it.

He’s the only person in wrestling history that I would put against RVD as far as leaping ability goes. Also considering his size (6’3 so just under Orton’s height) it’s even more impressive. Magnum TA put Sting about as perfectly as anyone I’ve ever heard: he had so much charisma and talent when he first got going that he didn’t know what to do with it. That’s absolutely spot on too.

A year or so before this he would have been lost out there. Not due to a lack of ability, but simply because he didn’t know how to channel his energy. Imagine a guy like Shelton Benjamin but with Edge’s charisma and you have Sting. Now within a year or two, he had the ring sense of a guy like Eddie Guerrero, making him one of if not the absolute best wrestler in the world. He’s maybe my 2nd favorite wrestler of all time and was easily the top face in the company around this time.

About a year or so from now, he would be the undisputed king of WCW and was even bigger than Flair when he returned from that other company. Anyway enough about Sting as I just rambled for five minutes over a plancha. This is a great match that I’m not going to do a lot of commentary on. It goes about eleven minutes and the longest dead spot is about 20 seconds.

They work themselves to death out there and it makes things go well. After things break down and we have a ref bump, we go to a camera shot that would be like someone looking at the ring from the entrance and we see a big bald guy walking to the ring. It’s Koloff from earlier and he has a chain around his arm. He gets a running start at Luger who has his back to him. Sting shoves him out of the way and takes the chain which lets Scott get the pin.

I love that ending as it furthers Sting and Koloff, or actually starts it I guess. After that there’s no way to put one team over the other so I’m actually fine with it. Sting goes after Koloff in the back and they fight outside.

Rating: A. This is a great tag match all around as you have four guys that can legitimately go with each other out there, a good story as it’s respect all around, and the workrate is off the freaking charts here. All four guys worked very hard and the crowd was itno it all the way. What more can you ask for here?

We’ll stay in 1991 with Sting’s first (televised) WarGames against the Horsemen. From WrestleWar 1991.

WarGames

Sting, Brian Pillman, Steiner Brothers

Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, Larry Zbyszko

A very taped up Pillman goes into the ring first, sneaking behind his huddling partners. He starts with Windham and fires away with clotheslines and dropkicks. Pillman goes to the middle rope and head fakes him out to hit a dropkick. Remember that the match cannot end until all eight are in, making the match a minimum of seventeen minutes. A low blow slows Windham down as Pillman is all fired up.

Barry is busted open after being raked into the cage. Another big clothesline has Windham in trouble. They go into the other ring (it’s two rings side by side with a huge cage over them both) and Barry is reeling. A spinwheel kick puts Windham down and Pillman works on the leg with less than a minute to go. A middle rope punch puts Barry down and the Horsemen win the toss, sending in Flair.

Pillman and Flair chop it out in the corner. I’m 90% sure they had a title match once and dang I’d love to see it. Flair is world champion here I believe. Pillman fights off the Horsemen as long as he can but gets his shoulder rammed into the cage. That’s the worst part of his injuries so Pillman is in big trouble. They go back to the original ring and Sting goes in next.

Both Horsemen are there to meet him but Sting kills them both with clotheslines. The fans are WAY into this too. A bulldog puts Windham down and the pairings switch off. Another bulldog puts Naitch down as they’re all in the same ring again. Flair’s chops still don’t work on Sting. Stinger Splash hits Flair and Larry Z is in to make it 3-2 for two minutes. Sting dives over both sets of ropes to take Larry down.

Pillman has a figure four on Barry and Flair is apparently cool with letting him be in the hold. Finally they kick Pillman in the shoulder to break it up. Rick Steiner comes in to even things up and it’s Steiner Lines all around. He rakes Flair’s face across the cage to bust him open too as this is breaking down, in a good way. Pillman is in the Tree of Woe and Sting is busted too.

Sid comes in as the final member of the team and the pain begins. He holds Steiner for a low blow from Flair but Pillman makes the save. Larry Z of all people cleans house but Rick pounds him down. Scott comes in to even things up and now it’s first submission to win. We get the WORST camera shot ever as the camera looks at Sid and Rick as they’re openly calling spots. That was like a blooper or something.

Scorpion on Flair as Scott beats on Larry’s shoulder. Sid rams the shoulder of Pillman into the corner a bunch of times and the tape comes off. In an awesome looking visual, all of the Horsemen and Larry are put in Figure Fours at the same time. Every evil guy is in trouble except Sid who even Sting can’t get off his feet. The Steiners FINALLY put him down but Barry and Sid double team both of them.

Flair and Pillman lay some of the hardest chops you’ll ever hear into each other. Now we get to the famous part of the match as Sid grabs Pillman and tries to powerbomb him. Remembering that Sid is 6’9 and the cage roof is barely over 7’0 tall, Sid can’t get him up all the way so Pillman’s feet hit the top of the cage. This makes Sid DROP PILLMAN ON THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, legitimately knocking him unconscious. Sid, the nice guy that he is, powerbombs Pillman AGAIN. El Gigante is brought out to submit for Pillman who isn’t moving at all. The first powerbomb legitimately made me cringe.

Rating: A. The match is great and you absolutely can’t fault them for ending the match when they did. That was one of the scariest looking botches I’ve ever seen and Pillman is lucky to not have a broken neck. The match isn’t quite as good as the bloodbath that would happen the next year, but this is certainly awesome and is totally worth checking out. This is the mother of all gimmick matches for a reason and this is a forgotten entry in the series.

Back to TNA for Sting’s third straight BFG Title match, from 2008.

TNA World Title: Sting vs. Samoa Joe

We get their weights for the third time in four minutes in the big match intros. Also I love that JB says standing in the corner to my left when he’s pacing from corner to corner. Joe is ready to go. Joe puts him on the floor seconds into this with a backdrop. Suicide dive with the elbow and Sting is in trouble early.

We’re out into the crowd and it’s more or less even. They go up near the top of the arena as it’s nothing but punches and chops so far. Joe gets a running start from a luxury box and jumps over the guard rail with a dropkick and crashes on the stairs. That was very awesome. The fat apparently kept his back safe though as we head back to the ring. No rematches no matter what apparently either.

They’ve been in the stands for like four minutes out of the six this has been going on. They were in the ring about 5 seconds literally. Sting with a cross body off the hockey boards to take Joe out which was cool looking too. Joe is bleeding from the nose and it might be broken. Sting gets the little Stingers crotched on the boards and an Ole Kick puts him down. You don’t kick a guy when his balls are in need of repair! It’s got to be illegal in some way.

FINALLY we go back to the ring and, get ready for it, WE GO INSIDE IT! This has been going like 8 minutes and we’ve been in the ring all of 15 seconds. Not a fan of that style more often than not. The fans are behind Joe now as I guess the TNA crowd thing is like a virus. Muscle Buster is blocked by a freaking jumping tornado DDT out of the corner and a Frog Splash for Sting gets two. I haven’t seen him use that in YEARS.

Joe gets a powerbomb into an STF as they’re moving very fast out there. Off into a crossface as he channels his inner Benoit. Ok make that the Rings of Saturn. This is like something out of a video game. Sting steals the Muscle Buster which Joe no sells completely. Wait why? It’s not like it’s a move you can learn the block for. You get dropped on your head which isn’t something you pop up from.

Sting matches the idiocy by popping up after a Scorpion Death Drop. See, it’s not like they even got covers. Both guys were up before the other one. If either of those moves end the match then the grade is dropping BIG time. You don’t no sell getting dropped on your freaking head! Joe getting booed a bit now as this really is a split crowd.

Joe has a thing going on at this point where he would win by TKO or knockout since he would beat the people and the referee would count them out which is how he beat Booker at Victory Road. He gets to 8 here on Sting but keeps pounding on him. And here’s Kevin Nash. Well of course he’s here. It’s a major match so we have to have more old people in it.

Sting goes for the bat but Nash steals it from him. He had been the mentor to Joe for like ever so it fits to have him out there. Again though, just because it fits doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Referee jumps out of the way of Sting so Nash pops him with the bat. Scorpion Death Drop ends this.

Rating: C. Not bad here but it didn’t really feel like a mega match. It was barely discussed all night which kind of made it feel less important. There was far more emphasis on the Jarrett/Angle match which I think is something I complained about when I watched this live. Sting winning set up the Mafia angle even more so for once this was a good idea. TNA tends to like setting up groups after their big PPV and this is no exception. Decent match.

Now for something completely different, here’s TV Champion Sting squashing a former WWF Champion at WrestleWar 1989.

TV Title: The Iron Sheik vs. Sting

Sheik doesn’t even get an intro. Sting’s pop is just ridiculous. He had a cool entrance where this army of kids would run through the curtain before he came out. He’s the hottest thing in the world and would be for a very long time. Sheik’s other dude hits Sting with a flag pole and Sheik pounds on him a bit. Take a guess how long this works. The match ends in maybe two minutes with Sheik tapping. This was the norm for Sting for a long time as he wasn’t ready for Flair yet but he was way bigger than anyone else so it was all they had for him.

Heading a bit forward, we have Sting vs. Flair from the 1990 Great American Bash in a very important match in Sting’s career.

NWA World Title: Sting vs. Ric Flair

Ton of stips here: No DQ, No Countout, the Dudes With Attitude are at ringside to counter the Horsemen and Ole is handcuffed to El Gigante. Flair chops away but those don’t work on Sting of course. Gorilla press sends Flair to the corner and Rick Steiner laughs at him. Dropkick sends Flair to the outside but Sting follows him out. Back inside Flair gets a quick suplex but Sting is up first.

A top rope cross body gets two on Flair. The champ begs off and heads to the floor to take another breather. Back in and Flair kicks the knee out to get the crowd into a panic. Sting clotheslines him down but an elbow misses. Figure Four is quickly broken up but Flair keeps control. We go outside and are told that’s ten minutes in. It’s more like 5 but whatever. There’s been no clipping either.

Sting comes back in the ring but a dropkick misses. Flair goes after the knee and Sting sells it like he’s been shot. Ric tries to cannonball down onto the knee but misses. It doesn’t mean anything but the knee drop missing does. Sting throws the Figure Four on Flair and the people literally rise up. Flair escapes to the ropes and they go outside. Sting is sent into the barricade but shrugs it off.

Ten corner punches back in the ring have Flair rocked but he kicks Sting in the knee. Flair goes up and there’s the slam off the top. Sting tries to mount an offense but gets kicked in the knee again. Sting keeps avoiding the Figure Four but his counters are getting slower each time. He’s limping badly now too. Flair slaps him in the corner and chops away, which doesn’t go that well.

Sting is all like BRING IT ON NAITCH and hits a backdrop and clothesline for two. The fans are getting way into it here. I don’t think anyone doubts that Sting will win here but it’s about how he’s going to do it rather than will he do it. Another clothesline puts Flair on the apron and a suplex back in gets two. Stinger Splash hits and Flair Flops. Here comes the Scorpion and Ole is panicking. The Horsemen run out but Orndorff, JYD and the Steiners are waiting for them.

Flair FINALLY makes the ropes but the fans mostly missed it due to the outside stuff. It’s good that they didn’t end it there. Sting punches him to the apron but Flair kicks the knee out again. Scott Steiner shoves Flair’s feet off the ropes and Sting gets a backslide for two. The crowd is losing it on these kickouts. For some reason Sting tries a running knee in the corner and for another reason we cut to the crowd as the knee hits the buckle. Flair goes for the Figure Four, but Sting rolls him up for the pin and the title. To say the roof is blown off the place is an understatement.

Rating: B-. The match isn’t great and it’s nowhere near their best, but this was about a moment. Sting was the hottest thing on the planet and had been for about a year and a half, so this was academic. The idea here is that they let it be a big moment instead of some stupid swerve to mess with us. That’s what WWE seems so scared of today: people figuring out the conclusions and changing them rather than letting them go, which is the right idea. A lot of the time it’s about how you get to the ending, not what you get to.

Here’s the last TNA match, from Bound For Glory 2007.

TNA World Title: Sting vs. Kurt Angle

I guess Nash couldn’t make it to the match. What do you mean he was never in this? He’s gotten more camera time than anyone else tonight so how can he not be in the match? Angle is defending remember. Not that it means anything for the most part but figured it needed to be pointed out. Bit match intros are still fun no matter how many times we’ve heard them.

Big heat on Angle so he’s got that going for him at least. They feel each other out to start. One time they need to feel each other up to start just for a change of pace. They trade arm work and Sting keeps offering clean breaks. Sting outwrestles him a bit and Angle hits the floor to clear his head. His hip might be a bit hurt. Lot of feeling out process here so far with no one really getting an advantage at all.

They hit the floor and Angle’s bald head hits the table. Angle’s shoulder hits the post but he manages to get a German to get out of the Death Drop. Another belly to belly puts Sting down. Double clothesline puts both guys down though and we wait for Nash. Sting wins a striking contest as they crank it up again. Sting hits a spinebuster (???) for two.

A pair of splashes hit and a bulldog puts Angle down. Sting, ever the idiot, doesn’t go for a finisher but rather goes up top against Kurt Angle. After he comes crashing down Angle gets the Slam countered and we hit the Rolling Germans for two. Ankle lock goes on but Sting gets a Bret Hart caliber counter to hook the Scorpion. That was AWESOME looking.

And here’s Karen to screw things up because we have to have more people in the main event than usual. Nash comes in and lays out Sting as Karen is taken out. Angle Slam hits for two as the Nash/Karen thing proves to be relatively pointless. A top rope Sting splash misses as Angle gets the knees up for two.

Kurt goes up and busts out a 450! He completely misses Sting as in his toes didn’t even hit Sting but who cares about that as it looked COOL! Ankle Lock goes on but Sting rolls him into Nash. And down goes the referee as Sting hits the Death Drop. Why do they have to overbook it???

Another referee comes out and Nash breaks it up again. Dang it go away! He comes in and beats up Sting so Sting beats up both of those two. Angle gets the bat but Sting hits him with it instead and crotches Nash. Death Drop FINALLY ends this. And then he lost the title back to Angle TWO DAYS later and Angle held it until April when Joe won it. Yep that’s TNA for you.

Rating: C+. This was good but definitely not great. The Nash and Karen stuff was just a waste of time. What did Nash add to this match at all? The overbooking hurt what was otherwise a good match. Sting winning to end Angle’s very long reign was the right choice, although having him lose it the Impact after the followup show was stupid. Although then again this is TNA. Decent match though but not great at all.

Here’s a match that gets a lot of praise when people think about it but unfortunately it’s not that well remembered. From a great show: Beach Blast 1992.

Sting vs. Cactus Jack

OH YES. Keep in mind that this is falls count anywhere. Foley called this his best match for a good many years until he fought Shawn. Cactus had been hired by Lex Luger to beat up Sting and had been feuding with him since. This is non title mind you. Sting is the second man that can look manly in pink.

Cactus waits for him on the ramp and Sting takes his robe and the belt off and is just like let’s freaking do this and they fight on the ramp. I think Fonzie, the referee, hurt his wrist or something as he’s moving gingerly. Since there are no mats, Cactus hurts his knee on the concrete. He does that sunset flip that he does which is awesome. In case you can’t tell, this is one of my favorite matches ever so I won’t likely be impartial at all here.

They’re just getting VIOLENT here and it’s awesome. We’re in the crowd now as we haven’t actually hit the ring yet. Foley is bumping like a freaking madman out there. This is revolutionary stuff back in the day mind you. Cactus hits a discus lariat on Sting which was later stolen by DDP. He said on a DVD commentary that only his good moves were stolen.

Cactus starts wrestling Sting to shock the heck out of Ventura. And then he slaps him like a freaking idiot. We bust out the chairs now as the fans are into this. Sting gets a nice belly to back suplex and what I mean by that is he just picks him up and drops him on the concrete. Again, who needs mats? We’re TOUGH!

Oddly enough this was a Saturday. That’s very odd. Sting gets the chair on the ramp and just goes off on him with it. He keeps hitting him in the back but Cactus won’t stay down, so Sting just blasts the leg with it which works. We go to the end of the ramp near the ring and Sting hits a flying clothesline onto the ramp for the pin. AWESOME match.

Rating: A. No I’m not impartial but screw it. This was 12 minutes of just pure fighting with almost no letting up at all. They beat the living tar out of each other and I love it every time. This was unheard of at the time so while it’s rather tame today, this was AWESOME back then and it holds up as a good brawl today. Awesome match and DEFINITELY worth tracking down. Go watch this match like now.

Sting would of course feud with Ric Flair on and off for years. Here’s a rare face vs. face match from Starrcade 1989’s Iron Man Tournament.

Sting vs. Ric Flair

 

Sting has to win by pin or submission, Flair can win by pinfall, submission or countout. Any other combination results in either a tie or Luger winning. Sting grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him down. Flair bails to the floor to run off some of the clock. Back in and we get some chain wrestling, resulting with Sting in control on the mat. They get up again and Flair places Sting on the top rope to play some mind games.

 

Flair puts on a top wristlock but Sting overpowers him to take Flair to the mat. Very technical match so far. They run the ropes a few times with Sting dropping down a few times before hitting a gorilla press slam. Flair bails to the outside again as Sting is all fired up. Back in and Sting blocks a hiptoss into a backslide as we hit five minutes in. Flair hits a HARD chop and Sting is in trouble in a hurry.

 

A quick shoulder block puts Flair down for two and Sting is starting to worry about the clock. We head to the floor with Sting being sent ribs first into the barricade as the world champion takes over. Flair suplexes him back inside for two and there’s the knee drop for good measure. Ric gets a few near falls off some rollups and a double underhook suplex for the same. They head to the floor again and Flair’s chops wake Sting up again.

 

We have five minutes left and Sting comes back in with a sunset flip but Flair punches him in the head to break it up. Sting hits a quick suplex of his own for two and it’s time to get fired up again. He pounds away on Flair in the corner and there’s the Stinger’s Splash. The Scorpion Deathlock goes on but Flair is immediately in the ropes.

 

Off to the Figure Four on Sting but he makes the ropes very quickly. Flair goes back to the knee with two minutes to go. A knee onto the leg has Sting in trouble as Flair is pacing himself. Sting grabs a backslide for two and we have a minute to go. Flair crushes the leg again and cannonballs down onto it for good measure. Now it’s time for the Figure Four but Sting rolls Flair up for the pin and the tournament title.

 

Rating: B+. By far and away the best match of the night here as you would expect from these two anytime they work together. This match was designed to set up some future stuff and Flair working as the heel here (mostly) was foreshadowing for those events. At least they let the fans have something good to go out on.

One last match before we get to the big stuff. The main event of Starrcade 1991 in a double ring battle royal.

BattleBowl

 

Marcus Bagwell, Jimmy Garvin, Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Dustin Rhodes, Richard Morton, Bill Kazmaier, Jushin Thunder Liger, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat, Todd Champion, Sting, Abdullah the Butcher, Vader, Mr. Hughes, Scott Steiner, Firebreaker Chip, Ron Simmons, Thomas Rich

 

Again, this is a double ring battle royal which means we have all twenty starting in one ring. If they’re thrown out to the floor or into the other ring, they move on to the second ring. Once they’re eliminated from that, they’re eliminated in general. The last remaining wrestler in ring #1 will face the last remaining wrestler in ring #2 with the last man in the ring winning BattleBowl.

 

Everyone goes at it to start with Vader going after Sting because everyone is feuding with Sting at the moment. Anderson and Steamboat are fighting on the ramp for some reason. They finally get in the ring where there’s still too much going on to be able to call any of it. Sting fights Anderson out of the corner as Vader is thrown onto the ramp which isn’t an elimination. He and Steamboat fight on the ramp but Ricky avoids a splash. Anderson and Rhodes are fighting on the floor but haven’t been eliminated yet. No one has gone to ring #2 yet.

 

Vader and Steamboat are still fighting on the ramp as Rich is thrown into ring #2 where he has to wait for an opponent. Anderson kicks Steamboat in the leg to slow him down as Sting and Luger start fighting to fire the crowd up. Bagwell is sent to the second ring to give Rich something to do. Chip is thrown over as well before Morton and Liger follow him over. They speed things way up with Liger hitting a quick rana out of the corner and a spinwheel kick for good measure. Morton and Liger beat on each other so well that they both fall out to the floor for a double elimination.

 

Mr. Hughes goes to ring #2 as Rich is eliminated for good. Steamboat and Anderson brawl to the floor and wind up in ring #2 as Simmons and Luger fight on the ramp. Garvin and Champion go to ring #2 with Steiner and Austin soon following them. The Butcher somehow winds up in ring #2 as Garvin is eliminated. Kazmaier and Simmons go to the second ring and Dustin follows. Sting and Rude start fighting to continue a big rivalry while falling to ring #2. There are currently 14 men in ring #2 and just Vader and Luger left in ring #1. Liger, Morton, Rich and Garvin are all gone.

 

Vader pounds on Luger and splashes him on the mat before clotheslining him back down. Anderson dumps out Chip for an elimination just before Luger manages to clothesline Vader to the second ring, meaning Luger wins ring #1. Kazmaier and Champion go out as the ring is really starting to clear out. Rude tries to throw Sting out but gets punched in the head instead. Steamboat comes off the top onto Vader as Austin backdrops Rhodes out. Simmons charges at Hughes and they both fall out, meaning we have about ten left.

 

As I say that, Anderson, Vader and Bagwell are all gone as well. Steiner goes out off camera and we’re left with Sting, Steamboat, Austin and Rude which sounds like a dream tag match. Steamboat chops on Austin and Sting pounds on Rude before Sting splashes Austin in the corner. Rude gets in a shot on Steamboat and the Alliance beats on Sting for a bit, only to have Rude miss a clothesline and knock Austin out by mistake. Rude throws Steamboat over but he skins the cat back in and pulls Rude out, only to be pulled out by the eliminated Rude.

 

This leaves Sting vs. Luger and you can hear the fans light up when they realize they’re the final two. Before Sting can even catch his breath though, Rude comes back in and hits the Rude Awakening to lay Sting out. Luger has a free shot at Sting and pounds away before clotheslining Sting down and posing as Sting would do. By the way it’s still over the top rope for an elimination, not pins or submissions.

 

Race tries to get in a cheap shot but Sting goes after him on the ramp, only to be jumped by Luger. Lex knocks Sting off the ramp into the barricade. All Luger so far as they fight on the floor. Sting gets in some shots to the ribs and rams Luger into the barricade and around both rings. Back in and Sting rubs Luger’s face on the mat before firing off a bunch of kicks to the ribs.

 

The Stinger Splash misses and Sting is hung upside down but Luger is too spent to follow up. Luger tries to throw Sting over but Sting holds on. Lex, ever the arrogant one, doesn’t watch Sting go over and starts celebrating. Sting comes back in and beats the tar out of Luger before dumping him out to win BattleBowl.

 

Rating: C+. All things considered, this wasn’t that bad. It was obvious that it was going to come down to Sting against someone with Sting likely winning and that’s perfectly fine. Sting going up against all the odds and coming back to win was a fine story and the fans loved it. This also set up Sting vs. Luger at SuperBrawl where Sting won the title so this was effective all around. The problem was it was kind of dull getting to the good part at the end.

Now we get to the big ones, starting with what might be my favorite match ever. From Starrcade 1992 in the King of Cable tournament final.

King of Cable Finals: Sting vs. Vader

 

This is officially for a trophy but for these two it’s all about bragging rights and revenge. Sting has said that his battle plan coming in was to make Vader run out of gas. The problem with that is you have to survive Vader’s initial onslaught. Sting fires off some punches to start and Vader just shakes his head at him. Vader easily slams Sting down, much to his manager Harley Race’s approval. Sting gets up and walks int another slam, this time with just one arm.

 

That doesn’t work so Sting just charges at Vader, only to get his head knocked off by a clothesline. Sting is a lot of things, but intelligent never was one of them. Vader easily gorilla presses him up and drops Sting throat first on the top rope. Sting bails to the floor as he’s in BIG trouble early on. Back in and Vader pounds away, but Sting hits the ropes and then hits a running flipping body attack to take Vader down. A big boot puts Vader down again and Sting shows his own freakish strength by tossing Vader over his head in a German suplex.

 

A clothesline puts both guys on the floor and Vader is suddenly reeling. Sting gets back in and dives over the top onto Vader and Race to put both guys down again. The fans are losing their minds over this stuff. Vader is down on the floor as Sting calmly waits in the ring. Back in and Vader is all ticked off, so he pounds away on Sting with some HARD shots to the face and body. A splash misses in the corner though, allowing Sting to load up the Stinger Splash. Vader is ready though and gets his boot up, which collides with Sting’s face with a sick smacking sound.

 

Sting will have none of that though and kicks Vader in the face twice before DDTing Vader down. In an impressive strength display, Sting puts Vader on top and DDTs him off the top for two. There’s the Scorpion Deathlock but Vader quickly gets to the rope. Vader bails to the floor for a walk, so Sting follows with a Stinger Splash, only to hit the railing. For those of you keeping track of his career average on that move, Sting has probably tried it 1983 times and has hit maybe two of them. Like I said, he’s not that bright sometimes.

 

Back in and Vader is stalking Sting like a vulture, hitting a big splash in the corner to crush Sting. A clothesline gets two for Vader and he follows it up with some HARD right hands to the jaw. Vader drops Sting with a belly to back suplex and another splash which only gets two. The big man is getting very frustrated so he puts on a sloppy looking chinlock. He pulls back and DRILS Sting in the face with a crossface shot for two. Sting blocks a clothesline and gets a quick backslide for two but he can’t follow up.

 

Sting tries a sunset flip but has to roll away when Vader tries to drop down on his chest. Vader pops back up and starts blasting Sting in the face and ribs with JR wanting the match to be stopped. Sting counters a headlock with a belly to back suplex but he’s so spent that Vader covers him for two. Back up again and Vader just unloads on Sting in the corner, but most of the shots are hitting Sting’s forearms. Sting keeps his arms up for defense so Vader puts him on top for a superplex. Ever the hero, Sting pokes him in the eyes to drop Vader, but Sting is so spent that he just falls to the mat.

 

Vader puts him in the corner and goes off with even more rights and lefts, but Sting says bring it on. Vader’s shots are noticeably getting weaker and weaker and Sting is getting that adrenaline rush of his. A big right hand staggers Vader and three more drop the monster.

 

Sting lifts him up and drops Vader down with a Samoan drop, followed by a top rope splash for two. Now Sting isn’t sure what to do. He goes after Race on the apron, allowing Vader to get in a clothesline in the corner. Vader hits a chokeslam and goes up for a middle rope splash. He doesn’t cover though and goes up again, only to have Sting catch him in a powerslam and dive on top for the pin and the tournament.

 

Rating: A. This was an absolute war and it told a great story, as these two always did. It’s a great David vs. Goliath story….if David was 6’3 and had his face painted blue and white. Sting knew that he had to survive Vader long enough and challenge him to a fight, which he knew Vader would put everything he had into. The power displayed by Sting here was insane and words cannot accurately describe how hard Vader was hitting him. These two were seemingly incapable of having anything but a great match, so WCW just let them fight for about two and a half years straight. This is an excellent match and well worth seeing.

There’s only one match you can end a Sting series with and you should all know what it is. From March 27, 1988 in Greensboro.

NWA World Title: Sting vs. Ric Flair

 

Flair is defending and this is Sting’s first big match in the main event. Ric is the leader of the Horsemen and has JJ Dillon with him, though JJ will be locked in a small cage above the ring. The much stronger Sting takes the champion into the corner to start as Hervey is flirting with Mullen at ringside. Flair grabs a wristlock on Sting but he easily nips up to scare Ric back to the ropes. Sting fights out of a top wristlock and Ric bails again.

 

Ric gets nowhere on a test of strength and chops get him just as far before Sting dropkicks him out to the floor. Back in and Flair tries a headlock but Sting reverses into an armbar as they’re still feeling each other out. Ric gets free and runs the ropes but Sting leapfrogs him twice and gorilla presses the champion down. A headlock takeover puts Flair down again as it’s been all Sting in the first five minutes.

 

Flair fights up again but gets put right back into the same headlock. They’re clearly taking their time here due to the longer time limit and to conserve energy. The champion gets to his feet for a third time and tries chops in the corner but Sting punches him in the face and hiptosses Flair down. Sting seemed to get poked in the eye so Flair throws him to the floor, only to run right back inside and hammer away in the corner even more.

 

Back to the headlock and we hit the ten minute mark. Ric gets up and hits a chop that actually takes something out of Sting. It takes so much out that the next gorilla press only lasts for about five seconds. Off to another gorilla press on the champion and Sting actually takes him to the mat for a few two counts. Sting lets him up and tries the Stinger Splash in the corner but only hits the buckles, giving Flair his first opening.

 

Sting tries to come back with more right hands in the corner but gets countered into an atomic drop to put him on the mat for the first time. Flair takes him to the floor and whips Sting into the barricade before chopping and clotheslining him down in the ring. Some knee drops get a two count on the challenger and Flair throws him back to the floor where referee Tommy Young has to take a chair away from the champion. Sting is sent into the barricade again and the fans are getting scared.

 

Back in and Sting starts feeling the energy, making him impervious to the chops before hitting a hard right hand to send Flair over the top. Sting misses a charge into the post and injures his arm to really give Flair a chance. Ric takes over back inside and now the wristlock works far better. Well at least it does for a few seconds until Sting nips up again and takes Flair into the corner for more right hands. A clothesline gets two on the champion and a suplex looks to set up Sting’s Scorpion Deathlock but Flair is in the ropes at the twenty five minute mark.

 

Sting is getting winded now but the chops fire him up yet again and a right hand gets two. Ric is barely hanging on and he collapses down, sending Sting flying over the top on a missed charge. He’s still on his feet first and back on the apron but Ric snaps his neck across the top rope. Sting pops up AGAIN and hits a top rope cross body for two. It’s back to the headlock but Ric picks him up and hits a knee crusher out of nowhere to go for his primary target. Flair sends him to the floor and this time Sting isn’t popping back to his feet.

 

Back in again and Flair goes for the leg even more, picking it apart like the master he is. A belly to back suplex sets up the Figure Four as we’ve got fifteen minutes left in the time limit. Sting is in big trouble with Flair pulling on the ropes for extra leverage. After several minutes in the hold, Sting is finally able to turn it over and send Flair into the ropes. Flair is up first and tries to suplex Sting to the floor but referee Tommy Young won’t let it happen, allowing Sting to suplex Flair back in.

 

A quick splash hits Flair’s knees but Sting is able to come back with an abdominal stretch. Flair hiptosses out with ten minutes left but misses an elbow drop. Ric goes up top but as you can guess if you’re a Flair fan, Sting is able to slam him down for another near fall. Sting crotches him against the post and puts Flair in the Figure Four for a change of pace. Ric screams for mercy but FINALLY makes the rope as the crowd’s hopes are dashed again. Sting pounds in more right hands and hooks another hiptoss as he’s on pure adrenaline.

 

More stomping on Flair’s leg has the champion reeling so he tries to get himself disqualified, only to have the referee shove him down. Sting sends Flair over the corner and onto the judges’ table as JR goes nuts again. We’ve got five minutes to go as Sting blocks a sunset flip and hammers at Flair’s head. Four minutes to go. A big clothesline gets two as Flair gets his foot on the ropes for the break. The Stinger Splash totally misses and Sting crashes to the floor in a heap. Three minutes to go and Sting is back inside.

 

Somehow forty two minutes haven’t taught Flair that chops don’t work as Sting makes about his 19th comeback by sending Flair into the buckle. Flair sends him to the floor to kill some time and counters a sunset flip for a near fall with two minutes left. Ric goes up for a cross body but Sting rolls through for another two count. Sting gets all fired up with a minute left and goes nuts on Ric in the corner. There’s the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Deathlock with thirty seconds left. The champion is screaming in agony and somehow holds on for the time limit.

 

Rating: A-. There’s a reason this is the textbook example of a veteran giving a young wrestler the rub of a lifetime. Sting went from a middle of the road guy with potential to a main event star in forty five minutes with Flair walking him all the way there. There’s a great story here with Sting being full of energy and power but not being able to close it out and spending too much time throwing punches instead of trying to bring the title home. It’s still a great match that doesn’t even drag during the long holds at the beginning and the first of many classics between these two over the next ten plus years.

I don’t know what you want me to say here. I mean….it’s Sting. He’s a great example of how to get over on charisma with good but not great skills. That’s something people often forget about Sting: he wasn’t the best worker in the world, but he was good enough to get by. The rest he made up for in pure charisma and it worked for twenty years. He’s one of my all time favorite wrestlers and has had his share of classic matches. That run of his in 1997 when he never spoke made for some of the most entertaining television you’ll ever find and should have ended with the WWF being crushed for good, but that’s WCW for you.

As for going to the WWE, I really don’t think he needs it. It’s obvious that Sting has more than defined his legacy already and doesn’t have anything left to prove. You could argue that Sting not going to WWE is his most famous achievement, but if he went I don’t think it would go badly. I’m just fine without it though.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of on the History of Clash of the Champions at Amazon for just $3.99 at:

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2 comments

  1. Heyo says:

    How much bigger of a star could Sting have been if WCW did a better job booking him? He’s already one of the biggest stars of all time, but had he been booked better, I think there’s a chance he rivals Hogan as the biggest star of all time. Hell, when he was positioned to be the one to slay Hogan for the WCW title at Starrcade 97, that led to their biggest buyrate of all time. That says a lot right there.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Very big. There’s a story on the latest JBL interview show (well worth watching almost every time) where Sting went to a media conference in Dallas. The WCW media person didn’t know how to get him into the arena and since Sting lived in Dallas, he had to guide the driver. Then once they got there, the WCW booth was a TV with a highlight tape and Sting’s name written in pencil. Across the room there’s a WWF ring with live matches and Gene Okerlund interviewing wrestlers. Sting walked out and I can’t say I blame him.