Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #26 – Sting

In a professional wrestling world essentially owned by megalomaniac billionaire Vincent K. McMahon it is hard to find a performer that has had a hall of fame worthy career and has never worked for him.

This was one of those few men.

26. STING

Real NameSteve Borden
AliasesBlade Runner Flash; Flash Borden; Golden Sting
HometownOmaha, Nebraska
DebutedNovember 28, 1985
Titles HeldNWA World Heavyweight (2x); NWA World Television; WCW International Heavyweight World (2x); WCW United States Heavyweight (2x); WCW World Heavyweight (6x); WCW World Tag Team (3x – 1 with Lex Luger, 1 with the Giant, 1 with Kevin Nash); NWA Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament winner in 1988 (with Lex Luger); TNA World Heavyweight; TNA World Tag Team (with Kurt Angle); UWF Tag Team (3x – 2 with Eddie Gilbert, 1 with Rick Steiner; WWA World Heavyweight
Other AccomplishmentsNWA Iron Man Tournament winner in 1989; WCW Battle Bowl Battle Royal winner in 1991; WCW King of Cable Tournament winner in 1993; WCW European Cup winner in 1994 and 2000; Wrote autobiography “Sting: Moment of Truth” and starred in film adaptation; Has appeared in various films including The Real Reason (Men Commit Crimes), Ready to Rumble, and Shutterspeed

In a professional wrestling world essentially owned by megalomaniac billionaire Vincent K. McMahon it is hard to find a performer that has had a hall of fame worthy career and has never worked for him.

Sting was one of those few men.

His career started in 1985 in the ill-fated bodybuilders-turned-wrestlers stable called Powerteam USA. Sting and another gentleman named Jim Hellwig, now famously known only as Warrior, rebounded and ended up teaming up in Memphis for Jerry Jarrett before moving to Bill Watts’ UWF.

Under Watts’ tutelage Sting got his first push. After his partner Hellwig (then going as Rock) left town, he began feuding with hot heel Eddie Gilbert. And when UWF was bought out by the NWA, Sting’s new bosses’ saw enough potential in him to bring him as a rising young babyface whose stock was about to rise.

After one 45-minute draw with NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair the legend of Sting was born.

That March 1988 bout made Sting into an instant sensation. He was booked as a top card challenger for top heels like The Four Horsemen and The Road Warriors while teaming with other super faces like Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes. In 1989 the Stinger got his first real gold, beating Mike Rotunda for the NWA Television Championship. He then engaged in a TV Title feud with The Great Muta that ended up making bigger stars out of both men.

Sting then made a save for Ric Flair and got inducted into a new, face version of the Four Horsemen with Flair and The Andersons. Once Sting earned a NWA Championship match Flair and company turned on him for the first time. Sting’s run against Flair for the World Title carried the NWA throughout 1990 and the first part of 1991.

By this point Sting was clearly the franchise of the newly christened World Championship Wrestling. He carried the company in 1992 with his runs against Lex Luger and The Dangerous Alliance. In 1993 and the first part of 1994 he embarked on his legendary feud against Big Van Vader and made a legitimate monster out of Vader in the process.

By late ’94, Hulk Hogan had arrived in WCW and Sting became low man on the WCW totem pole, spending his time teaming with Hogan as his little buddy in his battles against Flair, Vader, Three Faces of Fear and The Dungeon of Doom. In late ’95, Sting inexplicably befriended Ric Flair in his battle against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman, only for Flair to turn on him the second time and set off another Sting-Horsemen war. He also spent his spare time teaming with old pal Lex Luger.

Things got good in the summer of ’96 when the new World order angle changed the face of WCW. The fledgling nWo claimed Sting had joined them and would prove during WarGames in September ’96. Sting denied the allegations and became personally offended when fellow WCW mainstays accused him of switching sides. The nWo’s imposter Sting proved he was telling the truth, but he still took his ball and went home, kicking off WCW’s hottest angle ever. Sting replaced his blonde hair and neon with a black and white. He hid out in the rafters of WCW events, occasionally helping the WCW side in the war against the nWo but stayed away from active competition for over fifteen months. So when he finally met Hollywood Hogan at Starrcade ’97, WCW had a license to print money. Unfortunately they screwed up the ending of the story and Sting became just another guy again after all that build-up.

From there he floated through WCW’s upper card, joining the nWo Wolfpac in 1998 and having a worse-than-expected feud with Bret Hart. He ended winning the WCW Championship a couple more times in 1999 and endured a failed heel turn and Vince Russo’s bad booking. He spent most of 2000 feuding with Vampiro during the Millionaire’s Club-New Blood doppelgangers storyline.

His final appearance in WCW was in the final main event of Nitro, against old foe Ric Flair. This was the first main event of Nitro and the perfect end to the program as well. It was quite fitting that WCW’s most iconic feud led to WCW’s final sanctioned match.

After fading out of the spotlight for much of 2001 and 2002, Sting took part in the ill-fated World Wrestling All-Stars promotion. He won the company’s World Heavyweight Championship in 2003 before the company folded. As a favor to Jerry Jarrett, who gave him his first real break in the business, Sting agreed to appear a few times for the fledgling NWA-TNA in 2003.

But his big return came in 2006, when he signed a full-time contract with TNA. He engaged in a lengthy feud with Jeff Jarrett over the NWA Championship that culminated in Sting winning the belt, sixteen years after he had originally won that same Title. He then promptly dropped the Championship to Abyss, ruining a feel-good payoff. He then spent the first half of 2007 feuding with Abyss in a ridiculous soap opera-infused storyline that really didn’t do any favors for either man. In the fall of 2007 he partnered with Kurt Angle as TNA World Tag Team Champions, which was just a device to begin a feud between the two over the TNA World Championship. For the second time in a row at TNA’s flagship Bound For Glory pay per view Sting walked out as World Champion, only this reign was shorter than the first.

After a dream partner tag match at the November 2007 Genesis PPV with Sting and Booker T against Kurt Angle and Kevin Nash, he disappeared. He hasn’t been seen on TNA television since, but rumors swirled that he has signed a new contract with TNA to take him through 2008.

TNA has been using the moniker “Icon” to describe Sting in his latest run, and for once TNA’s instincts are accurate. The Man Called Sting is a true icon in this business. He has been a top card attraction sine 1990, and the majority of that time was spent as a babyface. To keep the fickle fans behind you for that long is a tremendous feat in and of itself. He was THE face of World Championship Wrestling and the only holdout to Vince McMahon’s money after the buyout.

At this point in his life and career he doesn’t owe anything to the business but has spent his recent time in TNA willing to put over new talent and pave the way for a new generation of wrestling stars. He obviously hasn’t forgotten that a lot of people helped make him a star twenty years ago.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.

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