Sting is one of the most iconic wrestlers in the world.
From his early days as the bleached blonde fiery babyface to the black and white crow character, he is remembered as one of the all-time greats. Sting’s 30-year career began back in 1985 when he was teaming with a pre-Ultimate Warrior Jim Hellwig and ended in modern-day WWE going up against then WWE champion Seth Rollins.
When the UWF was purchased by Jim Crockett, Sting became part of the NWA. Here, in the late 80s and into the 90s, Sting became a star. His legendary feuds and matches with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen will go down in history as some of the best of all time. And forays with Lex Luger, The Great Muta, Nikita Koloff, Vader and the Road Warriors showed the world that the Stinger could hang with the best, or in some cases- could GET the best out of some less skilled.
As the 90s rolled on and as the NWA became WCW Sting won many world titles along the way. But it was the emergence of the nWo in 1996 that really sent Sting’s character on a different pathway. The bright and bubbly facepaint was replaced with plain white. His once colourful clothing and ring gear was replaced with black leather and long trench coats with the impact of the nWo being to blame for this change of look. His personality followed suit too. A once outspoken, loud and hyper babyface was now a silent, calm figure that often watched the in-ring action from high in the building rafters.
Sting eventually burst into life in the build-up to Starrcade ’97. After being out of the ring for a year, Sting laid a path of destruction through the nWo on his way to then WCW champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Sting was triumphant in his battle against Hogan and was looked at as an icon from there on a triumphant beacon of light that finally put the nWo in their place.
After the WWF purchased WCW in 2001 most of the WCW main eventers joined the WWF once their Time Warner contracts expired, Sting opposed and instead began working for NWA TNA. He did eventually join in 2014 where he built to his first match in the company against Triple H at WrestleMania in 2015. He wrestled a few more times before having his final match against Seth Rollins for the WWE title at Night of Champions that same year.
Sting will be remembered for his main event run in WCW, his big title matches with Flair, his year-long storyline with the nWo, his time with TNA, and is the last standing member of the WCW main event roster to eventually jump to the WWE.
But as the Stinger turns 61, its time to pull out some matches that you might not be aware of. His in-ring skills were of such a high and consistent standard that his lesser billed matches, in my opinion, often got overlooked.
Not much can hold a candle to Sting vs Flair, but these five should be well worth a look.
WCW Tag Team Titles: Sting & Lex Luger vs Steiner Brothers – WCW SuperBrawl, 19th May 1991
If your a fan of tag team wrestling I would highly recommend checking this one out. The WCW tag titles were on the line between these four babyfaces and boy did they put on a show here. An absolute physical, hard-hitting masterpiece, with not a rest hold in sight.
Sting’s first big offensive move was a running plancha over the top rope to the floor and it did not let up from there. All four took turns hitting their signature moves, most of them suplexes, gorilla press slams, and other big power moves while on the run.
At the 10-minute mark Nikita Koloff made his presence felt by bloodying Sting up with his Russian chain which leads to the pin and the Steiners keeping hold of their titles. Sting chased Koloff and they brawled away into the night. The match went by in a breeze, it was refreshing seeing such a star fighting it out for the tag titles, it instantly made the titles seem really important. The work rate was top notch and I could have watched them all night if they kept going.
Sting vs Cactus Jack – Beach Blast, 20th, June 1992
Now if you are a fan of Mick Foley, Sting, early WCW or pro wrestling in general, you will have probably watched this or at least heard of it. Now if you aware of the match you will think, underrated? This match was incredible! And I would strongly agree.
This makes the list of underrated matches as, in my opinion, this is up there with both Foley’s and Sting’s best matches of all time- but it doesn’t nearly get the same attention as Sting vs Flair, or Mankind vs Undertaker for example.
This was a young and fresh Cactus Jack six years before he came off the Hell in a Cell, eight years before he fought Triple H in that Rumble 2000 street fight, and 12 years before he had that hardcore match with Randy Orton.
Foley took so many dangerous bumps and falls in the first five minutes that a lesser individual would have been down and out. Ever seen a sunset flip off the apron to the concrete floor (while the opponent was standing on the ground so the giver basically flips back first to the concrete)? Jack pulls one out here without any effort or thought. He later gets dropped on the back of his head with a back suplex, hits his famous Cactus elbow off the middle rope to the floor, and eats the guard rail too many times to recall.
And as much as this was a showcase for Cactus, Sting was with him every step of the way. This was an excellent last man standing match, and in my opinion, should be talked about in the same vein as their more talked about famous matches.
Sting, Dustin Rhodes & Cactus Jack vs Barry Windham, Paul Orndorff & Big Van Vader – WCW Clash of Champions XXII, 13th January 1993
The WCW Thundercage was the scene for this huge six-man tag match. There were no disqualifications, but traditional tag rules still applied- which begs the question, why follow the rules if there are no consequences if you don’t?
The match actually started as a handicap match as Cactus Jack didn’t get involved until midway through. Sting and Vader put on some classic matches throughout their careers, and their exchanges inside the cage were great. Of course, the heels got the advantage and Sting’s sympathetic selling of his beatdown was great.
Jack cut his way into the cage at the halfway point and as you can imagine from there on chaos ensued from then on. Jack picked up the win after coming off the top rope with his own boot to knock Orndorff out. Another relatively quick but great little match.
Sting vs Lord Steven Regal – WCW Great American Bash, 16th June 1996
One month before the famous nWo formation when Hulk turned on WCW, Sting and William, I mean, Steven Regal put on a very very good match at the Great American Bash. As wild and chaotic as the Cactus Jack Falls count anywhere match was, this was quite the opposite and just showed how versatile the Stinger was.
As you can imagine, Regal used his technical knowledge to put on a masterpiece. Eagle-eyed viewers would have spotted the ECW “hat guy” at ringside that Regal jaw-jacked with for a moment, but from then on Regal took complete control and went to work on wearing Sting down. This was basically a 10-minute demonstration of submission wrestling by Regal. His lordship locked, twisted and stretched Sting seven ways from Sunday, but the Stinger refused to give up.
Regal eventually got so frustrated when Sting refused to quit that he got to his feet and said “what else can I do?”, and the Stinger responded by firing up with an almighty comeback and locking in the Scorpion Deathlock for the win. A great match for fans of chain and submission wrestling.
WCW World Heavyweight Title: Sting vs DDP – WCW Nitro, 26th April 1999
The title was on the line when Sting challenged DDP for his newly won WCW world heavyweight title in April 1999. This near 25-minute classic ended in a title change with the Stinger winning his fifth WCW title. In typical WCW fashion from that time, this great match was overshadowed by antics later in the night when Sting would have to defend his newly won title later in a fatal four-way match against Nash, Goldberg and DDP again, and ended up losing the title an hour after he had won it. This Russo-Esque manoeuvrer probably takes away some of the attention of this match- as it should be easily recalled by all as one of Nitro’s best.
But if you take it out of context it is a fantastically heated and well-paced match-up. Page played the cocky and sometimes sly heel perfectly and Sting was the perfect babyface foil to halt Page’s antics. After a slow start, it burst into action when Sting had enough of the champion’s stalling on the outside. Sting took matters into his own hands and dragged Page up the ramp for some walk and brawl to the delight of the fans close by. Back in the ring he champ looked in a bad way, but a low blow swung the momentum pendulum back in his favour.
The closing moments were red hot. DDP missed a Diamond Cutter, Sting fired up and hit a top rope splash, DDP battered the challenger around ringside, Sting hit a piledriver and a tombstone but somehow, someway DDP kicked out and the match continued.
Sting ended up finally hitting his Scorpion Death Drop to pick up the win and the title. Even though he ended up losing it later in the night, this title win was not only one of Sting’s best, surely it was one of WCW’s best too.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @oli_iai. Thanks for reading!