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Sting's Legacy
January 13, 2005

by Denny Burkholder
Courtesy of WrestleLine.com


There's a guy named Steve Borden... maybe you've heard of him. He used to be a pretty big deal around these parts. 
You know the guy. Sting - one of the top babyfaces on the roster of World Championship Wrestling from the late-1980s right on through the millennium. Yeah, he used to be a real big hit among wrestling viewers. I'd be willing to bet a lot of wrestling fans would put Sting among the top 10 pro wrestling stars of the 1990s.

A few might put him in the top five.

A particularly partial fan might call him No. 1, on the grounds that he is the one guy that stayed at the top of the WCW pecking order for the entire decade, including the ups (versus Hollywood Hogan during the peak of WCW Monday Nitro, versus Ric Flair at many intervals) AND the downs (chumming around with Robocop... "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" against Jake Roberts... the Black Scorpion travesty that screwed the Stinger's initial world title reign).

Sting is many things to many people, but his loyalty to WCW really was quite remarkable. He wasn't always booked well. Things didn't always go as well as they should have. Maybe the Stinger had a little more potential than his WCW career allowed him to cash in. But to Sting's credit, he never threw a fit and walked out. He never ventured to the WWF, even in periods where he could have secured an enormous contract for doing so.

WCW was the company where Sting was first treated like a main event superstar. WCW committed to make Sting a top name. In return, Sting committed to standing by WCW. That's a pretty noble thing for a guy to do. Right?

Seems to be. Except for that fact that WWE is all that remains of pro wrestling's "major leagues." The landscape has changed. Likewise, fans' perceptions have changed with regard to what makes a wrestler's career a successful one. Nowadays, if you've never worked for WWE, the perception is that you always could have done better. There's always that "what if" hanging over your head.

Fans will readily admit that WWE doesn't always do the best job with a wrestler's potential (see: Goldberg, Bill, or Steamboat, Rick). Sometimes, WWE irreparably HARMS a wrestler's image (see: Taylor, Terry, or Road Warriors, The). But the fact that those guys did time in New York *at all* lends their legacies a sense of completion. They had many fans, they made plenty of money, and yes, they wrestled for WWE once.

Sting can't say that. Sting never worked for WWE. For some fans, that's all the reason in the world to consider Sting an underachiever.

Which is not to say Sting's career wasn't fantastic. How many men that make the leap into a career in pro wrestling ever reach Sting's level of popularity, or his level of income, or his spot on the card? Very few. Sting filled his bank account. He sold merchandise. He starred in commercials and secured acting roles outside of pro wrestling. Kids bought Sting action figures and T-shirts. Sting made his mark on Japan as well, with the help of a storybook rivalry with The Great Muta.

Sting main evented against icons like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage on Pay-Per-View. Sting was a member of the Four Horsemen... or perhaps more importantly, a key adversary of the Horsemen at their best.

Sting came from a bodybuilding background with little more than a great physique and natural charisma, and he learned enough about the business - from the ground up - to work a solid match and cut an entertaining promo. Sting held the NWA (and WCW) World Heavyweight Title, the U.S. Title, and the tag team titles.

In the late-1990s, Sting fell a bit by the wayside when former WWF stars like Hogan and Savage came to WCW and made room for themselves near the top of the card. No problem - The Stinger completely reinvented is character, which could have backfired tremendously. Instead, Sting went from the exuberant, fun-loving, neon-wearing musclehead from Venice Beach, Calif. to the black-and-white-wearing, expressionless, Crow-like enigma that preferred stalking opponents from the rafters and remaining silent. Really, the only thing that remained the same about Sting's character was the facepaint... and yet, fans ate it up.

Rather than complain to management about his "spot" or simply look for work elsewhere, Sting was proactive. He changed his entire character and became a fresh addition to WCW while Nitro was the hottest wrestling program on cable. Sting stuck with WCW until the bitter end of the promotion in 2001, and then - in his early 40s - Sting walked away from the business healthy and happy, save for a very occasional appearance for WWA or NWA-TNA.

Now looking back on all of that - the money, the titles, the main event feuds with bona fide wrestling icons, and the ability to win fans over not once, but twice, with two different personas - why do some fans still look at Sting's career and focus on the "what if?" What if Sting had come to WWE? Would his career be complete then?

Or is it complete now, despite the fact that he dared to play out his entire body of work - beginning, middle and end - without so much as a token cameo appearance in WWE?

Maybe it's not so much that Sting needs to have a cup of coffee with WWE to put the cherry on top of his career, because something tells me plenty of people - Steve Borden included - would be perfectly content to see Sting let his legacy stand alone without adding a new chapter. Maybe it's more of a want on the part of fans than a need. Fans love it when a big star debuts in a major promotion. It was one of the major excitements of the Monday Night Wars, wondering which WWF star would show up in WCW next, or which WCW star would make a surprise appearance on Raw.

With WWE the only major show in town, we're sort of robbed of that experience. All of the major stars either work for WWE already, or had their turn and left (Goldberg, Scott Steiner).

All except for Sting.

Is that so wrong?

For more about Sting, or to view some of his most classic matches, check out the following:


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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