Published on July 16th, 2016 | by Joey Finnegan0
STING: ‘Coming to the Land of the Giants’
How the Greatest Wrestler Never to Have Performed for the Company Made his Unlikely Journey to the WWE
World Championship Wrestling was bought by Vincent Kennedy McMahon on March 23rd, 2001. One of the few constants in WCW was The Man Called Sting. Sting had numerous classic matches, won all sorts of titles, drew immense crowds, did big business with nWo, you name it.
Everyone knows about the Stinger. He was a big deal. That’s why it boggles the mind that he never came to the WWE.
Not for fourteen years, anyway.
STEVE BORDEN (STING) on why he didn’t initially come to the company:
“I talked with Vince McMahon. He was really good to me. but I just got this feeling that – put it this way – all the guys from WCW that went to WWE when the acquisition happened – by then – there wasn’t a real WCW because, for so many years, WCW was Hall and Nash, you know? It was Hogan, it was Savage, it was Sting, it was Luger, it was the Steiner Brothers.
You know, a certain package of guys that were gone, and you know, the package that he had left had dwindled down to a small group of guys who, really – great wrestlers, phenomenal talents, but they weren’t with WCW for all these years, and you know, mainstay kind of names and all that. Then I was watching what he was doing, storyline-wise, and he’d have WCW against WWF, and that hostile takeover thing.
That whole deal there. I’ll never forget Booker T making his first appearance on their show and he came into the ring, and he’s making this big huge fight, and guys are flying all over the place. Then The Rock comes into the ring and The Rock is hitting guys, guys are flying all over the place, and then they come back to back, and he turns around, and they look at each other, and The Rock looks at Booker T and he says, ‘Who are you?’ That one little comment is all it took to just bury somebody – in my opinion – bury somebody like Booker T.
Let’s let the world know that you’re a WCW guy and you’re a peon here. It was going to require lots of work for Booker T to come back, and he did, ’cause he’s a talented guy, and after all the years I put into wrestling at that point, it just seemed like a gamble to me. I didn’t trust how I would be used.”
Aside from not being a fan McMahon’s creative usage of former WCW talents, negative dealings with attorneys, the company’s onerous live schedule and the content of its programming also played key roles in his decision not to jump ship to then-WWF at the time.
Instead, Sting toured Europe with the World Wrestling All-Stars. By 2003, he signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action. He debuted on their one-year anniversary show and stayed with them until 2014. Sting’s work in TNA is a subject for another piece. It includes matches with names like Rob Van Dam, Hulk Hogan, A.J. Styles, ‘The Monster’ Abyss, Christian Cage (Christian), Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings (R-Truth), Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, and more. Far too much to go into without feeling like we shortchanged some aspects of over a decade of work.
It all came to an end after Sting lost a match with Ethan Carter III due to interference from Magnus. In response, Sting challenged Magnus, who was the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, to a ‘Title vs. Career’ match for the January 23, 2014 episode of Impact Wrestling. Sting lost, and his contract was terminated.
So began negotiations that would eventually lead to Sting walking through the doors of World Wrestling Entertainment for the very first time. It started off first in dribs and drabs. Sting first appeared in a WWE Network production on April 15, 2014, sharing a story of his former tag team partner The Ultimate Warrior, who had recently died. This marked Sting’s first non-archive appearance on a WWE-branded show. A few days later, WWE Home Video DVD and Blu-ray announced The Best of Sting, calling for a September 2014 release. On July 14, Sting appeared in a vignette on Raw to promote the video game WWE 2K15, in which he was featured as a pre-order bonus character in both his ‘Crow’ and ‘Surfer’ (pre-1996) incarnations. That same day, WWE began selling official Sting merchandise. On July 24, Borden made his first public appearance for WWE, in full Sting garb, as a surprise guest at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International. The event was held to announce WWE’s upcoming line of Mattel action figures, in which the company’s first ever Sting figure would appear. Prior to that appearance, Sting gave his first interview with WWE.com, which was released later that day. On August 4, WWE announced Sting as a guest on the WWE 2K15 “Roster Reveal” panel, which took place on August 16 in Los Angeles. All of this lead up to November 23rd, at the age of 55, Sting interrupted the main event of Survivor Series to cost Team Authority the match, officially marking the first time Sting ever stepped foot inside a World Wrestling Entertainment ring.
This moment still gives us goosebumps. With Sting’s arrival to the WWE, it led to the removal of Authority power. Not for long, though. One attempted murder later, The Authority was back in charge of things. The clear path from here was Sting vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 31. It became official after the inaugural FastLane pay-per-view.SCOTT HALL on Sting’s match against Triple H at Wrestlemania 31:
“I was there and obviously involved in his match at WrestleMania last year. We were rehearsing the match in Cali last year at Levi Stadium, and it’s the Kliq and the New Age Outlaws out there, and we all know each other. And then there’s Sting, who doesn’t know anybody. He’s an outsider. I just think he never felt comfortable there. Being hurt was an answered prayer for him–just let it end.
You need to remember that Vince is never going to go with something he didn’t create. But we didn’t get anything done at the rehearsal the night before, so WrestleMania day, there were tents in the parking lot set up with rings for rehearsal. So we’re all in there again, and I’m next to Hulk on the ring apron and Triple H is going over the match and then he goes, ‘OK, he’ll break the sledgehammer, then I’ll hit him with the sledgehammer, and cover him, 1-2-3.’ I looked at Hulk, and Hulk looked at me, and I was thinking, ‘Sting, what kind of lawyer do you have, bro? You’re coming in the door doing a job? You weren’t even guaranteed to go over?’ That’s Vince just reminding you who won, even if he’s going to make money the other way.”
Personal opinions about the finish aside, there’s no denying that Sting vs. Triple H was a show-stealing spectacle. For a while, it also looked like one of the last times we’d see Sting in a WWE ring. He did this interview segment the next night on Raw, and for a while later, nothing followed after that. Not until the night after SummerSlam 2015.
Seth Rollins and Triple H thought they were going to unveil a statue. Instead, The Architect got a black and white ass kicking. That episode of Monday Night Raw ended with Sting holding up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, something a lot of people never thought they’d see.