Sting had only practiced rappelling from the rafters a mere few hours before performing it live for the very first time. As he stepped off the edge of the platform suspended 140 feet above 17,000 fans, he quickly realized something was wrong…
“The night that we did it in Chicago at the United Center was as scary as can possibly be. The same thing that happened to Owen [almost] happened to me.” – Sting
In an interview with WrestlingEpicenter.com, Sting opened up about his first time rappelling from the rafters and the chaotic moments that ensued after realizing he had been strapped in incorrectly.
“You know, it was scary. And we did it a couple of different ways and it didn’t matter which way that we did it, it was always scary.
“My training happened on the very first day that I did it, which was Chicago at the United Center. We had a couple of stunt guys there working with me and I rappelled four times earlier in the day to practice and I actually did some rappelling with the same stunt guy out here in California, off of some cliffs and rocks – you know, practicing and getting ready.
“The United Center was 290 feet*, so high that when we were up there trying to talk to the guys on the ground earlier in the day, they couldn’t hear us. We had to use walkie-talkies.
“So, it was high and I was having a tough time with it. It wasn’t working very well. I came back to Eric [Bischoff] and said, ‘I can’t do this.’
“He says, ‘What d’you mean?’
“I said, ‘I tried it four times and it’s just not working very good.’
“I was spinning; I kept spinning real bad, And the stunt guy kept assuring me that the reason why was because I wasn’t just sliding fast enough down the rope. I was sort of, you know, crimping with my hand, because, you know, it was scary, man.
“He said, ‘Look, if you just go down it [at] one speed, and just control your speed on the way down – but just go a little faster – you’re not going to spin.’
“The only other chance I had to try it again would be live [on TV]. And I knew that it was make or break – I knew that if I ended up spinning, I knew that that was going to be the end of the career – you know, the laughing stock – and it would’ve been over.
“I don’t know what happened up there [with Owen Hart’s accident in 1999]. I mean, I’ve heard what happened up there, but I don’t even wanna say, but the night that we did it in Chicago at the United Center was as scary as can possibly be.
“The cue comes – the crowd is as loud as you can imagine and the sound just travels up — it’s deafening. And then we’re talking to each other up there; and then you’re screaming at each other- the pyro’s going off, the lights, and suddenly you can’t even think straight; you can’t even hear yourself think. That’s how chaotic it is up there.
“And when I stepped over, we realized we had the thing set up backward – so while I was standing on the edge we had to flip the rope around and then reweave it through…
“I’m telling you if I’d stepped over and done it, the same thing that happened to Owen would have happened to me.”
Thankfully, Sting and the technicians caught the error in time and were able to readjust his cables moments before his dramatic descent from above.
Watch Sting rappel from the rafters for the very first time on WCW Monday Nitro on January 20, 1997:
*The actual height of the United Center is 140 feet (43m).
If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out these related pieces:
- The End of WCW and the Final Monday Nitro
- Former WWE Photographer Tom Buchanon Details What Went Wrong the Night Owen Hart Passed…
- Triple H: Why Owen Hart Was Never World Heavyweight Champion
Quotes above were compiled by Matt Pender and shared here with thanks to our friends over at ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page.