From Trusty Friends, to Salty Ends: The True Story of Sting and Ultimate Warrior

From Friendship to Estrangement: Ultimate Warrior and Sting Reflect

Photo Credit: AEW.

Ultimate Warrior and Sting started in the business together in 1985. Despite traveling the road together during their early run, they fell out of contact, and kind words were hardly spoken about one another. Here, both men open up about the dues they had to pay and why their friendship fell apart.

"We lost our place to live, had just enough to eat peanut butter."-Warrior on his humble beginnings with Sting

The Blade Runners – The Broken Relationship of Ultimate Warrior and Sting

Photo Credit: WWE.

ULTIMATE WARRIOR:

"I planned to become a chiropractor. I didn’t follow wrestling at all.

In 1984, I won the Mr. Georgia competition. From that, I went to the Mr. America competition that year in New Orleans. And there, a guy was putting together a team of four guys to become pro wrestlers. He asked me if I’d be interested. One of the other guys was Steve Borden."

Sting’s Unlikely Journey into Pro Wrestling

Photo Credit: WWE.

STING:

"I was not a wrestling fan growing up. I don’t remember seeing any wrestling on the TV ever.

I got into the competitive bodybuilding scene at about age 21 and co-owned a Gold’s Gym in Southern California.

This guy called Terry Bollea used to come into the gym to work out, and some of the people would freak out: ‘Do you know who that is? That’s Hulk Hogan! He’s a pro wrestler!’

But I didn’t know. I was oblivious to it."

Ultimate Warrior’s Transition from Chiropractic Studies

Photo Credit: WWE.

WARRIOR:

"I thought I could make some money, come back to the chiropractic later. I decided to go for it."

Sting and Ultimate Warrior: Different Philosophies

Photo Credit: WWE.

STING:

"Jim was a really intense kind of guy. We had different philosophies on wrestling, different philosophies on life. He looked at things in a completely different way than I did…"

The Struggles and Dues of Ultimate Warrior and Sting

Photo Credit: WWE.

WARRIOR:

"Turned out, within a couple of weeks, [I] didn’t have the money to float the beginning phases [of becoming a wrestler], and the bottom fell out. We lost our place to live, had just enough to eat peanut butter and make midnight snack runs at local grocery stores, eating in the aisles, funny stuff.”

Embracing Ignorance and Staying Positive: The Early Struggles

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“To top it off, as Steve and I later found out, this guy [training us] didn’t know jack about how the business operated on the inside. Even if he’d had the money to feed us and get us fully trained, his big plan still would have failed.

Steve and I stayed positive about it all, and really, our ignorance about things was a blessing.”

Ultimate Warrior and Sting’s Journey to Paying Dues in Wrestling

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“We did everything together. Laundry, gym, groceries—always together. We had one car. I’d sold mine so we could eat in California. We drove to the towns together. Sometimes 4-5 hours one way and with 4-5 guys in the car to cover the cost of gas. We slept in a fleabag hotel until we got an apartment, then we slept on the floor, ate tuna fish out of the can. It was rough, but we stayed positive as we could. I thought a lot about going back to school but didn’t even have the money to get back to Georgia, let alone re-enroll.

And we knew there was nothing we could do about it. It was about paying dues."

The Cutting-Edge Physique of Ultimate Warrior: Sting Reflects

Photo Credit: WWE.

STING:

"[Warrior] was definitely on the cutting-edge when we started. He had a physique that, well, not many guys looked quite like him…"

Ultimate Warrior and Sting Paying Dues: "We were only making $25 to $50 a night"

Photo Credit: WWE.

WARRIOR:

"We sent pictures out to everybody on a list of wrestling organizations we had. We only had ten to fifteen hours of training, and that was lifting each other over our heads and dropping one another on the floor—on the basic gymnastic mats.”

From California Dreaming to Mid-South Wrestling

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“One of those regional territories was Mid-South, over in Tennessee. At the time, Jerry Jarrett ran it. They saw the pictures. We were big guys. We were impressive in that way. We were all-American-looking.

They gave us a call and told us to come on out. We just really got our bags and went for it with expectations that were way too high. I swear to God, when we drove from California to Tennessee, we thought within a few months we were going to be millionaires. We were so pumped.”

Bumps in the Road: The Humble Beginnings

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“It turned out we were only making $25 to $50 a night.

We came [into Mid-South], and Bill Watts had this reputation for roughing up new guys, especially muscle guys, especially muscle guys that wanted to make it in the business and showed deference to him because he was the boss.”

Facing Challenges and Uncomfortable Moments

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“After about two or three months, there was an instance where Watts wanted me to get down in the locker room in front of all of the other guys.

I’d heard the story through the grapevine about what he did. He wanted me to get down on all fours like a dog, and he was going to show me how to throw a ‘working’ kick to the underbelly – or so he makes you think.”

Standing Tall: Ultimate Warrior’s Stand against Bill Watts

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“Well, I heard about what he did—he would kick the **** out of you and bust your ribs up. It was like a test to see if you would take the crap. And I knew what he was going to do, and I said, ‘Look, if you want me on all fours, you’re going to have to put me there.’”

The Locker Room Standoff: Ultimate Warrior’s Defiance

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“Of course, he wasn’t man enough to go for that. He wanted me at a disadvantage to begin with. This is something that the whole locker room didn’t expect because guys come into the business, and they really want to make it, and they do whatever it takes.”

The Fractured Friendship: Sting and Ultimate Warrior’s Diverging Paths

Photo Credit: WWE.

Warrior:

“Steve just stood there and didn’t back me up, even though we had like this bond between ourselves that we were in this—good or bad—together. I was bothered by that. Eddie Gilbert and some of the others there got in Steve’s ear, and our relationship quickly fell apart after that. I was never afraid to think for myself; Steve more liked to be ‘handled.’

I picked up the phone and called WCCW over in Texas. And that’s when I went over there and started the Dingo Warrior…"

Sting Talks About Ultimate Warrior

Photo Credit: WWE.

STING:

"He was always really kind of paranoid…"

The Ultimate Warrior’s Candid Thoughts

Photo Credit: WWE.

WARRIOR (in early 2009):

"Steve Borden is a piece of garbage. I recently saw Steve for the first time since our time in WCW, and he didn’t even acknowledge me. He wasn’t even on tour with TNA, yet he carried his belt around like some kind of big shot. We were never friends, even when we did work together, but you would think the guy would at least nod his head at me or something…"

Response of Sting Regarding the Ultimate Warrior’s Career Path

Photo Credit: WWE.

STING:

"He made his name and found a niche for himself there for a little bit, and I’m happy for him."

Parallel Paths: The Impact of Ultimate Warrior and Sting on Professional Wrestling

Photo Credit: WWE.

Ultimate Warrior and Sting spent the first 12-14 months of their wrestling careers together but mostly fell out of contact after their time in Mid-South. In fact, Sting has alluded in interviews that he never really got to know Warrior all that well and found him to be too intense and paranoid.

Regardless of the personal feelings that they shared for one another, they sure as hell paved a lasting impact on the business of professional wrestling on their own.

Dangerous Alliance: Their Short Yet Impactful Influence on WCW

The Dangerous Alliance - Larry Zbyszko, Rick Rude, Bobby Eaton, Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman), Arn Anderson, and Stunning Steve Austin
Photo Credit: WWE.

Sandwiched between the glory years of the Four Horsemen and the invasion of the nWo, another group of incredible expertise led by Paul E. Dangerously was formed.

This group consisting of a young Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Lybyzko, Rick Rude, Bobby Eaton, and Madusa were dubbed the Dangerous Alliance, and this is their shocking story!

The Case of an Unrecognized WWF Champion

"The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase – WWE's unrecognized champion.

They say money can’t buy you happiness. In 1988, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase found that out the hard way!

Read “Ted DiBiase – The Case of an Unrecognized WWF Champion”

Mystery of Missing Wrestling Championship Belts

Jerry Lawler, Bruno Sammartino, and Chris Jericho are amongst the wrestling legends who have had the unfortunate experience of having their wrestling championship belt come up missing or stolen. Many have never been recovered.

“Some of the most interesting stolen belt stories involve one man: Jerry Lawler!” Many of these championship belts have never been recovered!

Read “Mystery of Missing Wrestling Championship Belts”

Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant – Their 8-Year Rivalry On and Off-Camera

While the iconic showdown between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at the Pontiac Silverdome in front of 93,173* screaming fans (brother) was a unique attraction, it was certainly not their first rodeo. And outside of the ring, Andre hardly made it easy for Hogan. This is the story of their storied 8-year feud.

HULK HOGAN: “Andre beat me up every day for the first eight years. I was so nervous I used to puke on the way to the building!”

Although Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant forever changed the professional wrestling landscape at WrestleMania 3, it was certainly not their first rodeo. And outside of the ring, Andre hardly made it easy for Hogan. Learn the surprising story behind their legendary 8-year feud!

Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin Match Was Planned: Why It Fell Through

HULK HOGAN: “Was there some legitimate heat between Steve Austin and I? There was.”

Vince McMahon planned for the dream match between Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin to take place, yet it never came to fruition. Learn the surprising reasons behind why!

We have hundreds of great Pro Wrestling Stories, but of course, you can’t read them all today. Sign up to unlock ten pro wrestling stories curated uniquely for YOU, plus subscriber-exclusive content. A special gift from us awaits after signing up!

Want More? Choose another story!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, X/Twitter, Instagram, Threads, YouTube, TikTok, and Flipboard!
Pro Wrestling Stories is committed to accurate, unbiased wrestling content rigorously fact-checked and verified by our team of researchers and editors. Any inaccuracies are quickly corrected, with updates timestamped in the article's byline header.
Got a correction, tip, or story idea for Pro Wrestling Stories? Contact us! Learn about our editorial standards here.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us provide free content for you to enjoy!

https://linktr.ee/OdESSA_NZ

Matt Pender is an old-school wrestling fan who currently lives in New Zealand. He is also a musical performer with his band OdESSA who can be investigated at the link above.