There are few legends of the wrestling business that possess the name recognition and respect of Sting. From his days as a bombastic young babyface to his works in his Crow persona opposite the New World Order, Sting stands out as a true icon.
The Stinger added to his legacy in an elder statesmen role for Impact Wrestling, but it wasn’t until late 2014 that he finally made his way to WWE. After an electric debut, the rest of Sting’s work with WWE has not lived up to the hype. This article takes a look back at his greatest moments as a WCW star, while also recounting his worst times in WWE.
10 Best In WCW: Turning His Back On Team WCW
The New World Order caught fire over the summer of 1996 and was the talk of the wrestling business. Sting was a stalwart for the WCW side of this angle but made one of the most important moves in wrestling history at Fall Brawl 1996.
The nWo insinuated that Sting had joined their faction, going so far as to cast their own Sting to confuse the matter. When the real Sting’s WCW teammates didn’t trust him going into a War Games match, he entered War Games and fought for WCW, positively decimating the field of nWo foes. However, in the aftermath, he abandoned his team for not trusting him, thus launching the loner character that would take him to new heights over the year to follow.
9 Worst In WWE: An Unfortunate Match With Seth Rollins
At Night of Champions 2015, Sting challenged Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship. On paper, this booking made a lot of sense, to get one of the truest legends WWE had at its disposal into his first world title match under the WWE banner.
The match didn’t pan out. In and of itself, it was a forgettable outing that showed Sting’s age and certainly didn’t reflect Rollins’s best work. Even worse, Sting suffered a real-life neck injury in the heat of the match, which not only brought the encounter to a premature end but led to Sting’s retirement. While The Icon has indicated he would still like to wrestle, it has been over four years and a return looks unlikely.
8 Best In WCW: Going The Distance With Ric Flair
In 1988, Sting was a rising star who looked as though he had a lot of potential. He was also still unproven, though, and certainly not in the conversation for prospective standard-bearers for his promotion. That all changed at the original Clash of the Champions, where he challenged Ric Flair for the world title.
Sting went the distance in a forty-five minute time limit draw. This was far from the kind of carry job that Flair had executed with regional champions across the country, though. Both in storyline and in actual, physical performance, Sting more than held his own and was a made main event level star coming out of this match.
7 Worst In WWE: Succumbing To DX
Sting made his long-anticipated wrestling debut for WWE at WrestleMania 31. If he had one last great match in him, there were few better stages than ‘Mania, and fewer better opponents to facilitate it than Triple H. Even if the match itself wasn’t a classic, the conventional wisdom was that fans would at least get the feel good moment of Sting's victory.
WWE covered for Sting’s limitations with the smoke and mirrors of fun interventions from the New World Order and DX during the match. However, the finish was a total disappointment in Triple H stealing the pin. While the choice makes some sense given The Game’s ongoing role in WWE programming, and the world title run he’d have the following year, it nonetheless fell flat in terms of capping Sting’s one of a kind legacy.
6 Best In WCW: Winning The King Of Cable Tournament
While Sting was the top face for much of WCW history, he did stumble when it came to facing off with Big Van Vader. The Mastodon was the indomitable monster who seemed to have Sting’s number, beating him for the world title in decisive fashion and beating back most of his one on one challenges.
Starrcade 1992 saw Sting get a modicum of revenge. He clashed with Vader in the finals of the King of Cable tournament. Despite Vader controlling most of the action, Sting would ultimately pull out the win with a power slam counter off of the big man’s splash attempt.
5 Worst In WWE: Facing The Big Show On Raw
With the promise of Sting wrestling for just the second time in a WWE ring, there was reason for optimism about all manner of dream matches. There was the long standing fan wish to see Sting vs. The Undertaker. There was also the intrigue of an intergenerational match between him and someone like John Cena or Roman Reigns.
Instead, we got Sting vs. The Big Show.
This match had happened multiple times in WCW, not to mention that Show was well past his own prime. It felt lazy, and the scenario didn’t get any better when the match was cut short in a schmozz finish.
4 Best In WCW: A Clinic With Lex Luger And The Steiner Brothers
The original SuperBrawl saw Sting team with Lex Luger as two of the top faces in the company to face off with WCW's top tag team, The Steiner Brothers. The match not only lived up to, but exceeded the hype in a hard-hitting, powerhouse match that went back and forth and was good enough to overcome its anticlimactic draw finish.
Sting more than once brought out the best in Luger as a partner or opponent, and this was a prime example of their star power and friendship offering a performance greater than the sum of its parts.
3 Worst In WWE: A Face In The Crowd At Ric Flair’s Birthday Party
Sting was an off and on major player for WWE from late 2014 to 2015, but after his last match with Seth Rollins, he stepped away from the limelight. 2016 saw his Hall of Fame induction and apparent retirement, though he alluded to still wanting a match with The Undertaker on a visit to JBL’s WWE Network show.
We wouldn’t see Sting on WWE television again until early 2019. He appeared not for a promo or to make announcement, nor to bolster and up and coming talent. Instead, he was a face in the crowd among other legends for a faux birthday celebration on behalf of Ric Flair. While Sting wasn’t exactly humiliated here, nor was he celebrated. He played a bit part in a segment that would have gone off just the same without him having been on air at all.
2 Best In WCW: Sting Finally Defeats Flair GAB 1990
The writing was on the wall for some time that Sting was headed to the top face spot in Jim Crockett Promotions. However, in order to get there, he would need to conquer the archrival who had thwarted him time and again: Ric Flair.
After Sting joined The Four Horsemen himself for a time, he splintered from the group when he garnered a world title shot and opted to go for it against The Nature Boy. At the Great American Bash 1990, their issue reached its climax with The Stinger finally capturing his first world title and making good on his considerable potential.
1 Worst In WWE: An Awkward Entrance
The idea of Sting debuting in a WWE ring at WrestleMania felt like a can’t miss prospect. In addition to losing his first match out, and not exactly lighting the world on fire with his in ring performance, things got off on the wrong foot with a strange entrance.
WrestleMania is known for over the top entrances, and having Japanese Taiko drummers pave the way for Sting was certainly a spectacle. There was little clear connection between them and Sting’s history or character, though, making it feel awkward, and certainly not as effective as simply playing either of Sting’s famous WCW themes to pop the live audience rather than confuse them.