The man called Sting has had a fascinating professional wrestling career that has spread out across three decades and across multiple promotions, including the two biggest companies to ever exist in North America. Sting was, for a time, the “franchise” and the face of World Championship Wrestling up until that organization closed its doors once and for all. He then moved on to become the “Icon” in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and it has long been said that TNA Wrestling could have died years before its tenth birthday if not for Sting carrying the ball for the company.
Sting had his reasons for not linking up with the WWE after the death of WCW. He has, in past interviews, discussed that he had concerns about how the Sting character would be treated by the WWE, most notably after he watched as former friends and former WCW performers were buried during the disaster that was the “Invasion” angle. Sting eventually decided to give it a go and work for the WWE. He lost his debut match in the company to Triple H at WrestleMania XXXI because aspects of life often make little sense.
The outcome of that match did not prevent Sting from making a return to the WWE at the end of August 2015. While it is logical that Sting will never win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at this stage of his career, it seems likely that his retirement will occur underneath the WWE umbrella. Sting deserves to have the end of his career take place at a WrestleMania in front of thousands upon thousands of fans chanting his name as he makes the long walk to the back one last time. That match would, in an ideal situation, include the man who was Sting's biggest rival in WCW.
15 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan would absolutely be higher on this list if he was not on the outs with the WWE. Hateful and racist comments made by Hogan in the past have currently made him a forgotten man in the WWE, a wrestler erased from the company's website as if he never existed in the first place. The pro wrestling industry has a long history of forgiving and forgetting, and Hogan's career has survived other personal setbacks in the past. Time does heal all wounds, goes the saying, and so Hogan playing the “Hollywood” character for a final match with Sting could be possible in the future.
14 Finn Balor
The match itself would likely be an afterthought following the entrances these two could have, particularly at a WrestleMania. Finn Balor would be painted up as the Demon who has featured at NXT Takeover shows, but he would not necessarily have to work as the heel for Sting's retirement match. Babyface versus babyface retirement matches have occurred in the WWE – neither Ric Flair nor Shawn Michaels worked as a heel in what was Flair's retirement match – and Sting could pass down the torch of being the franchise of a company by doing the job for Balor.
13 Big Show
There are not many active wrestlers left from the days of the original New World Order versus WCW angle. Big Show is one of them who still makes routine appearances on WWE television. It would take some creative writing to make any one-on-one encounter involving Sting and Big Show interesting to casual wrestling fans who either were not watching or were not alive in 1996 when WCW was legitimately threatening to put the WWE out of business. One thing that is known is that Big Show would be able to take care of Sting during a match.
12 Wolfpac versus New Age Outlaws
The WWE took older wrestling fans on a trip to the past at WrestleMania 31 when, during the Sting versus Triple H match, the company had the New World Order face off with D-Generation-X. Do not forget that Sting was once part of the Wolfpac version of the New World Order. Lex Luger probably is not entering a WWE ring for a match anytime soon, but Kevin Nash could be available to team up with Sting against former DX tag team the New Age Outlaws; whenever Nash is not promoting his latest movie appearance, that is. Admit it, wrestling fans: You'd pop one last time for the old Wolfpac theme.
11 Steve Austin
There was once a time when it was thought to be a “when” and not an “if” that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would have one final match in the WWE. It was even hinted that Austin would have a showdown with CM Punk, potentially at a WrestleMania. A storyline that would involve Austin and Sting sharing a retirement match would be easy enough to create: The former franchise of WCW wrestling against the man who was the face of the WWE during the “Attitude Era.” Sting versus Austin would be a dream match, even if that dream is from an era that was long ago.
10 Bubba Ray
Allow yourselves to pretend that you live in a world where WWE has purchased TNA Wrestling, and that Vince McMahon and others would thus be willing to mention old TNA angles on television. That universe would allow for the return of the Bully Ray character who teamed up with Sting and who then faced off against the legend in TNA. This may not make for the most compelling retirement match for an icon of the industry such as Sting, but it would make logical sense considering the past these two shared outside of the WWE. For what it's worth, the match would probably be fun.
9 Kurt Angle
For this to even be a possibility, Kurt Angle would have to be willing to make a return to the WWE (he is) and he would have to prove to be capable of passing a WWE physical (maybe). Were Angle to be welcomed back to the WWE with open arms, having him be the final opponent for Sting would be logical even for a company that has pretended, on air, that TNA Wrestling does not actually exist. Sting and Angle have a long history, they have chemistry inside the ring, and they would do well to take care of each other one last time.
8 The Miz
Those who have been fans of Sting for years likely remember that his biggest rival in WCW was none other than “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Flair “handed down” his figure-four leg lock to Miz years ago, something that the former WWE Champion has bragged about during television segments. Assuming that Flair would not be allowed to perform inside of a WWE ring one last time, Miz could stand in as the opponent for Sting's retirement match. Miz tapping out to Sting while an irate Flair goes crazy outside of the ring would be quite the sight to behold.
7 Seth Rollins
Wrestlers lose before walking away from the ring for good. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and “The Rock” are just two examples of wrestlers who were pinned in what were supposed to be their final matches. The Rock has done so multiple times, most notably against Brock Lesnar and John Cena. Seth Rollins seemingly has a bright future in the WWE who will have runs as a heel and as a babyface. Sting losing to a heel Rollins who is part of “The Authority” may not be a passing-of-the-torch moment, but it is an outcome that follows in the tradition of the business.
6 Eric Bischoff
Remember when Eric Bischoff, as an on-air character for the WWE, begged off “Stone Cold” Steve Austin only for Austin to hit Bischoff with multiple “Stone Cold Stunners” before earning a pinfall? Something similar could occur for Sting's retirement match, even if it meant Bischoff returning to the company for a short segment on one show. Sting getting one final bit of revenge on the former head of WCW, who sold that company out for the New World Order in what served as the beginning of the end of that incredible storyline, would be quite the throwback to 1996.
5 The Shield
Perhaps rumors that been out there for some time are merely whispers put out there by hopeful wrestling fans wanting to see the trio reunite, or maybe the WWE will, down the road, bring The Shield back together for even a brief run. Sting's retirement match could be part of The Shield reunion, particularly if Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose were to turn on the legend to help out former buddy Seth Rollins. There would be plenty of plot holes in this storyline if the WWE decided to go in this direction. Such concerns haven't been a problem for the company in the past. Why start now?
4 The Wyatt Family
It has been rumored for some time that Sting could link up with former Shield members Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose for a future encounter with The Wyatt Family. Sting does not have any real history with any of the wrestlers involved in this possible feud, but he and Bray could cut some interesting promos leading up to the match. Just as with the previously mentioned tag team showdowns in this piece, such a 3-on-3 match would protect Sting and keep him from having to do too much until he earns either the pinfall or the submission victory.
3 Triple H
The events at WrestleMania 31 already put into motion the storyline that could result in Sting and Triple H reuniting in the ring one last time, this time for Sting's retirement match. It would only make sense for Triple H to do the right thing and allow Sting to go over in that rematch, and the two could even have one final encounter that served as the retirement match for Sting if they wanted to go that route. Either way, it would be proper wrestling booking for Sting to get his win back in this feud. We shall see if the WWE obliges.
2 The Undertaker
It is the dream match that gets mentioned on social media websites such as Twitter and in Internet wrestling forums every year, the contest that the WWE has yet to give to fans. Icon versus Icon. Franchise versus Franchise. The Enigmatic Vigilante versus The Deadman. Now The Undertaker has lost the WrestleMania streak, this could realistically be a retirement match for both wrestlers, one that should only occur at the biggest show of the year. This battle should have occurred years ago, sure, but it is still not too late.
1 Ric Flair
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair is in his mid-60s, and that is just one reason why it is highly unlikely the WWE would include Flair in a retirement match for Sting. If given enough time to get in shape and plan out one last encounter, Sting and Flair could put on a respectable match that would eliminate their showdown that occurred on the final WCW Monday Nitro from the memories of fans for good. It would be fitting that what was arguably the biggest rivalry in the history of WCW would serve as the last match for both of these living legends of the industry.