When Steve Borden, Sr., aka A Vigilante Named Sting, finally hangs up the boots, which will likely be sooner than later, he will have one of the most celebrated careers in wrestling history.
Beginning 30 years ago as ¼ of Power Team USA, he had a brief stint in Memphis and a solid run with the Bill Watts version of the Universal Wrestling Federation before joining what would become WCW in 1987. Even with the constantly swirling winds around him, Sting stayed loyal to WCW, sticking around to the very end when WCW is bought out by the WWF in 2001. After a brief retirement, he joined World Wrestling All-Stars in 2002 before landing with WCW's spiritual successor, TNA, in 2005. He would be the "icon" of that company before finally landing in WWE in 2014.
While his best days are far behind him, he still has his legions of fans around the world and decades of memories and dozens of championships on his resume. But of his many moments...
What is the greatest Sting moment of all time?
Earlier this week, we took the question to you, the Cagesiders, and you of course delivered with the answers. Before we get to the best of the best, here are...
Five honorable mentions.
1. Starrcade 1992 was a strange beast: The bulk of the show was its annual Battlebowl/Lethal Lottery, WCW champion Ron Simmons wrestled in the middle of the show, and The Great Muta, who was on his way out, won the Battlebowl main event. The show also had the finals of the 1992 "King of Cable" tournament where Sting finally got over the hump and defeated Big Van Vader to win the tournament.
2. Sting's TNA years are hit and miss. Mostly miss. Where you come out on Joker Sting will probably depend on how you felt about TNA in 2011. But give it to Sting, always the consummate professional, willing to do what is asked of him, no matter how dumb it is. And make no mistake, Joker Sting was dumb.
3. In a cruel bit of irony, it was Sting's loyalties that were in question heading into Fall Brawl in 1996, what with the nWo parading a fake Sting around. After the real McCoy proved that Sting was with WCW all along, Sting with his back to the hard camera announced that he was a free agent and anyone who doubted him could stick it.
4. Many of Sting's moments wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for his star-making performance on the day of Wrestlemania IV when he went to a 45-minute draw for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Ric Flair, which, if we're being honest, was far better than any match the WWF had put on that day. You know I'm right on this.
5. Sting more often than not gives the fans their money's worth every time he steps in the ring, and I'm pretty sure he expects who he faces on a given evening to do the same. And not be, you know, out of their mind and in no condition to wrestle or operate heavy machinery. When Sting quickly defeated Jeff Hardy at Victory Road 2011 and a few people in the crowd chanted bullshit, all Sting could do was shake his head and agree. He and the crowd were right. That was bullshit.
Warmup act is over. It's showtime! Here they are, as voted by you...
The top 10 Sting moments ever.
As voted by you, the Cagesiders, so if you don't agree, you have yourselves to blame. On with it.
10. Sting vanquishes Hollywood Hogan at Starrcade 1997.
It was the most anticipated match in WCW history. Hollywood Hogan, WCW world champion for 500 of the previous 505 days heading into that night in Washington, DC, had terrorized and ruled WCW with an iron fist thanks to his army known as the New World Order. Anyone who tried to stop him or their crew would be brought down and beaten down. Eventually, there was one man left to avenge WCW: Sting. The man watched over the company he built driven to ruin from above for a year, and when he returned, it was as if he didn't miss a beat.
Sure there was the fast count that wasn't, and Hogan getting most of the offense that night, and it took Bret Hart to screw Hogan, but it didn't matter. Not on that night. There was a destiny to be fulfilled. Finally, WCW's beacon of light had slain the dragon. They had their belt back. They had their company back. Life was good again in WCW, and it was thanks to its true franchise player.
9. Sting's Squadron defeats the Dangerous Alliance.
In late 1991, in the wake of the Horsemen virtually disbanding with Ric Flair leaving for the WWF, Paul Heyman brought together a group of nefarious men (and woman) with a singular mission: to put an end to Sting and rule WCW. The group would run roughshod over WCW over the next few months. But eventually, Sting would gather the men the group feuded with over the next few months, including Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, and Ricky Steamboat, and would lead the group into war—literally.
The factions faced off in a brutal and gruesome War Games match at WrestleWar '92, one considered by many to be the best incarnation of WCW's signature match. Granted, it took a simple armbar for Sting's team to win, but the way these ten men beat on each other, it was unsurprising (I mean, a piece of the ring did come apart late in the bout). The win for Sting's Squadron pretty much spelled the end of the Dangerous Alliance, as the group virtually dissolved following the loss (and actually dissolved when Paul Heyman left WCW altogether early the next year).
8. That's not Sting, that's a picture of Sting.
No, John Layfield. That really is Sting.
A Vigilante Named Sting. And he watches over all. Do not attempt to question this, not even a little bit. With the jobs of three men (plus one man's Royal Rumble spot) at stake, John Cena was on the verge of defeat at the hands of the Authority. Then the Titantron shows Sting. A picture of Sting says JBL. A moving picture of Sting. A moving picture of Sting that basically calls out Triple H without saying a word. While most of the world is like, ooh lookie lookie! Sting's on RAW, John quickly goes Divas Special on Seth, and John gets his WWE title match, and Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler, and Ryback all get rehired after being out for all of two weeks.
Ok, yeah, the story kinda sucks. But Sting on RAW, you guys.
7. Sting's Starrcade 1997 entrance.
Now on to stories that made sense. After more than a year away from the ring, the big day had finally come. December 28, 1997. Sting was going to face the man that had tormented WCW for a year and a half, Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Despite the fact that he didn't descend from the rafters, the way he'd entered most every WCW event in the prior months, his entrance still sent chills down our spines.
6. Sting's first descent from the rafters.
Speaking of descents from the rafters, he did it for the first time on the January 20, 1997 Nitro. After Macho Man Randy Savage made his surprise return to the company, he wanted a word with Hollywood Hogan, and no one was gonna tell him different, completely putting the show on hold until he got what he wanted.
But from the rafters of the United Center comes A Vigilante Named Sting. He makes his way in and, through use of a baseball bat, he checks the Macho Man, daring him to make a move. He even handed him the bat, daring the Macho Man to hit Sting while he wasn't looking. Amazingly, Savage just threw the bat back, and the two left together through the crowd. No one knew what it meant. It was just another chapter and the first of many tests of loyalty that would grip WCW over the next few months.
5. Introducing the Shockmaster.
Well, Sting was there. Bet he would like to have this one back.
It's 1993, and the annual War Games match at Fall Brawl is coming. But with the injury to Road Warrior Hawk, Sting's team was a man short against the superteam of the Masters of the Powerbomb and Harlem Heat. On a Clash of the Champions prior to Fall Brawl, Sting and Bulldog bring out Plan B. A man so devastating, a man so powerful, he would shake the foundation of pro wrestling.
A man that would shock the world. And after a glowing introduction like that from Sting, their all-world replacement...
tripped and fell on his fucking arse. And lost his bedazzled Stormtrooper helmet. And have a voice that was eerily similar to the Black Scorpion. Everybody loses their shit. Everybody but Sid Vicious, surprisingly. But that's how the world was introduced to the man, the myth, the Shockmaster.
Amazingly, Fred Ottman, who was best known as Tugboat and Typhoon in his WWF days, would come through, Shockmaster actually got the winning submission for this team. But he couldn't shake what happened that night at the Clash, as he would be virtually relegated to jobber and comedy duty for the remainder of his time in WCW.
4. Sting and Ric Flair close out WCW.
When discussing WCW, usually the first two names that come to mind are Sting and Ric Flair. The two men meant to WCW what Steve Austin and The Rock mean to WWE. Though Flair left the company for a year and a half, the two were the most recognizable figures in WCW. They were basically tied at the hip career-wise, facing each other in high profile bouts since the late 1980s. They fought in the first heavyweight bout on Nitro (you may remember it as the one where Lex Luger made his surprise return to WCW, puffy shirt and all).
So it was appropriate that the two shared the ring for the very last match in the proper history of WCW (nope, not counting that weird WCWWF period). It wasn't the greatest bout between the two, but it didn't have to be. The two "played the hits" as it were, as if it were the farewell show for a band that was together for a long time. Sting won, of course, but it didn't matter. It was the end of an era. The last connection of "rasslin'" on a national scale in the United States. And who better to shut down the company that drove the WWF to the brink than the two men that defined it.
3. Sting chooses his side at Uncensored 1997.
After Fall Brawl, Sting went on a journey of self-discovery. After all, he was WCW through and through, but nobody outside of his fans believed him. After all, the nWo paraded around a Sting of their own. In the eyes of the WCW roster, if it looks like a Sting, et cetera, et cetera. How was he going to convince a roster of non-believers that Sting was WCW through and through? Or was he really nWo for life?
After six months of mostly watching from the shadows and rafters, Sting dropped in at the end of Uncensored and cleared up the confusion for everyone. By playing whack-an-nWoer with a baseball bat. Scorpion Death Drop to Macho Man. Scorpion Death Drop to Scott Hall. Scorpion Death Drop to Kevin Nash. And Hulk Hogan was next. It was basically the wrestling version of Jay and Silent Bob going on a rant on the Internet against their "movie" that was about to be made. Except way, way, way more violent. One thing was clear: Sting was WCW. And he was gonna avenge it.
2. Sting's WWE debut.
Sting for much of his career has played the role of the bringer of justice. Where evil lurked in a wrestling ring, Sting was there. In the fall of 2014, he played the role of avenger and vigilante again in a most unlikely place.
A WWE ring.
With the Authority ruling with an iron fist, Seth Rollins was set to clinch another victory for the evil forces when suddenly, the lights go out. Then out walked the franchise of WCW. The icon of TNA.
The vigilante of WWE.
Sting had arrived, and no one could believe it, least of all Triple H. Who would take a Scorpion Death Drop after about a two-minute staring contest. He then pulls a lifeless Dolph Ziggler over an even more lifeless Seth Rollins, and Ziggler's a hero to all the WWE. For about five weeks.
Didn't matter. Sting was in a WWE ring, something we'd all assume would never happen in our or anybody's lifetime.
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1. Sting's first NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
It had been two years since Sting chased the biggest prize the NWA had to offer: the World Heavyweight Championship. A championship worn proudly by the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Lou Thesz, and Terry Funk. And Ric Flair.
Sting was offered a spot on the Four Horsemen, which he accepted, but then Sting went ahead and challenged Ric Flair for the NWA world title. That's something the Horsemen--especially one Richard Morgan Fleihr--was not cool with, so the Horsemen of course turn on Sting. Not only that, they cripple him, putting him out of action for about six months. But it only delayed the inevitable: Sting was going to get his revenge.
On July 7, 1990, with a little help from his friends, Sting got his revenge, defeating Ric Flair in just over 16 minutes in a great, but not quite spectacular match to win his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship. It was a passing of the torch moment much in the way it was from Hulk Hogan to Ultimate Warrior a few months earlier. It worked out better for WCW though. Sting became the franchise player we all knew he would be. It would be the first of 13 world championships over the next quarter century. And a moment that you, the Cagesiders, have decided was the best in Sting's career.
Agree with the list? Something we missed (and by we, I mean you)? Discuss, Cagesiders!
Then, when you're done discussing, perhaps you should check these past Cageside Countdowns.