WWE announced today that Sting is going into its Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania 32 this year. I have no idea why the company chose to put him in the 2016 class, likely as its headliner, but you can bet they have their reasons and none of it has to do with merit. It's important to remember that when considering the who and the how with the WWE Hall of Fame.
It's a marketing gimmick, another way for Vince McMahon to make money. Don't bother debating credentials, because they don't matter.
That said, it serves as a celebration of the careers of those who are chosen, no matter the reason that may be, and Sting's career should absolutely be celebrated because Sting was awesome.
I was 10 years old in 1997. That's just about the age where the world starts getting to you but you're too young to have a clue and are naturally drawn to those who offer protection of sorts, or those who make you feel safe. That's part of what makes guys like Hulk Hogan and John Cena such big hits with the kiddos -- they're big, strong men who fight off even bigger monsters.
Sting was something like that in 1997 but more of a representative for outcasts, those who felt like they didn't belong and wanted to kick ass anyway. Or, more accurately, wanted to kick ass to prove they belonged. Or, even more accurately, to prove to those who made them outcasts that they were wrong.
He looked cool. He hung out in the rafters, alone, and he never spoke. He only ever showed up occasionally but when he did, he often came in from above, like a white and black angel of death. He brought with him a baseball bat, and destruction.
And he was righteous.
Everyone who felt his wrath deserved it.
We talk about character work a lot in this space, and Sting was incredible during this time for exactly that. When he attacked, he often finished it off with a Scorpion Death Drop. But before he delivered the coup de grace, after he grabbed their hair and yanked their heads back into position, he always paused to look at whoever was about to be put down.
I used to think it was so he could get one last look at them before he put them out of their misery. But no, it was so they could look at him.
Skip to 4:20 of this video:
That wasn't for his benefit. He wanted Eric Bischoff to know exactly what was about to happen and, more importantly, who was about to do it to him. Look at Bischoff's terror when Sting yanks his head back and looks into his eyes. He understands. He pleads, but there's nothing he can do to stop it.
It was fun, being a confused youngster and living vicariously through the Stinger.
When he finally got to WWE they had no idea how to use him and did their best to destroy how awesome he was during his peak year by having Michael Cole call him "The Vigilante" and "The Man Called Sting." It was lame, and a bad way to see him go out, doing a job to Triple H at WrestleMania 31 then getting hurt trying to hang with Seth Rollins at Night of Champions.
But marks like me will always have the memories of my younger self watching Sting tear ass through the nWo.
Just don't mention Starrcade 1997, please.