The 14 most important moments of Sting's career
Often dubbed “The Franchise of WCW,” the man called Sting is one of the most recognizable and unique faces in sports-entertainment history. Though he only recently made his WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014, The Stinger was the backbone of WCW throughout the late 1980s until the company's demise in 2001.
It's been more than a decade since the end of WCW, but Sting's relevance and accomplishments are legendary and still resonate with the WWE Universe. With the WWE Fastlane confrontation between Triple H and Sting looming, WWE.com looks at some of the most important moments of The Vigilante's storied career.
In 1985, Sting’s career began in the Memphis, Tenn.-based Continental Wrestling Association. During his brief stint in CWA, Sting was part of Powerteam USA before forming one half of The Blade Runners. His tag team partner was an individual who would eventually become The Ultimate Warrior.
Clash with Flair
Less than a year after joining NWA, Sting squared off with NWA Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair at the inaugural Clash of the Champions. The match gave the young competitor a chance to show off his abilities against one of the greatest grapplers of all-time. With Flair trapped in Sting’s trademark Scorpion Deathlock, the match ended in a draw as the 45-minute time limit expired.
If you can't beat them ...
After finding himself aligned with his nemesis Ric Flair throughout summer 1989, Sting and “The Nature Boy” teamed up at Halloween Havoc 1989 to battle The Great Muta and Terry Funk. Inside of a Thunderdome Steel Cage, Sting and Flair were able to coexist and were ultimately victorious. As a result of this victory, Flair, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson welcomed the face-painted competitor as a member of The Four Horsemen.
After refusing to relinquish an NWA Title opportunity he earned against Flair, Sting was kicked out of The Four Horsemen. An injury sidelined The Stinger in early 1990, but he returned to challenge Flair at The Great American Bash. Decked out in red, white and blue tights and wearing stars-and-stripes face paint, Sting proved his resilience and solidified himself as a top competitor by defeating Flair and capturing his first World Title.
When Lex Luger vacated the U.S. Title in 1991, WCW held a tournament to determine its next champion. Sting faced “Stunning” Steve Austin in the final at The Omni in Atlanta. Both competitors were exhausted from the excruciating tournament, but proved why they were in the final to begin with. The match was a highlight of both Sting and Austin’s young careers, but in the end it was Sting who was victorious, capturing his first U.S. Championship.
Sting and Lex Luger have always been close friends, but there were times when the two competitors were at odds with each other. At SuperBrawl II, Sting challenged Luger for the WCW World Championship. Although Luger’s manager, Harley Race, attempted to interfere in the contest, Sting managed to claim victory and win his first of six WCW World Titles.
Taking over Monday nights
On the first-ever WCW Monday Nitro, Sting squared off against longtime rival Ric Flair inside Minnesota’s Mall of America. The competitive battle with “The Nature Boy” ended in disqualification, but helped set the tone for the type of contests that would propel Nitro's rise in popularity. This match was also a memorable highlight of the legendary rivalry between WCW’s most recognizable faces.
WCW's dark avenger
The formation and expansion of The New World Order brought a great deal of distrust among competitors in the WCW locker room. When The nWo introduced a fake Sting, the wrestlers of WCW became suspicious of the genuine article, questioning his loyalties. In response, Sting vowed an oath of silence and the usually neon-colored competitor began wearing only black and white and lurking in arena rafters, stalking The nWo.
For more than a year, Sting played mind games with The nWo, sending a message to the faction’s leader, Hollywood Hogan. At Starrcade 1997, The Stinger faced Hogan for the WCW Title in his first match in more than a year. The nWo-affiliated official made a controversial three-count in Hogan’s favor, but Bret Hart restarted the match and served as the special referee. Sting managed to lock Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock to win the WCW Title.
The red and black attack
In 1998, Kevin Nash and Randy Savage broke off from The nWo to form The nWo Wolfpac. Almost immediately, both factions of the group began vying for the allegiance of Sting. As chaos erupted between the two teams on WCW Monday Nitro, Sting descended from the rafters to deliver his decision. At first, he revealed a black and white nWo shirt, suggesting he had joined Hollywood Hogan’s group. However, The Stinger attacked Hogan and exposed a red and black nWo shirt, effectively becoming a member of The Wolfpac.
Gone and back again
In early 1999, Sting was on hiatus as the factions of The nWo merged and their power began to dissipate in the months that followed. However, on WCW Monday Nitro in early spring, The Stinger returned wearing his black and white face-paint to face Diamond Dallas Page, Hollywood Hogan and Ric Flair for the WCW Title at Spring Stampede. Sting was unsuccessful, but he returned to active competition, later winning the title on two separate occasions during the year.
The final battle
On the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro, Sting faced his longtime rival, Ric Flair, for the last time. In a fitting bookend for both Nitro and WCW, Sting defeated Flair and the two competitors embraced after the match. Because WWE acquired WCW before this episode of Nitro, this match marked the only time Sting appeared on a WWE-produced broadcast until 2014.
Shocking WWE debut
At Survivor Series 2014, The Authority was pulling out all the stops to prevent Team Cena's sole survivor Dolph Ziggler from defeating their sole survivor Seth Rollins in the Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match. After Triple H offered an assist that would guarantee Rollins' victory, Sting made his long-awaited WWE debut. Following a tense exchange, The Game attacked The Stinger, who countered by executing his patented Scorpion Death Drop. Sting then pulled Ziggler on top of Rollins, giving Team Cena the win and dethroning The Authority.
Return to Monday night
As 2014 ended, John Cena was forced to bring The Authority back to power. One of their first orders of business was to fire Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback for aiding Cena at Survivor Series. One week before the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Cena battled Kane, Seth Rollins and Big Show in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match in an effort to save his allies' jobs. Although the odds were stacked against the Cenation leader, Sting made his WWE Raw debut and stared down Triple H. His arrival distracted Rollins and allowed Cena to capture a pinfall victory.