Welcome back for some more Collective Thoughts. While I was watching an episode of AEW Dynamite a couple of weeks ago, Sting had a tag team match in which he looked very good and picked up a win over the solid tag team of The Acclaimed.
Now, this won’t be on a “best of” edition of the Stinger when his career comes to an end, but he proved that he can still go with the young guys in the ring. I know AEW does a really good job of keeping him protected and limiting him to tag team matches, but the way he has moved around and taken care of business, I think the man could still pull off a really good singles match at 62 years old. I am not advocating for him to win the AEW World Title, although, I am sure he would make it work and have pretty solid matches.
My earliest memories of Sting come a little later than some other people might. I remember the NWO storyline ramping up and Sting being one of the main opposition on Team WCW. I thought he was awesome because he started growing the long brown hair and still has the colorful tights on. Sting was the only thing that could have “saved” WCW at the time and I just thought he was the coolest. Obviously, when I got a little bit older, I went back to see his classic bouts with Ric Flair that really put him on the map. You could tell Flair saw dollars signs with the guy and wanted to put the title on him, so WCW went ahead and pulled the trigger with it. How did Sting repay them? Oh, I don’t know, he just stayed loyal to the company until it went out of business. It was a rare loyalty that few guys of the era had shown and Sting was surely the head of the WCW snake. Do you think Vince McMahon wouldn’t have loved to poach WCW’s homegrown hero? Of course, he would have, but for whatever reason, Sting was a WCW guy through and through. Looking back on it, despite all of the booking missteps and whatever else came his way, you have to commend someone who knew he was on a sinking ship.
When WCW closed and Sting went to TNA, now Impact, I was also really stoked. I thought TNA had a chance to recapture the magic of WCW, and being such a big fan of the promotion, I knew I wanted to see it. Like WCW, he stayed loyal with Impact through thick and thin and always resisted the chance to jump to the almighty WWE. Sting has mentioned in interviews that the reason he didn’t jump to WWE when WCW closed its doors is that he didn’t think they would know what to do with the Sting character. McMahon just wanted him because he was the biggest name he could get from the ashes of WCW. I feel like when Sting finally did leave Impact, he probably felt like he had done all he could. He had put over the young talent and had some runs at the top with the top titles. I am assuming they lowballed him an offer and The Stinger figured it might be time to make his way to Titan Towers. I bet he has some reservations about that decision in hindsight.
When he debuted on WWE television during the 2014 Survivor Series, I was pretty surprised. I never thought he would make the jump and now that he had, we all thought we would get the long-awaited dream match pitting the crow Sting vs. The Undertaker. Two characters that were synonymous with their brands and both had a dark and brooding aura to them. I was excited for the match even though both guys were well beyond their primes. I figured they could go in there and have a serviceable matchup and we could all walk away happier for having seen it.
Instead, he does the job for Triple H at WrestleMania 31, for whatever reason, and is injured in a match with Seth Rollins before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I feel like booking him to lose to Triple H had some bitterness behind the decision, and I also think the injury in the Rollins match was completely accidental. Rollins is a great worker, but like JR always says “we aren’t doing ballet here”. We all thought that was it for The Stinger, and he even announced his retirement during his Hall of Fame speech. Having someone I looked up and respected as a performer have the rug pulled out from under him didn’t sit well with me. I don’t think it was the way Sting wanted to go out, and you could tell it was only a matter of time before we saw him on TV again, although in a different role.
This brings us to his current work with AEW. Getting Sting was a big deal in the early years of the promotion and I feel like he has done a lot to put young talent over, especially his prodigy Darby Allin, and has been having some solid matches in the ring. I mentioned the tag team match a couple of weeks ago on Dynamite, but Sting has certainly been an active competitor and even had a pretty great six-man tag team match in which he was paired up with Allin and CM Punk, which is a trio we never thought we would see on the same side.
Now, the question is, what’s the next couple of years look like for The Stinger? I think his wealth of knowledge for the business can’t be ignored and AEW should tap that resource for all it’s worth. I believe Sting will do anything to have another promotion other than WWE that he is willing to do what it takes for it to succeed. The AEW roster is better for him being there, and it was an early Tony Khan decision that will pay off in the long run. Either way, Sting should be mentioned with all the greats of the industry, not just for longevity, but for the way he carries himself in and outside of the ring and a lifetime of memories he has provided for a lot of fans around the world.
I know whenever someone asks me who is on my “Mount Rushmore”, Sting will be in the conversation.
What do you think of Sting? Do you love him? Do you respect him? Do you think he should have stayed retired? Either way, keep the conversation going over @collectiveheel on Twitter, and let me know your thoughts. I will be back next week with our latest installment of “how bad can WCW get?”. I hope to see you all there but until then take care of yourselves, and most importantly, each other. I’ll be back soon with some more Collective Thoughts.