The Hall of Fame Icon: My Salute to Steve “Sting” Borden

crow sting
The Crow Sting look.

 

It was 1986 when I first heard of the wrestler named Sting. I was in junior high school talking to one friend who was a wrestling fan (who I frequently traded old comics books for his wrestling magazines), and he told me of a guy in the UWF that had his face painted and was managed by “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert. Since I was only familiar with leagues such as NWA, WWF, AWA, World Class Wrestling, and occasionally Mid South Memphis area, I did not get UWF on television, so I didn’t think much of it until 1987 when Sting appeared in Jim Crockett’s NWA after the UWF merged with the NWA.  From that day on, Sting became my favorite wrestler, especially after buying 1987’s Starrcade home video on VHS, where the UWF was featured merging with the NWA.

I remember cheering for him at the first ever Clash of the Champions on TV as he battled Ric Flair to a draw.  I loved his tag team with Lex Luger, and then when he and Lex fought against each other when Luger made many heel turns, even though I was a fan of Luger’s, I still had to side with Sting. Since I was mainly a WWF fan at that time, the very first Non WWF Merchandise I ever purchased was Sting’s “Fatal Encounter” T Shirt, which I wore proudly.

 

wcw merch 1
I still have my WCW Merchandise Catalog, where I got my first Sting shirt-the one that he is wearing here when I was in junior high.

There were many memorable matches Sting had in the early NWA days, from his TV Title run against The Great Muta, to him becoming a member of The Four Horsemen, and his U.S. Title and his World Title runs. He had great matches against Rick Rude, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), The Dungeon of Doom, The Dangerous Alliance, and Vader (I never like Vader from the days I saw him in the AWA as “The Baby Bull” but when he went against Sting, I disliked him even more).

Most fans remember the Crow Sting, which was created once Hulk Hogan turned heel and started The New World Order.  Sting hid in the rafters of the arena, did not speak, not wrestling for almost a full year. This was my favorite incarnation of Sting. I purchased several black scorpion T Shirts that WCW (which was renamed after the NWA was sold to Ted Turner).  I taped WCW’s Monday Nitro and Thursday Night Thunder television programs every week while I was at college, while I had my parents tape WWF’s Monday Night Raw at their house. Normal wrestling fans started tuning into the Monday Night Wars between the WWF and WCW, each having their own favorite alliance. I also collected as many of the wrestling magazines that had Sting on the front cover or an article on him at this time.

Sting Mag Covers
A few magazines that I collected with Sting on the cover.

Even though Sting was the top guy in the WCW, never leaving to go to the WWE, when others WCW Stars like Flair, Luger, The Steiner Brothers all headed to McMahon land, he was stuck in several bad booking angles at the time, but still managed to work with what he had been given. Several bad booking ideas he was a part in was the Robocop association (which Sting made a great joke about it at his recent WWE Hall of Fame speech), The White Castle of Fear, the Barry Windham fake Sting (which was recycled years later during the NWO angles),  the infamous Shockmaster , his rotten program with Vampiro in WCW’s New Blood story, TNA’s Aces and Eights angles, and losing the TNA Tag Titles to NFL Football player Pac Man Jones, without Jones being allowed to have any physical contact in the ring.  Even though some liked the version of the Sting character, I never approved of the red faced Wolf Pac Sting. I thought I would see some great matches in 1998 when Bret Hart came to WCW and had a small program with Sting, but the booking somehow dropped the ball on this idea between my two favorite wrestlers.

wcw and christian mag covers
Some more magazines that I collected, including a Christian Magazine.

I enjoyed Sting’s TNA run with his matches against Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Abyss, and Jeff Jarrett. I liked the idea of the original Main Event Mafia angle starting in 2008, but did not think bringing back the group in 2013 and including an MMA fighter in the group was a great idea.

 

 

sting dvd covers
My TNA DVD’s with Sting on the cover, and the WWE Blu Ray.

On a vacation trip to Florida in 2006, I got to see a TNA Impact TV Taping at the Impact Zone (where I met Jimmy Hart), hoping that I would finally get to see Sting wrestle in person, since the NWA/WCW did not come around to my area of Ohio that often. When WCW and TNA came to the Youngstown, Ohio area, Sting was not there at the WCW House Shows in 1998 and 2000 when I attended, along with the 2008 TNA show in Niles, Ohio.  Sting was at the tapings in Florida, but was up in the rafters doing promos, so I never did get to see him in action live.

sting t shirts
I kept one WCW T Shirt, and the recent WWE Shirt with Sting. I got rid of the WCW Scorpion shirts that I owned back in the day.

 

I was one of the few people that did not want Sting to go to the WWE after his TNA run was over. It was nothing against me not seeing my favorite wrestler again, but I did not think that the WWE would give Sting the character justice, must like Steve Borden (Sting’s real name) mentioned in a TNA Video, stating that the WWE buried former WCW wrestlers when they came to the league. Many people were critical of Sting’s Wrestlemania loss, which I admit I did not think the WWE made him look good and only wanted to promote their WCW footage on the WWE Network, Sting got his Wrestlemania moment that he claimed he wanted.  Even though some critics wrongly report this, Sting’s WWE Record ended up being 2-2, which was not that bad considering how little he was used.

Steve Borden ‘s appeal was apparent outside the wrestling ring as well with his acting. He appeared in his own movie about his life called “Moment of Truth “ in 2004,  2000’s “Ready To Rumble” and “Shutterspeed,” 1994’s “Thunder in Paradise” and 2001 “Walker Texas Ranger” TV Shows, and in Christian Films like 2011 “The Encounter,”  and 2013’s “Revelation Road” movies. He also hosted Christian Shows on TBN, and was in another movie called “The Real Reason Men Commit Crimes” in 1998, which is the only movie I never seen of his. I enjoyed the movie “Shutterspeed,” where he plays a cop , along with actress Daisy Fuentes. Not many former wrestlers or current wrestlers have had the skills or the exposure to be able to do that many movies at that time. I also enjoy the fact that Borden discusses his Christian faith in interviews and takes the time to do some of these movies, where several wrestlers would not. Not to judge them, but Borden is a great role model for people that look up to the wrestlers.

sting odd merch
A few odd books and DVDs . A signed photo that came with the Sting book/DVD “Moment of Truth,” WCW trading card, and his Christian film “The Encounter.”

There are many that wonder why Sting was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and some so called “experts” question whether or not Sting was a successful wrestler that brought in successful runs. I will only say that in my biased opinion, some of the people that are in the WWE Hall of Fame had less success that Sting did, and had a less time span that Borden did. Many wrestling fans dressed like Sting during Halloween and bought plenty of his merchandise. Sting was the face of WCW for years.  Some of his titles won were NWA Champ (1), TV Champ (1), International Champion (2), U.S. Champ (2), WCW World Champion (6), WCW Tag Champ (3), TNA NWA Champ (1), TNA World Champ (4), TNA Tag Champ (1), UWF Tag Champ (1) and WWA World Champ (1).  That’s a pretty impressive resume to me. Sting also was a select few wrestlers that have changes their images and still was successful with the times, no matter if it was blonde flat top surfer, The Crow, Wolfpac, Mafia, or Joker Sting.

Even though I never got to see the man in person, Steve “Sting” Borden will always be my favorite wrestler of all time (for those wondering Bret Hart is my number 2). I am glad he decided to retire at the Hall of Fame Ceremony. I did not want to see any further injury to him, and even though he did not get his WWE Match with The Undertaker (who he wrestled in WCW), Steve Borden still had a great career and hopefully I will see more of him in movies. Thanks for the great years Stinger!!

 

 

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