Friday, February 23

5 Best Years Of Sting’s Wrestling Career (& 5 Worst)

Debuting in the late 1980s, Sting became one of the great babyfaces of 1990s wrestling, and an icon of the sport overall thanks to his two notable face paint styles (“Surfer” and “Crow”) and his dramatic late 1990s reinvention. While he had runs in WWE, TNA, and now AEW, Sting is best associated with WCW, where he spent 14 years, performing at the promotion’s very last show.


Related

10 Things You Should Know About Sting’s Wrestling Career In The 1980s

Sting won his first WCW World Title in 1990 and never looked back from there. But how well do wrestling fans remember ‘The Stinger’ in the 1980s?

Despite his legendary status, Sting’s wrestling career wasn’t always at its best. Some years were much better than others, while some years were markedly terrible. Let’s take a look at a few of both extremes, which include his time at all the above-mentioned promotions.


10 Best: 1989 Was Sting’s First Great Year

The Rising Star Won His First NWA Championship

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Dick Slater & The Great Muta vs. Ric Flair & Sting

Clash of the Champions 8

9/12/1989

Columbia, SC

One of the few successful carryovers from when Jim Crockett Promotions purchased the ailing Universal Wrestling Federation, WCW saw a lot of potential in Sting, and 1989 was the year when he started to really make waves. Having already had his classic time limit draw against Ric Flair the previous year, in 1989 Sting won his first championship in WCW when he defeated Mike Rotunda for the NWA Television Championship. As the year went on, Sting became a member of the Four Horsemen, feuded with The Great Muta, and earned a World Title shot at Ric Flair when he defeated The Nature Boy at Starrcade ‘89.

9 Worst: 1990 Should Have Been Sting’s Best Year

Sting Suffered A Poorly-Timed Injury & A Weak World Title Run

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Ric Flair vs. Sting

The Great American Bash

7/7/1990

Baltimore, MD

Unfortunately, Sting’s 1990 wasn’t the year it should have been. Sting was slated for a hot feud with Ric Flair after he was kicked out of the Horsemen, but a knee injury stifled his momentum. Sting eventually healed up and dethroned Flair five months later, but his first NWA World Title reign had some questionable booking. Sting’s title bout with Sid Vicious at Halloween Havoc saw Barry Windham don face paint to impersonate Sting, while a goofy storyline about a mysterious new villain named The Black Scorpion just turned out to be a cartoonish ruse by Ric Flair.

8 Best: 2021 Was Sting’s Great Return To Pro Wrestling

Sting Made His Surprise Return At The End of 2020

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

CM Punk, Darby Allin & Sting vs. The Pinnacle

AEW Dynamite – Holiday Bash Night 1

12/22/2021

Greensboro, NC

After 2015 (see below), fans were convinced they would never see Sting again, but were proven wrong at the end of 2020 when Sting made his surprise debut in late December on an episode of AEW Dynamite. Siding with the up-and-coming Darby Allin, Sting began to wrestle his first matches in AEW in 2021 — and did not disappoint.

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5 Best Moments Of Sting’s AEW Career (& 5 Worst)

Sting’s AEW run has gone way better than expected with several great moments. But there has been the odd misstep every now and then.

Starting off strong with an entertaining cinematic match at 2021’s Revolution, Sting and Allin put on some fun tag team matches against groups like FTR, The Gunn Club, and 2point0, and even joined forces with CM Punk for one of the most delightfully unlikely team-ups of all time.

Sting Feuded With Vampiro & Vince Russo Booking

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Sting vs. Vampiro

The Great American Bash

6/11/2000

Baltimore, MD

Fans got a taste of it at the tail end of 1999, but the year 2000 had Vince Russo booking WCW in full force, and so many wrestlers suffered for it, including Sting. As part of the poorly received Millionaires Club vs. New Blood storyline, Sting feuded with younger talent Vampiro, which was a solid idea, but the matches did not live up to it. In fact, it resulted in one of the most hated matches of Sting’s career — at least, of the bouts that went as planned. Their Human Torch match at The Great American Bash 2000 centered around setting one’s opponent on fire, with Sting getting replaced by an obvious stunt double.

6 Best: 2009 Was Sting’s Best Heel Year

Sting Started As A Heel & Turned Face

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

AJ Styles vs. Sting

Bound For Glory

10/18/2009

Orange County, CA

Late 2008 saw Sting turn heel in TNA, forming arguably the promotion’s best major heel faction, the Main Event Mafia, which brought the World Champion into 2009. It was a great storyline, and one that saw Sting eventually lose the title and turn face, subsequently batting against the group he formed. If that weren’t enough, Sting also had one of his most important TNA matches at that year’s Bound For Glory: a title shot at World Champion AJ Styles that saw Styles retain, with Sting passing the torch to the younger babyface.

Sting Became The Insane Icon & Had His Infamous Match With Jeff Hardy

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Sting vs. Jeff Hardy

TNA Victory Road

3/13/2011

Orlando, FL

Sting’s TNA run is honestly better than it’s given credit for, though the lack of credit is likely due to what happened in 2011. Turning heel again, Sting reinvented himself as the Joker-inspired “Insane Icon,” a new direction for the Stinger but not one that fans necessarily appreciated. But the real lowlight of 2011 happened in mid-March, in the main event the Victory Road pay-per-view. Sting was slated to defend the World Title against Jeff Hardy, but the challenger was visibly intoxicated as the match began. Sting had to improvise a quick finish in a moment that tarnished the promotion’s already unfortunate reputation.

4 Best: 1997 Saw Sting Become One Of The Hottest Acts In Wrestling

Sting Only Wrestled Two Televised Matches That Year

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting

WCW Starrcade

12/28/1997

Washington, D.C.

The arrival of the New World Order in WCW in 1996 signaled a new direction for pro wrestling overall, and the squeaky-clean Sting had to change with the times. Dramatically altering his look to a dark, black-and-white motif inspired by The Crow late in the year, Sting became a supernatural vigilante targeting the nWo throughout 1997.

Related

10 Things Fans Should Know About WCW’s Infamous Starrcade 1997 PPV

Starrcade 1997 is still remembered as WCW’s biggest pay-per-view ever due to the hype and results from that night.

Notably, Sting frequently appeared on WCW television to terrorize the bad guys, but never wrestled a match on TV until the disastrous Starrcade ‘97 at the end of the year. However, as an act Sting had never been more exciting.

3 Worst: 2015 Was Sting’s WWE Year

Sting Suffered Several Big Losses And A Near Career-Ending Injury

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Sting vs. Triple H

WWE WrestleMania 31

3/29/2015

Santa Clara, CA

Survivor Series 2014 saw the impossible happen, as Sting made his WWE debut after years of refusing to sign with the company. Unfortunately, his 2015 proved Sting right in his reluctance. A feud with Triple H going into WrestleMania 31 resulted in WWE reminding fans that it beat WCW in the Monday Night War, and a subsequent feud with WWE Champion Seth Rollins fared even worse, as a botched move gave Sting a neck injury that seemed to signal his abrupt retirement from wrestling.

Sting Had Rivalries With Big Van Vader & The Dangerous Alliance

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance

WrestleWar

5/17/1992

Jacksonville, FL

When it comes to WCW years where Sting did wrestle, it’s hard to top the Stinger’s 1992. It was the year that kicked off Sting’s legendary feud with Big Van Vader, with Vader shockingly defeating Sting for the World Title at The Great American Bash ‘92. Before that, however, he feuded with the underrated Dangerous Alliance heel faction, which led to one of the greatest War Games matches ever at WrestleWar in May when Sting’s Squadron (Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Barry Windham, and Ricky Steamboat) scored a huge win over the bad guys in an epic match.

1 Worst: 1999 Was One Of Sting’s Worst Years In His Prime

This Was The Year That Sting Turned Heel

Match Of The Year

Event

Date

Location

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sting

WCW Monday Nitro

4/26/1999

Fargo, ND

Sting lost pretty much all of his momentum after Starrcade ‘97, with a disappointing 1998 following. That said, as far as the legend’s 1990s is concerned, nothing can quite hold a candle to 1999. While Sting had some highlights like his World Title bout with Diamond Dallas Page, the bright spots are outweighed by the low points. In addition to a very unspectacular heel turn and “worked shoot” incident with Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc ‘99 that screamed “Vince Russo booking,” there was also a match with Rick Steiner where Sting had to pretend to be attacked by dogs.

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