There’s an adage in wrestling that if you’ve ever been significant in the business, then you will have at some point passed through the WWE. However, there’s been one who is the exception to the rule: Sting. At his peak of popularity during his feud with the nWo, Sting was one of the hottest commodities in the business. In December 1997, Starrcade was the culmination of a year-long angle which eventually saw The Man They Call Sting triumph (kind of) in what to that point had been the biggest selling PPV of all time.
Fast forward four years WCW was completely dead. The invasion angle had concluded at Survivor series and the WWE draft had just started. However, even though Ric Flair had made his return after the takeover, one man was notable by his absence: Sting. Over time, most of the other WCW stars eventually came over. Scott Steiner, Goldberg and even the infamous New World Order all joined the WWE. However, one of WCW’s iconic figures, only second to the Nature Boy in terms of being its’ top star still hasn’t been seen anywhere in Vince’s behemoth.
Apparently the closest he came was in 2011. The “2/21/11” vignettes that ended up heralding the Undertaker’s return last year were originally intended to herald the Stinger’s long awaited debut in the WWE. It wasn’t to be however, as Sting ultimately decided at the last moment to stay with TNA. Just before the start of this year, rumours were rife as some fans were convinced that that “it begins” series of mysterious (and frankly extremely creepy) videos were to usher in Sting as debuting on January 2nd. This didn’t happen either, as they led to the “rebirth” and return of Chris Jericho.
The point being is that there are still fans desperate to see Sting in the WWE. The fantasied “Sting/Taker” feud almost appears at times to be some smark’s idea of a wet dream and I’m sure it’s been covered to death by fantasy bookers (including myself in the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Russo” rewrite of “The Invasion” angle).
Let me get this clear: I’d completely mark out if Sting debuted in the WWE. I love the guy. I think his character’s superb and he’s a great talker, and even in his early 50s he can still put on good to great matches when he’s in the ring with someone who can go. If he were to go to the WWE it’s probable that the occasion would overshadow whatever matches he would have anyway at this point.
However, there’s a massive issue with any potential move by Sting to the WWE. Presuming that they agreed a contract and a schedule, there is an issue that they quite simply will not be able to overcome: the WWE audience is extremely young. It’s a bit higher than 9, contrary to what John Cena attempted to assert a couple of months ago, but it’s still an undeniable fact. We know who Sting is, but given that he’s not been on most people’s radars since WCW went under how are even kids in their teens going to know who he is? Bret Hart’s appearance at Montreal on Raw was amazing, but let us not forget that his initial return was pretty lacklustre. The WWE the week prior had to run a video package to inform their viewers who he was! It’s not so much of a problem in TNA, because they have an audience that skews older than WWE who actually remember WCW.
I know some people won’t see this as a valid argument, but hear me out. I’m nearly 22. My only real memories of Sting are from about 2000 when the booking God Vincent Russo in his infinite wisdom decided it would be a ratings draw to have one of WCW’s true bona fide stars enter a feud with Vampiro. Now, if I’m in that boat tell me what recollections even someone in their mid-teen’s is going to have?
Unfortunately I suspect there would be more reaction around the world than in the actual arena where he was debuting (unless it was happening at Mania or the Raw after Mania, it’s pretty much guaranteed that those fans tend to older than the general Raw crowd – see Brock Lesnar’s return). If it was kept under wraps I’m sure there would be people marking out all around the world…to deathly silence from the live crowd.
At this point in his career, why should Sting take the risk?
In TNA Sting is one of their main guys and a cornerstone in the promotion. He’s the first inductee in their HoF and pretty much beloved by everyone in the company. He already has a career under his belt which will lead to his eventual induction in the WWE HoF after his retirement. His accolades and achievements in WCW have ensured that.
It’s not as if he needs the money either: by all accounts he has capitalised fully on TNA’s desperation to keep him as an active competitor by throwing money at him. I think it’s safe to say he’s not in a similar position to the likes of Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair who have been forced to continue in the business despite having far exceeded their sell-by dates.
In closing, I can understand the appeal of bringing Sting in for at least one appearance at the biggest event in the wrestling world and letting him go out on the biggest stage of them all, I personally don’t want to see it. I don’t think Sting needs it. He is one of the biggest icons in the business and that’s without having wrestled for the WWE/WWF. It would be far more fitting for Sting’s legacy to remain as “the one that got away”.
You can follow Michael on twitter @MichaelBrown_91