411’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Sting
Steven James Borden was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Borden was one of four children, all of whom played sports, whether it be football, baseball or basketball. He was raised in southern California in a close-knit working class family.
After high school, Borden worked as a bartender and bouncer in nightclubs. It was during this time he started as a competitive bodybuilder. He co-owned a Gold’s Gym in the San Fernando Valley and was approached by a man named Rick Bassman, who brought in three former bodybuilders working to build “Powerteam USA”, a professional wrestling faction. They were looking for a fourth member and after a few weeks of finding no one to join them, turned to Borden.
Borden had no desire to be a professional wrestler, never followed the sport and only knew of Hulk Hogan, mainly from Rocky. Bassman kept pushing and Borden finally agreed to go watch a wrestling event where he saw Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The Iron Sheik and more. The event helped Borden realized it might turn into something big for him.
Powerteam USA started in Jerry Jarrett’s CWA in Memphis. Borden went by the name Flash, teaming with another youngster named Jim Hellwig. He changed his name to Sting while Hellwig went by the name Rock and The Blade Runners were born. They made little to no money, wrestling every night of the year, often sleeping in their cars. It was tough enough almost to make him quit the sport at the start.
The Blade Runners next moved on to Bill Watt’s Mid South Wrestling, managed by “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert. The two teamed until Hellwig left the promotion to make his was to World Class Wrestling in Dallas. Sting began to team with fellow stable mate Rick Steiner as well as his manager Eddie Gilbert. Sting won three tag team championships in the renamed UWF, two with Gilbert and one with Steiner.
In 1987, Sting finally turned good after Eddie Gilbert’s interference cost him a match. Hot Stuff International turned on Sting and Chris Adams made his way down to help solidify Sting’s face turn. Later that year, Jim Crockett bought the UWF from Watts and merged it with his own Mid Atlantic promotion.
Sting became one of the only UWF stars pushed by the NWA and he took World Champion Ric Flair to a 45-minute draw at the inaugural Clash of Champions. After a long climb, Sting finally won his first championship in the NWA when he pinned Mike Rotundo for the Television Championship.
This title reign led to an amazing series of matches against Japanese star, The Great Muta in 1989. His feud with Muta ended with Sting siding with Ric Flair and eventually joining the Four Horseman. That would end when Sting won the chance to challenge Flair for the NWA World Championship, leading the Horsemen to kick him out and beat him down.
Sting was legitimately injured and, while officials wanted Flair to drop his title to Lex Luger, the champion refused and said Sting deserved to be the man to win the title. That win came at The Great American Bash on July 7, 1990, Sting’s first World Championship title reign.
His first reign ended six months later when Flair recaptured the gold at Starrcade. That same month, WCW broke away from the NWA and WCW was born. In August 1991, Sting defeated Steve Austin to win the vacant U.S. Championship and he began a feud with Paul E. Dangerously, whose group viewed Sting as the face of WCW. During this feud, including a series of great matches with Rick Rude, Sting defeated Lex Luger for his first WCW World Championship on February 29, 1992.
When his feud with the Dangerous Alliance ended, he started in one of the greatest feuds of his career with the man mountain known as Vader. Vader manhandled Sting, broke him down and defeated him for the title at the Great American Bash. Sting won the belt back but lost it to Vader again in 1993. Ric Flair returned and beat Vader for the title while Sting went on to win the WCW International World title when he defeated Vader for the vacated belt. Sting and Ric Flair battled in a title unification bout, a match in which Flair turned against Sting once again to win.
In 1995, Sting won his second US Championship by defeating Meng. Sting again agreed to help Flair, this time in the Nature Boy’s feud with former friend Arn Anderson. For the third time, Flair turned on Sting in the match and the Four Horsemen reformed, with Flair, Anderson, Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit. Sting and Lex Luger feuded with the Horsemen for the rest of the year.
On January 22, 1996, Sting and Luger defeated Harlem Heat for Sting’s first WCW tag team gold. The storyline was an interesting one as Lex Luger continuously cheated to win and Sting was oblivious to all the shenanigans. Harlem Heat eventually won the titles back in June but shortly after that the WCW landscape changed forever.
After Scott Hall and Kevin Nash invaded WCW, Sting was one of the first wrestlers to stand up in opposition to them. This led to Hulk Hogan turning evil and the lines were drawn with Hogan and the nWo against Sting and WCW. Sting began to apparently attack his own friends, causing everyone to question his loyalty. It was discovered it was an imposter Sting who was causing the problems but the real Sting had enough and disappeared into the rafters.
The “Crow” Sting was born. It was a radical change. The positive, enthusiastic Sting was gone and replacing him was a dark, brooding character that never spoke. He was the catalyst against the nWo and that is why, when Sting finally got his match against Hulk Hogan, it was so disappointing. The match ended with a screw ending, ruining months of lead in. After the controversy died down, Sting finally got a strong grasp on the belt and held it until losing it to Randy Savage.
When the nWo split up, Sting joined Kevin Nash’s faction, The Wolf Pack. While in this group, he held the tag team belts with The Giant but later beat his partner and chose Kevin Nash as his new championship partner. While a member of the Wolf Pack, Sting also began a feud with Bret Hart which saw him “suffer injuries” to have to take time off.
Sting returned from his injuries and, almost immediately, won the WCW World Championship from Diamond Dallas Page. The reign ended an hour later when Page won the belt back on the same show. He had a short feud with Goldberg. Hulk Hogan turned good again and he teamed with Sting to battle Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious. Sting faced Hogan for the WCW Championship and, after Lex Luger interfered, Sting won the title and then beat down Hogan with his bat, turning heel.
The fans refused to accept the heel turn and cheered him anyway. When Sting attacked a referee, WCW stripped him of the title and he had to compete in a tournament to regain it. Luger turned on Sting, reversing Sting’s heel turn, making him a good guy again. Sting finished his feud with Luger and followed it with a ridiculous feud with Vampiro. He was soon taken out in the New Blood angle and didn’t return until the final episode of Nitro, where he fought Ric Flair in the last WCW match ever.
Sting bounced around smaller promotions, never taking the big money jump to the WWE and finally came back into the national spotlight in 2003 for TNA Wrestling.
On November 25, 2003, Sting began a feud with TNA founder Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Championship. He left in mid 2004 but made a return in January 2006. This return lasted one match and Sting retired from wrestling. Thanks to Jeff Jarrett, Sting returned angry and chose partners, defeating Jarrett and company in a Lethal Lockdown match. Finally, on October 22, 2006, Sting defeated Jarrett for the NWA World Championship.
The reign only lasted one month before Abyss beat Sting for the title. Sting began a feud with Abyss, ending with him helping the monster break away from James Mitchell and turn good.
Sting next feuded with Kurt Angle. During this feud, the two became “tag team champions who hate each other.” On October 14, 2007, Sting defeated Kurt Angle for the TNA World Championship despite interference from Kevin Nash and Karen Angle. Angle won the title back two weeks later.
In 2008, Sting once again attempted to turn heel, joining the Main Event Mafia with Angle, Nash, Scott Steiner and Booker T. The change did little to turn fans against him as they booed the bad guys but cheered Sting. Sting began to come to the ring without face paint and talked down every good guy on the roster but the fans remained behind him. Shortly after this, Sting defeated Samoa Joe for the TNA Championship and held it for six months before dropping it to Mick Foley.
The Main Event Mafia soon disintegrated. More recently, Sting has been once again trying to play the role of heel, taking on Hulk Hogan, Rob Van Dam and the TNA good guys.
Over his twenty-four year career, Sting has held ten World Championships and seven tag team championships. He has been one of the most popular wrestlers in the history of the sport and is one of the few top stars to never step foot in the WWE. While he is still wrestling today, he is a true icon and legend. He is the man called Sting, and he is the Main Event in the 2010 411 Wrestling Hall of Fame.