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Ask 411 Wrestling: Did Sting Ever Have a Great Match as the Crow?

September 4, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Crow Sting

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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Kevin does this and does that:

Sting had some great moments as the crow, but did he ever have a great match?

Given that Sting first adopted the “Crow” gimmick in the fall of 1996 and used it in some form or another until the final match of his career in 2015, you’d think that there would have to have been some great in-ring performance during that time.

However, having racked my brain to come up with one, I just couldn’t think of any.

My gut reaction was, “I think that he had a surprisingly good match with DDP on a random episode of Nitro,” but I couldn’t think of any other contenders . . . though admittedly Sting did have quite a few matches in TNA after I tapped out on the promotion.

To check and see if there was anything spectacular that I would have missed, I headed over to our friends at the Internet Wrestling Database, which maintains information on Wrestling Observer star ratings from over the years. Granted, the Observer‘s ratings are just one man’s opinion, and what makes for a good wrestling match is highly subjective, but those ratings are the only semi-comprehensive guide to match quality that we’ve got out there until somebody compiles that searchable Larry Csonka database (RIP).

In any event, from looking at Sting’s ratings from the debut of the Crow through to present day, it appears that my initial recollection was pretty spot-on. Sting versus Diamond Dallas Page from the April 26, 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which saw Sting defeat Page for the WCW World Heavyweight Title, received a **** rating. That is the single highest-rated match Sting had between his turn to the darkside and his retirement.

(Technically, he was also involved in a ten-man tag in TNA that got the same rating, but it’s hard to call that “a Sting match” given all the other players involved.)

Of course, even though a four-star match is very good and one might even call it great, I don’t know that anyone would think of a match at that level as being an all-time classic. That’s not a knock on the Stinger, though. If anything, the fact that he remained such a well-remembered act despite not performing up to his earlier standards in the ring speaks to the great job that he did developing his persona and getting it to connect with wrestling fans.

Bryan J. is stating the obvious:

Back in the early 2000s, Molly Holly was a heel and the fans and Jerry Lawler were calling her a fat ass. The obvious issue of body shaming notwithstanding, what makes no sense to me, was at this same era, Rikishi was getting FACE pops for putting HIS fat ass in people’s faces. What kind of logic is “woman with slightly large backside= heel. Man with disgusting huge backside= face”?

I’m pretty confident that you know the answer to this question. This is a product of living in a patriarchal society. There are plenty of things that even still today, are considered unacceptable for women to do despite nobody batting an eyelash if a man does them. Just take a look at Hollywood for one large example. Though this trend has begun to reverse in recent years, historically male actors were allowed to have far longer careers than their female contemporaries, because women’s looks were seen as a significant asset, and those looks were also believed to fade away after a certain age. Meanwhile, rougher, aged-looking men were drummed out of the industry at a much lower rate.

The same holds true in business or politics, where behavior that might be considered “assertive” if performed by a man results in someone of the opposite sex being labeled as a “nasty woman.”

Though I don’t mean to go all freshman year sociology class on you, that’s the exact answer to Bryan’s question. There are ridiculous double standards for men and women in this country when it comes to both appearance and behavior, and the comparison between Rikishi and Molly in the early 2000s is a perfect example of just one of the ways that has played out in professional wrestling.

Max, an Italian Fan is trying to slap Jimmy Uso’s hand:

I might have an easier question but which is bothering me. As I started to follow wrestling recently, mostly WWE, after long time and it seems it is something that other companies are doing:
Why the face team in tag team matches is always on the left side of the screen and the heel one on the right one? Is it related to which side they enter or is there another reason?

To clarify Max’s question, I believe that he’s referring to the face team being on the left side of the ring and the heel team being on the right side of the ring when they’re shot by the hard camera that is at a fixed point in the audience, facing the ring.

Why is this the case?

It has everything to do with how tag team matches are structured. We’re all familiar with the standard manner in which a tag match operates, with one member of the face team being isolated by the heels and beaten down until they are eventually able to escape and make a hot tag to their partner. If you put the face team on the left-hand side of the hard camera shot, they are facing the camera and therefore the director is able to get plenty of shots of the face awaiting the hot tag cheering their partner on, and the director is also able to get more footage of the struggle of the face in peril to reach their partner.

The other factor is that the faces are, historically, the people that fans are supposed to be tuning into the show to see. By putting them in the position where they are facing the camera, the good guy is more likely to be seen by a fan who is channel surfing.

It’s also worth noting that there is an exception to this general rule. Though Max is correct that the face team is on the left-hand side of the hard cam shot more often then not, that rule is almost always broken in tag team squash matches, where the team doing the squashing gets the left-hand side of the ring regardless of whether they are heel or face, because you want the bigger stars to be facing towards the camera. Granted, there aren’t many squash matches anymore and tag team squash matches are even more rare, but you can see that setup on display in this 2018 squash featuring the Authors of Pain, who were heels at the time:

Mohamed is succession planning:

Who will take over WWE once Vince is gone? Will it be Shane McMahon or Stephanie McMahon or HHH?

I don’t know that there’s a hard-and-fast plan on this one that has been made public, but it almost certainly won’t be Shane, because at this point he has no real-life executive position in WWE. He resigned from the company in any official capacity during the fall of 2009. Aside from still owning a relatively small percentage of corporate stock, his only affiliation with WWE these days is as an on-screen performer.

Given his involvement with NXT, it seems that Triple H is being groomed for the position, at least on the side of the company’s day-to-day professional wrestling operations. However, one thing that Hunter is lacking is experience in high-level corporate dealings. Perhaps he’ll continue to accumulate that over time and will taken on a role similar to that of his father-in-law, but I suspect the most likely outcome is that, when Vince McMahon finally steps down, you’re not going to see somebody take on his exact job duties but that you’ll instead see Trips take over the creative and talent relations side of the company while an outside executive like the recently-hired Nick Khan is brought on board to handle things like investor relations and television deals.

Marcus from Richmond could use some more time in developmental:

Who is the best professional wrestling trainer of all time? By that I mean which teacher had the most students who went on to become world champions, marquee attractions, money-makers for their respective territories and garner mainstream attention. I’m thinking it would have to be someone like Stu Hart, Verne Gange or Eddie Sharky but what do you say?

I have to say, when I read this question, no one person jumped to my mind immediately, and, the more that I thought about it, the more difficult coming up with an answer became. So, I think what I’m going to do is list some of the candidates rolling around in my mind and see if that winds up making a good case for anybody.

A couple of ground rules first, though. When considering whether a trainer trained a particular wrestler, I’m going to focus on a wrestler’s primary trainer. If you look at most resources that list who trained what wrestler, many performers have three to five guys listed as having some role in putting them through their paces, but usually it’s one or two of the trainers who did the lion’s share of the work. Also, I’m going with who actually did the training work, not whose name was on the door of the school. For example, if you’ve read or listened to any of the commentary that Lance Storm has released about his career, he attended the so-called “Hart Brothers Wrestling Camp,” but he maybe saw a Hart brother once in his time there, when they showed up to collect the students’ tuition payments. Also, Storm – like several others – have been billed as training at “The Dungeon,” implying that they were broken in by Stu Hart, when in reality they might have trained with some member of the Hart family or just in Calgary more generally. We’re just going with the actual, hands on trainers here, though.

That said, here are a few candidates:

Rey Misterio: WHO’S THAT JUMPIN’ OUT THE SKY . . . no, it’s not the current WWE star, it’s his uncle. The original Rey Misterio wrestled for forty years, most in Mexico, though he also popped up at Starrcade 1990 and in FMW. In the 1990s, he started training luchadors, and he produced some of the best Mexican stars around that time, including his nephew Rey Jr., the original Psicosis, Halloween, Damien 666, the exotico Cassandro, and Konnan, who, though some Amerian fans don’t take him seriously, legitimately was one of the biggest drawing cards in Mexican wrestling history for a period of time. Also, though not his primary trainer, he had a hand in helping Hayabusa’s career along when Hayabusa was on excursion in Mexico.

Danny Davis: As the owner and operator of Ohio Valley Wrestling in the 1990s and 2000s, Davis gets credit for creating some of the most significant names of the last twenty years. John Cena. Dave Batista. Brock Lesnar. Randy Orton. Those four names alone would be enough to get him on the list, but he’s also got plenty more stars of the modern era to his name, including Bobby Lashley, Johnny Nitro, Shleton Benjamin, Santino Marella, and many more. If WWE ever owed somebody a Hall of Fame induction based solely on their training prowess, this would be the guy.

Brad Rheingans: Though he doesn’t have a lot of notoriety as a pro wrestler in the U.S., Rheingans was an NCCA Champion amateur wrestler who went on to finish fourth in his weight class in the 1976 Olympic games. From there, he broke in several notable wrestlers, including Big Van Vader, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Scott Norton, and . . . P.N. News? Well, they can’t all be winners. He also had a hand in some of the early training of Brock Lesnar, though, I’d give Danny Davis more credit for that one.

El Satanico: If you’re talking about wrestling trainers south of the border, there’s probably nobody more prolific than El Satanico, who has been for many years the head trainer at CMLL’s wrestling school. In recent decades, he’s produced luca libre mainstays Averno, Psycho Clown, and Stuka Jr., in addition to giving two guys who are now plying their trade in WWE a start, namely La Sombra – known these days as Andrade Almas – and Mascara Dorada – who is now Gran Metalik.

Stu Hart: Stu is mentioned in the question, and he’s got a great resume as a trainer, obviously helping along the careers of all of his children who were wrestlers in addition to other luminaries like Fritz and Waldo Von Erich, Billy Graham, and Gama Singh. However, as I alluded to above, Hart’s career as a trainer has been overstated over the years, as there was a push to claim just about every Canadian wrestler was trained by him. In fact, his Wikipedia page claims he trained guys like Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Edge, and Christian, when those assertions are a stretch at best.

Kotetsu Yamamoto: Yamamoto’s name isn’t that well-known in the United States, but you have damn sure heard of people that he trained. Starting his in-ring career in 1963, the man retired from full-time in-ring competition in 1980 and started to work in a variety of other roles for New Japan Pro Wrestling, including being one of the primary trainers at the NJPW Dojo. While there, he trained wrestlers who debuted in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and even the early 2000s, with some of his projects including Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Tatsumi Fujinami, the entire “Three Muskateers” group of Shinya Hashimoto, Masahiro Chono, and Keiji Muto, and Shinsuke Nakamura.

Eddie Sharkey: Can you name a professional wrestler who came out of Minnesota and was popular as a “body guy” in the 1980s? Then chances are good that Eddie Sharkey trained him. Both Road Warriors, Rick Rude, Nikita Koloff, Mike Enos, and Wayne Bloom all came out of Sharkey’s camp. He also had some trainees prior to that, including Bob Backlund and Jesse Ventura, and he even had his hand in the start of some more recent competitors like Erick Rowan and Austin Aries.

Hiro Matsuda: Like Eddie Sharkey, Matsuda is associated with a crew of guys who came out of a particular geographic area during a particular time frame, specifically Florida in the late 1970s. Matsuda’s students read like a veritable who’s who, including Bob Orton Jr., Paul Orndorff, B. Brian Blair, Lex Luger, and, a little bit later on in the game, Ron Simmons. However, as almost everybody reading this knows, the biggest jewel in Matsuda’s crown is that he trained Hulk Hogan, one of the single biggest stars in the industry.

Verne Gagne: Given that the AWA hasn’t been a going concern for almost thirty years, many modern fans don’t realize that the State of Minnesota was once a hotbed for professional wrestling. Not only did you have Eddie Sharkey and Brad Rheingans turning out wrestlers, but you also had the biggest name in Midwestern grappling, Verne Gagne, running his own camps. The Blackjacks, Jimmy Valiant, Baron Von Raschke, and Larry Hennig were all Gagne products, as were several world champions, including Ricky Steamboat, the Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, and, most notably, Ric Flair.

Ultimo Dragon y Skayde: In the mid-2000s, there was no wrestling promotion more critically acclaimed and innovative in terms of in-ring action than Dragon Gate, and the vast majority of the wrestlers who formed that company’s roster were put through their paces by the international duo of Japan’s Ultimo Dragon and Mexico’s Jorge “Skayde” Rivera. With training facilities in both countries, they made sure that their students were well-versed in both puroresu and lucha libre and combined in the two in a unique fashion. Their students included Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino, Ryo Saito, and two guys who have recently made waves elsewhere, Shingo Takagi and Kazuchika Okada.

The Final Verdict: You could make an argument that almost any of these trainers could qualify as the answer to Marcus’s question, but after weighing them and giving it some thought, I feel like it comes down to Gagne, Davis, and Yamamoto, as these are the fellows who stand out to me as having produced the most bona fide superstars, even though other trainers may have produced individual wrestlers who turned out to be bigger stars or better in-ring performers. Narrowing it down even further from those three, I would probably give the top honors to Yamamoto, because he seems to have the biggest hit to miss ratio in terms of generating wrestlers who were good to great performers and relatively few who stunk.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

article topics :

Ask 411 Wrestling, Sting, Ryan Byers