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    Sunday, March 20, 2016

    #ThankYouSting: A Look Back at an Iconic Career

    Although he’s yet to make it official, the word on the street is that Sting will be hanging up his wrestling boots and retiring as an in-ring competitor.

    If you've got a better memory than WWE Creative, you probably remember last year's Night of Champions, where the Stinger took on Seth Rollins for the latter's WWE World Heavyweight title. That match didn't just end in a loss for the Icon—he also ended up with a severe neck injury after being powerbombed by Rollins. That injury was so serious that talk of his impending retirement heated up right after Night of Champions, but numerous sources, including the one above, suggest that Sting is getting ready to make it official, most likely at his Hall of Fame induction during WrestleMania weekend next month. And with his retirement, he's going to leave behind tons of memories from almost three decades as a major-league wrestling performer.

    Sting vs Big Van Vader. c/o WhatCulture.com.
    The man born as Steve Borden officially became Sting when he joined erstwhile WCW parent National Wrestling Alliance in 1987, emerging as a hot young talent for the company. Believe it or not, he was actually part of the Four Horsemen for a brief period in the late '80s, only leaving the stable in early 1990 when they turned back into heels. That set up Sting's first run as a world champion as he beat Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight title at the Great American Bash in July 1990. (WCW would secede from the NWA in 1991, and its World Heavyweight title lineage would start there.)

    Winning three WCW World Heavyweight titles along the way, Sting would then feud with the likes of Big Van Vader, Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance, and of course, the Four Horsemen for the rest of the first half of the 1990s, before entering the next, and arguably most iconic phase of his career.

    That next phase was a dark, brooding gimmick inspired by The Crow, as the onetime owner of a blonde crewcut dyed his hair black and began to grow it slightly past his shoulders. He was already rocking a black hairdo in mid-1996, as he emerged as the biggest threat against the New World Order, but would only grow the hair in earnest and wear his distinctive facepaint and black getup and ditch the promos after no one believed him when the nWo framed him up by debuting an impostor. Now this would kick off a long, drawn-out feud where he stalked the nWo, waiting patiently as he sought the right time to challenge "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. That match against Hogan took place at Starrcade, in December 1997, and despite the controversial nature of the match, the Stinger beat the hated Hogan for the title, finally making WCW look good against the dominant nWo.

    We won't talk about the rest of Sting's WCW run due to the clusterfuck the promotion was for most of 1998, and for almost all of 1999 to the company's demise in 2001. But as WCW main eventers like Ric Flair, Booker T, Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and the original nWo trio of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan debuted in or rejoined the WWF/E, Sting was the most notable holdout. He cited the poor booking of ex-WCW talent as one of the main reasons he held out, and ultimately, he decided to join TNA in early 2006, at the age of 46. (Sting made sporadic appearances for the company from 2003 to 2005.)

    c/o TNAWrestling.com
    Despite his advanced age, Sting had a long and productive career in TNA, wrestling in the main event till he left the promotion in 2014, and was eventually inducted to the company's Hall of Fame. He won four World Heavyweight Championships for TNA, and it's worth noting that he made the most heel turns of his career while with the company. Still, at the end of the day, he remained beloved by the fans regardless of his alignment, and was one of the best reasons to watch Impact as #LOLTNA became more and more of a thing. But as he left the promotion, the rumors started swirling again—would we finally get to see Sting in the WWE?

    After more than a decade of holding out, the WWE Universe finally got to see Sting at Survivor Series 2014, as he floored Triple H with a Scorpion Death Drop, costing Team Authority the match and ousting The Authority from storyline power. Two months later, with The Authority back in power, he would again get in the bad guys' way, costing the then-stable a match and allowing John Cena allies Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan to be "rehired" by the WWE. An apoplectic Triple H challenged Sting to a match at WrestleMania 31, and while that match turned out to be an overbooked affair with a disappointing outcome (Triple H won), Sting did finally get to taste a WrestleMania, even if he had to wait till he was 55 to do so.

    c/o FanSided.com

    That brings us to what looks to be Sting's final match—his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions 2015. Unlike the Triple H match, which could have gone either way, this was definitely going to be a case of the grizzled vet putting over the younger champ, but that match was teased with a few of 2015's most memorable moments—Sting coming out of nowhere to attack Rollins during his statue unveiling ceremony, then vandalizing and destroying the statue weeks later. And while many of us believed the end was nigh for the Icon, with a potential match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 being the ideal way to end his career, hardly anyone expected Sting's last hurrah to be at Night of Champions with a freak injury during the match against Rollins.

    Indeed, it's impossible to sum up Sting's career in just a couple of paragraphs. Aside from his runs against the nWo, his time in TNA, and his two short, yet memorable WWE feuds, you've also got his iconic finishers—the Scorpion Deathlock and the Scorpion Death Drop. The Crow-inspired getup endured for almost two decades, but older fans will certainly remember his blonde crewcut and surfer persona from his earlier years in WCW. It's been a long, storied career for the Icon, the Vigilante, the Stinger, or whatever you prefer to call him. And as he prepares to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame, with a retirement announcement very likely to follow, one cannot argue that he truly deserves to be there with the rest of the greats of professional wrestling.

    So, once again, #ThankYouSting.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThankYouSting: A Look Back at an Iconic Career Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Enzo Tanos
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