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The Ultimate Guide to Surfer Sting – The Original Version of AEW’s Sting

Did you know that Surfer Sting was the look that Sting had before becoming “Crow Sting” in 1996?

AEW’s Sting is one of the most legendary wrestlers of all time. He has wrestled in 5 decades and for every major company in North America. Now, aged 62, he still wrestles regularly alongside the likes of CM Punk and Darby Allin for AEW, and looks as good as ever in the ring.

Sting, or Steve Borden as he is known outside the ring, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018, capping off an incredible career which nobody knew would continue well into 2022. His induction showed just iconic the black and white face paint had become, and how the Sting Crow character was one of the greatest of all time.

But before 1996, Sting was not donning the black and white face paint, which long black trench coat and bat in hand. He had a whole other life in wrestling, as the fast paced, powerful and thoroughly entertaining mega-babyface known as “Surfer Sting”.

Surfer Sting

surfer sting

Sting was not always the brooding, black and white clad crow character fans know and love to this day. And he did not even begin his career as Surfer Sting.

He entered the business as Flash, as part of the Power Team USA group. In the four man group, only he and his team mate “Rock” managed to make a name for themselves in their career. Soon, Flash would become Sting, and team with Rock as part of the tag team The Blade Runners.

This would be the basis of the Surfer Sting gimmick he would adopt, whilst Rock changed his name and moved onto another gimmick entirely – The Ultimate Warrior.

Surfer Sting was the ultimate 1980s wrestling star. He was strong, energetic, had cool face paint and could go to hour long draws with Ric Flair as often as you liked. He became a huge star in World Championship Wrestling, being immediately pushed as one of the top faces in the company.

He won his first world championship in WCW in 1990, when he defeated long-time rival Ric Flair at the Great American Bash 1990. It was the first World Championship for the Surfer Sting character, long before he changed to the Crow Sting character.

He later won his first WCW World Championship, again as Surfer Sting, in 1992 from Lex Luger at SuperBrawl II.

Why did Surfer Sting change to Crow Sting

Sting remained as Surfer Sting throughout the mid-1990s, sharing the main event spotlight when Hulk Hogan joined the company in 1993. Hogan took the top spot in WCW, relegating Sting to just below the main event scene.

Sting remained, however, as resolute as ever. He tried his best to get onto Hulk Hogan’s level and compete, but WCW management could not see past pushing Hulk Hogan as the face of WCW, the company Sting had helped carry for so many years.

However, in 1996 Hulk Hogan turned heel and formed the NWO, along with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. They became the top stars in the company, overshadowing all other talents and ushering in a new era in WCW.

The NWO showed the world how wrestling had changed. Long gone were the days of “Power and Paint” and hulking muscle men eating their prayers and saying their vitamins. Fans wanted something more gritty, more relatable and more real.

So, in 1996, Sting changed from Surfer Sting to Crow Sting, after 9 years of living and breathing the gimmick. He changed his multicolour face paint for a depressing black and white mixture, and donned a trench coat whilst he moped from the rafters above the arena.

The crow gimmick has lasted Sting from 1996 all the way to today. 26 years he has been known with his iconic face paint and attire, but many don’t know that Surfer Sting had a hall of fame career before many even knew who he was.

Who do you think is better – Surfer Sting or Crow Sting? Let us know in the comments or click below to keep reading.