Sting is an icon of pro-wrestling and is one man who can boast to having wrestled for all the major companies in North America. He has had legendary runs in WCW, TNA, WWE and finally AEW, being a top star in each company even as he wrestles into his 60s.
In this article, we’ll look at his first matches in all the major American companies and what happened in the rest of his career after his legendary debut matches (and they are all legendary).
Sting’s WCW Debut
Sting’s first match in WCW was a tag team match on NWA Pro in 1988. He teamed with long-time friend Lex Luger in a squash match against David Isley & Larry Stephens. The match lasted less than three minutes and was basically a way to get the pair over with the live crowd, by showcasing how good they were against the pair who were paid to lose.
Sting went on to tag with Luger for many years, until like all of his friends in wrestling, he eventually turned on him and left him out in the cold. He would go on to become a seven time world champion in the company and was perhaps the biggest legend the company ever produced. His feud with Hulk Hogan became legendary in 1997, although the match was ruined by horrible booking at Starrcade 1997.
He Joined TNA Instead of WWE
Sting’s TNA debut came in 2003, during the early years of the company. Started by Jeff Jarrett, who was friends with Sting in WCW, the company was founded as an alternative to the WWE, which had become a monopoly in pro-wrestling after purchasing both ECW and WCW. Featuring a host of former WCW Stars (Jarrett, DDP, Steiner) and some of the brightest young wrestlers in the business (AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, CM Punk), it gave fans something brand new to watch and a product that as far away from what the WWE was offering at the time than you could get in the US.
Sting did flirt with the WWE after WCW closed down in 2001, but ultimately decided against it. He claimed that he didn’t like the way fellow WCW stars like DDP and Booker T had been treated during the Invasion angle and did not want his character ruined out of spite like many of his fellow alumni had suffered under Vince McMahon. He first joined up with the WWA, a short lived replacement for WCW, before agreeing to join Jeff Jarrett’s Total Nonstop Action in 2003.
He signed a four appearances deal with the company, starting with the TNA First Anniversary show. Sting’s first TNA match was on June 18th, 2003 when he teamed with Jeff Jarrett to take on AJ Styles and Styxx (X-Pac) in a tag team bout. The two former WCW Champions defeated the younger tag team which kicked off a series of backstage interviews with Sting and three additional matches in TNA in 2003, which were;
- Sting vs Jeff Jarrett (NWA World Heavyweight Championship)
- AJ Styles & Sting vs Jeff Jarrett & Lex Luger
- Sting vs Jeff Jarrett
Sting would return to TNA again in 2006 to wrestle full time and became a legend in TNA. He won multiple world championships with the promotion and was the first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame in 2012.
He Finally Signed With Vince McMahon In 2014
After years of refusing to come and work for the WWE, he finally signed on the dotted line at the beginning of 2014. He had been negotiating with the company in 2011, with rumours of a dream match with The Undertaker being touted upon his debut. Vignettes even aired which were very obviously meant to be Sting, but when the deal fell through, it was instead revealed to be Chris Jericho (although it was very clearly not meant to be Jericho. Like, at all).
The vignettes featured a man walking in the rain towards a small cabin. The music was an air electric guitar theme, not dissimilar to Sting’s WCW theme song. The man also worse black boots and a long black trench coat – mirroring the iconic look of the “Crow Sting” from 1997 onwards. When this was eventually revealed as Chris Jericho, fans were indeed excited to see Y2J but also very, very confused.
Joining the company in preparation for a huge match at Wrestlemania 31, Sting made his WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014. He helped Dolph Ziggler defeat The Authority‘s team in the classic five-on-five elimination tag match, attacking Triple H and Seth Rollins to give Team Cena the win and oust The Game from power once and for all (for a few weeks, it turned out).
However, his first match would be months later at Wrestlemania 31. Stings first WWE match was against Triple H in a no-disqualification match. The match featured a wide range of interference during, with D-Generation X running it to attack Sting, only to be saved by the New World Order. The two teams battled on the outside in an encounter that Attitude Era fans could only dream of. The end it, Shawn Michaels appeared out of nowhere to nail Sting with a superkick to win the match for Triple H, and cost Sting the victory in his first WWE match,
He Left The Company To Join AEW In 2020
After wrestling four matches in the WWE, one of which briefly forced him to retire due to a neck injury, he joined up with AEW in 2020. Making his debut at Winter is Coming 2020, the Icon aligned himself with Darby Allin, whilst also teasing a match with Cody Rhodes that never came to pass. He began to accompany Darby Allin to the ring for his matches, as well as regular interview segments with Tony Schiavone that would be interrupted weekly by Team Taz (seriously – each week the exact same thing happened).
He wrestled his first match for AEW in a cinematic match alongside Darby Allin at AEW Revolution 2021, facing off against Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. The match took place in an abandoned warehouse and was filmed ahead of time, in order to make the most out of the lack of fans in the arena (due to COVID) and to cover up for Sting’s deficiencies (due to age and injury status).
He later went on to wrestle numerous times in the ring, graduating from cinematic matches to full blown live matches in front of fans. He even began having a number of hardcore matches, taking huge bumps off ladders and through tables, something unheard of from a man who now qualifies for a free bus pass.
Sting has announced that he will retire in 2023, making this year his final year in wrestling. Sadly, his last match will not be against Darby Allin, so speculation is rife as to who will be the last man to set foot in the ring with the legendary Stinger.