Why didn’t Sting join WWE? Find out why the AEW star and WCW Legend turned down Vince McMahon’s big money offer, even turning down a match with The Rock!
WCW legend Sting was often touted as the greatest wrestler to never join WWE. He was an icon in WCW, holding the world championship multiple times and selling out arenas en masse with his incredible feud with Hulk Hogan and the NWO.
WWE wanted to sign him after the death of WCW, even negotiating with him as he met with Vince McMahon numerous times. However, when push came to shove, Sting always rejected WWE, eventually signing for TNA and eventually AEW.
But why didn’t Sting join WWE after the Attitude Era? Why did he wait until 2014 to make his debut when he was already in his mid 50s and about 20 years past his peak?
Why didn’t Sting join WWE?
In an interview with the Into the Light documentary, produced by the WWE, Sting talked about the purchase of WCW by WWE and why he chose not to sign with Vince McMahon in 2001 and be a part of the historic Invasion angle.
Sting revealed the reason why he didn’t join WWE was the treatment of WCW wrestlers like Booker T and DDP, who joined WWE after the purchase of WCW. He said that the way that the WCW wrestlers were treated a certain way and that “there wasn’t a real WCW” in WWE.
“I talked with Vince McMahon and he was really good to me, he was really good to me […] But I just got this feeling that he didn’t… I’ll put it this way: all the guys from WCW that went to WWE when the acquisition happened by then to me there wasn’t a real WCW because WCW was for so many years it was Hall and Nash, it was Hogan it was Sting it was Lugar it was the Steiner Brothers it was you know a certain package of guys that were gone.“
“They come back-to-back, and they turn around, and they look at each other and The Rock looks at Booker T, and he said, ‘who are you?’ And you know, that one little comment was all it took to just bury somebody, in my opinion, bury somebody like Booker T, and let’s let the world know that you’re a WCW guy, and you’re a peon here. It was gonna require lots of work for Booker T to try and come back, and he did because he’s a talented guy. And after all the years I’d put into wrestling at that point it just seemed like a gamble to me.”
Instead Sting chose to stay out of WWE, which seemed like a good call. None of the WCW wrestlers who jumped over during the Invasion were treated well, with DDP in particular being misused incredibly badly.
Watching him as the stalker to Undertaker’s wife, and watching Booker T being buried completely by The Rock on his first night made Sting have second thoughts upon signing with WWE.
Instead, he opted to work with a little known, brand-new promotion with his old WCW friend Jeff Jarrett.
Sting joins TNA
Sting joined TNA in 2003 after a stint with the World Wrestling All-Stars, and immediately became a huge attraction for the company. TNA featured a huge cast of some of the best independent wrestlers, stars of WCW and many more talents for fans to enjoy.
Sting joined an incredible cast of characters including Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kevin Nash & Scott Hall, and many, many more. It was vying to be a true alternative to WWE, which after beating WCW had no competition in the American wrestling industry.
Sting’s involvement immediately put TNA up against WWE. His star power from his days in WCW helped carry the company, who would later add WWE stars like Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and Christian Cage to their roster in hopes of competing with the best of the best.
Sting wrestled in TNA until 2014, having some huge matches as he went. He even had some of the last matches involving legends of the ring like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.
During his run on top (he was a multi-time world champion in TNA) he was never afraid to put over young talent like AJ Styles when he needed to.
He did later make the move to WWE, in 2014. However, he was in his mid-50s by then, and well past his peak that he hit in the late 1990s. It was still a huge coup for WWE though, as they had finally signed the man who was long considered to be the biggest star to never wrestle inside a WWE ring.
His run was brief, only lasting 4 matches (one which ended in DQ and turned into a tag team match), until a neck injury suffered against Seth Rollins at Summerslam 2015 caused him to retire and enter the WWE Hall of Fame.
However, he did come out of retirement and sign for AEW in 2020, where he still wrestles now. Despite being into his 60s, he still wrestles semi-regularly for the company, tagging with Darby Allin on AEW Dynamite in some huge matches.
Sting showed that he still had it and could go with the best of them, and has been utilised but better than he was in WWE.
Should Sting has joined WWE in 2001?
Nobody can truly say if Sting made the right or wrong call in turning down Vince McMahon’s offer to join WWE.
However, one WCW legend has his view on Sting and why he should have joined WWE once his deal with WCW expired and been a part of the WCW Invasion of WWE.
Booker T, in reference to the Sting interview already mentioned, said he thought that Sting was “unwise” to use his own treatment at the hands of WWE as reason to miss out on a potential career in WWE.
He didn’t want to “disparage” the WCW Icon, but thought he should have taken advantage of the offer at the time and carved out a career of his own in WWE, instead of waiting until 2014 and wasting over a decade outside of WWE.
“Sting did an interview. He said, the reason he never went to WWE was because of the way they treated Booker T when he first got there. He said I was disrespected by The Rock when I first got there, I should have been treated better. And what he was talking about when me and Rock, we did our angle and Rock goes, who are you? And I go, my name is..he goes, ‘It doesn’t matter what your name is.'”
“For him to have missed out on, 15 years, maybe of time, because of that angle I did with The Rock, I thought that was, very, you know, what word should I use because I don’t want to disparage him or anything like that but I just thought that was a very unwise thing to do,“
Sting may be happy with his choice to join TNA instead of WWE, but fans have often wondered what could have been. Even now, the biggest dream match of them all is Sting vs Undertaker, a bout that never happened in WWE, and now that the Undertaker has retired will never happen.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.