Sting

WWE – The Best Of Sting (Cert 15)

2 Discs Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 430 minutes approx.

It was is possibly a first for the WWE, we have a retrospective set dedicated to a wrestler who has never worked for Vince McMahon during his active years, although he  has recently hooked up with the company one a legend’s deal. And as legends go Sting is definitely among those deserving of this honour and with the WWE in possession of most of the major wrestling video archives they are able to do his career justice.

Unfortunately there is no biographical documentary in this release which is a shame as the story of Sting would be fascinating to hear, not in the least in discussing how he lasted his entire career without stepping foot in a WWE ring. The best we get are archived interview snippets from the man himself from old WCW video releases coupled with soundbites and comments from Tony Schiavone, Vader, Lex Luger, Kevin Sullivan, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, DDP and more.

The story begins with bodybuilder Steve Borden meeting Hogan in the gym Borden owned, apparently not knowing who the Hulkster was, so Hogan takes credit for starting Borden’s career. The earliest footage comes from the Blade Runner days with the late Jim “Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig with snippets of their CWA and Memphis appearances before we get a full match from Bill Watt’s UWF in 1986.

A real gem from the vaults is from NWA Southern Championship Wrestling in which a still very green Sting (reckoned to be 6’6 and 300lbs by the hyperbolic announcer) teams with a jacked up Rick Steiner to face Mike “IRS” Rotunda and a green Ron Simmons. This sets the tone for much of this match list as the compilers have dug deep to retrieve some real lost treasures which will please old school wrestling fans.

Of course Sting’s main legacy is his loyal tenure with WCW beginning with his joining Jim Crockett Promotions in late 1987 (not Jim Crockett’s National Wrestling Alliance as the narrator egregiously misinforms us – Note to WWE: do your homework!!) which later became WCW after Crockett sold the company to Ted Turner. The first match from this fourteen year run is amazingly an NWA World Title match against Ric Flair in a TV main event bout. This was from February 1988 and the TV time ran out while the match was still in progress and led to Sting getting another shot at the first ever Clash Of The Champions in a five star rematch (which the narrator incredulously claims was their first ever meeting despite showing the earlier match) that really put Sting on the map.

Some of the stuff they have unearthed for this collection is a classic wrestling fans dream with some great TV and special event matches which have been long forgotten. There is Sting’s TV title win over Mike Rotunda in a fantastic match, a rematch from the 1989 Great American Bash against the Great Muta which was better than the PPV match and a fun bout against Dirty Dutch Mantell (or Zeb Coulter to younger fans). Sting then teams up with Muta for a short but stiff bout against The Steiners from the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

Unfortunately the period of Sting’s WCW career that will be most familiar to younger fans is the Nitro/Monday Night Wars era which is also his weakest period. Granted he spent a year and a half of it not wrestling and lurking in the rafters or descending from the ceiling to fight off the nWo but once he was active again the quality of his matches suffered. This is largely due to the quality of his opponents who were no longer seasoned veterans still in their prime or fellow up and comers, it was often old timers past their prime like Hogan and Savage, or lazy workers like Kevin Nash.

Regardless Sting gave his all in the ring and his new silent “Crow” persona reinvented both the man and his career positing him as the man to lead the charge against the nWo on behalf of WCW. What blighted the matches as much as the opponents was the booking since everything was about the nWo so the matches would inevitably end in a run in and the big schmooze brawl just as things were getting good.

The ill-advised and short lived Sting heel turn in 1999 is quite rightly ignored jumping to the latter days of WCW when the company was going down the tubes under Vince Russo’s ludicrous command. Sting was now in the position of being the veteran to give the rub and put over new talent but the situations Russo created along with the inchoate talent Sting had to work with made for an unfulfilling low point in his WCW career.

Only two PPV matches are featured – Sting’s title win over Ric Flair at the Great American Bash 1990 and the anti-climatic mess of a bout against Hogan at Starrcade 1997. The fact the majority of the content here is from TV matches is a testament to Sting’s ability and talent as well as the “god old days” when only wrestling mattered and they gave the wrestlers time to have these great matches. For us old school fans the first disc in this set is a genuine treasure trove of rarely seen gems to savour.

As we know Sting didn’t sign with WWF when Vince McMahon bought out WCW in 2001 so as far as this presentation is concerned the story ends here. Naturally his seven year run with TNA won’t be addressed here but for the story WWE needs to tell about Sting this compilation is a fairly comprehensive one.

From a green musclehead who would fall over executing the simplest move to a seasoned veteran who could outshine the younger wrestlers, Sting has cemented his place as a Hall of Fame wrestler and if this set doesn’t convince you – even without the documentary and top PPV matches – then nothing will.

 

Extras:

English Language

English Subtitles for Hard of Hearing

 

Blu-ray only:

Blade Runners & Eddie Gilbert Interview (UWF, April 7, 1986)

NWA World Tag Title Match – Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (c) vs. Sting & Barry Windham (NWA Power Pro Wrestling, January 16, 1988)

“Ric Flair of the 80s” (NWA Pro Wrestling, February 26, 1988)

Sting wins PWI Most Popular Wrestler Award (Clash of the Champions IX, November 15, 1989)

Sting Imitates his Adversaries (WCW World Championship Wrestling, December 9, 1989)

“Horsemen Fever” (WCW World Championship Wrestling, January 20, 1990)

Sting and the Four Horsemen (WCW World Championship Wrestling, January 27, 1990)

Gordon Solie Interviews Sting (WCW Worldwide, February 10, 1990)

JR visits Sting in the Hospital (WCW World Championship Wrestling, February 17, 1990)

RoboCop Vignette (WCW Worldwide, April 28, 1990)

Wrestling Wrap-Up on Sting winning World Championship (WCW Worldwide, July 14, 1990)

Sting as World Champion (WCW Worldwide, July 21, 1990)

The Danger Zone with Sting (WCW Pro Wrestling, July 21, 1990)

Sting vs. Big Van Vader (WCW Saturday Night, October 15, 1994)

Sting & Hulk Hogan vs. The Bruise Brothers (WCW Worldwide, November 7, 1994)

Sting and Lex Luger in the Production Truck (WCW Nitro,  August 5, 1996)

Sting joins the nWo Wolfpac (WCW Nitro, June 1, 1998)

Sting & Lex Luger vs. British Bulldog & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (WCW Nitro, June 29, 1998)

Sting’s Final Promo in WCW (WCW Nitro, March 26, 2001)

 

 

Rating – **** ½

Man In Black

 

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