Welcome the third installment of the Notes from the Nosebleeds dream match analysis. For one reason or another, no wrestling company was able to put on these matches before it was too late. They are what I think of as the greatest things that never happened in wrestling. The first two installments looked at epic showdowns between icons of the industry. The first was Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg, the ultimate dream match from the Attitude Era that never became a reality. The second was Austin and Hulk Hogan in what would have been the clash between the biggest stars in wrestling history. This week we go back again to the dream board and look at a match between two franchises of their time. For nearly two decades these two men’s careers have parallel each other and they have never fought one-on-one as the icons we have come to know them.
The Undertaker vs. Sting
Back in 1991 and into early 1992 this would have been the perfect display of good vs. evil. Sting was the colorful super hero while Taker was stuffing victims into body bags. Soon things began to change for Taker. He became a baby face and remained so for several years. It was as if he was too dark to remain a villain. In some strange way it was consoling to the younger fan base to have Undertaker on their side. By the time 1993 rolled around both had settled into the role of supporting baby face. Sting seemed to go back and forth between the title picture and a lesser role as Ric Flair had now returned to WCW. Undertaker had picked up where Hulk Hogan had left off and was fighting the monsters of the World Wrestling Federation. Even at this time a match between the two seemed like a good idea, if at least an alliance.
The same parallel continued over the next year or two. Sting had taken a permanent backseat to Hulk Hogan while Undertaker was still in his cornerstone role now that Kevin Nash sat atop the WWF Mountain. Taker was still fighting the monsters to the point of redundancy. Over in WCW Hulk Hogan had reinvented himself with a heel turn by shedding the red and yellow and helming the NWO. As a colorful good guy Sting was becoming less and less relevant in a changing industry. Both men needed a change and both would do so in the middle of 1996.
When Undertaker and Mankind began their feud it was unlike any other Taker had been in. Mankind was still a monster, but not the monster Taker had been fighting for the past four years. The Mankind program breathed new life into Undertaker (Mick Foley did something very similar as Cactus Jack in 1992 for Sting as well). For the first time Taker was vulnerable. Sting had shown his vulnerability as well. His fellow teammates in WCW believed he had turned his back on them and joined Hogan’s NWO. Crushed by their lack of faith in him, Sting took to the rafters and donned a black and white outfit that forever put to rest the Sting of old.
In 1997 both Sting and Taker would get a ride atop their perspective organizations. For the first time Undertaker headlined Wrestlemania and walked out with the WWF Championship. In an age of quick title reigns Taker would hold the title for five months before dropping it to Bret Hart. Sting made his return late in the year to unseat Hogan in one of the biggest matches of his career. In 1998 Taker and Sting underwent further character changes when Sting joined the Wolfpac, bringing back brighter shades of the colorful Sting. Meanwhile Taker took a turn for a darker Taker, becoming a heel for the first time in years. In 1999 Sting returned from a hiatus, as did Taker, both darker than ever. Sting was back to the black and white and Taker had launched his Ministry of Darkness.
The last decade has seen Sting turn heel as well as Undertaker undergo changes to the American Badass and back to the Dead Man again. One edge that Taker has over Sting is that despite all their changes, Taker has always remained fresh. Regardless, what makes this match so interesting is their place in wrestling. They have always been special attractions. Sting had his moments atop the company but they were always ruined by the people around him, yet he remained a cornerstone of his company much like Taker has. Undertaker and Sting have been the franchises of their perspective organizations for nearly two decades. A match between them is an obvious dream.
One thing has always kept Sting and Taker apart: contracts. There are so many different phases of these men’s careers that would have been fantastic times to put the against one another yet since they have become the names we know them as we have never seen them go against each other because of company borders. Many dream matches are only appealing on paper. Some are meant to be dream matches only. Once reality they may not be as good as we had hoped, but Sting and Taker does not fall under that category. For the last eighteen years anytime would have been a good time to put these two together in the ring. Standout moments include Sting as a baby face when Taker was stuffing guys in body bags, but Taker hadn’t really come into his own yet. The best for both probably would have been between the years of 1996 and 1998. Regardless of the time, there is no denying that there would have been over the top storylines between them. Early to mid nineties would have had the more cartoonish feel but the Attitude Era could have brought out heavier themes. It’s tough to say how Sting would have felt about participating in an angle with Taker during the Ministry of Darkness run.
There are dream matches that will never happen because of age and injuries. What is different about Sting and Taker is that they have the chance to still make it happen. With the possibility that Sting will leave TNA and be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next year, a Wrestlemania showdown between Sting and Taker wouldn’t be so bad. Sure, it wouldn’t be the match that we would have seen years ago, but they aren’t too beat up to make it happen. Will it happen? Right now it seems like a possibility, but that’s the point of dream matches; we can always dream.