In a profession as divisive and ultimately self-interested as wrestling it’s rare for any reasonable concept of respect to endure. The likes of Randy Savage and Jim ?Warrior who shall not be called Ultimate? Hellwig are fine examples of men who ranked as genuine moneymaking attractions at one time or another in WWE. Alas, their personal contributions to the WWE bottom-line were rendered inconsequential by the hubristic whims of Vince McMahon and his perceived sense of betrayal. Consequentially, like ?The Scottish Play? these men have names that shall not be spoken, less doom befall he/she who dared to utter such dark slander.
Even the two greatest draws in WWF/E history, ?Stone Cold? Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, have at varying times been at loggerheads with Vince McMahon over a variety of issues, usually financial in nature. Hogan, who admittedly has faced a myriad of trouble as of late, remains in the doghouse over a petulant prank and his silly celebrity wrestling show. He will return to grace sooner rather than later. He always does?
This oft repeated scenario, which has befallen virtually every major performer to make money under the WWE umbrella, throws up one major exception. The man in question has worked for rival promotions his whole career and as of right this moment is a TNA employee. Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that this gentleman has committed the ultimate of anti-WWE transgressions in publicly criticising the group with regards to it’s moral calibre and track record. That final note should seal it for you. He is the former leader of the Main Event Mafia and a personal favourite of Dixie Carter-Salinas, Steve ?Sting? Borden.
Since his emergence in the late-eighties no performer in all of wrestling has embodied everything not of WWE more completely than Sting. He was the man the first Turner-funded invasion of wrestling was built around. He was the man (alongside Ric Flair) WCW turned to when the latest ill-conceived scheme to control the world died on its arse. He was ultimately the symbol WCW rallied around when facing down the unstoppable onslaught of the New World Order. He was Mr. WCW.
As one of the few ?home grown? stars of the company and a proven draw, Sting was always handsomely paid and maintained by WCW. When asked a few years ago why he never seriously considered joining WWE, Sting explained that he was never given sufficient reason to even consider jumping. In other words, the WWE never offered enough money to turn his head. In the early nineties, after Ric Flair fell out with Jim Herd, Sting was paid whatever he felt he was worth to stave off the possibility of his leaving the promotion. After the NWO exploded and WCW became the pre-eminent wrestling promotion in America, the frankly impoverished WWF was much more concerned with keeping what little assets remained and thus was in no position to court performers WCW actually wished to retain. As a consequence, the financially prudent Sting remained a WCW employee to the very end, becoming a fabulously wealthy man in the process.
After the fall and absorption of WCW into WWE, there was much hopeful speculation that, amongst the various returns, first-timers like Bill Goldberg and Sting would arrive in the league and realise many a mark’s fantasy of choice. Though Goldberg eventually arrived and departed WWE in a haze of political chicanery and misplaced opportunities, Sting never came. When asked the question (at various points from 2002 onwards) Sting would either politely decline to comment or state his lack of interest in working for Vince McMahon at that particular time. It is this concept of professional courtesy that is the root of the McMahon family’s respect and admiration for Sting.
As stated earlier, Sting has publicly condemned WWE on several occasions, most notably during the ?Hot Lesbian Action?/Katie Vick sagas for what he considered to be a lack of moral responsibility. To be fair, Christian imperative or not, most wrestling fans were in complete agreement with Sting. This period was one of the most notorious in company history. Even Vince McMahon was moved to ultimately condemn the Katie Vick storyline as appalling, which is Vince’s euphemistic way of saying the whole thing was essentially low-rent, exploitive garbage that belonged in an eight-rate snuff film.
Sting has always maintained a certain aloofness when it comes to WWE. Whilst never expressly ruling out the possibility of one day working for the group, he has never given concrete confirmation that he would consider a serious approach should one be forthcoming. Sting is an adroit businessman well aware of his worth and the value of his record, achievements and the novelty of his never having worked for Vince McMahon. Couple this with his standing amongst his peers and unwillingness to bedevil a family and company he’s never worked for and it goes some way to explaining why he remains a massively appealing target for WWE. The McMahon family have actively tried to maintain cordial relations with Sting through Jim Ross (who is used frequently to test the waters of possible recruitment) and the various DVD-based historical re-writes, which are usually nothing but complimentary to Sting and his legacy.
The issue at hand is whether Sting will ever seriously arrive in WWE. In-terms of an extended run, I?d be surprised if such a notion holds any appeal for Steve Borden. The man is rich and in his early-fifties, and would likely see any run in World Wrestling Entertainment as the denouement of his career. In all likelihood, he will be offered a place in the WWE Hall of Fame as soon as he stops signing contracts with TNA. Additionally, I sense the appeal of TNA is diminishing for Sting. For all the control and indulgence he enjoys in Florida, he’s seen it all before and having faced everyone worth facing in TNA, he?ll probably lend some consideration to the WWE option come year’s end.
If Sting signed a 12-month contact with WWE his already bulging bank balance would grow considerably and the whole roster would queue up to wrestle a legend. In the short term, Sting versus virtually anyone in WWE would generate strong interest and considerable moolah, the two things Vince McMahon loves most in life. If I might permit myself a mark’s whimsy, the thought of ?Mr. WCW? Sting facing ?The Conscious of the WWE? The Undertaker fills me with the sort of giddy excitement I haven?t felt for wrestling in many years. Whatever your pleasure, the truth is undeniable. Sting only has to say the word and Vince McMahon will give him a Wrestlemania to cement his legacy. I honestly don?t know if Sting will ever sign a deal with WWE beyond this, but the Hall of Fame awaits and from there, who knows. I guess we?ll have to wait and see. Just like the good old days?
Daniel R. Browne.