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What Does The WWE Do With Sting Now That The Streak is Broken?

April 18, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

According to several sources, Sting will be signing or has signed with the WWE. The original plan was to sign Sting to a deal that allowed him to be used in a non-wrestling role in several capacities while wrestling very part time similar to The Undertaker.

For years, the one wrestler who Vince McMahon could not make part of his circus up north was the missing piece to a WCW puzzle that was never complete. Now that appears to be no longer an issue.

The first rumor going out about Sting was that he was signing for only one match at WrestleMania 31 against The Undertaker. The thing is, this type of deal does not help the WWE as it would only allow them to use Sting once. The set up alone would be great and people would get the match they wanted. However, if WWE could sign him to a legends deal, he would be able to enter WWE’s Hall of Fame next year along with having a huge role with WWE Network and wrestling from time to time.

Now that Taker lost to Brock Lesnar and the “Streak” is over, the company must now develop new storylines that keep the 55-year old entertainer as part of their top tier promotional package. Now that a battered and beaten Dead Man appears to be at the end of his career, where does “The Icon” and the WWE meet in terms of entertainment value.

Could Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton or Batista be the right elixir for wrestling magic? And who would he align himself with should he battle Evolution in the near future?

Sting is a fifteen-time World Champion, having held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship six times, the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship twice, the WWA World Heavyweight Championship once and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship four times. He is a WCW Triple Crown winner, has held 21 total championships between WCW and TNA, and is the only man to hold the NWA, WCW, and TNA World Titles in his career. Sting has headlined many major pay-per-views since the late 1980s.

Perhaps most notably, he closed the 1989, 1990 and 1997 editions of WCW’s premier annual event Starrcade, in singles matches and won the Battlebowl main event of the 1991 edition; as well as headlining the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 editions of TNA’s premiere annual event Bound for Glory.

The problems with Sting signing now with the company are specifically related to the veteran talent that recently signed with the WWE. Batista’s win at the Royal Rumble and immediate build soured the fans and made a villain of The Beast. Would that be the same situation with Sting, who the wrestling fans, the WWE Universe and the IWC have waited for years to see in the WWE rings?

And with the signing of an “older” talent, what does that mean to wrestlers like Orton or a rising Roman Reigns, Cesaro and even John Cena? Does he step over the current rising talent to make his mark in the only major promotion he has eluded?

It really depends on who the company brings to the table as a solid opponent for the Stinger.

I love the idea of Sting feuding with someone like Wade Barrett, Orton or maybe even Jack Swagger – three brawlers who can not only go the distance with Sting but also put him over.

Ryback, Curtis Angle, and even CM Punk could be interesting if Punk was still in the company.

The best thing about the Sting signing is that the company now has more options. The WWE needs to understand just how important their new employee really is and how much he means to his fans in order to deliver what is best for business.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WWE Plans Revealed For Sting

April 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sting fans are getting restless. Fans of the former TNA and WCW champion have been told that Sting is coming to the WWE. Reports indicate he is on the way but it may be best to temper your expectations because you won’t see a lot of the stinger inside the ring.

Dave Meltzer breaks the news in his latest Wrestling Observer newsletter. Meltzer has reported for weeks that Sting to WWE is an imminent deal. Meltzer has also reported that the WWE don’t seem to be in a rush to finalize the deal. That may be because Vince McMahon and company have no plans to rush him into the squared circle.

“There is a working idea that he does one WWE match and then retires, which everyone presumes at this point will be with Undertaker at WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara. Whether this is made clear at Mania itself, at Raw the next day, or at some point closer to the show is unclear. Right now the only thing confirmed is the idea is Sting will do one last match. The idea he’s studying Undertaker tapes would lead one to believe it would be that match.”

Meltzer also reports that Sting is booked for a convention signing on WrestleMania weekend at WrestleCon. The report indicates that the promoters were told that Sting is not expected at Mania or at RAW the following day. Meltzer speculates that if Sting appearing in either location is meant to be kept secret, the promoters could wind up being worked by Sting and company to help keep it on the down low.

The idea of signing Sting to only one match is interesting. It is even more intriguing that Sting would leave TNA Wrestling now and sit out for a year, not wrestling again until he is 57 years old. If this is the plan, why not just stay in TNA until January 2015? There is always the likely possibility that TNA didn’t want him back as part of a cost-cutting move.

I have to be honest and tell you that the idea of seeing 57-year old Sting against a banged up Undertaker at WrestleMania 31 is not very appealing. The pressure on these guys would be enormous to pull off a match that even comes close to meeting the hype. I just don’t see it being a possibility, especially if the angle kicks off at Mania or the day after, thus giving this match a full year build.

I am not sure what you do with Sting in the meantime. A DVD would be inevitable as well as appearances on WCW-related home video productions. I suppose he could act as some sort of an authority figure. I would guess that there would be incredible temptation to get him in the ring if he sticks around. The idea of WWE introducing him in April and keeping him alive with videos sprinkled in until next year would likely be a better payoff in the end. I do think that less is definitely more in this case but this is a lot less than fans expected.

At the same time it is probably the most logical use of Sting at his age. He looks great for his age but he is slower and after all, he is 55. Sting in a very small dose could pay big dividends. Whether the WWE has the conviction to hold the Stinger out for an entire year is the bigger question in my mind.

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It Came From the WWE Network: Fixing The Black Scorpion

March 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Growing up, there was this place called Blockbuster in-which you could rent movies and games for a certain period of time for a certain price. The great thing about Blockbuster was their wrestling section at each store had a different selection. Some stores had a good majority of WWE, others had a mixture but the Blockbuster by my aunt’s house was WCW heaven. It had almost every WCW PPV from 1989-1993, so going to my aunt’s house, I always had hope for a Blockbuster trip. One time, I picked Halloween Havoc 1990, a card I will defend till I die. Yes, the ending to Sting/Sid was god awful and it must have been worrying that the fans cheered for Sid over Sting and went nuts when Sid won.

The event had some great matches: A great opener between Midnight Express against Ricky Morton and Tommy Rich, The Steiner Brothers against The Nasty Boys and Scott Steiner’s coming out party, a great Stan Hansen/Lex Luger brawl (Apart of Luger’s run of great PPV matches) and Doom against Flair and Anderson is great even though the finish is bad. What intrigued me the most was this weird guy taunting Sting by the name of the Black Scorpion, and what happened to him? I asked my brother and he told me that the Black Scorpion was Ric Flair. I actually downloaded his theme since I liked it so much. It had this weird vibe, almost like something from a horror movie, it probably was actually.

As I continued to dive down the rabbit hole known as the internet wrestling community, I began to find out more about The Black Scorpion. I read about the angle on various websites such as WrestleCrap and just how bad the angle was overall. The magic tricks that would be laughed out of even the most low-budget casino shows. How the company was trying to get fans to believe that it was actually The Ultimate Warrior in the role and how he wanted to KILL Sting. Of course, what was going on behind the scenes was even funnier than the unintentionally funny segments: They had no idea who was going to be The Scorpion. With the WWE Network launching, I decided to look back at the two PPV’s (Havoc 90 and Starrcade 90) that were a part of the angle. Here is a fourteen point recap of what happened:

-Sting blows knee out

-Jim Herd wants Flair to drop the belt to Lex Luger, Flair refuses.

-Flair is fired; Ole Anderson takes over as booker. Power struggle between Herd and Flair begins.

-Sting wins the title belt.

-Ole Anderson creates The Black Scorpion with the intent on him being the man behind it all.

-Ole Anderson breaks his arm.

-All hell breaks loose.

-Various guys play The Scorpion on TV and on live events

-Ric Flair drinks

-Ric Flair drinks some more and then drinks some more after being asked to be The Black Scorpion.

-Feud blown off at Starrcade in a cage with Dick the Bruiser who looks like Tugboat’s step-dad as ref

-Black Scorpion enters in space ship as multiple Scorpion’s enter.

-Sting beats Scorpion, various Scorpion’s attack him and Bruiser, get their asses kicked.

-It’s revealed as Flair, a lot of people in the audience don’t care or are pissed.

Now, if they had The Scorpion as a guy working in the shadows trying to ruin Sting while cutting intense promos that could have worked. I presume Jim Herd had paid for a magician to perform at his kid’s birthday party and drunkenly gave him his promise to put him on TV. The angle could only be saved by a killer reveal of the character and Flair was not the answer. So, who should have been the Black Scorpion? That’s why I am here with an answer as I put my fantasy booker hat on. Drumroll please……

*Drum*

*Drum*

*Drum*

Lex Luger with Paul E. Dangerously as the mastermind behind it all.

Here is what I’m going to lay out, Luger no shows the bull rope match and a guy like Brian Pillman takes his place. Pillman does well but Hansen counters Air Pillman with the lariat and wins the bullrope match. Everybody wonders where Luger is as Paul E. vaguely mentions transportation issues. Flair bleeds buckets in the street fight against Doom and the main event begins. Yes, we still get all the cheesy junk, but it’s the match that matters. Jim Herd is there to present the belt to the winner since I remember him doing that a few times. In reality, the big problem that Flair as the Scorpion was that him and Sting had so many matches, so the match felt familiar. If you watch it, Flair tries to wrestle a completely different match, but it really doesn’t work. When you slot Luger in the role, he rarely faced Sting outside a match or two. A plus and I can’t believe I’m saying this is that their matches weren’t that great, so people won’t be able to detect anything. Another plus is that Luger’s offense was sort of vanilla in that he had three well known moves: Torture rack, piledriver, and power slam. His clothesline has a notable wind-up, but I’m getting way too analytical here.

Diving into the match, the Scorpion seems to be one step ahead of Sting in the same way Punk was one step ahead of Undertaker at WrestleMania 29. Sting goes for the running bulldog when the Scorpion is doubled over, but moves out of the way at the last moment. The Scorpion works over the neck of Sting, and you can even have Dangerously throw out a name like Terry Funk being the man under the mask. Heck, even have him insinuate that it’s Scott Steiner since he did the Steiner Screwdriver. Ross and Dangerously were probably the best announce team in WCW, so they could make it work. As the match progresses, Sting makes his comeback near the end and it seems like he has this in the bag. Sting locks the Scorpion Deathlock in, but the Scorpion gets out. Sting goes for the Stinger Splash, but The Scorpion moves out of the way. Sting doesn’t hit the turn buckle; he flew too high and hit the cage. The Scorpion turns him around and hits a rather familiar looking Piledriver. Jim Ross picks up on it and even he doesn’t want to admit who he thinks is the man under the mask. The Scorpion covers Sting and The Bruiser counts three.

Chaos erupts in the arena. Jim Herd is even more confused than usual as Gary Michael Capeta doesn’t know to make the announcement. Finally, Cappeta announces that The Black Scorpion is indeed the new World Heavyweight Champion. The sound of a headset being taken off as Jim Ross wonders why Dangerously is leaving the desk. Dangerously’s answer is simple: “Excuse me; I have to congratulate my client.” I could just envision Ross wonder just what in the hell he is talking about as Dangerously approaches Herd and snatches the belt away. Bruiser tries to block him from entering the cage but the Scorpion pushes him aside as Dangerously enters the cage. The Scorpion stomps on a prone Sting as Bruiser attempts to stop him and Dangerously hits him with his cell phone that he had concealed. Dangerously acquires a microphone as he announces the man behind the mask, Lex Luger. Luger has the belt and right as Sting begins to get back to his feet, WHAM belt to the face. Starrcade ends with Dangerously raising Luger’s hand while the crowd is presumably angry and Ross is disgusted.

So, what is the motivation of both men? We find that out on the next episode of World Championship Wrestling (Or WCW Saturday Night for you young’uns). In order to hype it up, WCW Executives have barred any mention of what happened or any footage to be shown until the next episode of World Championship Wrestling. It’s a move to get fans to buy the Tuesday replay, plus it builds interest in what happened at the PPV that caused such controversy. Ross should be the guy conducting the interview and Dangerously comes out at first. He would explain what led to him hatching the scheme to dethrone Sting.

Dangerously: Paul E’s motivation for doing this is simple. Jim Herd and those in charge of WCW have done everything to hold Heyman down. He went from being the top manager of the company to being demoted to announcer. He managed The Original Midnight Express until WCW tossed them away; he managed the Samoan Swat Team until WCW had them deported. He started to take Mean Mark places, but WCW left him for dead. They demoted him to announcer, stripped his managerial license and hoped he would say something stupid to fire him without pay. That’s when he decided to do something that would bring this company to its knees. All he needed was the right man to do it, a man like him who was frustrated in his position.

That’s when Luger makes his entrance, belt and all and proceeds to cut the promo of his career. Luger could a good heel promo; he just couldn’t cut a face promo to save his life.

Luger: When Sting first got injured, the fans turned to Luger to stand up to Flair. He didn’t have to; he was offered a spot in the Four Horsemen if he gave up his title shot. When he did face Flair, he had the belt won but he protected Sting from a Horsemen attack, scarifying the belt for his friendship. He motivated Sting throughout his rehab his knee. After all that, he stepped aside to let Sting get his match with Flair, and he wanted one thing from Sting. He wanted a title shot, but Sting and the people in WCW didn’t want that. They claimed that it would be a compromise of the fans. Luger saw that and found a man in the same position of being held down in Dangerously. Most of all, Sting can’t get a rematch against Luger since he signed to face The Black Scorpion, not Lex Luger. It’s back down to the bottom of the Official WCW Championship rankings for Sting.

In reality, the Black Scorpion angle would be the final nail in Sting’s reign as World Champion. His reign was already struggling going into the angle as attendance didn’t take off for the rematches with Flair or the tags against The Horsemen with Luger as his partner. While Sting was over the fans as champion, Sting being over never translated into big business for WCW like many expected. Sting was made to look like a complete fool, a common theme in the booking of his WCW tenure that he couldn’t figure out that it was The Horsemen behind it all. Sting’s reign would come to an end on a snowy January day at the Meadowlands in-front of 5,000 people as Flair was once again champion. The crowd ridiculed Sting throughout the entire match (A theme throughout the show) causing Sting to start acting like a heel during the match. It should be noted that this wasn’t even the main event of the show, a three minute fifty four second Doom/Windham and Anderson cage match main evented. I presume it took more than three minutes fifty four seconds to put the cage together.

Overall, the change in the reveal of the Black Scorpion would have helped Sting overall. The belt is off him and the fans can get behind the concept of the chase, Sting going after Luger. Dangerously would presumably bring in some hired guns like Vader or even Stan Hansen to prevent Sting from getting back at Luger. You could even set-up Dangerously beginning to build the Dangerous Alliance by trying to poach Windham and Sid from the Horsemen. The Horsemen splitting up was a much talked about angle that could have revived business in the dying days of the NWA before the Turner buyout. This is Robert Goeman playing Robert Goeman, have a good night.

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WWE Reportedly In No Rush To Sign Sting

February 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

What do you do with a man called Sting? Well after years of chasing the darling of WCW, a new report indicates that the WWE are now playing coy with the future of Hall of Famer. Could all of the hype be another WWE disappointment?

Fans have wished to see Sting in the WWE for over a decade. After years of waiting it appeared that their hero was finally going to do business with Vince McMahon. Yet as time ticked away Sting remains on the sidelines. A new report reveals that the WWE may not be as hot on Sting as some have hoped they would be.

Dave Meltzer breaks down the latest on Sting-WWE plans in the recent Wrestling Observer newsletter. According to Meltzer, the WWE are not in a rush to sign the Scorpion King. Why is Sting still a free agent to this day? Well according to the Meltz, the WWE just don’t see him as a priority.

“Sting, while the deal had not been signed as of a few days ago, it’s more the WWE side dragging its feet. As noted, Sting is not the priority in the company the way some of the other big-name deals have been.”

Meltzer also points out that Sting was hoping to wrestle The Undertaker this year at WrestleMania, noting that Sting “bought into the Internet hype for himself.” In other words the buzz around a Sting vs. Taker match was more wishful thinking from fans on the Internet than any actual plan that the WWE had. It is clear that the WWE plan The Undertaker’s WrestleMania match months in advance so it would only make sense that he not be in the plans.

I have to be honest. I am in the boat of the WWE. I was never a big Sting fan although I always thought it would be cool to see him in the WWE. Yet the man is closing in on his 55th birthday and while he looks great for 55 in TNA, the WWE is not TNA. Demands are different, it’s a faster style, and the expectations are just different. Unless Sting could pull off a miracle, I don’t see him being anything but a big disappointment in the ring.

It’s also clear that TNA Wrestling isn’t bringing him back. I’m sure they’d love to have him but a reduced price. Sting isn’t taking a large pay cut so where is he going to go. With the WWE Network launch and WrestleMania on the impending calendar, I could see where they put Sting on the backburner. I have to believe this isn’t the way the Stinger expected this to go down.

I do think we’ll see Sting in the WWE but I still don’t know if it’ll be inside the ring. Maybe he shows up as some kind of an authority figure? I could see that. Maybe he shows up to mentor a rising star? I could also see that. What I can’t see is 55-year old Sting hanging with this crew of WWE wrestlers and apparently, neither can the WWE.

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Sting Reportedly Staying With TNA Wrestling Through 2014

December 09, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There generally isn’t a whole lot of news that come out of the TNA Impact Wrestling tapings these days. However, a sneak peak into the future reveals a match scheduled to tape in January has some enormous implications on both TNA and the WWE’s WrestleMania 30.

TNA will be taping its Genesis television event January 16 for airing later that night on Spike TV. While a whole lot isn’t known this far in advance, a scheduled match is actually one of the bigger stories of both 2013 and 2014. A TNA superstar on the bubble rumored for WrestleMania looks like he will be staying put in the Impact Zone.

Sting’s contract status is always a huge story leading into the next year. Sting is on a yearly deal with TNA which reportedly expires at the end of the calendar year. While rumors of Sting to WrestleMania are nothing new, they were stronger this year than in any other year I can remember. Well we can put those rumors to rest once and most likely for all.

Spoiler Alert: Sting has a match booked on Genesis against Ethan Carter III. With Impact taping on January 16 this is confirmation that Sting is sticking around in TNA for another year. Sting could always be appearing here on a nightly deal but that is not likely according to Dave Meltzer. TNA fans for better or worse will get to keep their Stinger and WWE fans will be Sting-less at Mania.

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised. Sting had been hinting heavily about leaving for the WWE in recent months. Sting outright told several media outlets that he a match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania was a dream match of his. Sting had even expressed frustration after being booked to lose in a match in which he’d never get another TNA world title shot if he lost. The strongest fuel to the fire came when the WWE featured Sting in a video celebrating former world champions several months ago.

I say I am somewhat surprised because I was asked about Sting on a podcast sometime ago. Brian Fritz and I talked about Sting, Hulk Hogan, and Kurt Angle and who we thought would stay or leave TNA. I predicted that Hogan and Angle (Angle’s deal is up towards the latter part of 2014) would leave and Sting would probably stay. Although I will be the first to admit that I had second thoughts after seeing Sting promoted so heavily on WWE television.

I really can’t say it was a big surprise when you look at it from all sides. Sting was not getting his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania this year. Brock Lesnar has been penciled in for that spot with John Cena possibly getting the call according to the latest Mania rumors. That left Sting with no options for any kind of a dream match scenario. I floated the idea of a Sting vs. John Cena main-event a few months back. Other than Cena I really couldn’t come up with anything worth the price of signing the Stinger.

I also think that once Hulk Hogan left the odds were far greater that Sting would stay. TNA is certainly cutting back costs but they aren’t going to let both of their most recognizable stars leave within months of each other. Now for a company that isn’t seeing any real money being drawn from either one of them I think the better business move would have been to let them both walk. At the same time who knows what kind of pressure Spike and Viacom put on the company to keep at least one of them.

Quite frankly I think everyone is better off. With all due respect to Sting, he would have had a real difficult time keeping up with the expectations from WWE fans. It is a different style there and I think the demands would have been too much at his age. In TNA he can shine on an extremely limited schedule and be the big fish (biggest without Hulk around) in a smaller pond.

I think it is fair to say that any chances of Sting ever coming to the WWE for a match or two have expired.

Update: It was brought to my attention that Sting signed a new deal last March, which would indicate his deal isn’t up until then. I was only commenting on what I heard reported on Meltzer’s podcast. I guess it is just wait and see at this point.

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Sting to WWE Rumors Heating Up

October 18, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE WrestleMania 30 rumors are continuing to leak out to wrestling journalists and newsletter writers. The latest isn’t necessarily a new rumor but an old one that seems to gaining more steam than any year before. Could we finally have an opponent for The Undertaker?

Rumors about who The Undertaker will be wrestling at WrestleMania have turned into some of the most fun stories to follow in recent years. The Undertaker is currently in the midst of his hottest streak ever of classic WrestleMania bouts. Will the streak continue this year or will 30’s match be more spectacle than substance?

The latest report from Bryan Alvarez’s Figure Four Weekly newsletter brings up a familiar name when it comes to rumored Undertaker opponents. According to Alvarez, many in the WWE are betting on the arrival of a new opponent. Alvarez reports that there are rough plans on the table for the Sting vs. Undertaker match some have been waiting years for.

The WWE side believes that he’s (Hulk Hogan) ultimately TNA-bound, but they also feel there is a decent chance that they may end up being able to get Sting for WrestleMania next year. At that point, the obvious question would be who he would face.

Alvarez goes on in the newsletter to break down recent rumors regarding an Undertaker vs. Ryback Mania match. The report indicates that the WWE may be leaning towards a Goldberg vs. Ryback Mania match, thus leaving The Undertaker free. The Undertaker vs. Sting at that point makes the most obvious sense to most at this point.

There is also the rumored Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker match for New Orleans. This one seems to be more speculation than news. The match is obvious going back to the worked angle Undertaker and Lesnar did after his championship loss to Cain Velasquez at a UFC event. Vince McMahon worked hard to get the match when Lesnar was in the UFC but the UFC squashed it. The plan going back to last year was a Rock vs. Lesnar match at 30. If Rock doesn’t wrestle I suppose you can always go back to CM Punk or even John Cena for that matter.

As for Sting I think there are a lot of people excited about this who haven’t watched Sting a whole lot in TNA. Sting is way past his prime and while he still looks good for someone his age, he certainly isn’t banging out five-star matches. I think that the standard has been set so high for Undertaker matches at Mania that this one would have a really hard time delivering in regards to the hype. Would it be better than Ryback vs. Undertaker? I think so but the amount of hype around this one is going to be so big that unless they pull of a miracle, I can’t imagine this one being anything more than a big letdown.

One thing is for sure. There is definitely more to the Sting-WrestleMania rumors this year than ever before. Sting’s contract will be up by then and with the current financial woes of TNA, it is hard to believe they keep him. Now if Hulk Hogan winds up leaving TNA which most don’t believe, I can see TNA making a hard push to keep Sting. Regardless the ball is in court and it is now or never for a WWE run.

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Happy 17th Anniversary Hulk Hogan WCW Heel Turn

July 07, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seventeen years ago today history was made and a revolution was started. Hulk Hogan dropped the leg on WCW and joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the New World Order beginning what some would call the greatest angle in the history of pro wrestling.

It is easy for a lot of us to sit back and criticize the many mistakes WCW made but on one night they got it right. July 7 1996 at the WCW Bash at the Beach 96 one angle revitalized a legendary career, gave new life to a struggling company, created icons, and pumped new blood into an entire business that some had left for dead months earlier. The night Hulk Hogan turned heel is something that those of us that were fans in 1996 will never forget.

To fully appreciate the impact of this angle I have to give you a little background. WCW had been a place up to that point that was more appreciated by hardcore and longtime wrestling fans for legends like Ric Flair and young athletic stars like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin. It had a nice following but it was more southern than national. Eric Bischoff was determined to change that and made a stunning move by signing Hulk Hogan in 1994. Bischoff put his job on the line and offered Hogan a deal which the WWE opted not to match.

The deal was a huge gamble for WCW. Hogan had been on the downside of his WWE career. It was generally believed that Hogan would have been used as a guy to hand the torch off to the next generation of stars rather than be the face of the company had he stayed in the WWE. Hogan was also the poster boy of everything WCW fans hated about the WWE. Could Bischoff level the playing field bringing over new fans to outnumber the fans who would be tuning out of WCW?

It was a nice start for Hogan and WCW. Hogan feuded with Vader and Ric Flair early on and did fairly well on pay per view. The awareness of WCW was certainly higher with Hogan on top. Unfortunately the honeymoon would end faster than anyone expected. Hogan had run through everyone on top without returning the favor, no-sold finishers, and ate up every top heel in the company in a little over a year. Hogan without the oversight of Vince McMahon was becoming a real problem in WCW.

Fans started tuning out thanks to Hogan’s ridiculously cartoonish angles and just got tired of seeing the Hulk beat all of his repackaged foes. In addition to their own self inflicted damage, a little company called Extreme Championship Wrestling started making some noise. A big part of that noise was to expose the faults of WCW to their fans. ECW fans heard every week how lame WCW was and more people began laughing at the joke that was WCW.

Eric Bischoff played his ace card and developed a Monday night program to not only counter WWE programming, but steal some of their audience. In addition to the Monday night move, Bischoff slowly started poaching familiar names like Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Even with great talents like Heenan and Savage on board, WCW continued to come off as a company out of touch with the teenage audience and stale on ideas.

This all changed on May 27. Scott Hall clad in denim, walked out on WCW Monday Nitro and caused the biggest stir in the history of the program. Hall laid out a challenge to face three WCW wrestlers and said he would have two friends to join him in the match. A couple of weeks later Kevin Nash joined Scott Hall on Nitro. It was implied that Hall and Nash, seen on WWE TV for years as Razor Ramon and Diesel respectively, had invaded WCW. Nash and Hall were known as the Outsiders to play off of this. For fans that didn’t know any better, this was must-see television because anyone from the WWE could show up next.

WCW was starting to turn things around. Nitro had regularly done ratings in the low-mid twos yet were now pulling in ratings between 3.3-3.5. It may not sound impressive but to increase your ratings that fast and maintain them was a big deal. But even bigger than the ratings and the buyrates was the perception of WCW. WCW was cool again (well most of it).

The angle really kicked into second gear at the Great American Bash 96. Eric Bischoff accepted Hall’s challenge and said his three WCW wrestlers would meet them at Bash at the Beach. Bischoff refused to reveal the names to Hall and Nash. For that, he was powerbombed off the stage through a table by Nash. Today, this is something you probably see every week in wrestling. In 1996 the only place you were seeing anything like this was ECW. It was a very powerful angle and a historic moment in the angle.

To show you how big this angle was the Nitro rating that week shot up from a 2.7 to a 3.4. Nitro would only do one more rating below a 3.0 all year. A “random” drawing was held on Nitro the following week to determine who from WCW would wrestle Hall and Nash. Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger were chosen to represent WCW. Hall and Nash refused to reveal their partner. For the weeks up to the pay per view all of the talk on Nitro was, “who is the third man?” For fans at home not knowing any better, it could have been anyone from the WWE.

The week before Bash at the Beach, Hall and Nash invaded Nitro as usual. The Outsiders walked through the crowd in the middle of a segment with Bischoff and Heenan. The crowd was all over this and just eating it up. Hall and Nash wound up taking front row seats with popcorn in hand. Nash eventually grabbed the microphone and said, “It looks like we’re taking over a little early.” Hall and Nash proceeded to walk up the broadcast area where Bischoff and Heenan were sitting. Heenan left. Security stopped them and Sting, Luger, and Savage all madeup like Sting came out to confront them. Nash yelled, “look at the clowns!” The entire WCW locker room emptied out to support their company. Everyone had to be separated by security. It was an unreal moment and only added more excitement for Bash at the Beach.

Keep in mind the Internet was in its infancy so most of the scoops during this time period came from either the wrestling newsletters or hotlines. Most of the reputable sources reported that Hulk Hogan would be the third man for the Outsiders in the weeks leading to the show. Dave Meltzer on the other hand reported a week or so before the show that Hogan didn’t want to turn heel. Lex Luger was reported to be the backup plan with more sources leaning towards Luger in the days leading up to the show.

I remember watching Bash at the Beach 96 and thinking, “just get on with it.” It was torture sitting through two hours of undercard matches with so much anticipation for the main-event. All in all it was a pretty lousy undercard that night which certainly didn’t help matters. Finally though it was time for the main-event and you could cut the tension with a knife in the living room amongst friends and live on pay per view in the arena.

The Oustiders come out first with no third man. Gene Okerlund walks down the entrance way and looks confused. Dusty Rhodes says on commentary, “This is bogus!” Okerlund then enters the ring to confront Hall and Nash and says, “I don’t see three men here tonight. Where is your partner?

Hall answers and calls him “Scheme Gene.” Hall then tells Gene, “All you need to know little man is that he’s here, and he’s ready.” Okerlund then asks Nash, “Is your partner telling me your third man is in the building?” Nash says, “He’s here alright Gene. We’ve got enough to handle it right now, right here.” The WCW announcers are upset.

Before I talk about the match let me just say that Bobby Heenan is awesome here. He is selling this whole mystery like it is the biggest thing he has ever seen. Considering where he’s been, that said a lot. Heenan is mostly known as a witty commentator but when he had to get an angle over, he was a genius and highly underrated in that regard. We all talk about Heenan’s performance at the 1992 Royal Rumble but this may have been just as good.

Savage, Luger, and Sting all come out with war paint on. It’s your typical match early on, although very heated thanks to the audience. Lex takes a fall early on and is out on the floor. Luger is knocked unconscious on the floor. Heenan than tells the crowd that it’s now two against two, or three against two if the other guy is really in the building. Heenan tells Dusty, “Something’s up.” This was brilliant as it played into the whole drama surrounding the reports of Luger joining the Outsiders. Luger gets stretchered out and at this point just about everyone watching is thinking that Lex is coming back and turning on his friends.

The guys actually have a pretty decent match at this point. The crowd is red hot and everyone appears to be working their butts off. Savage was fantastic here. Savage wrestled with such aggression against Hall and Nash that he really got the whole idea over of how WCW hated these guys for invading their company.

Savage drops Hall with a double axe handle from the top rope. Nash and Hall are both down. Nash gives Savage a low blow. All four guys are out (Sting from earlier). Referee Pee Wee Anderson starts to count them out. The attention is turned to the ramp as Hulk Hogan walks out with the red and yellow and pointing fingers. The fans start screaming, yes screaming for Hulk. Once again this isn’t 2011 and most of the crowd had no idea at all about the Hogan rumors. God love that gullible WCW crowd.

Dusty and Tony Schiavone start screaming about Hulk Hogan being there to save the day for WCW. Dusty sounded a little phony but Schiavone was really believable. Dusty, “Hulk Hogan is in the building.” Schiavone, “You’re damned right he is!” Bobby Heenan asks the million dollar question, “Yeah but who’s side is he on?” Dusty won’t even hear of it.

Hogan enters the ring, Hall and Nash take a powder, and Savage is still laid out in the center of the ring from the low blow (he’s selling this low blow like he’s Josh Koscheck). Hogan leans back in the turnbuckle, looks around, and then drops the leg heard around the world across the neck of his old foe Randy Savage. Heenan announces that Hogan is the third man. Hogan drops another leg while Hall and Nash join the party and give each other high-fives. Heenan calls it, “the lowest shot ever given to professional wrestling.” Keep in mind this was before Dixie Carter’s state of the company address on TNA Impact.

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I hate to keep gloating about Heenan but I will. What made Heenan so great in this situation in addition to everything else was his credibility. Heenan tells the fans that he told them so and he was right about Hogan all of these years. Another heel announcer like Michael Cole would have suddenly started talking about his love for Hogan where Heenan actually turned himself babyface here.

Of course we all know what followed next. Fans started throwing trash into the ring at Hall, Hogan, and Nash. Gene Okerlund immediately entered the ring to ask Hogan what the hell this was all about. One thing to note here is that if this was present day wrestling, you would have turned into RAW or Impact to get this interview. At Bash at the Beach, you were certainly rewarded for the money you paid to watch this great moment.

Hogan cut what would become a historic promo in the center of the ring to explain the turn. Here is the entire transcript of the Hogan promo thanks to IMDB.com.

Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?

Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if they want to hear what I’ve gotta say.

Gene Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absoulutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You’ve gotta be…kidding me!

Hulk Hogan: Well the first thing you’ve gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother?

Gene Okerlund: I’ve been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion.

Hulk Hogan: Well let me tell you something, I made that organization brother! I made the people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan got bigger than the entire organization brother! And then Billionaire Ted amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars. And Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I’m bored brother. That’s why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene.

Gene Okerlund: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what’s in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash.

Hulk Hogan: As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here. For two years brother! For two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities. I did everything for the kids. And the reception I got when came out here, you fans can stick it brother. Because if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all of these “Johnny come latelys” that you see out here wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is now brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Order runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do?

Hulk Hogan: What are you gonna do?

Gene Okerlund: Hey, don’t touch me! Don’t touch me, I’m going to see the lawyers! Tony, Dusty, Bobby, Dammit let’s get back to you!

Tony Schiavone: “All right. We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, For “Mean” Gene Okerlund, I don’t know…I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell! We’re outta here. Straight to hell.”

What made this equally memorable was the scene of Hogan talking as endless amounts of trash rained down on him in the ring. I never saw anything like that and man did it give this angle some extra punch. Seeing how much the fans hated this made it even that much more powerful to the fans at home watching on television. It was a moment that I and many others will certainly never forget.

Jeff Peck and I break this down on an upcoming edition of the Still Real to Us podcast. We debated whether this was the greatest angle ever. I argued that next to Hogan dropping the leg on the Iron Sheik and beginning Hulkamania that it was. It pumped new life into the wrestling business which was struggling across the board. It saved what looked like was the end of the career of Hulk Hogan. It turned Scott Hall and Kevin Nash into icons. Was Stone Cold Steve Austin’s confrontation with Mike Tyson more successful? Maybe, but I don’t know if we would have ever even seen Stone Cold if it weren’t for the N.W.O.

The angle also ended a lot differently than it started. The same angle that revitalized the business and shot WCW to the moon was also badly mismanaged and would end up hurting WCW in the end more than it helped it. It had nothing to do with the Bash at the Beach angle but more to do with the incompetent booking of Eric Bischoff, Hall, Nash, and Hogan.

I could also make an argument that this was the greatest heel turn ever in the business. Bruno Sammartino, Steve Austin, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan were probably the biggest money makers in pro wrestling. All made money as blockbuster babyfaces but only Hogan did it as a blockbuster heel. While I am sure that someone will argue differently, I can’t think of a bigger heel that drew more money than Hogan did during his N.W.O. run.

Happy 17th anniversary Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the N.W.O., and Bash at the Beach 1996.

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Sting Reportedly Very Interested In WWE Deal

July 02, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

There was more than met the eyes to Sting’s rare appearance in a video on WWE RAW this past Monday. According to a report the Stinger has strong interest in jumping and WWE fans can start preparing to see him in 2014.

I am sure I wasn’t the only one that found it a little odd to see Sting featured so heavily in a video on RAW profiling former world champions. The WWE has done plenty of these kinds of videos over the years and Sting was never given this much prominence. Well according to a new report this was more than just coincidence.

Dave Meltzer reported on his F4Wonline.com post-RAW podcast that Sting has sent feelers to the WWE. Meltzer reports that WWE officials are confident that he will sign with them when his TNA deal is up. This is big news although not entirely surprising given recent statements Sting has made on media interviews.

The seeds were certainly planted in that video package looking at the greatest world champions. When Sting comes (always an if to be fair until the contract is signed) he will be seen as a legend among new fans. If you are a Sting fan you couldn’t ask for a better way to get the ball rolling.

Sting has been out the last few weeks doing media for a new movie. In the past when asked about the WWE Sting gave polite answers but remained rather neutral. When asked about interest in the WWE, specifically a WrestleMania match against The Undertaker, Sting has put on his cards on the table and said he’s interested.

It’s no secret. I’ve always wanted to wrestle Undertaker; I’ve said that for years. And who would not want to work WrestleMania.

It would be awesome to have had at least one match with him. Again, never say never. I’m happy right where I am at the moment and we’ll just see what unfolds here.

These statements only came a few weeks ago so the new report is really not that surprising. I also heard rumblings that Sting was a little surprised to be booked to lose in a match where he could no longer challenge for the TNA world title. The Sting to WWE rumors have always been out there but I can’t recall a time where mutual interest has been this public between both sides.

Sting signs a one-year deal with TNA at the beginning of every year. Sting’s current deal should expire in time to have him debut around the Royal Rumble. Sting’s availability throws a real wrinkle into current WrestleMania plans. I don’t think he’s coming unless he’s wrestling The Undertaker. Brock Lesnar is already penciled in with the Dead Man should The Rock be unavailable.

What would happen if Sting is in and The Rock is out? Could they go with a Sting vs. Cena main-event instead and save Taker vs. Sting until the next WrestleMania? Both guys will be much older and there is just something special about doing this match at 30 instead of 31. Cena doesn’t have any strong challengers on the horizon so a Sting vs. Cena match actually makes more sense. Sting was somewhat introduced this past Monday as one of the greatest champions in history. But is that what Sting is coming for?

Regardless it will be interesting to see how Sting is booked in TNA going forward. The company has him for another five months and they appear committed to using him to get a new Main Event Mafia off the ground. If it truly is the end for Sting in TNA does the relationship end badly or do they Sting off with class?

Sting on a reduced schedule could be a great thing for the WWE. You’d get fresh matches, some dream matches, without exposing Sting for being older and slower. Sting’s big worry in the past has been the WWE track record of burying ex-WCW guys. I would have to assume if Sting is coming that he has a personal guarantee that won’t be the case.

WrestleMania 30 just got that much bigger!

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Sting Talks Steroids and Training In The 90s

June 19, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Pro wrestling may be more open than ever in 2013 but steroids are still a taboo subject which is why it is so rare to hear one of wrestling’s biggest stars talk about it. TNA star Sting did and has an interesting take on why some of his peers are more injured today than others.

Sting has been doing a lot of media lately and what is so refreshing about it is his honesty. Sting is out promoting a new movie he is co-starring in with Brian Bosworth. The former WCW and TNA champion is making headlines with practically every interview. My friends over at Muscle and Fitness are the latest media to get Sting in the hot seat and it shouldn’t surprise you that they talk steroids and training.

Of course with M & F there will always be more of an interest in training and conditioning in these kinds of interviews which is something I really enjoy reading. They talked to Sting about training in his prime and the conversation drifted a bit into steroids.

There were guys who weighed a lot less than I did who could easily do that. But I didn’t really train for power or strength. I trained for size. That’s all I was training for. My knees are arthritic now. I don’t have a whole lot of flexibility left. Thankfully, I got smart somehow or another in 1990 and stopped taking steroids – totally stopped. A lot of the guys I ran with all those years continued to take steroids year after year – those guys are having their knees and their hips replaced. I’m not saying everybody who gets their knees and their hips replaced took steroids. I just noticed that the guys who did that were too big, too bulky, too heavy, and the body couldn’t handle it and it took its toll. So that was my one saving grace, but I would train differently now. I’m actually doing pretty good for a guy my age – I just turned 54 – and I’m still hanging in there. I can move a little bit in the ring. I can’t do half of what I used to be able to do, but I get around.

It’s funny because there were always rumors about Sting in the late 1980s early 90s regarding steroids. I mean let’s be real for a second. The man broke into the business with The Ultimate Warrior so there were always those suspicions. I guess you’ll never really know but the fact he is still going and looks pretty good at times for a man who has been in the business as long as he has tells me he took pretty good care of himself.

Sting also talked about retirement and how much longer he wants to wrestle. What’s interesting about his response is when he touched on booking. You’d think a guy that has been around as long as he has would have some interest in working with creative. Think again.

As far as wrestling goes, I’ve stayed away from the creative part of it all these years, I just don’t want to sit in on the meetings and babysit wrestlers and personalities and all that. But, there are things I’d like to see happen in pro wrestling and I may try to make it materialize. I don’t know.

Check out the entire interview where Sting talks more about retirement, his favorite feuds, and Lex Luger’s “freakish strength”.

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