You know things in the wrestling business have changed when TMZ is the first to report that Sting has called it a career.
Sources connected to Sting tell TMZ he was evaluated by several doctors who all agree — it’s just too risky for the wrestler to get back in the squared circle … so, he’s decided to hang up his singlet.
We’re told the 56-year-old was formally diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis — a condition affecting the nerves that can result in extreme pain and discomfort.
Sting’s injury is closely similar to that of Edge, which forced his early and sudden retirement in 2011.
The announcement of Sting’s retirement will be made official at the Hall of Fame ceremonies on April 2.
Oh, how the wrestling gods must be turning over in their graves right about now, but our society and the reality generation are cashing in on news of any kind, which shows us all how main stream this business has become. Maybe I am getting old, but the news of Sting’s retirement affected me on Thursday morning. Not the same way watching Ric Flair in his final match affected me (I shed tears with that one), but nonetheless, it moved me a bit. Another one of the greats of my generation was calling it a career. Another hero hanging up his boots. Another soul to be remembered without anyone to replace him.
This is what professional wrestling has become. For the purest, like myself and others my age, it has become a wasteland of theatrics and pyrotechnic adventure, nothing like spinning toe holds and standing drop kicks.
At 57 years old (this week), there isn’t much Sting hasn’t done, so the timing isn’t shocking, just a sad day in many fans’ minds. Sting’s 14-year tenure with WCW and its predecessor, Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP), began in 1987. Dubbed “The Franchise of WCW”. He held a total of 15 championships in the promotion – including the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on six occasions, the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions, and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on one occasion – and made more pay-per-view (PPV) appearances for the company than any other wrestler. He headlined the highest-grossing PPV event in WCW history at Starrcade 1997. Upon the acquisition of WCW by the WWF in March 2001, Sting and his long-term rival Ric Flair were chosen to perform in the main event of the final episode of Nitro.
Everything comes full circle.
Sting wasn’t about wrestling and counter wrestling, but he got in this business at a time when 30-minute matches, chain wrestling, and legitimate feuds meant something. Those things are now frowned upon as attention spans are shorter, the desire for destruction is greater and those of us who remember the first ever Clash of Champions where Ric Flair made the upstart with the face paint a star in 45 minutes.
That’s the Sting I remember. And with another Hall of Fame speech, the character Steve Borden created and lived on screen will forever be etched in infamy. For a business that is based on what is fake and the belief in suspended animation, this is all very real. It is another reminder that performers get injured and their careers are ended in the blink of an eye. Night of Champions 2015 will now have a major significance in fans’ minds. The night Seth Rollins (although it was a botched move) retired a living legend.
Ric Flair will walk to the podium and induct his friend in the hallowed hall of greats. He will recall moments of greatness, how the two will forever be connected through this sport in two promotions and how the two owned WCW and made it what it was. It’s fitting that the separation of time still connects to icons. It’s also sad that fans of a younger generation don’t understand how important these two giants were to the 1990s. That’s chair-shot reality and the Internet working overtime to create the now of this business and not the past of greatness.
I wonder how WWE will chose to handle this bit of news. Will it wait to use it as part of its WrestleMania montage of events or will the company honor this performer’s greatness? For a wrestler who fought the Vince McMahon machine or so long, it’s unfitting he ends up retiring from the same machine that ended his career. This is true reality, however you try to slice it. And once again, another one of my heroes is leaving a legacy of memories behind.