On May 16th, NZPWI Editor Dion McCracken had the honour of speaking with former seven time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Sting.
Sting spoke freely of his career, from entering the business, to the nWo years, to the demise of WCW and addressed rumours regarding his WWE status.
Sting will be appearing at WWA: The Reckoning, a wrestling PPV that will be held at Auckland’s North Shore Events Centre on Sunday May 25th. Sting takes on Jeff Jarrett, the current NWA World Heavyweight Champion in a title Vs title match up, with Sting the current WWA World Champion.
Dion McCracken: Is this the first time you’ve come down to New Zealand?
Sting: To wrestle, yes. We actually stopped over there once.
What have you heard about New Zealand, very much at all?
That it’s incredibly beautiful, the scenery, the country. I know that The Lord of the Rings, the movie was filmed there. We don’t have things quite like that.
How have you enjoyed working for WWA?
Well it’s just been very, very, VERY brief. But the one tour I did in Europe was good. The group of guys we had were all good guys, the comradery was excellent. I didn’t know any of the guys there except for Lex Luger, and Buff. Well I knew Sabu, and a handful of the guys, but for the most part I didn’t know any of them. But all of us seemed to really click on the tour and it was a lot of fun.
Is it really difficult to stay in shape when you’ve got this relaxed schedule, and stay free of ring rust?
What’s your secret? you were in great shape the last time we saw you in action.
Well, you know, I was able to pull it off in Europe so, you know. I was feeling better and better as the tour went on, we had 19 dates and wrestled 10 times. By the last night we wrestled in Switzerland, in Zurich, and I was feeling really good.
The title win?
Seeing that those shows are so few and far between, is it hard to plan for a big match like your upcoming one with Jarrett?
Yeah. Yeah. It ah, yeah, you know you’re, he’s out there and working pretty regularly. So you know, he should have no ring rust and he should be in pretty good condition. So yeah, it is kinda hard to prepare I mean you can go to the gym and work out and do stair master and hit the road and jog and everything, you know, until you’re blue in the face but, you know, being in the ring is a totally different experience because the crowd in itself can create stress or tension or nerves. But it’s all good, you know, I like to use it to work for me.
Do you think WWA or TNA could successfully compete with Vince McMahon?
Well, I’ll tell you what…the honest answer to that is it’s gonna require beaucoup, beaucoup bucks. It’s gonna require lots of money. It’s gonna take someone who has a lot of stroke, you’re gonna have to have somebody who has instant TV power overnight you know for example WCW was on TBS and TNT. You have to have a tool on television, you know some driving force that is huge.
When I left WCW, or when WCW ended, put it that way, we had 30 to 40 million people a week tuning in worldwide. So, compare that to how many people see Jarrett’s group, and our group – well I shouldn’t say our group [laughs] – but it’s like there’s no comparison right now.
I spoke with Butch Miller recently and he said he remembers when you and Jim Hellwig entered Mid-South Wrestling, and that you were these two huge monsters and really stiff workers. What were those days like and how did you get into wrestling with Jim?
Well first of all The Bushwhackers – both those guys were always good to us, and very, very humble guys.
What was it like getting in? Well, it was an eye opener, it was a culture shock for me. You know I left beautiful Southern California and went down to the middle of the South, you know, I was right in Tennessee and all over the south area. The way of life was completely different, especially on the road. In those days we were traveling every single day of the year, or 300+ days of the year we were traveling 2 to 300 miles just one way, and usually by car.
We were doing a lot of driving and a lot of wrestling. Sometimes two times a day, we wrestled every single holiday. On EVERY holiday – Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Easter Sunday, 4th of July, you name we were doing it.
And we were traveling all over the United States by car and we were only making 50 bucks a night – and I slept in my car…you know I’ve told this sob story many times, wrestling fans probably already know it.
It was tough in the beginning because you could see the big names out there, you could see how big wrestling really was. And he we were, we were in this little tiny regional territory in the middle of the United States driving like crazy, and wishing some day that we’d be with the big dudes.
You’re probably without doubt the most over superstar never to work for Vince McMahon – was that a conscious decision?
Yes. Yes. I was very close on two or three different occasions and I have had really good conversations with Vince McMahon in the past including oh, maybe a year ago now – so we can just skip those rumours [laughs].
Yeah, but I haven’t talked to him in a while. Vince has been good to me in all of our conversations. But in the beginning he never offered any monetary contracts, but Turner always did and was very good to me, and tried to more than accommodate me for all those years.
When you moved from the “blonde Sting” into the “dark Sting” – was that a really difficult decision to make that evolution?
In some ways yes, because I was leaving something behind that had worked for so long. And walking in to the unknown, but I was more than willing to take that gamble because wrestling – I could feel that change was coming on so strong. I’d watched Hogan when he first came back to WCW and he was this red and yellow Hulkamaniac guy, “take your prayers, say your vitamins” and all that, and people started sticking their fingers down their throat, you know?
So finally, the nWo was created with Hall & Nash and Hogan and the stage was set. You know the wrestling fans were changing and I needed to be more cutting edge, and more updated and that’s exactly what I did and it worked.
You’ve been involved in some really great angles like the nWo, Horseman & Flair, Luger, Vampiro. Do you have a favourite out of any of those?
Oh the nWo. There’s no question. Hands down.
The Wolfpac years you seemed to be having a lot more fun?
Yeah it was a little looser, it wasn’t so tense. But during that period of time, without probably realising it then, we were probably in the beginning stages of the demise of WCW.
The match you had with Hogan at Starrcade 97 was absolutely the most anticipated match of all time. Do you think the match lived up to the hype, or it was a hard thing to live up to?
Very, very hard thing to live up to. You know they pushed it, and pushed it and pushed it and pushed it. Yeah, it was very, very difficult. I was out of the ring for 12 months, and Hogan’s knees were REALLY bad at the time. So yeah, it was a little difficult and probably didn’t live up to the hype.
What about the fast three count that never was? Nick Patrick’s three count was booked to be quite quick, but…
Yeah, I still…you know you always wonder about a swerve and to this day I don’t know. I don’t know.
Thank goodness for post-production.
Yeah, well even with that it was already lame. You’re having a hard time living up to the hype and then…you know…
The New Blood angle when Russo took over for the second time – was everyone behind that angle and did you think it was a success?
The which angle?
New Blood Vs The Millionaire’s Club.
I’m sorry, I can’t. New Blood?
Around the time you had the feud with Vampiro.
Oh….my god. Yeah, you know what, it’s obvious those times I’m trying to put out of my mind. [laughs]
The fact that Russo and Arquette held the World Title – did you take that personally?
No. By then I was just so numb to everything – you know I want to say that I threw in the towel, but I don’t think I ever really did throw in the towel. because you’re frustrated, and you’re still questioning, still trying to fight for something better that is still in you. On one side of the fence I felt like that and on the other side of the fence…
It’s like, it’s so out of hand now that they’re given all the stroke in the world and…it’s not working! [laughs] You know…why are we doing this? I just felt like we had gone back full circle almost.
Do you think that Russo missed some potentially huge stars during that period? Are there any guys from that period that you think should have gone a long way but didn’t?
[pauses] No. Can you name one? I mean, I hate to answer a question with a question, but can you name somebody?
I guess Vampiro would be one of the guys from that period that you had a decent enough feud with.
Well I like those guys and you know maybe it wasn’t their fault either, because they weren’t writing the material. You know there’s a generation of guys, there are people in the wrestling business that manage somehow or another against all odds to drive it and be successful – and there’s another generation that…I don’t know why, but they didn’t get there. Maybe they didn’t get their due, I don’t know.
Why weren’t you a part of the WCW Invasion on the World Wrestling Federation?
Because I had a contract that was not assumable. You know, Hogan, there were probably six or eight of us that had contracts like that. And Vince obviously had the choice to buy everyone out of their contracts.
Well it’s a shame, it would’ve been fantastic if you guys were a part of that angle.
Well, if you’re going to have WCW then, you’ve got to have WCW. There wasn’t anybody really there, I mean the mainstay guys, the names weren’t there. I always thought that I had a reputation of it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. There are times to fight for that, but for the most part, I could care less who wins or loses, and I… Well…never mind, I don’t wanna go there. [laughs]
How’s the acting career going?
The acting? I’m not really pursuing that right now. I did a few things for Nickelodeon last year but for the most part, I haven’t really pursued.
Yourself and your wife have been developing a property in Southern California as a Christian retreat.
How is that coming along?
Excellent! I was just up there yesterday. We’ve got a huge multi-purpose field, it’s bigger than a football field. We hydro seeded it last year and it looks like a lush backyard lawn. We’re getting trees growing all over the place, and we’re surrounded by mountains. So we’re protected pretty good, you feel like you’re in another world and you’re only 20 minutes away from one of the biggest theme parks in Southern California, Magic Mountain. And you’re really close to Las Vegas, Palm Springs. It’s pretty cool.
How do you manage to juggle life on the road with being a successful father and husband? It must be incredibly difficult?
I didn’t do too good of a job juggling it around in the past. But what’s good for me now is that I’m not on the road. I do travel, I do Christian Events across the country and do theatrical kind of testimonies about what happened to me in my life, and it’s pretty cool. We were in front of 45,000 teenagers in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in April. We’re doing 10,000 to 20,000 at a clip.
If you did pursue a full time schedule again, do you think being a Christian would severely affect what angles you are and aren’t willing to do?
Yeah, well I believe I wouldn’t be asked to do anything that would put my integrity in jeopardy. I wouldn’t do anything like that, I can’t compromise on that. Yeah, it would be difficult, but I believe that if I worked up at the WWE I don’t think I’d be asked to do anything like that.
No necrophilia angles?
Yeah, no half naked women etc.
You must be incredibly saddened by the death of Elizabeth.
Have you been in contact with Lex since the tragedy?
Yes I have.
What is it about the industry that sees so many die so young?
You know, it’s all over out there. It’s just … there. You know actors and actresses in Hollywood and movies, sports, baseball, football, basketball it’s everywhere, it’s not just wrestling. Wrestling is set apart though because it’s not seasonal. We don’t go for 6 to 8 months to film a big blockbuster movie and go home. We don’t play baseball for 6 to 8 months out of the year and come home.
You know we’re gone, traveling, and turning the light switch on every day of our lives. Every day.
Actually, you’re this super ball and bounce around and play and get trounced on and try to stay in shape and deal with the press and deal with the stress of traveling, and you know, it takes it’s toll. It takes it’s toll.
I have to ask you this – the latest rumour going around is that you’re expected to be with the WWE before Summerslam. Have you got any comment on that rumour?
[laughs] All I will say is that I have not shut the door, I have not officially retired, obviously seeing as I’m coming to Australia and New Zealand, and that I’d entertain it. I’d entertain going, and that’s all I’ll say.
Let’s finish with some random quick fire Q&A. Who was your favourite talent to work with?
Ric Flair. Ric, I’ve got to put Ric up there. As far as matches I’ve got to say Flair and Paul Wight. I used to love to work with the big guys I had good matches with them. You know I had good matches with Luger too, but I’d have to say Flair and then above and beyond the actual matches, I loved being involved in storylines with Hogan and Hall & Nash too.
Who was the stiffest person you worked with?
Rick Steiner. [laughs]
Are there any matches you wish you could do over?
Ahh, yeah, Starrcade 1997. And I forget which year it was, maybe the 2000 Halloween Havoc in Las Vegas. That whole night I’d do over.
Favourite tag team partner?
You know I’d have to say Rick Steiner from way back. I didn’t do a lot of tagging in my career though.
What was the best advice on the industry you ever received.
Ummm…that’s a good question. I think the best advice was just to keep my mouth shut. You know, just do what you do. Let everybody spill out what they want to spill out, it’s very humbling. Even now, to keep your mouth shut, sit in the corner. Well, it’s not like I sat in the corner too much, but keep your mouth shut and just learn. Even now, so many guys think they’ve got it all figured out.
Who are the guys you miss the most now that you’re off the road?
Oh man….of course you now I miss Buff – I always had a good time with Marcus. Rick Steiner. You know Lex, he was off with Liz for a long time so we didn’t travel together. You know, I’d say as a group, everybody. Everyone in the group was pretty cool that we traveled with.
If there was a “Tribute to Sting” DVD made and only three matches could fit – what three would you choose?
Flair, Greensboro, 1988. The first Clash.
Right, I just watched that again last week, it’s definitely a great match.
Yeah, I’d only been wrestling for two years at that time, or 2 and a half.
And maybe the Great American Bash against Flair in 1990.
First World Title win?
Yeah, and I’d just come back from a knee injury.
And then maybe the match with Hogan in 97 even though it got all messed up – the storyline you know. It’s hard to say which three matches you’d put on, but if you could say along with these matches we’re going to give an 8 week package of footage of storylines that lead up to it, so that’s why I put the Hogan one in there.
I’ll give you some names of the current group of talent, and I’d love to hear your opinion on these guys. Triple H?
Triple H…I’d have to say perseverance.
Found his niche.
No one else. No other. He’s the Michael Jordan of wrestling, seriously man. You know how guys say “there’ll never be another Mohammed Ali”. Well, there’s never going to be another Hulk Hogan. That speaks volumes.
Jeff Jarrett? Great worker. One of my favourite guys to have a match with.
I don’t know him, but man…more power to him.
One of the…[laughs]…he is…he is…what’s the word, man. I think he’s talented and a great entertainer, and he’s the only, one of the only…well…it’s tough to say. How can I put it without hurting feelings. You know, the guys that came from an amateur background…of all the guys, he’s the only one who got it.
John Cena was referred to a few months back as “The new Sting”. What do you think of Cena and that comment?
I’ve only seen him a couple of times, and I think he came from the same guy that got me started, Rick Bassman. You know I saw him, he’s got a great look. I don’t know a lot about his style yet. I saw one interview the other day, and I never interviewed like that. I’m flattered that there’s somebody coming up who has been compared to me.
Who do you think is the future of the business?
I do believe John Cena probably is an up and comer, most definitely. I’m kind of bummed out that Jeff Hardy is no longer there. I’m a little bummed to see him gone. Rob Van Dam, I love watching him work. He’s a great wrestler.
You know what, I’d almost like to go down the roster and look.
What about Jericho, Benoit?
Yeah, Chris Jericho, definitely. He’s come in to his own. To see the confidence that he has now, it’s higher than it’s ever been. His ability, his comedic ability. He’s a lot like Kurt Angle – both guys have the same ability to go out there and be a jackass. [laughs] They’re both very, very entertaining.
Are there any side projects that you’re working on that you want fans to know about?
No, not in the entertainment world, not right now. I’m a devoted husband, and father now, and really involved in my church. Things are great.
That’s great to hear. If your career was to end in Auckland, do you have any regrets in the industry?
Yeah, of course we all make choices in our lives or many of us do, that we wish we could take back. But we can’t, you know? God moulded me into the person that I am now and I just, really don’t have regrets. I guess along those lines if I was to say I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I’d gone up to the WWE.