It was NZPWI’s privilege to speak to “The Icon” Sting on Tuesday morning.
Currently with TNA, Sting’s legendary 26-year career has seen him become one of the most recognisable names in all of professional wrestling.
Known as the franchise player of WCW, Sting served as one of the driving forces behind Nitro’s 84-week win-streak in a ratings war with WWF Raw in the 1990s.
Sting is also a 15-time world champion, having held the WCW, NWA and TNA World Championships, as well as the WWA World Championship, which Sting defended against Jeff Jarrett in Auckland in 2003.
Sting spoke to NZPWI’s David Dunn about TNA’s next pay-per-view, Lockdown, his memories of his trip to New Zealand, whether he would accept a WWE Hall of Fame induction, using Twitter, and his proficiency with a backhoe tractor, among other things, on Tuesday morning.
David Dunn: Hello, is this the man they call Sting?
Yes it is.
How are you, sir?
How are you?
I am good – it is an honour to talk to you today, can I just get that out of the way. I’m a big fan. Thank-you so much for taking the time out of your day to have a chat with me at the moment.
It is my pleasure.
Alright, well, if we start things off with TNA Lockdown, which is going to be on pay-per-view in New Zealand on April 16th – the main event of that is going to be Bobby Roode defending the TNA world title against James Storm inside a steel cage in a match that you made when you were the General Manager of Impact Wrestling. How much are you looking forward to seeing that on pay-per-view?
Well I think it’s not only me, I think it’s the whole world that wants to see Bobby Roode get it handed to him, because somehow-or-another he’s managed to hold onto the title without having one legitimate win yet. I will give him the win against me as being legitimate, but that would be probably the only one. It’s amazing to say that, but I think it’s true. Anyway, I think that James Storm – everyone is behind him and I know that people would like to see him pull it off.
Definitely, yes, I’ll be rooting for him come April 16th.
One of the interesting things about Lockdown is that every match is held in a steel cage. What do you think of that concept of having perhaps seven or eight cage matches back-to-back on pay-per-view?
The very first time I heard of it, I didn’t really believe in the whole concept because you’ve got several matches throughout the night and the wrestling fan is going to see pretty much everything under the sun all in one night, and by the time you’re the last match, second-to-last match – semi-main event or main event – wrestling fans have seen just about everything there is possible to see. So it’s kind of hard to [laughs] kind of hard to follow sometimes. But I’ve found that Lockdown is a huge pay-per-view and wrestling fans seem to dig it, they love it, and somehow-or-another all of the great talent that we have here in Impact Wresting delivers something new and refreshing every match, so it’s one of the biggest that we do.
And now this year, Lockdown, you’re going to be taking that on the road, and that’s in Nashville instead of the Impact Zone where a lot of your shows are usually held from. Do you enjoy getting to take the show out and show it off to a different audience?
Absolutely, it’s something that I am pushing for. I would like to see the show go out on the road. I just think it’s time. I think in order to take this company to the next level that is a step that must be taken.
In New Zealand, we’re a little bit further away than Nashville, but what do you think is the chance of one day bringing a TNA live event down to us down here?
That’s a good question. That’s a really good question. Of course, selfishly, I would love to see that happen. The last time I was there is a memory that’s etched in my mind – I’ll never forget it. The fans there were unreal that particular night. The reaction and the noise, it was incredible, and it reminded me of some of our best crowds here in the United States, so, if I have any say in it I will definitely push for that to happen.
I was at that show you’re talking about, WWA The Reckoning in 2003, and that was just phenomenal. Do you have any other memories of your visit to New Zealand back then?
Yeah, somebody stole my ring jacket and tried to sell it on eBay [laughs].
That’s right. That’s not the best, is it?
No… I don’t know if you ever heard that or knew about it but, yeah, seriously, some guy had it up on eBay. We tried to get him shut down and he scrambled and took it off eBay and then it resurfaced again. I don’t know what ever happened with it. Anyway…
On behalf of New Zealand wrestling fans I apologise that that’s your one memory of visiting our country.
Yeah, no worries. There’s a few idiots in every crowd. Nothing you can do about it, it is what it is.
Earlier this weekend, Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – I know that you’ve had a lot of history with Flair and the Horsemen in the past. I was wondering, if you were ever approached by WWE about the possibility of going into the Hall of Fame… would that be something you’d be interested in, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame at some stage?
This is a question I’ve been asked so many times. I don’t know that I’ve ever given a direct answer to anybody on that. It’s just something that I don’t think about, I don’t dwell on it, I don’t wonder about it. But I guess, if it were to happen, and I were to be asked – [if] the slate was clean and open – then yeah, I would probably do that. It would be an honour.
About this time last year there were a bunch of rumours flying around that perhaps you might end up meeting The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Do you have any desire to have a match in a WWE ring at all?
I’ve been outspoken about that over the years. I’ve always said that would be something I would love to do before it’s all said and done.
At the moment I’m very happy where I am and I would like to see this company take it to the next level and become more of a force here in the United States, kind of like we are in the UK.
You’ve recently joined the world of Twitter. How are you finding that – going online and tweeting and hashtagging and all that sort of business?
[laughs] It’s new for me, for sure, and I’m still learning and kind of feeling my way through it all but I think I’m catching on to it, and I’m having fun with it. I knew that I’d be opening the door to anything and everything, because in our business there’s nothing that’s sacred any more. You pretty much open your whole life up and you become more vulnerable by being on it. I’m having fun with it. Overall I’m having fun with it, so, it’s been good.
Do you think social media has changed the way the business works with the way that everyone’s so accessible now to the fans?
Yeah, yeah I do. I think that sometimes there’s a large percentage of the wrestling audience that is programmed because of what they read, and then when they see it live in their own city or their own town it probably registers different… in other words it’s not really an accurate meter all the time, so you can’t really judge by it.
I was checking out your Twitter feed the other day, and a fan had asked you – they wanted to know something that not many people know about you, and you’d replied to them that you can drive a backhoe tractor. How have you come to acquire that skill, and why?
I had – I’ve sold it now – but I had a tonne of property in Southern California. I had a bunch of work going on up there and I was hiring all these people to come in on their tractors and do some major work on a very large, 90 acre piece of property in Southern California. I was trying to build a football field, there were cabins, there was a bunch of stuff I was building on this property. It came out beautiful by the way, but I finally got to the point where I was like “y’know what, this looks like it would be kinda fun”. So I ended up buying my own tractor and I had a buddy of mine showing me how to do it, and I got really good at it. Literally, there were a couple of times when I had the big trucks coming on the property where we had to load the trucks up and have stuff hauled away. So you had to use the tractor to fill the truck up – the dump truck – and the guy shows up and he says “so, who’s going to do the backhoe work?” I said “well, I am”. So I start doing the work and after I get done he tries to hire me. This has happened two times, people tried to hire me to run a tractor.
Wow, that’s amazing. So, if things ever don’t work out for you in the ring, you’ve got a nice back-up career sorted.
Yup – never know.
Sting, sir, you’ve been in the business for so many years – you must have had an amazing amount of Sting merchandise made. I was just wondering – there’s always a lot of interesting things in merchandise – what’s the weirdest piece of your merchandise that you’ve seen?
There was an air-freshener [laughs].
A Sting air-freshener?
An air-freshener that they made with my likeness on it.
Did it smell like you as well?
[laughs] They should have done that, it’s a good idea. That was one thing, and another was these plates. I forget which company does them – I think they’re somewhere in England. They put people like Princess Diana, Elvis Presley, James Dean… they put these people on plates, and most of them are no longer with us. Somehow-or-another my face got on one of those plates, and I just thought that was so bizarre.
Yeah, that’s slightly ominous, isn’t it?
Yeah, exactly [laughs].
You’re taking a break from the ring at the moment after your match with Bobby Roode at Victory Road. Roughly when can we expect to see you get back in the ring on Impact Wrestling?
If I had it my way I wouldn’t be going. I just know that I do need to heal up, and a lot of people don’t realise I wrestled quite a few times in the last year. I’d say more than most guys my age [laughs] so it kind of took its toll, and being the General Manager and all, your hands are full. Your plate is full every day – the demand is high. I don’t believe it’s going to be long. Maybe a few weeks, that’s it. This isn’t going to be one of those things where I disappear for two or three months.
Fantastic, we’ll have to keep watching at 9.30 on Saturdays then – that’ll be excellent to see you back in the ring.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.
Now, of course, you stepped down as the General Manager and passed that responsibility back to Hulk Hogan, a man who you beat for control of TNA at Bound for Glory last year. That was a rematch of your first match from all the way back at Starrcade ’97. When you do end up returning are there any other names from your past that you’d like to lock-up with one more time?
There’s a bunch of people. I could be wrong but I think I know what you’re trying to get at. Here, as far as TNA wrestlers… there are a few guys that I think it would be fun to be in the ring with, and some of the newer guys, just to wrestle one time would be kind of a cool thing. I don’t want to mention names right now…
…but there are a few.
As you sort of mentioned there, one of the things that I enjoy about watching TNA is that there’s always a lot of fresh faces around – guys like Gunner, or Zema Ion, even Garett Bischoff recently. So, with you taking a backseat at the moment, who would you say that fans should be keeping an eye on? Do you think there’s anyone out there who’s got the potential to become the next Sting or the next Hulk Hogan?
There are some guys who definitely have the potential here. I know Ken Anderson is one of them. He has everything that it takes to get there. Some of the newer, younger guys – guys like Magnus. I think he definitely could. Austin Aries, man, I love watching that guy work. He is just outstanding, in my book. Some of the new talent, the younger guys – we’re talking real young guys – the highfliers… we’ve got some very talented people. Talented people in the ring, out of the ring, talents with microphones… I’d say we’ve got a good handful of guys who have the ability, let’s say that, to make it to superstardom.
Alright, well, Sting, sir, thank-you so much for taking the time out of your day to talk to me this morning. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and I look forward to seeing you return to the ring, whenever that may be.
Well I appreciate it. Thank-you very much.