Column: The Future of Sting - Contemplating Retirement

Sting: The History

When you hear the name "Sting" in conjunction with the sport of professional wrestling, your brain automatically focuses on an illustrious and eventful career that has spanned for two decades. From his unmatchable in-ring prowess to his ever-passionate talent on the microphone, or even simply by seeing his many colorful face paints and wrestling attires over the years. Contrary to his popular quote that nothing is for sure, there is in fact one thing that IS for sure about Sting; he is one of the most gifted, successful and most popular wrestlers to grace our squared circle in the late 80's, all through the 90's and still to this day.

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Sting may be most recognized for his success within the company of World Championship Wrestling where he was a loyal member of their roster for over a decade. Sting was one of the first people to be bought over from the merge of Jim Crockett's National Wrestling Alliance promotions when they were bought out by billionaire and media-mogel Ted Turner of the Turner Media Network. The company was re-named World Championship Wrestling and thus started the beginning of an entire new legacy in professional wrestling; and standing at their side was the man known as Sting, donning colorful face-paint and putting on eventful and memorable matches night after night with the likes of the legendary Ric Flair, The Great Muta, The Steiner Brothers and "The Total Package" Lex Luger.

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As time went on in WCW, so did Sting. He re-emerged from the shadows donning black and white face-paint, never speaking a word and never making his intentions clear. He would appear solely to single-handedly contribute to taking down the New World Order brick by brick. He was seemingly a cure for the evil poison that had taken a hold of the heat and soul of WCW and was tearing it apart brick by brick. As time went on in WCW, Sting joined up with the nWo Wolfpac organization ran by Kevin Nash. Sting changed his paint and his attire from the black and white that people had came accustomed to and also began to talk again giving the fans a new lease of life that Sting was still the same man he was all those years ago. The scorpion, the icon, the legend had returned.

WCW came to an end in March 2001; and what better way to close the legacy of one of the most well known professional organizations than with the match that made it mainstream in the first place. The match of course was Sting versus Ric Flair; the on-going professional wrestling rivalry that has its legacy sealed as one of the greatest of all time. With an emotional handshake, hug and kiss goodbye, the two embraced in the ring as Vince McMahon broadcast live his announcement that he had purchased the rival World Championship Wrestling. The wait was over, the ride was over and seemingly, the career of Sting was winding down to nothing more than a mere memory.

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Sting as always refused to go on to the WWF, despite him being offered a contract multiple times and instead he decided to go on tour with World Wrestling All-stars; a promotion formed after WCW had folded which consisted of former WWF and WCW Talent. It consisted of a super-show kind of tactic with the stars of the past and present going on head to head with some of the best that the independent circuit had to offer. However, the promotion was short lived, and what came afterwards was the beginning of a new era in professional wrestling; the dawning of Total Nonstop Action. Sting however did not follow and evidently parted ways with the sport he had solemnly help perfect in the modern day and age despite a few sparing appearances with the company between 2003 and 2004. In late 2005 however, Sting's full-time wrestling return came to pass as a surprise at the end of TNA Turning Point 2005.

Sting: The Present Day in TNA

Now you have your history in tact, let me take you to the present day. Sting is currently competing in the Florida-based Total Nonstop Action Wrestling ran by Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett. Sting has been with Total nonstop Action on sparing appearances since 2003 but has been a full-time member of their roster for the past 3 years. He often disappears and re-appears and has been building a reputation of putting over the young stars in the company, such as the likes of Abyss, Christopher Daniels and more recently "Cowboy" James Storm. This is something that often lacks in modern-day professional wrestling dating back to the days of the late WCW when the older talents used their creative edge to refuse to put over the younger stars and build for the future.

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Despite Sting putting over the young stars whenever possible; he is also a former two-time TNA world Heavyweight Champion holding victories over both Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle in order to claim the gold. Along with this, he is also a former TNA tag-team champion with Kurt Angle adding more to his illustrious title history on the process.

The question I am aiming to explore in this article is; what is next for Sting? What can possibly next for a man who has seemingly done it all in the sport of professional wrestling? At the age of 49 years old, Sting is contemplating retirement at the end of 2008. This could very well be the last year we see the man known as Sting compete in the squared circle. While this is of course a great loss to the sport, especially when it walks so close and hand in hand with the career endings of the likes of Ric Flair and Dory Funk Jr., I believe we should choose not to focus on the fact that Sting is retiring and focus solely on the history, the memories that he has given us over the course of his career, and of course, what lies next in the coming months leading up to the end of his final year in the sport that we all choose to follow thanks to careers such as what Sting has given to us.

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The Total Nonstop Action roster currently consists of a balanced mix of veterans and up and comers. The likes of Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and Sting himself are all former WCW alumni as well as being former World Heavyweight Champions. This naturally adds to the star-power of the roster. The likes of Kurt Angle, Christian Cage and Rhino are former WWE superstars with Kurt Angle being one of the most recognized professional wrestlers in the world and a multiple time world heavyweight champion. Christian was very well talented and well-liked by the fans in the WWE but never got the run he deserved until he came to TNA in late 2005; TNA elevated the career of a star into a superstar. Rhino, as well as being a former WWE mid-card performer is also a former ECW World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most dominant pro wrestlers to grace the squared circle despite his young age of 32.

Then of course there are the stars of the future; the likes of "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles, Petey Williams, "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal and Johnny Devine. All of whom have achieved success in some way since joining the TNA roster. AJ Styles was the first ever triple crown champion in TNA and one of the stars responsible for putting TNA on the map from feuds with the likes of Jerry Lynn, Low Ki and Jeff Jarrett. He has also been apart of matches with the likes of Sting, Lex Luger and Kurt Angle simply adding more to the ever-growing list of achievements for the phenomenal one. Jay Lethal is a Ring of Honor alumnus who was bought to fame at the mind of Kevin Nash. Jay is a huge Randy Savage fan and impersonates him to perfection; this bought him to the pinnacle of success in his young career so far when he chose to impersonate Randy Savage on camera as his gimmick. He is also a former TNA X-Division Champion. Johnny Devine, despite many ups and downs within the TNA Company is now finally being utilized to the fullest of his potential. He is actually a product of the legendary Hart Family Dungeon and a former X-Division champion in his own right.

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These are but a few of the names within TNA. There are several names that are on the brink of superstardom that need only that extra little push in order to take them to the top. They of course are the likes of Robert Roode and "Cowboy" James Storm who have all the potential and all the credentials to make it. One thing that could take them to the top would be a program with Sting.

Sting: The future and the retirement.
Sting, being one of the most recognized professional wrestlers of all time, naturally has all the credentials necessary in order to give a wrestler the boost from star to superstar. James Storm has proved time and time again in both the tag-team and the singles division that he is ready for a main-stream push and that actually came to pass with the return of Sting in March 2008. On Sting's return night, James Storm hit a beer bottle, a classic and signature move of his, over the head of Sting which resulted in a match between the two the following week leading up to Lockdown in which both Sting and James Storm were apart of the opposite teams. This could be used as a build-up for an immense feud between the two which could be used to elevate James Storm to the top of TNA Wrestling.

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By adding to these attacks as time goes on or even coming back to them later on in the year, perhaps leading up to Slammiversary, this could spark an epic battle between the two men. A back and forth routine giving each man a select number of victories eventually leading to a one-on-one bout to decide the supremacy. Win or lose at the end of it, James Storm has the right to say that he gave Sting a run for his money, and if he DID lose; he would lose with a classic heel edge; possibly attacking Sting from behind at the end of the match. This is of course a cheap shot, which would do nothing more than add to the Cowboy's character in general. In a feud with a man with the caliber as Sting; there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Robert Roode is another man who could easily be elevated to the top with a feud with Sting. I have been watching Roode since his days in Team Canada and have always been impressed with his athleticism and as time goes on, his charisma and character continue to develop with him. He is your classic heel character; cocky, egotistical and will use his money to buy his way to victory. He will win at any cost and use any means necessary in order to achieve his goals. He is your vintage heel character with that extra edge. Remember, folks, "it pays to be Roode".

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Robert Roode could easily become engrossed in a storyline with Sting simply by using one of his many heel and cheat-to-win tactics that he incorporates in his character. Costing Sting a victory at the end of a feud sparking another feud in the process would be a classic and memorable way for him to do so, and of course, costing Sting a feud victory would of course garnish him all the attention of the fans.

Roode is one of those people who is right on the edge of a great push and he actually was right there last year when he joined up with the then Christian Cage ran faction for a short period of time before once again and inexplicably disappearing from the Christian Cage storylines. Aligning himself with such established heels as Kurt Angle and the up and coming James Storm would be the perfect way to spark off a storyline with Sting and garnish all the more attention at the same time.

Of course, the list is not reserved for just those men. There are plenty of other people on the roster who could quite easily gain a huge push from a program with Sting. The likes of Frankie Kazarian are easily placed very near the top of my list; but again it is not just limited to there, allow me to elaborate.

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I could easily picture Sting being placed in a program with Samoa Joe and feuding over the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It is no secret at all that Sting draws money, as does Samoa Joe. Sting and Joe are two immensely talented performers with similar styles. With Joe being a unique mixture and creation of the strong-style, submissive and ground game, Sting being a unique mixture of technicality, power and showmanship. The two could easily engross the audience with a captivating feud and some immense matches in the process, but one question that crosses the mind and one problem that stays in tact; which of these two fan-favorites would make the heel turn of the year in order to begin this feud?

At this point in his career I could not see Sting making a heel turn; there is a point in a wrestler's career where the fans love you no matter what out of pure respect. We saw it with the likes of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan and we are still seeing it today with the likes of Sting. Therefore we would be set with a heel turn of Samoa Joe; one of the biggest and most well-loved baby-faces not only in the Total Nonstop Wrestling organization; but in the entire world of professional wrestling today. This would generally be the unexpected heel turn and the "Hollywood Hogan" heel turn in the new millennium. Would anything truly be able to combat the surprise of a Samoa Joe heel turn? In fact, would the TNA creative team even be able to pull it off? With Vince Russo booking it, we could very well see a remake of the infamous Bill Goldberg or Hacksaw Jim Duggan heel turns that very much sealed the nail in the coffin of WCW.

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It would indeed be a risky move to take; but keeping the belt on Samoa Joe for a long time and suddenly having him turn on Sting and engaging in an epic program towards the end of the year; possibly the program that puts Sting into retirement; could prove a major success for both TNA Wrestling and the careers of both Sting and Samoa Joe. What better way to go out than an epic feud with one of the men who will undoubtedly lead our sport of professional wrestling into the future?

Samoa Joe has been one of the most dominating baby-faces in the history of TNA to date; he seemingly lives the gimmick of "no gimmicks needed" thanks to his brute force and unquestionable talent. It was only a matter of time before TNA had to put the belt on Joe, but where do they go from here? Where could they possibly go from here? The hype of Samoa Joe has been building and building since he first arrived in TNA in 2005, and even before when he was the most dominating force to ever set foot in a Ring f Honor squared circle. There is no questioning that the career of Samoa Joe is at the top of the world; but could a heel turn and an epic feud with Sting be the requirement to fire the career of Samoa Joe into the history books? To me, there would be no better fitting end to the career of Sting than to go out to the man who will carry the flag of professional wrestling on his back for many years to come and this feud could easily be the one that becomes the standard and slogan as to what TNA stands for: "We are wrestling."

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However, with 2008 still early on and very much in progress, the career of Sting is still in tact and running strong. It is still technically early days but I personally am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Sting in TNA Wrestling and beyond. Perhaps Sting may be in professional wrestling for many years to come, or perhaps the rumors perceived are true and 2008 will indeed be his final year. This brings us back to one final question that has followed Sting throughout his career. Ladies and gentlemen, there is only one thing that is sure about Sting, and that is that NOTHING is for sure.

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