Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso made his return to The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast where he and Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman reflected on pro wrestling in 2020. One of the top stories of 2020 was Sting’s AEW debut. Sting revealed that he had tried to get a match going with The Undertaker but nothing ever transpired, and Barrasso gave his thoughts on Undertaker never wrestling Sting in WWE.
“Well, I guess we don’t know, and I’d love to ask him if I ever get the chance to speak with Mark Callaway, The Undertaker. We don’t know what Taker thought, if he was interested [or] if he wasn’t,” Barrasso noted. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t be, and to me, that’s a money match. Taker didn’t work another match post, and that might not be an anti-Steve Borden thing, Taker didn’t work another after WrestleMania.
“We mentioned Money In The Bank, which is funny because WWE was still pushing the idea we’re going to see Styles – Taker again because, remember, he opens the room, and there’s a casket in the room. That feud was still ongoing. I’m sure Vince McMahon still wants it. I think Taker was the one who said, ‘I’m done,’ and we’ll see if that actually lasts because it’s very rare for people to stay retired in pro wrestling unless your name’s Steve Austin. Very rarely do people not come back. His (Austin’s) last match was WrestleMania 19.”
Barrasso noted that WWE and Vince McMahon always treated Sting as just another legend in WWE. Barrasso admitted that he feels Sting is bigger than just another legend considering his legacy in WCW, but he reiterates that WWE never presented him that way.
“The sad part is it doesn’t surprise me that WWE or Vince McMahon wasn’t interested. They weren’t interested in Sting,” Barrasso said. “What’s the difference if you’re a WWE fan? The way WWE presents, and I think he’s a legend, so I’m not knocking him, but what’s the difference between him and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat? Who was a legend in the the Flair matches, the Savage WrestleMania 3 match, which I don’t know if it’s the greatest of all time because of Hart – Austin a decade later at Mania, but it’s right there. He’s no different than Steamboat.
“Sting, to me, is probably bigger than Taker just in terms of everything with WCW, and that’s not the way he’s presented in WWE. He’s presented as kind of another one of the legends. He was part of that Ric Flair 70th birthday party. He came out and was one of the legends, shook hands and Sting to them was, I always say, to them, to Vince was always just another guy, which is crazy because the fanbase always said otherwise.”
Barrasso then notes that every moment with Sting captivated fans including his tag team match with John Cena. He believes that is one of the reasons why there is enthusiasm for Sting in AEW, and he stated his belief that AEW and Tony Khan will use him well if he wrestles.
“That Cena tag match on RAW was awesome. Those moments,” Barrasso remarked. “Every Sting moment on RAW was gripping, was compelling, was different [and] was new, and it just never felt like it was home for him though. Even the match with Seth Rollins, a bizarre match. It’s like two matches. They have the match. It’s pretty good.
“He takes the turnbuckle powerbomb. He’s obviously struggling. He’s trying to fight through. He locks on a Scorpion Deathlock that’s weak, and you see he’s in pain. The crowd explodes. The crowd is loving this then alright, so he kind of recovers, and you get out of the match. No, he locks it on again, and the crowd goes nuts again. People were hungry for more Sting. So it doesn’t surprise me that five years later, people are interested in AEW. We didn’t see the end of that story, and I know that’s not how Steve wanted to go out.
“So I’m excited to see what happens next. I think he’s in good hands with Tony Khan. That was Tony’s favorite wrestler, and I know Tony’s grown up a lot since then, but I think he still holds certain memories and certain moments in high esteem. I don’t think he’d ever treat Sting there the wrong way. There’s too much at risk for him at 61. They’re going to make sure he’s safe, and that he works with opponents that work safely.”
One complaint that Barrasso and Hausman discussed was the overexposure of Sting. Barrasso elaborated on what WWE and WCW did well in that they used Sting in the right moments to make him feel like an attraction. He admits AEW are still trying to figure things out on how to fully utilize Sting.
“I think we’re seeing too much of him to be honest,” Barrasso expressed. “I wish we hadn’t seen him as much. To me, Sting is special. One of the things Vince did well, and you can like Vince or dislike Vince, and you can like Hulk and dislike Hulk, but one of the things Vince did really well, whenever he had Hogan, was he never really overused him, just throughout their history together, and the business was different too, but he spread out Hogan’s appearances.
“WCW did at times too, but to me, Sting is an attraction, and what makes an attraction? You don’t see it every week because if you see it every week, it’s just another part of the show. I wish we’d see a little bit less of Sting, knowing here’s there. It’s a multi-year deal, and he has AEW tattooed to his soul. That doesn’t change, but I think we’re seeing him too much. I don’t want to see him every week. When sting pops up, I want to be like, ‘Wow! Where did that come from?’ They’re still kind of getting there, but that’s a brand-new story. They’re still kind of figuring that one out.”
You can follow Justin on Twitter @JustinBarrasso. Barrasso’s full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.