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The Best of Sting - WWE 3-DISC DVD COLLECTION
by Scrooge McSuck
- Released in October of 2014, it seems like a DVD set that would've made a lot more sense to release years earlier, considering WWE has owned the meat of Sting's in-ring career since 2001. Yes, there's the handful of geeks like me obsessed with his UWF days, but this set could've been produced with little effort... and as we're about to see, other than the match selection, there was little effort involved. You could argue they didn't want to release a DVD set devoted to one of the few names of an alleged competitor in TNA Wrestling, but here's a small tidbit: most casual fans I've talked to didn't even know he's wrestled since WCW closed. Ouch.
Back to the lazy production efforts: Despite having a working relationship with Steve Borden, WWE chooses to pass up the chance of doing a recent Interview to pad out the set, much like they did with Warrior on the DVD set devoted to him earlier this year. Instead, they splice in backstage "behind the scene" interviews with Sting... from 1995. Yes, SURFER STING is reflecting on his career twenty years before the set is released! Yeah, you could say "he would just be saying the same stuff... kinda", but it feels cheap. One thing I liked about Warrior's set was his insight to certain matches and topics, regardless of his positive or negative feeling towards the subject. It felt fresh. This felt like left overs.
Note: Just incase it doesn't come across as obvious, I'll just say it now... I'm a huge Sting mark. I was mostly a WWF fan, but when it came to WCW, it was usually Sting and nothing much else. Heck, I even went to work with my face painted like Sting for Halloween. IN 2014. That's some deep-rooted man-crushing right there. Also, with three discs totaling 7-hours of content, we're breaking this up one Disc at a time.
THE BEST OF STING... DISC 1:
The Blade Runners (w/ Eddie Gilbert) vs. Bret Wayne Sawyer & Sean O'Reilly:
From UWF Power Pro Wrestling. Some deep searching puts this as aired on March 15th, 1986, but taped earlier than that, of course, and was on the last episode of Power Pro Wrestling before the switch from Mid-South to UWF. How 'bout that for a tidbit. This must be early in their run, because they're still Rock and Flash. I don't think it was long before the switch to "Sting." Flash and Sawyer start, with Flash shoving him across the ring with ease. Lockup #2 with the same result. Sting looks goofy being over-aggressive on a lock-up attempt and gets trapped in a side headlock. Whip to the ropes, and Flash with a pair of shoulder tackles. Sawyer comes back with a dropkick, again agitating Flash. Rock tags in as the PBP man calls him "deranged." He easily lifts Sawyer with a press slam. O'Reilly tags in and quickly gets pounded on. Rock with a scoop slam and leg drop. He slaps on a bearhug and slams O'Reilly down almost immediately. Flash with a big boot and a bearhug of his own. Rock roughs him up some more and grabs another bearhug. They do it again, but this time Flash comes off the ropes with a clothesline, and Rock covers for the three count at 4:48. 1/2* You could tell how green they were here, making a 5-minute squash match feel like it was running way too long.
Sting & Rick Steiner (w/ Eddie Gilbert) vs. Mike Rotundo & Ron Simmons:
From NWA Southern Pro Wrestling on May 19th, 1987, but I'm pretty sure this was still under the "UWF" umbrella. Rotundo and Steiner start. Lockup and a clean break. Steiner grabs a side headlock, then comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Side headlock takeover, but Rotundo counters with a head scissors. We take a commercial break, and return with Steiner in control with a rear chinlock on Simmons. During the break, SHASKA WHATLEY shows up at ringside to suck up to Gilbert. Back in the ring, Rotundo takes Steiner over with a fireman's carry and grabs an armbar. Sting tags in for the first time and gets taken over with an arm drag. Simmons pounds the arm and grabs a hammerlock. Rotundo gets trapped in the wrong side of town after a weird spot involving the top rope. Steiner with his signature clothesline (it's a Steinerline!), and Sting comes off the top rope with a sledge for a two count. Rotundo blocks a suplex attempt and takes Sting over with his own. Simmons pounds away on both Sting and Steiner with rights. Chaos erupts, "Shaska" Whatley creates a distraction, and Sting rolls up Simmons with one of the sloppiest school boys in history for the three count at 5:59. * Standard stuff here. I'm all for mat wrestling, if it leads to something, but they paced it out like they were going twenty and went straight to the finish.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Ric Flair © (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. Sting:
From the January 2nd, 1988 episode of NWA Pro Wrestling. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but this has to be the first televised match between Flair and Sting. To make things simple: Sting was nowhere near the level of a serious contender. He's also still introduced from "Every Man's Nightmare", a play on Eddie Gilbert's "Every Girl's Dream" introduction. Flair sarcastically feels Sting's biceps before the bell, no doubt taking him lightly. Lockup into the corner, clean break. Flair with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Criss-cross, Sting with a press slam, which Flair sells like he's just been shot. Back in the ring, Flair unloads with chops, but Sting comes back with a second press slam (note: he drops Flair square on his back... it's interesting when you realize Flair NEVER takes bumps that way). Whip to the corner, but the Splash misses. Flair with a delayed vertical suplex, but Sting pops right up, sending Flair to the floor in frustration. Flair with a knee to the midsection, followed by a snapmare. He misses the knee drop, and Sting slaps on a sleeper hold. He lets go and goes for a splash, but meets the knees.
We return from a commercial break with Flair connecting on an inverted atomic drop. Flair with more chops and a wristlock. He blatantly pulls the hair to ground Sting and maintain control of the hold. Sting starts mounting a comeback, but Flair sneaks in a low blow to the delight of fans who appreciate the Art of the Nut Shot. Flair with an atomic drop to the knee, and quickly applies the Figure Four in the center of the ring. Yes, he does use the ropes for extra leverage. Sting starts doing the tarzan chest pound and manages to turn the hold over and reverse the pressure. Flair tosses him to the floor and unloads with more chops. Flair continues to punish the knee. Whip to the ropes, and Sting comes back with a body press for a two count. Back slide gets another two count. Flair sends Sting to the corner, but Sting explodes right back with a thunderous clothesline. Flair tries to suplex Sting from the apron to the arena floor, but Sting blocks and counters with his own suplex. Sting with a flurry of roundhouse rights as the broadcast comes to an end, 14:52 into the match. That's some bullshit there on first instinct, but was a great way into teasing fans to tune in for the next episode to see the outcome, or in some cases, draw local cards to see the Main Event uninterrupted. *** This was the basic foundation of what the template of Sting/Flair matches would end up being. You can tell Sting was still fairly green, but Flair sold his offense well, backed down and gave the impression of intimidation, and without losing the match, made him look like he could hang at a level he probably wasn't even close to being ready for.
Sting vs. "Sweet" Stan Lane (w/ Jim Cornette):
From the October 2nd, 1988 episode of NWA Main Event. Very odd choice, which is something I always appreciate. I don't think Sting was in a defined program, but would soon be shoe-horned into the angle between Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors. I don't know if the Midnight Express have turned face yet, but they were feuding with the "Original" Midnight Express by Starrcade. They have a posedown, with Sting getting the face reaction. Lane with a side headlock, and Sting comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. They trade headlocks. Lane comes off the ropes, but hangs back as he sees Sting set for the press slam. Criss-cross sequence ends with Sting taking Lane over with a hip toss. They do the criss-cross again, and this time it's a Press Slam that sends Lane rolling to the floor, disoriented. Jim Ross teases a Road Warriors heel turn, noting "frustration" about not being the Tag Team Champions. Back in the ring, they trade wristlocks, with Sting gaining the upper-hand. Whip to the corner, and the Stinger Splash misses. Lane measures up and connects with a savat kick. Whip to the corner, and he connects square on the jaw with an elbow. Lane with a spinning kick, knocking Sting into the ropes, and opening the door for a token cheap shot from Cornette. Lane with a "karate kick", knocking Sting over the top rope, to the floor. Lane goes for a suplex, but Sting hooks the top rope, and lands on top for a three count at 8:49. That was very anti-climatic, and the poorly dubbed in commentary (the commentary from the original broadcast, nothing new) didn't even seem interested in the finish. *1/2 I wouldn't be surprised if this was at the tail-end of a long night of tapings, with neither man really going out of the way to get out of second gear. Very disappointing.
Sting vs. "Hacskaw" Butch Reed (w/ Hiro Matsuda):
From the March 26th, 1989 episode of WCW Main Event. I was pretty tempted to list Reed as "The Natural", just out of WWF habit. The less said about Matsuda's stable of heels, the better. This is a rematch from the Chi-Town Rumble PPV. Please tell me it wasn't held in Chicago. That would've been a total WCW move. Reed starts with clubberin' "soup bone" rights. Sting takes his turn unloading with jabs and a comical wind-up right, straight out of an old Popeye cartoon... do people even get that reference these days? Sting grabs a side headlock. Reed escapes with forearms. Criss-cross sequence ends with Sting stomping the face of Reed and coming down with a leg drop. Sting has Reed in a compromising position, and simply stomps the midsection after playing the crowd. Whip to the corner and Sting follows in with an elbow. Reed with a sucker-punch as referee Teddy Long tries to create separation. Reed controls, doing so little of note I almost walked away not realizing the match was still going on. Sting fights out of a chinlock, only to run into a back elbow. Reed to the top rope, but Sting recovers and slams him off. Sting with a pair of clotheslines for a two count. Sting with a slam, but a splash meets the knees. Whip to the ropes, with Reed connecting on a diving shoulder tackle for a near fall. Whip to the corner, Reed misses a charge, and Sting takes him over with a sunset flip for the three count at 10:02. 1/2* Total nothing match. How did Sting go from working with Flair and the Four Horsemen to working regularly with BUTCH REED? And people question the way WWE handles their rising stars today.
NWA Television Championship Match:
Mike Rotundo © (w/ The Varsity Club) vs. Sting:
From the April 1st, 1989 episode of WCW World Championship Wrestling. In today's world of spouting off facts and Championships, this is Rotundo's third reign, with his second reign holding the record for longest tenure as Television Champion (335 days, covering almost all of 1988, and only 6 more days than the second longest, Steve Austin's 329 days spanning the second half of 1991 and first half of 1992). Lockup, Rotundo with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Criss-cross, Sting with a hip toss and clothesline for an early near fall. Lockup to the corner, Rotundo with a cheap shot. Sting grabs a side headlock, but takes a knee to the midsection. Rotundo goes for a diving clothesline, but Sting ducks it, causing Rotundo to go flying over the top rope. Back in the ring, Rotundo with another cheap shot, followed by a pair of forearm uppercuts. Whip is reversed, and Sting comes back with an elbow. Sting with a slam, but a high elbow drop misses. Sting counters a back drop, sending Rotundo to the floor, again. Back in, Sting takes control with a side headlock. Rotundo counters with a back suplex. He misses a follow up leg drop and dropkick, and again gets sent to the floor. This time Sting follows with a plancha! He heads to the top rope and connects with a flying body press for a two count! Sting with another headlock as Lex Luger and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat show up offer support. Rotundo rallies back to his feet, fighting for a hammerlock. Sting shoots him to the corner and follows in with a boot to the midsection. Sting with mounted punches until Rotundo counters with an inverted atomic drop.
Rotundo drops him throat first across the top rope and sends him out in front of Sullivan, Dr. Death, and Spivey, but Luger and Steamboat make sure no shenanigans take place. Sting with a sunset flip from the apron for a near fall. Rotundo with a pair of kicks to the midsection, followed by a leg drop for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Rotundo hooks a sleeper hold. Rotundo with an atomic drop. Sting tries to rally, but Rotundo hits him with one of those invisible foreign objects passed on by Sullivan. Maybe it was his Golden Spike. Sting fights out of a chinlock, only to get his head taken off with a diving clothesline. Rotundo slaps him around instead of going for a cover, pissing the Stinger off. He ducks under a clothesline, and comes back with an atomic drop and a clothesline of his own. Whip to the corner, the Stinger Splash connects! He locks on the Scorpion Death Lock, but Sullivan runs in behind the referee's back and lays Sting out. Rotundo covers, but he gets the foot on the ropes. Rotundo with a double-arm suplex for another two count! Snap suplex for two. Whip to the ropes, Rotundo with a shoulder tackle. They criss-cross, Sting side-steps Rotundo, rolls him up, and gets the three count and the Television Championship at 16:30. ***1/2 Solid wrestling action, hot crowd, and a clean finish for Sting's first Championship in WCW. This could've passed for a great under card match on a Clash of the Champions or PPV.
Sting vs. Ron Simmons:
From the August 18th, 1989 episode of WCW Power Hour (basically the lowest level programming WCW offered at the time). Since the last match, Sting's Television Championship has been held up following a double-pin in a match with the Great Muta. Jim Ross claims Simmons has been training with the Iron Sheik... should we call for an automatic drug test? Trash talk to start, followed by a shoving match. Simmons with a cheap shot. Whip to the corner, Simmons misses a charge, and gets sent to the floor following a clothesline and a pair of dropkicks. Simmons with a sucker punch from the apron, followed by more clubberin' blows. Back inside, Simmons with a Powerslam, followed by a jiggly chinlock. Whip, Sting ducks under a clothesline, and comes off the ropes with a body press for a two count. Simmons with a snapmare, but a trip to the top rope doesn't go so well for him. I don't know if we're at Comedy Hour, but Sting's offense includes goofy kicks and some nose pulling. Sting with mounted punches until Simmons counters with an inverted atomic drop. Simmons with a slam for two, then back to the chinlock. More stuff happens, Simmons no-sells being rammed to the buckle. Sting with a snap suplex for two. They take it to the floor AGAIN. Simmons meets the post and gets dropped across the security rail. Back inside, Sting with a flying clothesline, but Simmons meets him with an uppercut. Simmons tries to bring him in from the apron with a suplex, but Sting counters and rolls Simmons up for three at 10:45... didn't we see that finish on the DVD? ** Interesting choice, and not for any real positive reason. We didn't transition into a new era of Sting's career, it's not a lost classic, and we've already seen an "early days" Ron Simmons as an opponent. It's an OK match, but that's it.
WCW Television Championship Match:
Sting vs. The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart):
From the September 1st, 1989 episode of the WCW Power Hour. As mentioned in the previous match, the TV Title was held up due to a double pin, and this is the match to determine the UNDISPUTED Champion. Feeling out process to start. Muta with a headlock takeover, countered by Sting with a head scissors. Muta unloads in the corner. Whip across the ring is reversed and Sting rolls him up for two. Sunset flip for two. Inside cradle for two. Sting with a slam and a flying body press for another two count and sending Muta to the floor in frustration. Terry Funk shows up to add support for Muta until being ordered back by his Manager, Gary Hart. During the distraction, Muta sneaks back in and pounds away. Muta dumps him to the floor and whips him into the security rail. Hart adds a cheap shot behind the referee's back. Muta continues to dominate with chops. Whip to the ropes, Sting surprises him with a boot, and springs off the ropes with a bulldog. Sting tosses him to the floor and gives him a taste of the rail. Back inside, Muta gets slammed face first to the canvas. Sting with a vertical suplex for two. Whip to the ropes and a clothesline. They take it to the apron for some back and forth kicking... what is this, WCW Wrestling for the NES? Sting tries to lunge forward with an elbow, but ends up hitting the post. Muta with his signature handspring elbow. They do a criss-cross sequence, with the referee getting taken out during a hot shot spot. The Stinger Splash connects, and the Scorpion Deathlock applied, but there's no referee. Hat sneaks in with a cheap shot to the back of the neck. The referee recovers, Muta covers, but it only gets two! Muta with a snap suplex for two. Muta with a back breaker, but the moonsault meets knees! Sting sends him to the corner and hits the Stinger Splash! He mounts him for some rights until Hart hops on the apron and pulls Sting off for the LAME Disqualification at 13:51. Really, that much time for THAT finish? **3/4 We were in fairly pedestrian territory but things picked up late, only to come crashing down with one of the cheapest cop-out finishes possible. Muta would go on and pin Sting for the Title two days later at the Omni in Atlanta, GA. WCW had a tendency to do title switches there for non-televised supercards.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Ric Flair © vs. Sting (w/ The Dudes With Attitudes):
From the Great American Bash held on July 7th, 1990, from Baltimore, MD. Deep breath... since their inaugural wars culminating in a Draw at the first Clash of the Champions, Flair and Sting formed an alliance to face Gary Hart's stable, which included among others, Terry Funk and the Great Muta. This included a short induction of Sting into the newly reformed BABYFACE version of the Horsemen. However, Sting winning the Iron Man Tournament at Starrcade '89, earning a shot at Flair's Championship, turned the Horsemen sour on him, leading to their heel turn, and during the course of that particular show, Sting tore his ACL, taking him out of action for six months, with this being his return to the ring. Stipulations du jour: The Dudes with Attitudes (The Steiners, Junkyard Dog, and Paul Orndorff) will be at ringside, the Horsemen (Arn, Windham, and Sid) are banned from ringside, and Ole Anderson will be handcuffed to newcomer El Gigante. You got all that? In a cute touch, tying in with the "Great American Bash" title, Sting is sporting a red, white, and blue look.
Lockup, and Sting shoves Flair down. They exchange "woo's" before Sting settles in with a side headlock. Flair with chops in the corner, and Sting naturally no-sells them. Sting whips Flair to the opposite corner, throws him over with a press slam, and sends him to the floor following a hip toss and dropkick. Sting follows, taking him over on the ramp with another hip toss. Sting clotheslines Flair back into the ring, but falls victim to the old thumb to the eye trick. Flair with a snapmare, followed by the knee across the forehead. Flair with a delayed suplex, but Sting no-sells, lays out Flair with a series of clotheslines, and comes off the top rope with a body press for a two count. Flair begs off and rolls outside, but is blocked by the Steiners. Flair returns to the ring and kicks the surgically repaired knee, and now his chops are having an effect on the challenger. Whip to the corner, but Sting comes bursting out with a clothesline. Flair avoids an elbow drop and goes for the Figure-Four, but Sting kicks him off. They battle over a knuckle-lock. Sting wins that easily, so Flair thumbs the eyes and chops away some more. Flair throws Sting to the outside and follows with more chops. Back inside, and Flair goes back to working the knee. Sting responds with a series of rights and a hip toss, but he misses a dropkick.
Flair goes to work on the knee with his usual arsenal. Sting fights Flair off and manages to slap on his own version of the Figure-Four! They take it to the floor, again, with Flair laying in with more chops. Whip into the rail, and Sting no-sells. Back inside, and Sting with a series of mounted punches. Flair kicks him low and heads to the top, but to the surprise of maybe three people in the world, Sting recovers and slams Flair off. Whip to the ropes, and Sting blocks a hip toss with a back slide for a two count. Flair kicks Sting's leg from under him again, and goes back to working the knee. Flair with a snapmare and boot to the face, just for the hell of it. Flair calls for the end, but Sting kicks away the Figure-Four a second time. Sting fights Flair off with rights, takes him down with a press slam, and comes off the ropes with a clothesline for a two count. Sting with mounted punches in the corner, followed by another clothesline. Sting brings Flair back in the ring with a suplex for another two count. Whip to the corner, Stinger Splash, and the Scorpion Deathlock is applied. The Horsemen hit the ring, but the Dudes with Attitudes stand in their way. Flair makes it to the ropes to force the break. They battle near the ropes until Flair takes Sting down and covers with his feet on the ropes, but only gets two. Sting with a school boy for a two count. Flair with a headlock, and Sting counters with a head scissors. Sting bridges up from a pin attempt and backslides Flair for another two count. Sting sends Flair to the corner and misses a running knee, meeting the buckle instead. Flair goes for the Figure-Four a third time, but Sting counters with a small package, and Sting finally wins his first World Championship at 16:04 to a monster pop. ***1/4 Not the best encounter between the two, but considering Sting had missed nearly half-a-year of action, it's understandable. Unfortunately, Sting was left with ZERO challengers, meaning he got to do a program with a mysterious magician calling himself the Black Scorpion. Who had the WORST push behind them after winning a World Title in 1990: Sting or Ultimate Warrior?
Sting (WCW Champion) vs. "Dirty" Dutch Mantell:
From the September 2nd, 1990 episode of WCW Main Event, and very rightfully so a Non-Title Match... really, a DUTCH MANTELL match? Newer fans know him as Zeb Colter, but us older fans know him as the Human Chia Pet. He must've had an in with WCW, as he somehow was featured in the WCW Trading Card set of the time, which focused mostly on pushed talent like Sting, Flair, Luger, etc. etc. Sting quickly goes to work on the arm as Jim Ross hypes the upcoming Clash of the Champions, featuring Sting's first national television defense... against the Black Scorpion. Whip to the ropes, and Sting takes Mantell over with a press slam. So far, the highlight of the match is a bunch of elderly women sitting ringside. I'm guessing Vince watched a WCW show from 1990 when he came up with ideas for the Billionaire Ted sketches in 1996. Sting comes off the ropes with a body press and goes back to the arm. Mantell fights free, misses a knee drop, and gets caught in another armbar. Mantell finally takes control with clubberin' blows and raking of the eyes. Sting sends Mantell to the corner, but he rolls to the floor to avoid the Stinger Splash. Back in the ring, Sting with a back slide for three at 8:48. OK? Suddenly, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, and Sid Vicious hit the ring for a 3-on-1 beatdown, until the save is made by Lex Luger, Flyin' Brian, and THE CANDYMAN (Brad Armstrong). DUD The 30-second post-match beatdown was the only thing worth mentioning here.
Disc 1 Final Thoughts: Taking away the laughably lazy filler segments with a Sting interview from 1995, let's break down what was featured: a Bladerunners squash that shows you that it takes time to develop ability, and that Sting has comes lightyears further than Warrior in regard to wrestling ability. The lone match featured from UWF (of typical Sting) was highly disappointing, but then again, there's not a whole lot out there, and he was still pretty bad in the ring. The first real highlight (other than curious circumstances) is the match with Ric Flair, despite the non-finish. Career highlights featuring his Television Championship win over Rotundo and his first World Championship from the 1990 Great American Bash steal the spotlight, of course. There's some head scratchers, though. While I approve of thinking outside the box, the random encounters with names like Stan Lane, Butch Reed, Ron Simmons, and Dutch Mantell felt like padding that we didn't need beyond "hey, he had a television match with this guy." I also have to appreciate they didn't recycle obvious matches, like the Clash #1 match, the Starrcade '88 tag match, or the Starrcade '89 Iron Man Finals, all featured on previous sets. So far, so good.
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