For a long time now, Sting has been the pillar supporting the major companies which have stood against the corporate juggernaut that is WWE. His days in the NWA are legendary, his feuds with Flair and the horseman bring about fond memories of a time when wrestling was wrestling. During his tenure in WCW he was one face which despite it’s many sizes, shapes and colors always seemed to elicit interest from the fanbase. Despite whatever negative thoughts people may have in regard to TNA (Impact Wrestling), it’s creative direction and the level of it’s performers, Sting always stands outs. In recent years he began to stand out in a more negative light, grouped in with this so-called “elite” of old wrestler, with Sting standing as a centerpiece relic of a time long gone, a man who was the epitome of lacking the ability to let go and accept that their prime had passed. However, as has been said hundreds of times, recreating yourself is a necessity in the world of wrestling and if there is one person, aside from the Undertaker, who could pull this off it would be Sting.
During the peak days of WCW when the nWo was running rampant over all of the members of the roster, Sting disappeared and it was his reappearance which transformed him from the blond haired, brightly painted face that would stand against the villains into what some recognized as a version of Brandon Lee in “The Crow.” Despite it’s clear relation to the film, Sting managed to take this character to a new level and made himself not only the main adversary of the nWo but also the one the fans were dying to see step into the ring and end their reign. Who can forget seeing him standing in the rafters, the storyline involving the fake Sting or the first time he came dropping down from the ceiling. Let’s face it, Sting has reinvented himself and by doing so he’d reinvigorated the fan’s interest in him as well as directing his character in a new, exciting direction.
One can’t take the poor booking of WCW into consideration too much in regard to this. Sting’s character was absolutely butchered and pushed into negative directions as were so many during that time. This does not, however, cancel out the fact that his character was fresh, it was exciting and it was completely different from who he had been in the past. Perhaps it wasn’t as epic of the Undertaker going from the deadman to the biker, but it was impressive nonetheless and it is impossible to argue with the positive effects reaped by his change. No one at the time, or at least to the best of my recollection, was complaining or joking too much about his character’s obvious similarity to the graphic novel and film character of “Eric Draven” featured in “The Crow.” At the end of the day people liked Sting, they liked where he went and they wanted to see where he would end up. There was for a time a belief that one day we’d see Sting walk down the ramp in WWE and that the ultimate battle, the big “what if” was Sting vs The Undertaker. Sting however chose to stay out of WWE when WCW collapsed. However, he would later surface in TNA.
Sting’s arrival in TNA and the subsequent years became mostly a perpetuation of the same character we’d always seen. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many wrestlers, the same thing gets worn out, tired and frankly the fans grow tired of seeing it. Fans want new, exciting, interesting. They want someone they can be excited to turn the television on and see. To be kind, Sting began to become a little less interesting, and for those who are blunt, he got boring. There were moments of interest, his beginnings in the Main Event Mafia, his return after returning to be a face. Despite these changes he seemed to remain a very similar character with occasional flashes of what could be or fond little nostalgic moments that remind of why we liked him in the first place. However, all of this has begun to change.
Anyone who has been watching TNA lately has been witness to the new character which Sting has developed which is apparently based upon Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. Whether or not he based it upon a fictional character doesn’t matter as is evidenced by his success in WCW. It is where he takes it, how he uses it, what he brings us that matters. Do his promos and matches entertain you? Do you want to see where his storyline goes? Somewhere along the way older wrestling fans have begun to believe that they know what will and will not work. Perhaps because they’ve watched for years or because they think themselves smarter than the average fan, either way it doesn’t much matter. “Smark” or not, what works works and Sting is proving once again why he is capable of taking something out of pop culture and is more than capable of making it into something fans want to see. Sting has, one more time, reinvented himself and for the moment it seems to be drawing in attention.
Whether you are a fan of Sting or not, and whether you find his portrayal of the Joker to be interesting or derivative you cannot argue against the fact that he has managed to transform himself one more time and in doing so has caused many fans to forget why they’d grown tired of him. They have reinvested, their interest is piqued one more time and regardless of the success of TNA, the future creative direction he follows or who he defeats or loses to, he has shown us one more time why he understands this business and knows how to work it. Love him or hate him in this incarnation you have to respect him and regardless of your feelings about it you have to be curious, even if only slightly, on where it goes from here.