Wrestling: Sting

"When a man's heart is full of deceit, it burns up, dies, and a dark shadow falls over his soul. From the ashes of a once great man has risen a curse, a wrong that must be righted. We look to the skies for a vindicator, someone to strike fear into the black hearts of the same men who created him. The battle between good and evil has begun. Against an army of shadows comes a dark warrior. The purveyor of good, with a voice of silence and a mission of justice. THIS. IS. STING."
—voiceover from WCW Starrcade 1997

Sting, August 1999-

Steve Borden (born March 20, 1959) is better known to wrestling fans as "the man called" Sting. Working as a professional wrestler since 1985, the majority of Sting's career saw him working in WCW, where he became one of the company's biggest stars during the 1990s. Starting off as a bleached-blonde surfer dude-type, he eventually transitioned into the Crow-inspired look (which he's retained to this day) while feuding with the New World Order. Sting stayed a member of the WCW roster up until the company's demise in 2001; he wrestled in its last match (where he defeated longtime foe Ric Flair).

Prior to 2014, Sting had never worked for WWE in any capacity since WCW's demise. (WWE's "Superstars" page for Sting counts the main event of the last episode of Nitro on 26 March 2001 as "the first and only time Sting had appeared on a WWE-produced broadcast"). Choosing instead to have control over his career and his gimmick, Sting worked the independent circuit until around 2006, when he became an on-again/off-again member of the TNA roster, with multiple title reigns. He left TNA in early 2014, taking several months off until April, appearing on a WWE special following the death of his good friend and former tag team partner the Ultimate Warrior. He has since appeared in other retrospectives on Warrior's legacy and rumors that he will perform on WWE television, a constant theme over the last decade, have reached new highs, though neither Sting nor WWE proper have made any comment on the matter. On the July 14, 2014 episode of Raw, Sting appeared in a spot for the WWE 2K15 video game as a pre-order bonus character. Sting made his official WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014 attacking The Authority and ruining their match against Team Cena. note 

Among his in-ring achievements, he is a former 2x NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a former 7x WCW World Heavyweight Champion, a former 2x WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, a former NWA World Television Champion, a former 3x WCW World Tag Team Champion, a former 4x TNA World Heavyweight Champion and a former TNA World Tag Team Champion.

As usual, That Other Wiki has a nice, long article on his career.

Do not confuse with the trope, the musician (Gordon Sumner), the film, the dagger used by Frodo and his Uncle, or the painful infliction of the same name.


  • Achilles in His Tent: Late '96 into much of '97.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: For some weird reason, there are tons of comparisons between Sting and The Undertaker.
    • To the point that WWE's "2.21.11" vignettes set off a wave of internet specuation that Sting had finally signed with the company. As it turned out, the vignettes were hyping the return of the Undertaker, but to this day, nobody's sure if Undertaker's return was the initial plan or if negotiations with Sting fell through at the last minute and the vignettes were repurposed. For their part, TNA satirized the vignettes with one of their own, with the date "3.3.11", which made it painfully obvious that Sting would return to TNA programming on that date. In interviews done well after the fact, Sting hinted that WWE came about the closest it has ever come to hiring him around that "2.21.11" timeframe.
  • American Accents: Born in Nebraska, but grew up in Los Angeles; his California accent can be quite prominent when he speaks.
  • Animal Motif: The Scorpion.
  • Arch-Enemy: Ric Flair, Rick Rude, Cactus Jack, Vader, Sid Vicious, Meng, the New World Order
  • Art Evolution: When he first started using the full "Crow" make-up it looked almost exactly like the actual make-up used in The Crow. As time went on, it became substantially different.
  • Badass Longcoat: Once he made the transition to "Crow" Sting, he got one.
  • Bash Brothers: With Lex Luger, The Road Warriors, Ric Flair, the Steiner Brothers
  • Batman Gambit: Disrespected Hulk Hogan in front of Ric Flair to get Flair angry enough to call the match between the two of them back on after Hogan convinced Flair not to. Ironic considering his present gimmick.
  • Batter Up: His Weapon of Choice.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Survivor Series 2014.
  • Boring but Practical: The Scorpion Death Drop (an Inverted DDT) isn't exactly the most exciting finishing move, but you'd be a fool to think that dropping someone on their head isn't a believable move.
  • Breakup Breakout: Sting is arguably the breakout star of the Blade Runners.
  • The Cassandra: When Sting saw through Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's good guy personas in TNA and knew they were plotting to Take Over the World, only Kevin Nash, D'Angelo Dinero, and smarks believed him in his Necessarily Evil crusade.
    • Also a subversion of Crying Wolf, as this was the one notable time he saw the evil plan coming before it happened rather than naively embody the Good Is Dumb and Stupid Good tropes. However, because he had to be cryptic with the hints (possibly so as not to catch a slander case due to absence of evidence), and possibly in part because of his history of failure as a judge of character, few believed him.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Was a bodybuilder before getting into wrestling and, in his prime, he was strong enough to slam super heavyweights such as Vader and The Giant (Big Show)
  • The Comically Serious: His "Crow" gimmick. Inverted with his "Joker" gimmick.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's 55 and he's still wrestling. To put this in perspective, he's OLDER than The Undertaker, the longest serving member of the WWE and who is on the verge of, if not already, retired as of 2014.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: "Surfer" Sting.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite the gothic style, Scorpion motifs, and omnipresent black bat, Sting is pretty much always a face even as a designated heel.
    • One of his gimmicks for much of 2011 took a good bit of inspiration from The Dark Knight version of The Joker, including face paint, being Laughing Mad, and even having a small horde of clown masked Mooks. And yet he was most certainly a face.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy Character Development: Sting is considered to be the "dumbest man in wrestling" because of how many times he's allowed himself to be duped and betrayed over the years, infamously trusting the Four Horsemen twice. Things began to change in the middle of his career with TNA, as he began making moves which were seen as Face-Heel Turns but were actually done for necessary causes and each time his plans came to fruition somehow.
    • We start in 2008 with his helping to organize the Main Event Mafia because he felt the younger guys in TNA were getting too disrespectful. He spoke and acted upon his cause before the group officially formed, and even became its de facto honor figurehead through virtue of walking in having just won the World Heavyweight title. He expected most of the members to eventually betray him all along, and at the end of the day, the measures he took to be the Token Good Teammate led to younger guys accepting his help in fighting the Mafia afterward and he left after the Bound for Glory main event in 2009, in which new world champion AJ Styles beat him to retain the title and then gave him the floor as a sign of ultimate respect.
    • Come the entry of Hulk Hogan into TNA. Sting was seen watching Hogan carefully up in the rafters on Day 1, which Smart Mark fans instantly knew meant he didn't trust him. Next time he showed up a couple of months later was actually teasing a 3-on-2 with Hogan and Abyss against Ric Flair and AJ, but instead turned it the other way around. From there he continued attacking Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and anyone they seemed to be promoting above the rest of the talent, only speaking in cryptic language and hints knowing some of the fans would catch on, rather than shout what he knew/suspsected from the rooftops and make himself looks like the typical jealous distrustful bastard against the hot new toy in town that you see at least once on every television show. And he was right on the money. Not only did Hogan and Bischoff indeed out themselves at BFG 10.10.10 as being Evil All Along, but EVERYONE who Sting attacked over the last seven months leading up to it was either in on their conspiracy or somebody being used.
      Sure, he was painted as a jealous, bitter glory hound just the same (scaring Dixie Carter didn't exactly work in his favor), and he couldn't stop Immortal from coming, but there were results. He began the fight against Hogan, and got two wrestlers curious enough to eventually join him (both after talking to Miss Tessmacher), one of whom has vowed to carry the fight with Immortal (although Pope Dinero only lasted a cup of coffee before becoming a Sinister Minister because making money imitating Michael Vick seemed like a better idea than constantly failing against Abyss). The dumbest man in wrestling certainly grew a brain in 2010.
      • During this period he once hid underneath a mask to ambush Rob Van Dam. What kind of mask? A Sting one.
      • He'd used the same tactic on the October 13, 1997 WCW Monday Nitro. The nWo were beating down Roddy Piper and Diamond Dallas Page after the main event, until multiple people started running down to the ring in Sting masks, getting beaten down and thrown out. Finally, Sting himself, in a Sting mask, entered the ring. Buff Bagwell punched him and Sting no-sold it, thus confirming it was the real guy. He gave Bagwell the Scorpion Deathdrop and unmasked, sending a panicked Hogan and the nWo running for their lives.
    • And this brain continued to show in 2011. He came back in March (which seems to be a regular thing for him) and defeated Immortal's Dragon Champion Antichrist Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight title (and retained in an infamous squash which even he vocally agreed was bullshit) thanks to some aid from an anonymous network representative which turned out to be Mick Foley. Sting and his network buddy pretty much sabotaged Immortal at every turn, even as Hogan claimed full ownership of the company from Dixie thanks to a court case full of eternal failure.
      Then Mick got fired and Sting got screwed out of the title. Obfuscating Insanity followed suit, Heath Ledger Joker style. The night of his rematch with Mr. Anderson, who by now had taken a Deal with the Devil, he had five guys dressed as Monster Clowns run around taking out Immortal so they couldn't interfere. Four of them were Fortune, eliminating pretty much everyone in Immortal backstage. One was Kurt Angle, cutting off Bully Ray's interference during the match itself. Sting pinned Anderson and is champion again because of this trope. Even better, Fortune stated that Bully Ray was taken care of, one possible implication being that Sting told them not to go after Ray, meaning he saw the interference coming and perfectly planned for it to work to his advantage, capitalizing on the distraction Angle caused by taking out Bully Ray to pin Anderson for the title. This last paragraph wasn't a designated heel turn and he's still the face, by the way, so he's actually been completely averting his once usual pattern of Good Is Dumb. Safe to say, he's no longer the idiot from WCW.
    • Then there was the night he got Hogan to snap into an Open Mouth, Insert Foot, which eventually led to Hogan's face turn as well as the end of any semblance of power for Immortal. For more details, see TNA.
      • He showed signs of this in late-era WCW. In late 1999, Lex Luger was using a can of mace as a weapon. During the Sting-Luger match at WCW Starrcade 99, Miss Elizabeth tried to use the mace but it turned out instead to be Silly string.
  • Darker and Edgier His "Crow" gimmick.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Before they split, he and Ultimate Warrior were a pair of interchangeable big guys/pretty boys, who evolved into a Road Warriors ripoff, after they broke up, they eventually became two of the most distinct characters in wrestling, with very little in common except a penchant for facepaint.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Surfer Sting from '87-'96 would qualify to those used to Crow Sting. Just by looking at the two Stings together, it's hard to believe it's the same person.
  • Enemy Mime: You might have been forgiven for mistaking him for one during the last few months of 1996 and most of 1997, what with the whiteface, frowning black mouth, and silent treatment. But this trope was ultimately averted because 1) Sting eventually did start speaking again; 2) he was always meant to be Dark Is Not Evil; and 3) the makeup itself eventually Took a Level in Badass (see Growing the Beard on the YMMV page.)
  • Epic Fail: This is really the only way to describe the way Sting lost to Bobby Roode at 2012's Victory Road pay-per-view. A steel chair had been set up in the ring. Sting apparently forgot it was there, and went to give Roode the Scorpion Death Drop—with the chair right behind him! He ended up smacking the back of his head on the seat of the chair, knocking himself out and allowing Roode to pin him for the three. Behold the historic moment in gif form!
  • Evil Is Hammy: He seemed to be having a lot of fun in his 2010 heel run.
    Sting: "The blood isn't on my hands Hogan! You brought this upon yourself!"
  • Face: One of wrestling's best known and constant.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Attempted and denied. WCW tried turning him heel in 1999, and the fans completely no-sold the turn, cheering Sting over all the babyfaces and booing everyone who tried to "bring him to justice". After a month or two they just dropped the angle, re-turned him face and pretended it never happened.
    • During his Main Event Mafia run, Sting attacked fan favorites Samoa Joe and AJ Styles and even then only got mixed reactions. He did not participate in any Mafia beatdowns and still, for the most part, acted like a face.
    • He recently underwent another Face-Heel Turn in TNA after attacking Hulk Hogan on the first Monday night edition of TNA Impact. It lasted for about ten months, and he only turned face because Hogan himself turned heel (to be fair, The Reveal / Face Heel Double Turn there seems to have been the plan all along).
      • Basically, Sting cannot and does not want to play a heel.
  • Facial Markings: Ever since his Blade Runners days with the future Ultimate Warrior in "Cowboy" Bill Watts' Mid-South/UWF days.
  • Finishing Move: For most of his career, the Scorpion Death Lock submission, which many people attribute as stealing from Bret Hart's Sharpshooter, but in fact can be attributed to Japanese wrestler Riki Choshu (it helped that the actual name Choshu used, "Scorpion Lock", for looking like a scorpion upon execution, fit Sting's gimmick). Later, Sting would add the Scorpion Death Drop, a DDT variation, as an impact finisher.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: At Clash of the Champions X, February 6, 1990, Ole and Arn Anderson returned to reform the Four Horsemen with Ric Flair and kick Sting out of the group. During the main event cage match between the Horsemen and J-Tex International (The Great Muta, "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer and Dragon Master [Kendo Nagasaki]), Sting tried to climb the cage to attack the Horsemen, and blew out his knee in the process. This put Sting on the shelf for months and forced Lex Luger to turn face in order to unsuccessfully challenge Flair at the next two PPVs, WrestleWar 90 and Capital Combat
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In an episode of Thursday Night Impact that aired just before the Bound For Glory pay-per-view in October 2010, "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, accompanied by Kevin Nash and Sting, came to Taz and Mike Tenay's broadcast booth to do commentary. Sting was not in whiteface, but was still recognizable thanks to the familiar black baseball bat he was carrying. While on commentary, Pope quipped (in an obvious Shout-Out to Batman Forever): "Riddle me this, riddle me that. Who's the man with the big black bat?" Taz and Mike Tenay assumed he was referring to Sting, but Pope was actually talking about his... uh, own "big black bat".
    • Also an in-universe example, since Pope basically just revealed the nature of the encounter where he got the details on Hogan and Bischoff's plan that got him to decide to finally join Sting and Nash (*cough* Miss Tessmacher *cough*).
  • Good Is Dumb: The constant recipient to Massive Multiplayer Scams in WCW. Became a lot smarter to this in TNA, until Bully Ray came along (though Ray had everyone fooled, and Sting ultimately reforms the Main Event Mafia upon realizing they're too much for him on his own).
  • Greater Need Than Mine: Nikita Koloff had returned to WCW at WrestleWar 91 and attacked WCW United States Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger following his successful title defense against Dan Spivey, still angry about a loss to Luger from back in 1987. During the Sting/Luger-Steiner Brothers match at WCW SuperBrawl, Koloff, who had squashed Tommy Rich earlier that night, ran down to the ring with his Russian chain around his arm to attack Luger. Sting pushed Luger out of the way and took the shot himself. Sting would feud with Koloff for the next few months until Koloff disappeared again, with Luger going on to win the WCW World Heavyweight Title at the disastrous WCW Great American Bash 91 PPV.
  • Groin Attack: One of Sting's signature maneuvers involved a spot where he and his opponent were exhausted. Sting's opponent would fall in front of him, spread eagle, and Sting would fall forward delivering an "inadvertent" headbutt to the groin.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Near the end of WCW, and during the Main Event Mafia's first run in TNA.
  • The Hero/Big Good: Against the Four Horsemen in Summer 1990, and against the Dangerous Alliance from late 1991-mid 1992. Pre-Hogan, Sting was usually the #1 or #2 babyface depending on what Flair and/or Luger were doing at any given time, and was often the one to lead the charge against the top heels.
    • Obviously, was supposed to have been this in 1997 against the nWo but the stupid finish at Starrcade totally wrecked that.
  • Heroic Silent Bob: Rarely spoke on-camera from October 1996-January 1998.
  • I Have the High Ground: Became so famous for this in WCW that practically any wrestler standing on a high place sternly looking down at a group gathered below him will be said to be "pulling a Sting" in English media.
  • Important Haircut: Inverted. He grew out his hair and stopped bleaching it during WCW's peak in the late 90s.
  • Insult Backfire: Robert Roode called him a lunatic repeatedly before an impromptu match with Bully Ray on 3/8. He considered it a compliment and repeatedly thanked Roode.
  • La Résistance: "Dudes With Attitudes," his loose assemblage of faces fighting against the Four Horsemen in Summer 1990, comprised of himself, Lex Luger, the Steiner Brothers, the Junkyard Dog, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and El Gigante.
  • Laughing Mad: As part of his current mind games with Hogan. This includes laughing his head off as he's getting beat up. That really got under Hogan's skin, which was likely exactly what he had in mind.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Back in his prime during the 90's, while he was never exactly what you would call a high flier, he was ridiculously fast and agile for a guy his size.
  • Logic Bomb: "The only thing that's for sure about Sting... is that nothing's for sure." (the last words he ever spoke before transitioning into his "Crow" gimmick).
  • Looks Like Cesare: "Crow" Sting.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Sting is not exactly a mean character, but who would have ever guessed that this grotesquely painted savage is a Nebraska-born boy-next-door - and born-again Christian, at that?
  • Monster Clown: Played with as part of his "Joker" gimmick, but he's still basically a good guy.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: His name evokes the scorpion, whose nasty telson on its rear has enough venom to kill most small animals.
  • No Sell: He's no sold strikes from Samoa Joe, during Joe's Nation Of Violence phase no less! He's no sold a baseball bat to the face from Kurt Angle (Sting tried to catch it but missed). Well Sting didn't sell the bat but it did bust him open.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Has recently done this, acting like the version of The Joker from The Dark Knight and generally pretending to be totally crazy to get under Hulk Hogan and Immortal's skin.
    • And now he's channeling this persona again to attack Bobby Roode.
  • Odd Friendship: With Lex Luger.
  • Offscreen Teleportation
  • Older Than They Look: Borden was 37 when he transitioned to Crow Sting, 47 when he debuted in TNA, and 55 when he debuted in WWE. In all instances, he looked at least 5 years younger. (The face paint does hide most of the wrinkles). He's starting to look his age now though sans face paint.
  • Parts Unknown (in his Mid-South/UWF days): "Every Man's Nightmare"
  • Perky Gothic Punk: "Crow" Sting.
  • Power Copying: Inverted. Many WWE fans who are unfamiliar with WCW accuse Sting of stealing the Scorpion Deathlock (aka. the Sharpshooter) from Bret Hart. Although Bret started wrestling first, Sting was actually the first to use the move as Hart was primarily a tag team wrestler during his first 10 years in the ring. And as stated above, neither Sting nor Hart invented the move.
  • Power Stable:
    • (in Mid-South/UWF): "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert's The First Family -> Hyatt and Hot Stuff International
    • The Four Horsemen (briefly, at the end of 1989-beginning of 1990, when Flair and the Andersons [Arn and Ole] kicked him out at Clash of the Champions X.)
    • The nWo Wolfpac
    • The Millionaires' Club
    • The Main Event Mafia
  • Real Men Love Jesus/Religious Bruiser: Is a Born-Again Christian
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wore pink tights several times as surfer Sting.
  • Real Song Theme Tune:
    • The Blade Runners used Styx's "Castle Walls"
    • (with Rick Steiner): Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" and The Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)"
    • Metallica's "Seek and Destroy" in WCW from 1999-2001.
  • Redemption Demotion: During a Heel-Face Turn.
    • Subverted most recently. He kept what he had during the previous Heel run and actually got even tougher.
  • Shout-Out: Seems to have worked in traits of The Dark Knight version of The Joker into his character recently, including face paint and having a Laughing Mad mentality.
  • Signature Move: The Stinger Splash.
  • Still Got It: Depends on who you ask. Some say he wrestles just as good now as he did 20 years ago, some say he's good but not as good as he used to be while others say he's lost his edge and is only hogging the spotlight from younger talent. While YMMV on how good he is, this is a man who in his fifties could still wrestle full time while his Alternate Company Equivalent who is 6 years younger can barely wrestle once a year.
    • Sting's biggest problem is that, due to knee problems, he has trouble doing the Scorpion Deathlock so the Death Drop is now his primary finisher.
  • Stupid Good: Sting was welcomed into the Four Horsemen, only to be turned on and kicked out of the group by Ric Flair. And this happened twice. In fact, Sting has for most of his career pretty much embodied Stupid Good, almost always trusting the people who were setting him up.
    • Surprisingly, TNA gradually went from subverting this a lot to completely averting it.
    • May have started going right backwards again, though, with his angle with Bobby Roode since becoming the Impact Wrestling GM.
    • Then he led TNA in declaring a man champion in the fight against Aces & Eights who turned out to be their leader. Though Ray had everyone fooled, and Sting ultimately has the bright idea to reform the Main Event Mafia to take on Aces & Eights.
  • Tag Team:
  • Threatening Shark: Compared himself to one in his promo before his match with Flairnote  at WCW Clash of the Champions XXVII.:
    STING: "I am an 18-foot great white shark (imitates shark sounds) and I'm hungry!"
  • Took a Level in Dumbass/Motive Decay: In four months since taking power, the Dangerously Genre Savvy Dark Guile Hero who rightly accused Hulk Hogan of protecting his favorites and successfully fought to expose and destroy The Illuminati-style corruption and power grip Hulk was on with Eric Bischoff through practically clairvoyant psychological warfare that lasted almost two years, has now been reduced to a borderline Fundamentalist Bureaucrat trying to screw with Bobby Roode for not being the kind of champion he favors. So far every inescapable situation he's put Roode in hasn't been so, and it's gotten even worse with his direct involvement increasing. In fact, Roode even utterly played Sting at Against All Odds into helping him beat Jeff Hardy to keep the belt, and now Roode's gotten so deep under his skin that he's reverted to the Joker mode that used to be his best tool against Immortal and actively booked himself in a pay-per-view fight with Roode, resulting in the same "Drunk with Power" protest gag that foreshadowed "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's removal as co-GM of WWE Raw in 2003.
    • May have just averted this trope by realizing himself that the GM!Avenger thing wasn't working and voluntarily stepping down the Impact after Victory Road.
    • Only to later lead Hogan and all of TNA down the rabbit hole of trusting in Bully Ray to be The Hero for the company against the Aces and Eights. Who then shockingly turned out to be the guy leaving the Dead Man's Hand calling cards, weaving a web of manipulation across all of TNA, all the while secretly sitting at the head of the Aces' table. This time he was finally called on it by Hogan, though, and resolved to make up for it by fighting off the Aces & Eights—eventually finding the solution to the problem when he united the best players in the TNA resistance under the banner of a new Main Event Mafia.
  • Verbal Tic: Has a tendancy to repeatedly say the name of the person he's talking to in promos.
  • The Voiceless: For over a year, when he went into Crow mode.
  • White Mask of Doom: Sting's trademark appearance since 1996.