The SmarK Rant for The Best of Sting Blu-Ray (Disc 2)
OK, I’m still on vacation and I’ve got a few hours to kill anyway, so let’s finish off this set.
We start out with a discussion of Sting’s transformation into The Crow, at the suggestion of Scott Hall, although they discuss it in kayfabe terms rather than bringing up the real reasons behind it like the contract and such.
Nitro October 21 1996 – nWo Sting is wrestling someone on Nitro, but the real Sting hits the ring with his new look and white facepaint, and declares himself to be a free agent.
And then we jump all the way to Starrcade 97…
WCW World title: Hollywood Hogan v. Sting (December 28 1997)
From Starrcade ’97. Y’all know the deal here, I’m sure. If you want to see the exact moment when Sting reached his peak as a star, it’s the moment just before he steps into the ring for the first time in 18 months. It’s all downhill from there, sadly, because once he started wrestling again everyone remembered that oh yeah, it’s just Sting. They do the power matchup and Hogan pounds him down to start, then slugs away in the corner and follows with the corner clothesline. He gets a slam, but misses a series of elbows and Sting dropkicks him to the floor, which gives Hulk the chance to stall. Back in, Hulk tries a headlock, but Sting fires back with another dropkick to send him out. They’ve just totally managed to kill the hottest crowd possible in the span of 5 minutes and it’s astonishing that people this incompetent somehow managed to make money for so long. Back in and Sting works on a headlock, but Hulk fires back with a clothesline and gets a suplex. Sting no-sells that (ooh, a suplex, what a superhero) and fires back in the corner, but Hogan rakes the eyes to kill the momentum yet again. They brawl on the floor and Hogan clubs him down and sends him into the post, basically making him look like a total chump. Sting charges and splashes the railing as a result, and Hogan brings him back in for an atomic drop. Big boot and legdrop finishes clean at 11:18 (although of course the count was supposed to be “fast”), and Sting looks like the biggest jobber who ever jobbed. And to make it worse, Bret Hart stops the bell from ringing for no reason, tosses Hogan back in, and restarts the match, allowing Sting to get the Stinger splash and fight off the nWo before finishing with the Scorpion deathlock at 12:56. So Sting looks terrible, Bret Hart looks like a whiner, and Hogan would go on to win the title a bunch more times. Just so awful on so many levels, but you certainly can’t deny the historic aspect of it. 1/2* Once again, this should have been five minutes long and featured Sting beating the hell out of Hogan like Luger did to him in August.
Sting & Lex Luger v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage (February 16 1998)
Man how did this match never happen until 1998? This is from Nitro during the buildup to the Sting-Hogan rematch after Starrcade. The nWo attacks in the aisle and they brawl at ringside and Hogan gets the corner clothesline on Sting in the ring, but Sting fires back with his own and chases him to the floor again. I’m amused at Tony calling Hogan’s version a “running lariat” when neither part of that statement is true. So the match starts properly finally as Savage gets heat on Luger but they’re already teasing dissention between Hulk and Macho as they switch off and beat on Lex. Hulk misses the legdrop and it’s hot tag Sting, who comes in with a pair of Stinger splashes and gets the Deathlock, but of course the nWo runs in for the DQ at 4:20. This should have been a Starrcade-headlining tag team main event and instead it was just a nothing match on a nothing Nitro with a nothing finish. ½*
WCW World title: Sting v. Kevin Nash (April 6 1998)
So Sting is now champion again after beating Hulk at Superbrawl to settle the “controversy”, and he’s about to lose it to Randy Savage at Spring Stampede later in the month. What an epic title reign, shunted to the backburner for the nWo white v. red bullshit. Speaking of bullshit, Nash cuts a lengthy promo about Hogan before the match (a feud that, of course, went nowhere) and whines about people getting fired because he wears their shirt. Michael Buffer introduces Sting as “someone whose allegiance is aligned with no specific designation”. Did someone actually get paid to write that and gave it to him to read? Oh dude you should put that on a t-shirt! But apparently don’t let Nash wear it or someone will get fired. Big Kev does the Nash Choke in the corner right away, really burning through his moveset early so they must be going short with this one. If he does the framed elbow we’ll know the nWo is running in right away. Sting fights back and goes up with a flying clothesline and dropkick to put Nash on the floor as Kev TAKES A BUMP IN 1998 so you know he probably got a bonus in his paycheque for this one. Sting follows him out and Konnan gets some cheapshots before Kev uses an array of choking back in the ring to take over. That gets two, complete with frustrated hair flip from Big Sexy so you know he means business. Kevin with a backbreaker and then he goes to a neck vice and follows with a corner clothesline and it’s back to the Nash choke again. Well to be fair it has been five minutes and he’s only got so many tools in the toolbox. Kev misses a running knee and hits the turnbuckle, which allows Sting to work on the leg and set up the Scorpion Deathlock, but Konnan pulls Nash to the ropes to break. The ref is like “Hey, don’t do that!” but he still breaks the hold and otherwise there are no consequences. Nash with the sideslam for two as Tony actually calls this “the biggest television program in the history of our sport”, which I kind of thought was a Mandela Effect deal of people only remembering him saying similar stuff, but there you go. Nash goes to a neck vice of sorts, which is mostly just Nash standing there with his hands on Sting’s head, but Sting somehow fights back from that and hits Nash and Konnan with the Stinger splash at the same time. Nash reverses him into the corner and tries the Poochiebomb, but Hulk Hogan runs in for the DQ at 10:00. And then the rest of the nWo runs in for the big schmoz. I will say, this was actually a real match before the usual bullshit non-finish at least. ***1/4 Now, just to clarify one of the nonsense points of the finish: At this point, Nash’s powerbomb was banned (at least according to Tony’s commentary here) and if he hit the move on Sting he would have been disqualified and fined $10000 or something. Anyway, so the finish of the match is Nash going for the powerbomb on Sting, while Tony screams “He can’t win the title that way! Why is he trying the powerbomb?” and then Hogan runs in and breaks it up and Nash is all mad because Hogan cost him the title. So Tony is suddenly like “Nash was about to do his big move and win the belt! Hogan cost him the World title!” Like, my dude, YOU JUST SAID that Nash would have been disqualified if he hit the move! This isn’t even WWE forgetting their storylines from week to week, this was Tony forgetting the storyline IN THE SAME MATCH!
Sting v. Scott Steiner (April 22 1998)
Off to Thunder now, super-early in the “Big Poppa Pump” phase of Scott’s heel run. Steiner attacks to start and beats on him with clotheslines, but Sting gets his own and sends him to the floor. They fight out there and Sting runs him into the stairs and slugs away in the ring, but Steiner goes low and hangs Sting in the Tree of Woe for some choking. Butterfly powerbomb and he goes up, but lands on Sting’s boot, and the Stinger splash sets up the Scorpion Deathlock for the nWo run-in at 4:20. You have to love that we’re at 3 matches in a row now on this set where the finish is an nWo DQ finish. Scott was still figuring out what his heel character was supposed to be at this point and just kind of worked like a normal midcard heel. * And then Sting does a promo afterwards challenging Hall and Nash to a tag title match at Slamboree with Giant as his partner.
WCW World tag titles: Sting & Kevin Nash v. Harlem Heat (June 15 1998)
From Nitro again, as Sting has now joined the Wolfpac and is repping lobsters on his gear and started painting his face red. Like why can he suddenly these guys? Just because they’re wearing red now instead of white? So in the previous match on this set, it was setting up a tag title match with the Outsiders defending against Sting and Giant at Slamboree, and the babyfaces won the belts there when Hall turned on Nash. And then Giant turned on Sting after winning the titles, so Sting won a singles match to claim both belts and then here he names Kevin Nash as his new partner in the tag team champions. And this wasn’t even the low point for the tag titles that year! I was way tuned out of the storylines at this point, with most of the character development coming from people switching between red and white t-shirts. Also Booker T was TV champion at this point so I’m assuming Stevie Ray turns on him here because everyone was turning on everyone all the time and it never went anywhere. Booker starts with Sting and they trade hiptosses before Booker bails to the floor and chats with his brother to regroup. Back in, Stevie gives Booker the gears over his performance and tags himself in, then chokes Sting out on the ropes and slugs away in the corner. Over to Nash for the corner choke and we take a break and return with Sting getting double-teamed in the Heat corner. Nash comes in and gets the sideslam on Booker for two, and Sting drops the elbow on him and gets a pump splash for two. Another splash hits knees, but Nash comes in and slugs Booker down and chokes him out on the ropes. Sting also chokes away while the announcers totally ignore the match and talk about Hogan and Piper and whatever they were doing in 1998, but to be fair this match is really dragging anyway. Nash tries Snake Eyes and Booker rolls him up for two as the Wolfpac seems to be working heel for some reason. Sting misses the Stinger splash and Stevie gets a hot tag but the fans don’t want to cheer for him, so that’s weird. He powerslams Sting, but then stops to trash-talk Nash and Sting pops up and hits the Deathdrop to finish at 12:47. What a thrilling start to that title reign. *1/2
Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart v. Sting & Ultimate Warrior (October 12 1998)
Yup, it’s the reunion of the Blade Runners on the Nitro leading up to Halloween Havoc 98, which to be fair had to be on a DVD set SOMEWHERE. But Michael Buffer introduces them as “together for the first time in professional wrestling history”, thus undermining the entire selling point of the match. This was in fact Warrior’s first ever match in WCW but the whole thing was already in the toilet and it was too late to salvage the run. Like, I know this is an incoming hot take, but how do you fuck this guy up? How did we go from “Warrior is the one guy Hogan could never beat” to “Warrior is appearing in mirrors and hypnotizing Hogan’s best friend and forming his own backwards version of the nWo and appearing from mysterious smoke via trap doors” and expect that anyone would give a shit? Also, this match wasn’t advertised in advance, so wrap your brain around that. Anyway, we get the mega-stall to start and Sting starts with Hogan and beats on him in the corner, so Hogan tags out to Bret. “Yeah, bring him in there, this is what we want to see, Sting and Bret!” says Mike Tenay without a hint of irony. Oh also Warrior is still wearing his stupid coat while standing on the apron waiting for a tag, so there’s that. Bret quickly gets a cheapshot in the corner and goes to work on Sting with the middle rope elbow for two. Hogan comes in and chokes Sting out while the camera does a closeup and you can clearly see he’s not even making contact with Sting’s throat. Usually Keith Mitchell was at least better about that stuff but everyone was getting pretty lazy by this point, including the production guys. Bret with a DDT for two as he’s been in the ring for 3:00 and the announcers act like he’s in serious trouble and desperately needs to tag Warrior. Bret with the backbreaker, but he misses another middle rope elbow and Warrior gets the hot tag and does a bunch of clotheslines on Bret. STILL WEARING THE COAT. And it’s an nWo run-in DQ at 5:30. Sigh. So they beat on Warrior, but the ring fills up with mysterious smoke but Warrior just goes to the floor instead of disappearing. Well that’s certainly less impressive. What a clown show this was. DUD
Sting v. Bret Hart (October 19 1998)
So this is the next week on Nitro and Bret is apparently US champion now? Anyway, he issues an open challenge to Sting, warning him “not to mess up his mascara”, and Sting attacks in response and chases Bret to the floor. Back in, Sting slugs him down and puts the boots to him, and drops an elbow for two. Sting tries the pump splash and it hits knee, allowing Bret to choke him out to take over. Sting comes back and gets the Deathlock, but Bret makes the ropes and Sting won’t let go so that’s a DQ at 4:00. This is an epic disc of classics. EPIC I SAY. DUD Can you imagine being a newer fan watching this stuff and trying to figure out what the fuck is supposed to be going on?
Sting v. Randy Savage (June 7 1999)
Man we’re really into the weeds of this set now. So now Savage is into his mid-life crisis roided playboy phase, while Sting has ditched the lobster chic and is back to standard white and black again. Sting gets assaulted by Savage’s harem on the floor and chokes Sting on the ropes before slugging him down. As a reminder, this was part of the storyline with the Hummer that was leading to a tag match on PPV where Kevin Nash defended the World title against Savage and Sid in a match where Sting could also win it by pinning his own tag team partner. Not even making that up. Savage chokes out Sting and tosses him for more choking on the table and back in for some powder in the face. Yeah Sting liked the powder in his face at this point, is what we’ve heard. Meanwhile all three women distract the ref and then Miss Madness (Molly Holly) tries a rana on Sting, but he shoves her off and then the ref is bumped for some reason and another ref calls for the DQ at 4:20. Was there a goddamn MATCH in all this somewhere? -* And we haven’t even made it to Vince Russo yet! Oh and then the Steiners hit the ring and attack Sting, but Lex Luger makes the save to tease a match that wasn’t going to happen and would be pretty terrible if it did. Also, to remind you, this was all supposed to make you want to see Kevin Nash defending the World title against Savage, which was happening THAT WEEKEND. Fuck it, I’m deducting another star. -**
WCW World title: Booker T v. Sting (July 31 2000)
From Nitro again as we skip another entire year of stuff, including Sting winning and losing the World title to DDP and also winning it from Hogan. We’re now into the spiky logo era for WCW, and Sting quickly puts Booker down with a clothesline and goes for the Deathlock, but Booker makes the ropes, so Sting drags him to the floor and throws him into the railing. Back in with a flying splash, but Sting hits the knees and Booker gets the axe kick for two. They collide on a crossbody attempt and Sting bails to the floor, where he gets dragged under the ring by a mysterious arm and then sent back out again with a bloodied forehead. Back in, Booker rolls him up for two, but Sting gets the DDT for two. Bookend finishes at 5:12. So in the most WCW 2000 payoff possible, Sting checks under the ring and we discover that the assailant under the ring is in fact THE KISS DEMON and we get a beatdown with Vampiro until Jeff Jarrett seems like he’s going to save but then just beats Booker down with a chair instead. *
As a reminder, the DVD case literally advertises this as “THE BEST OF STING”. This is supposed to be the BEST stuff they could find.
Anyway, Sting gets locked in a coffin and the Demon spits fire onto it to presumably burn him alive. I assume he made it out because otherwise we couldn’t finish this DVD set.
Two out of three falls: Sting v. Jeff Jarrett (September 13 2000)
From Thunder, as the promotion continues to spiral the toilet bowl. They trade headlocks to start and go fight on the floor, doing the empty Attitude era brawling where you walk from one place to another without doing anything, and head back into the ring for a flying splash from Sting that gets two. Sting goes for the Death Drop, but Jarrett takes out the ref, goes low on Sting, and finishes with the Stroke to win the first fall at 5:20.
Jarrett boots Sting to the floor to start the second fall and it’s more “brawling” on the floor, as JJ puts Sting on the announce table and hits him a few times. Back in, Sting gets a sunset flip to even it up at 6:42.
Third fall as I make sure to start a new paragraph so as not to overwhelm the reader with a wall of text describing this classic, and Sting tries a sleeper but Jeff escapes and gets his own. Sting fights out of that and reverses the sleeper AGAIN, but Jarrett suplexes out. Sting makes the comeback and OF COURSE the referee is bumped, so another ref comes out and he gets bumped as well while Sting gets the Deathlock. There’s no ref, but Jarrett is out, so Sting tells the timekeeper to ring the bell and he does so, so I guess Sting wins at 11:20? Well at least it wasn’t a DQ. **
Sting, Booker T & Goldberg v. Jeff Jarrett & Kronik (October 25 2000)
From Thunder as we get another random-ass midcard Sting match from WCW’s dying days. Booker hits Jarrett with a spinkick and it’s over to Goldberg, so Jarrett bows out and it’s over to Brian Adams. Apparently they were doing a storyline with Goldberg at this point where he was restarting the streak after the aborted heel turn disaster. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse was already escaped. In this case the horse escaped, fell of a cliff and died and they were still trying to close the barn door to fix the problem. Adams gets beat up by Goldberg for a bit and I’m MESMERIZED by his beautiful hair. Adams, not Goldberg. Over to Clark and he beats on Booker and Adams gets a piledriver for two and I’m officially checked out on this entire set. Wrap it up, it’s time to go home. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Goldberg powerslams Clark, but misses the spear and Adams gets two. And then a whole bunch of people are fighting at ringside and Sting remembers that he’s in the match and pins Jarrett at 7:01. Thrilling. **
Ric Flair v. Sting (March 26 2001)
And finally, Nitro and WCW come to a close with this, the same place where it opened. Poor Flair has to work in a t-shirt here, and he trades shoulderblocks with Sting to start and then pokes him in the eye to take over. We get the chops in the corner, but Sting fires back and dropkicks him out of the ring. Back in, Flair begs off in the corner, but of course Sting gets the press slam and slugs away in the corner and we get the last Flair Flop on Nitro. He goes low on Sting to put him down and throws more chops in the corner as the crowd is more legitimately into this one than anything else on the show. Flair drops the knee and continues throwing chops, but he goes up and Sting slams him off and makes the comeback with clotheslines. Dropkick misses and Flair gets the figure-four and uses the ropes, but Sting pulls him to the middle and reverses it to force the break. Sting makes the comeback and no-sells the chops as they fight to the top rope, where Sting hits a superplex. And that sets up the Scorpion Deathlock to end their feud for good at 7:20. And they share a hug and say goodbye as we cut to RAW for the simulcast with barely even a second to take a breath and grieve. ***
Good lord this second disc was AWFUL. If you pick up this set, stop after the first one. There’s some extra promos and a couple of extra matches on the Blu Ray but I’m DONE with this one today, thanks. If you want the definitive look at Sting not giving a shit for the last two years of his WCW run, this is the disc for you.