Sting May Not Like It, But He's In Desperate Need Of Some 'Old School'
I’m typically a “keep on keeping on” kind of guy. Nostalgia certainly has a small place in my thoughts, but it hardly overwhelms them. To me, you’re either thinking about tomorrow or you’re moving backwards. These wrestling fans you hear going on and on about the ‘Attitude Era’ or the NWO and how WWE simply needs to bring it all back, are pathetic. Knowing your history is fine, but wallowing in it is irresponsible and dangerous. Sure, certain things that worked then will still work now. That doesn’t mean forsaking everything that’s been set up in the here and now to go back to ‘glory years’. If you want that, download some old RAW shows and have at it. Having said all that, allow me to now completely contradict myself and say the one and only way Sting should be returning to Impact! Wrestling in January is in his old school “Surfer Sting” gimmick.
I was a huge fan of Sting when I was a kid. I loved Mid-South Wrestling, which was where I first saw him, as a member of Eddie Gilbert’s Hot Stuff, Intl. faction. Once Jim Crockett’s WCW absorbed Mid-South, Sting, thanks in no small part to Dusty Rhodes’ booking, made a huge splash on national television, most notably with his epic match versus Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions I. Flair bumped around the ring like a superball for 45 minutes, and by the end of the match, Sting was a made man. From there, Sting was placed in massive feuds with the likes of The Four Horsemen, Vader and Rick Rude, further elevating his stature as one of wrestling’s top babyfaces. Sting remains the only wrestler to ever be voted “Most Popular Wrestler of the Year” by PWI.
For me, Stinger needs to do more than just return to TNA, at least if he wants to make a legitimate impact. He will certainly return to huge cheers, this much is a given. He’s a legend and should be treated with that sort of respect. But to really make a splash, to do more than just come back, he needs to dust off the old nostalgia act and introduce it to a new set of fans, while giving all of the older fans a reason to still want to watch him. Why has Undertaker stayed relevant for so many years? Because ‘Taker has a feel for what the fans want to see at any given time. Stinger, on the other hand, seems to work a gimmick to absolute death, most recently with the “Joker Sting” thing that has gone on for too long to the point where even Sting himself lost a handle on what the character should be. It started out as this crazed, unpredictable thing that was very interesting and cool. It has since become little more than a normal Sting in some haphazardly applied face paint.
Imagine the pop he’d get from fans at shows, on social media, and watching at home, if he were to come out in some old school neon tights and matching face paint? He’d look even cooler with his head shaved, a la the Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania. Call it “One more run”, call it “Sting’s Revenge”, call it whatever you wanted, but him in his old gimmick taking on Aces & 8’s would get over in a very big way. As currently constituted, is anyone really looking forward to seeing how their feud plays out? I’m a huge Impact! Wrestling fan and I really couldn’t care less. Sting in a new (old) gimmick could give the feud the added juice it needs to jump a couple of rungs on the storyline ladder.
I’ll continue to watch Sting do his thing for as long as he does it, because much like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, the man is a legend and is deserving of that kind of respect. That said, if he really wants to make another big run towards the top of the mountain, it’s time to go back to something more familiar. As much as I hate saying it, it’s time for a Stinger neon and facepaint nostalgia tour.