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The Spinning Lariat: It’s Showtime, folks

STING

Every Friday, Trent Zuberi runs down the latest developments in America’s other major wrestling promotion, TNA.

Little known fact about Steve Borden, a.k.a Sting (the wrestler, my friends, not the guy calling out for Roxanne at the top of his lungs), is that he in fact is the owner of the trademark on the name “Sting,” not Gordon Sumner, the aforementioned Roxanne wailer. The singer emerged before the wrestler, and yet the wrestler owns the name. The two are known to be pretty cool with each other, but deep down I wonder how much it pisses the singer off. In any case, Google image search ‘Sting wrestler and Sting Singer”; the 1991-ness of the photo is worth the images of the two of them alone.

Sting is a legend in the world of professional wrestling. Amongst his vast resume of accomplishments, he is also very well known for being the most famous wrestler to never go to the WWE. When he went through his gaps of uncertainty about continuing after the death of WCW, he had discussions with Vince McMahon. but didn’t jump. He rather opted to join the new-at-the-time TNA and help them via his name recognition. Even recently, when his last TNA contract had come up, the WWE made a run for him and reportedly offered a deal fit for a king, but Sting stayed loyal to the brand he deemed as his new home. That level of loyalty in and of itself is a lost art in the world of sports entertainment.

For Sting it’s all about the art, and he makes that apparent. If it was about the money he would’ve left during any of the several opportunities he had in the past, but he didn’t. I feel that Sting sees this period of his career as one of the most important he’s ever had. Of the two legends on the roster, Hulk Hogan being the other, Sting is the one that’s still an active competitor and able to be involved on a more direct level by having matches with the roster and giving them the rub of having worked with a legend such as himself, something he prides himself on being able to do.

Borden is a very creative soul, more than he gets credit for. The Sting character over the past 28 years has been one that has kept a certain base coat but evolved in so many different directions, which have helped keep him fresh and one of the most popular entertainers in this history of this industry. Some of the best work of his career has come in his 50s. His recent character, which was a play on Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight, was one of the most compelling things I’ve seen him do in the 20 years I’ve been watching him. Did it get flack for being a ripoff of the Joker? Sure. But was it done well? Absolutely. The promo work, the mannerisms, the body language were handled so impeccably that you really felt the man snapped. There are guys in this industry half his age that couldn’t pull off what he did with that character alone.

In about two weeks Sting is headlining TNA’s annual event Slammiversary, against Bully Ray for the World Title. Many had gripes that Sting was once again in the headlining spot of a big show, rather than the opportunity being given to a young talent who could have used the push for the long run. I share this sentiment to an extent, because I feel that the roster is full of talent that could be defined from such a push, but on the flipside of things you can never go wrong with Sting in your main event. To this day the man electrifies a crowd. I’ve seen it live and I’ve seen it on TV; something about his presence still creates the magic that made us love professional wrestling in the first place. He can still tell a story and take the fans along for the ride, so I’m definitely confident that the match will be great.

Am I biased? Maybe a little. Did I grow my hair out just because Sting did in 1997? Quite the possibility. Did I go as him for Halloween 3 years in a row? Perhaps. Did I get so nervous when I met him in 2008 that the only thing I could say to him was “Man, I’ve been a little Stinger for 20 years!” Guilty.

(Questions, comments, feedback? Please feel free to contact me at trentzuberi@gmail.com)