By Ron Burr
This week Sting was announced as the first inductee into the 2016 Class of the WWE Hall of Fame. This has caused some consternation with a small but dedicated section of wrestling fans because the vast majority of Sting’s wrestling career (and the entirety of his time as a legitimate championship contender) was in the NWA/WCW. Scanning the message boards (pro tip: never do this before coffee) I’d say it was 90% happy for Sting, 5% disagreeing with the choice, and 5% complaining about HHH’s ego. As for me, I’m fine with it. I think it is 100% appropriate. Why? Let me tell you:
Even though he wasn’t there, Sting had a huge impact on the WWE
I am a grizzled veteran of the Monday Night Wars. I was on the front lines with a beer in one hand and the remote control in the other, my thumb hovering over the previous channel button as my roommates and I switched from Nitro to Raw. It was a great time to be a pro wrestling fan, and Sting was a big reason for that. He had been a top line star since late 80s, and his one man war against the nWo was definitely required viewing. How did this impact the WWE? Without Sting and the nWo making Nitro the #1 wrestling show we would not have had the Attitude Era or those Monday Night Wars. That means Steve Austin and Dwayne Johnson wouldn’t have told WWF Creative to stick their stupid characters someplace and they wouldn’t have gone out and created the iconic characters Stone Cold and the Rock. There would have been no D Generation X. The two organizations fed off of each other, challenging each other and forcing them to create storylines that energized the genre. Even if Sting had never wrestled for the WWE he would still be worthy of induction for this alone.
The WWE Hall of Fame is filled with names that are synonymous with the WWWF/WWF/WWE. Andre the Giant, Chief Jay Strongbow, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, The Fabulous Moolah, The Iron Sheik (who is a must follow on Twitter if you are not already doing so), and “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers (the ORIGINAL Nature Boy). Then again, so are Harley Race, Abdullah the Butcher, and the Four Horsemen, none of which did their main body of work in the WWE and yet people weren’t making any stink over those choices. And in case that isn’t enough for you Sting will be joining Mike Tyson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Drew Carey, Pete Rose, and Donald Trump in the hall. You can argue that Sting did not have as much of an impact on the WWE as Harley Race even though both spent the bulk of their careers in another promotion, but if you want to argue that Donald Trump added more to the WWE than Sting I will have to treat you like the Undertaker treated Mick Foley in Hell in a Cell.
The WWE owns the history of the NWA/WCW
Since 2001 Vince McMahon has owned WCW’s video rights and other selected intellectual property. Putting Sting into the WWE Hall of Fame makes perfect sense from a business standpoint. There is no way Vinnie Mac is not going to squeeze every penny possible out of this, which is his right and I do not begrudge him that.
There is precedent in other halls of fame
Lance Alworth played for the AFL’s San Diego Chargers for 9 years (including his most productive years) before playing out his career in the NFL for the last 2 years with the Dallas Cowboys. Billy Shaw played his entire career with the Buffalo Bills before the AFL/NFL merger. Both are in the NFL Hall of Fame. 18 players who played most if not all of their careers in the Negro League are in the MLB Hall of Fame. If it’s okay for legitimate sports leagues to do this why should it be a problem for a self-professed sports entertainment company to follow their lead?
When you look at the big picture, Steve “Sting” Borden has more than earned this honor. Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go watch my copy of Sting’s defeat of Ric Flair at the 1990 Great American Bash (and yes, I still have my ticket stub from that show).
Ron has been a mark for professional wrestling since his father took him to his first WWF house show at the Baltimore Arena when he was 6. From being the proud owner of a Fabulous Freebirds poster to when he refused to wash his hand for 2 days because he got a high five from Macho Man Randy Savage after throwing his Coke at the Honky Tonk Man, all the way to a night spent drinking at the Sheraton BWI after he hooked Michael Hayes up with a rental car, Ron has loved the spectacle of wrestling. You can find him on Twitter at @arrpeebee and if you enjoyed his take come see him live with @dropthree at Collectors Corner!