It was the final piece of the puzzle. From the moment Shane McMahon showed up in a WCW ring until last night at Survivor Series 4,990 days passed. In that time everything that I loved about WCW had been co-opted by the WWE monolith. My favorite performers found a new home and had their own moments that made the hair on my arm stand up. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio all had their moments. Booker T, Chris Jericho hell even Scott Steiner and Goldberg all had their WWE moments. Everyone and everything that I loved about WCW at some point after March 26, 2001 became a thing that I loved about the WWE.
One person never showed up.
For 4,990 days Sting, the heart and soul of WCW for so many years (and the NWA before it) never made the leap to New York. He watched WCW close, his contract wasn’t picked up and he kicked around for a few years before washing out in Nashville and spending a relatively uninspiring decade (11 years actually) in TNA.
Call me whatever type of smark, or mark you want — but last night was about something more than who would be the new Authority in the WWE, last night was closure. For someone who grew up watching wrestling like I did last night was the final piece of the puzzle. The last hold out, the last man standing on an island — Sting, dressed one more time in his Crow gear walked down a WWE ramp, stepped into a WWE ring, and stared down the Chief Operating Officer of the company that put *his* company out of business in 2001.
Is it disappointing that Sting is now 55? That his hair is thin and grey? That he wrestles in a t-shirt and walks like a man who has put serious wear and tear on his body? Yeah. Do I wish it was 2003 and he was standing in the ring with The Undertaker? Of course. But last night Sting stepped into a WWE ring.
I’ve read a lot about Survivor Series last night and I’ve seen criticism about how Sting represents the past and the end of the show was once again a display of the WWE putting history over the future – and that’s not necessarily wrong, but this was different. This wasn’t long time WWE employee Shawn Michaels interfering. This was someone who had spent his entire career running parallel to the WWE, someone who went to war with the WWE, someone who held out as long as he possibly could stepping out of the shadow and interjecting himself in a place that he’d never been.
I also want to talk quickly about Triple H during this exchange, because he was awesome. The Rock had his moment with Hollywood Hogan — this was H’s chance to stand in on history. Everyone thought they knew that Sting was going to show up at Survivor Series. There was a sense that everyone was just waiting for the inevitable throughout the main event. When it finally happened you got a weird reaction from the crowd — there was a moment of relief, and then just a controlled type of pandemonium. People didn’t immediately start changing “THIS IS AWESOME” because they were chanting “HOLY SHIT” but also because those people who aren’t the type to chant “HOLY SHIT” at a WWE show were just enjoying a moment.
During the stare down, when the crowd starts to calm themselves down a bit Triple H gets a look on his face that is not fear, it is not concern, it’s confusion. He says something to Sting, which in my mind was “you’re here NOW?!” It’s kind of a brilliant job by Triple H who on screen has had a great year, and who off screen has ushered in a very interesting time for the WWE but who sold the moment last night as if he couldn’t believe what was happening. “You’re here….NOW!?” For 4,989 days Sting didn’t step foot in a WWE ring — and moments before Triple H’s team won at Survivor Series he decided it was time to show up, it was time to walk that aisle, it was time to check off that box.
Triple H is a great natural rival for Sting. Forget about his office responsibilities, Triple H has for many years been portrayed as a Ric Flair disciple. There is no more natural rival for Sting, no more natural “final match” for “The Icon” than the man who worships at the alter of Sting’s greatest rival. I know he’s 55, and not in ring shape and his hair looks bad and he’s gained some weight and he moves like he’s underwater — but I want to see Sting in a WWE ring — no, I NEED to see Sting in a WWE ring because once that moment happens, all of my nostalgia needs would have been met and we can finally move into the next era for professional wrestling.