Mark 23 November 2014 in your calendars as the day WWE made history once again and completed a circle that began with the purchase of WCW. During the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View, the iconic Sting made his debut in a WWE ring and solidified himself legendary status as one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever lived. For those readers that don't understand why his debut is so significant, let us briefly review the career of this enigmatic warrior.
Some 30 years ago, Steve Borden debuted in a Tennessee based company called the Continental Wrestling Association as "Flash". Foreshadowing what would be singles runs as two of the greatest painted characters to appear on TV, Sting teamed with Jim Hellwig, known then as "Justice" but later of course, as the Ultimate Warrior. The team soon left CWA and moved to the Universal Wrestling Federation. It was there that Sting and Warrior's tag-team days ended, mirroring the breakdown in their personal relationship which only appeared to be remedied around the time of Hellwig's death.
Sting would go on to join with "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert and later Rick Steiner to become a three-time UWF tag champion. When the UWF was bought by the National Wrestling Alliance (a forerunner of WCW), Sting was pegged as a future star and faced Ric Flair as early as 1988 for the NWA Heavyweight Championship. Continually booked for headline matches of one sort or another, his stock continued to rise and he eventually won the NWA Television title in early 1989.
Flair and Borden continued to work together and whilst the "classic" line-up of the Four Horsemen were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, fans might be interested to know that Sting was a member of the group, albeit briefly during its "reformation" period. Whilst an injury at that time forced Sting from the ring, so well-regarded was Borden that he still featured regularly on TV programming throughout his recovery time (even being saved from a beating by Robocop in a promotional fusion!). He would return in 1990 and go on to win the NWA World Heavyweight title.
When WCW rose from the ashes of the NWA, Sting went with it and soon after defeated Steve (later Stone Cold Steve) Austin for the WCW US Championship. His status as the WCW 'franchise' quickly soon after secured him the first of six Heavyweight title wins.
Throughout the 1990's Sting continued to dominate in WCW but it wasn't until 1996 that he began to develop the darker, more menacing character that has defined the latter part of his career. Moving away from the brightly coloured tights and blond crew-cut that had shaped his iconic TV character, he grew his hair out and tended to opt for Black ring-attire. It was during that intermittent period that Sting was ringside for one of the greatest shocks in wrestling history when Hulk Hogan turned villain and set the foundations for the New World Order (nWo) faction.
Refusing to take sides in the WCW/nWo war, Sting became a free agent, coining the famous phrase: "The only thing for sure about Sting is nothing's for sure". For nearly a year, he did not speak on the microphone and appeared mysteriously in the arena rafters. Eventually in 1997, he literally dropped back into action (from the roof), taking out the nWo bad guys and re-establishing himself as a firm fan favourite. He later reinforced that status in typically enigmatic style by teasing a run as a bad guy only to join the "Wolfpac" good guys and again reinventing himself with a new red and black appearance. As a wolfpac alumnus he continued to win championship gold and latterly, would partake in a series of matches with Bret Hart to determine the master of the Sharpshooter/Scorpion Deathlock finisher.
In 1999 Sting returned to his Black and White gear and world champion status, if only briefly. He took his 5th championship from Diamond Dallas Page on WCW's Nitro programme only to be beaten by Page some 90 minutes later in what was the shortest recorded reign in WCW history. By the time WCW was in its final run, Sting had undertaken a short stint as it's on-screen president and 'turned heel' only to be continually embraced as a fan favourite. A storyline injury had him off TV from November 2000 but he ended his WCW journey as he had begun in, in emphatic style by beating his long-time rival Ric Flair on the final TV broadcast. When WWE bought out WCW, he turned down a contract with the former having been concerned about the way his team mates had been booked. Instead, he headed to Europe and toured with the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars.
Whilst it may be unlikely to form part of WWE's 'History of Sting', Borden became 'The Franchise' for another company for a decade, namely TNA. His initial foray into the company was tentative, signing up for only four appearances, debuting on their first year anniversary and competing throughout 2003. After some erratic appearances, he returned in 2006 to deliver TNA one of their most purchased Pay-Per-Views of all time.
Sting featured in a number of TNA storylines including retiring and later returning to wrestle a revenge match as Steve Borden. He debuted a new look which took inspiration from all his previous characters and went on to take NWA World Heavyweight Championship Gold, his first championship in nearly a decade and a record as the only person to win the NWA title both before and after TNA's inception. Further gold followed including a personal record title run of 189 days as did another attempt to turn Sting into a bad guy - again rejected by fans. Reinventing himself for a final time with TNA, Sting became the "Insane Icon" and had a title run as a maniacal, Joker-inspired oddball.
His final year in TNA saw Sting again on top. As with WCW, he had a stint as the TV head honcho and in October 2012 was the first inductee into TNA's Hall of Fame. Having taken on TNA's own authority figures, EC3 and Dixie Carter he bowed out with art mirroring life, losing to Magnus in a Title vs Career match shortly before his company contract expired.
For Sting fans as for the man himself there was only one unrequited goal and when WWE.com ran a piece about Sting, the hunger for news was insatiable. The flurry of rumours became a whirlwind as he appeared on WWE Network programming and when WWE announced "The Best of Sting" DVD, fans were hopeful. A promotional video for WWE's 2K15 video game, a comic con appearance and merchandising on sale led fans to question when, not if, the legend would appear and the answer was delivered monumentally at Survivor Series 2014.
Questions remain. Will Sting wrestle in a WWE ring, will he be inducted into the Hall of Fame, will he main event Wrestlemania? The excitement is palpable. The answer of course is that the only thing for sure about Sting is nothing's for sure.