Updated: Jul 6, 2020
A day at my grandparents house in the 80s, I was told wrestling was on. Excited to see some WWF wrestling, I darted inside. What I saw was a gritty, darker, REALER version of wrestling. It was the NWA.
As a kid, I didn’t like NWA as much as WWF, but just as I was about to throw in the towel, rock music started playing and a guy with spiked hair and a painted face burst onto the screen as Gary Michael Cappetta belted out, “This is……STING.” I was hooked. I have been a not so little Stinger ever since. Since that time, Sting has retired multiple times, and WCW closed down.
I never had that same feeling watching wrestling, not even while cheering for The Rock, until NXT Takeover: Unstoppable.
Let's start from the beginning. As a kid, I couldn’t stand Hogan, and Warrior was awful. I was looking for something to get behind, and I found that in Sting. He wasn’t the best in ring and was far from the best on the mic, but dammit, I wanted him to win EVERY match. When Nikita turned on him, I cried. Watching the Road Warriors beat his ass so bad, I kept asking my grandmother, “Where’s Luger? The Steiner Brothers? Did they leave?” I didn’t care that he couldn’t do an armbar like Ric Flair, he was my guy!
FF almost 30 years, and I’m just going through the motions as a fan. I had never watched NXT before, but figured I’d tune into Takeover, you know, since I was only paying $9.99.
Something happened. That feeling hit again. It wasn’t rock 'n roll music. No face paint or flashy robe. Just a little orange haired Irish Woman named Becky Lynch that had me hooked.
For the next 3 years, she would be everything Sting was to me as a kid. She fought the good fight. Never took a shortcut, and most of all, she was always getting stabbed in the back by a Flair. It was like history repeating itself. Was she as good in that match as Sasha? Hell no. But I wanted her to win and I couldn’t explain why. Over the years, she made me believe she really wanted it. When she got screwed over, it pissed me off. I was back in on wrestling.
In 1996, there was an obvious difference in Sting. His hair was darker and longer. He was putting on a bit more mass, and he started to stand up for himself when Hogan and Macho Man would be overbearing. There was nothing I wanted more than for him to beat Hogan’s ass. But a change was coming with Sting. Nobody could have predicted what was coming, but we sensed it. During War Games after being accused of joining the nWo, he walked out, and that version was never to be seen again. War Games was the catalyst.
For Becky, it was a longer build to her change. Most people would tell you that it was that night at Summer Slam when Charlotte was let into her title match after Becky earned a one on one title match. Yea, I know, you’ve heard that before. Her change actually started after the first women’s MITB. Go watch the interaction she had with Daniel Bryan, who at the time was the SD GM. You could hear it in her voice. The words she chose. The white meat Becky was on her way out, and The Man was about to come around.
When Sting donned all black, he didn’t talk for over a year. Didn’t wrestle. Somehow, he became the most over star in wrestling.
You can debate that Austin or Rock were more over, and I’m happy to have that talk. We just wanted change. We got it with the nWo, but we needed a face that wasn’t here to take any shit. He just happened to be dressed like Brandon Lee and carried a baseball bat. That change in attitude and look would cement Sting as one of the biggest characters in wrestling history. Above average in ring and promo skills be damned, we wanted Sting!
Running a parallel line with The Icon, was The Man. A change in Becky shot her right to the top of the women’s division. When she slapped Charlotte across the face to try and turn heel, it was like Sting dropping from the sky at Uncensored and attacking the nWo with a ball bat. It was a change we needed. She would go on to be in the first women’s Main Event at WrestleMania, and she is one of the most talked about wrestlers in the world. Much like Sting, she’s not the best in the ring. She wasn’t supposed to be the talk of the wrestling world, but for some reason, she made you feel.
She may as well howl and beat on her chest, because in my eyes, I have my Stinger back. It's Showtime!
Chris Rucker is the host of Boot 2 the Face Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Boot2theface