For 14 years, sports-entertainment fans the world over could only dream of Sting competing inside a WWE ring. In 2015, The Icon added that missing accolade to his legendary resume by competing on The Grandest Stage of Them All at WrestleMania 31. This year, on the eve of WrestleMania 32, Sting will receive an even bigger honor and take his rightful place in sports-entertainment history, as he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
“We are truly honored to have Sting take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame,” said WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative, Paul Levesque. “His contributions to our industry are unprecedented, and we look forward to celebrating his incredible career with fans all over the world.”
The 2016 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place on Saturday, April 2, the night before WrestleMania 32, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas at 6:30 p.m. local time.
Sting’s enshrinement is the crowning achievement of a career that dates back to 1985. A Californian bodybuilder, he was recruited to join Power Team USA, a faction of hulking grapplers looking to make their mark on the wrestling world. Within the team, he joined forces with another powerhouse and fellow future WWE Hall of Famer, Ultimate Warrior. The two rookies traveled through the territories before settling in Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation.
Clad in black tights and face paint, the towering duo known as The Blade Runners bulldozed over opponents in the Mid-South region. However, just months after arriving, Sting’s partner left to blaze a Hall of Fame trail on his own as a singles competitor, becoming The Ultimate Warrior. Left to his own devices, Sting created a path of destruction by himself in the UWF.
Sting revamped his look, adding a multitude of colors to his ring gear and paint while adapting a high-energy, hard-hitting persona that instantly endeared him to fans. His star continued to grow after Jim Crockett Promotions – the company that would become World Championship Wrestling – purchased UWF from Watts, exposing Sting to a national audience on cable television. Though he was just a few years into his career, the painted warrior was catapulted into superstardom when he headlined the first-ever Clash of the Champions in March 1987, a cable TV special that went head-to-head with WWE’s WrestleMania IV. Sting battled “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to a 45-minute draw for the NWA World Championship, a thrilling battle that cemented him among sports-entertainment’s elite. Sting and Flair were both rivals and allies over the years, with Sting dethroning The Nature Boy to capture his first World Championship at The Great American Bash 1990, as well as joining the infamous Four Horsemen.
Throughout the 1990s, Sting firmly established himself as WCW’s premier competitor, capturing the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, the United States Championship and the WCW Tag Team Championship on multiple occasions while having classic matches with the likes of Vader, Rick Rude and Lex Luger. His status as the standard bearer in WCW led to him being dubbed “The Franchise.” Yet, as the New World Order took over WCW in 1996, his fellow competitors questioned Sting’s loyalties to the company as they fought off the nefarious invaders.
That mistrust drained the color from Sting’s vibrant persona. Ditching his flashy ring gear, Sting painted his face in black and white, took a vow of silence and did not compete for over a year. He kept a watchful eye over WCW from the rafters of arenas around the world, dropping in to even the odds against the nWo with his trusty baseball bat. WCW’s dark knight finally returned to the ring at Starrcade 1997 to capture the WCW Championship and weaken the nWo’s grasp.
Sting was a 6-time WCW World Champion when the company was purchased by WWE in March 2001. The Stinger also had the distinction of competing in the final match in the history of WCW Monday Nitro, taking on Flair one last time.
The Icon competed on and off over the next 13 years, as his fans wondered if he would do the one thing that eluded him during his illustrious career: Step foot in a WWE ring. They got their answer at Survivor Series 2014, when Sting emerged to help Dolph Ziggler vanquish The Authority, drawing the ire of Triple H. The shocking incident led to Sting’s first appearance at WrestleMania, where he took on The Game in an epic battle that saw D-Generation X and the nWo collide at the 31st edition of The Show of Shows.
Though Triple H was victorious, Sting was not done with The Authority. He returned following SummerSlam 2015 to challenge WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. Though he was entering the 30th year of his career, The Icon showed he could hang with the current crop of Superstars, and took Rollins to the limit.
Now, Sting will be immortalized as he enters the WWE Hall of Fame.