This wrestling legend was born Steve Borden in Omaha, Nebraska on March 20, 1959, making him 58 years old today. After playing football and basketball during his high school years, Borden took to bodybuilding and eventually graduated from the University of Nebraska.
He received some professional wrestling training from Red Bastien and in 1985, the green Borden formed a tag team combination known as “Power Team USA” with fellow newcomer and musclehead, the late Jim “The Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig. The face-painted Borden was known as “Flash” and the two debuted as faces in the Continental Wrestling Federation (CWF). Their huge hulking gimmick did not take over well and the team left after one year.
In 1986, the two showed up in the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), now re-christened “The Blade Runners” after the popular Harrison Ford movie. Here, Flash later adopted his ring moniker of “Sting” and the Runners assisted head heel, the late “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert and valet Missy Hyatt. Hellwig soon left for the greener pastures of the WCCW and the WWF while Borden found a new partner, winning the UWF Tag Team Championship twice with Gilbert.
Sting turned face after being betrayed by Gilbert and formed an alliance with the late “Gentleman” Chris Adams.
The UWF was then bought by Jim Crockett Promotions, now becoming the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Booker Dusty Rhodes saw great potential in the Stinger and started to give him a great push as a face, having time-limit draws against NWA Champ Ric “Nature Boy” Flair and being involved in high profile fights against Flair’s faction, the Four Horsemen.
Rhodes himself would team with Sting to face the Road Warriors who were also very popular with the fans. Sting would later win the NWA Television title from Mike Rotunda (Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas’ dad) and defend it successfully, but would subsequently lose the belt to the Great Muta after it was declared vacant owing to a previous controversial finish between the two.
NWA Heavyweight Champion Flair was defending the belt against Terry Funk when he was attacked by Muta following the bout. Sting came to the aid of old enemy Flair and the two did battle as a team against Muta and Funk. Sting also became inducted into the Four Horsemen along with stablemates Ole and Arn Anderson.
In 1990, Sting had so much momentum behind him that he went to challenge his friend Flair for the belt. This led to tension within the Horseman and Sting got ostracized as a result. He sustained a knee injury during a cage match against the Horsemen, but Sting still remained visible on the newly named offshoot of the NWA, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). After an attack by the Horsemen, Sting was rescued by none other than Robocop, a lame and silly movie-tie in concept WCW had at the time.
Sting would eventually defeat Flair for the coveted NWA Heavyweight Championship and would defend against any and all comers including a mysterious foe called the Black Scorpion. Often mocked for his horrid attempted magic tricks, Scorpy fought Sting and lost and was later unmasked to reveal old rival Flair, although various other wrestlers had assumed the role in the past.
Sting would drop the title to Naitch at the “Starrcade” Pay-Per-View event after several months. He then formed a tag team with “The Total Package” Lex Luger and did battle with Rick & Scott Steiner in some classic bouts.
The two weren’t successful at capturing tag team gold, but Sting did win the vacated WCW US Heavyweight Championship, but lost it close to three months later to “Ravishing” Rick Rude, a member of Paul E. Dangerously’s (Paul Heyman) Dangerous Alliance.
Sting would win his first run as WCW Heavyweight Champion over Luger at the “Superbrawl II” Pay-Per-View event. He would then feud extensively with the monstrous Big Van Vader (Leon White) who would ultimately capture the gold from Sting at the Great American Bash. Sting suffered broken ribs and a ruptured spleen courtesy of this encounter.
Sting continued a lengthy feud with Vader which was a consistent box office draw. They had cage matches, strap matches and tag matches with British Bulldog, the late Davey Boy Smith. Sting would capture the belt from Vader for a brief run in Europe and would drop it six days later to Vader in Ireland.
Sting then won the WCW International heavyweight Championship from Rude who was looking at retirement owing to lingering injuries. Sting would eventually drop the strap to Flair who had turned heel which saw the belt become unified with the WCW Heavyweight Championship at the “Clash of Champions” Pay-Per-View event.
Sting then formed a tag team with WCW newcomer Hulk Hogan and did battle with Kevin Sullivan’s 3 Faces of Fear and Dungeon of Doom, which included members Kamala, Avalanche/Shark (the late “Earthquake” John Tenta) and Abdullah the Butcher.
In 1995 Sting defeated Meng (WWE legend Haku) to become the WCW US Champion. He would continue to do battle with Flair and the Horsemen which now included the late “Flyin” Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit. He would drop the title to Kensuke Sasaki in Japan and the two had subsequent rematches in the USA, but Sting would not reclaim the title.
In 1996, Sting teamed with old rival Luger to defeated the WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray and Booker T). After a close to 6-month reign, Luger and Sting would drop the belts back to Harlem Heat on an episode of WCW Nitro.
In the summer of 1996, the historic nWo was formed that immediately became the centre of attention. Sting would prove to be their # 1 nemesis.
Sting and Luger would form an alliance with rivals the Four Horsemen in an attempt to defeat the nWo. A storyline was concocted whereby what appeared to be Sting attacked Luger. In reality this was fake Sting, a patsy set up by the nWo to make it seem as if Sting had joined their heel faction. This created some tension between Luger and real Sting who denied his involvement with the nWo.
Sting then went on a tour of Japan while the fake Sting still associated with the nWo. The real Sting then returned to Nitro with a radically changed look in the process. Gone was the peroxide blonde surfer-ish brush cut and brightly coloured face paint; in came a dark, brooding version of the late Brandon Lee’s character, The Crow.
Fake Sting (Jeff Farmer, who ironically was also one of the portrayors of the Black Scorpion) still adopted the look of the Sting of old, and was attacked by the new, Crow-like Sting. nWo member Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase tried to persuade Sting to join the nWo, but Sting, ever the man of principle, turned his back and left.
In the weeks that followed, like a slow burn, Sting would mysteriously perch in the rafters of the venue brandishing a baseball bat, not saying a word and study the nWo member’s matches. He was then approached by the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage about forming a tag team alliance against the nWo. Sting agreed and the two appeared on WCW programming in the rafters, studying their competition.
Things came to a hilt when Sting and Savage were at ringside to observe a bout between “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Savage ended up helping Hogan win, thus establishing himself as a member of the nWo. It appeared as though Sting was going to follow Savage’s path and align himself with the heel organization.
As fate would have it, at the WCW “Uncensored” Pay-Per-View event, Sting attacked Savage, NBA star Dennis Rodman and other nWo members, proving his allegiance to WCW. From there on, Sting would appear sporadically on WCW programming, attacking nWo members but not being involved in any major storyline or feuds.
This was all a ploy to set the stage for the ultimate show-down: Sting vs. Hogan. The fans got their wish when the two collided at Starrcade. Sting won the match, but it was not without controversy as Hogan questioned the referee’s decision. In a rematch, 2 different referees saw either man as the victor, so the title was declared vacant.
Sting recaptured the WCW title at Superbrawl VIII and would later drop the belt to old friend/nemesis Savage. Founding nWo members Kevin “Diesel” Nash and Hogan would split with Nash forming the face nWo Wolfpac with Hogan leading the heel nWo Hollywood. Sting would join Nash’s Wolfpac stable and don the red colour as a symbol of his allegiance.
Sting and The Giant (Paul “Big Show” Wight) would capture the WCW Tag Team titles but would have to vacate them 3 weeks later owing to the Giant’s defection to nWo Hollywood.
Sting would then feud with WCW newcomer Bret “Hitman” Hart as the two used similar submission moves, the Sharpshooter vs. the Scorpion Deathlock which in and of itself is a modified Boston Crab. Hart would attack Sting with a baseball bat, causing Sting to be absent from television for a while thereafter.
Sting would turn to Nitro in 1999 and defeated Diamond Dallas Page for his 5th run as WCW Heavyweight Champion, but would drop the title a mere 90 minutes later to DDP in a four way dance.
After a brief run as WCW President, the Stinger would team with a returning Hulk Hogan (now a face) to do battle with Nash and Sid Vicious. After a brief period of alliance, Sting challenged Hogan for the WCW title and defeated him for it, using a baseball bat in the process. This was Sting’s first ever heel turn which was not exactly convincing. He would later be stripped of the belt after an attack on referee Charles Robison and would lose a tournament to regain the belt from Bret Hart. Once Hart won, Sting shook his hand as a sign of respect, turning him face once again.
Sting would have a brief but intense feud with Vampiro and Jeff Jarrett until WCW’s demise when it was bought by Vince McMahon and Sting would not join the rival promotion.
Sting would then appear in Europe as part of the World Wrestling Alliance (WWA) and would become its heavyweight champion after defeating old partner/rival Lex Luger. He would ultimately drop the belt to Jarrett in New Zealand as the promotion folded and became unified with Jarrett’s TNA (Total Nonstop Action).
Sting would then become a born-again Christian and would appear sporadically on TNA from 2003 – 2004, but in 2005, he established himself as a full-time member of the roster.
Within one month, Sting announced his “retirement” from TNA and made a formal farewell. At the “Destination X” Pay-Per-View event, he appeared as “Steve Borden” sans makeup and dressed in street clothes. He placed Jarrett in the Scorpion deadlock, but was attacked by a debuting heel, Scott Steiner.
Sting would then get involved in a lengthy feud with Jarrett and Steiner in both singles and tag team encounters with partner Samoa Joe. His battles against Jarrett reached its zenith when Sting put his career on the line against Jarrett’s NWA Heavyweight Championship at the “Bound for Glory” Pay-Per-View event. Sting won the title for a second run as NWA champion since 1990.
About one month later, Sting would drop the title to Abyss starting a long rivalry between the two involving a convoluted storyline of Abyss murdering his father, but Sting was never able to regain the gold from Abyss.
Sting was then involved in a short feud with Christopher Daniels and once that died down, he formed a partnership with arch rival Abyss whom had turned face. The two became a tag team and feuded with A.J. Styles and TNA Heavyweight Champion, Christian Cage (WWF’s Christian, partner of Edge).
Sting would then partner with Kurt Angle to win the TNA Tag Team Championship which they would drop 13 days later to Ron Killings (R-Truth) and football legend Adam “Pacman” Jones. The team broke up thereafter when Angle’s wife Karen accused Sting of slapping her. Angle retaliated by stalking Sting’s son Garrett and the two met in the ring with Sting defeating Angle for the TNA Heavyweight Championship. His reign would be short-lived as Angle reclaimed the title 2 days later.
He then appeared on TNA programming sporadically, engaging in some tag matches and attacking Samoa Joe with a baseball bat during Joe’s feud with Booker T. Sting’s rationale for the attack on Joe (and later on A.J. Styles) was that the newer generation had to respect the older generation more.
In 2008, Sting defeated Joe (with a little help from Kevin Nash) to become the TNA Heavyweight Champion. His newfound heel status was confirmed when he joined a faction known as the “Main Event Mafia” (MEM) consisting of Angle, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Sharmell and Nash.
The aging Sting would defend the title for an astonishing 189 days after finally succumbing to Mick Foley. The Mafia would eventually turn on Sting and he would wage war with its members, turning face once again.
In March of 2010, Sting appeared on television with his trademark baseball bat to assist Hulk Hogan and Abyss who were bloodied by Flair and AJ Styles. In a surprising turn, Sting became a heel again by attacking Hogan and Abyss with the bat. Further to this, he would use the bat against the popular Rob Van Dam, cementing himself as a heel.
After a sneak attack by Jeff Jarrett, Sting later defeated Jarrett to a bloody mess. He swung the bat at Eric Bischoff and would later lose a shot at reigning Heavyweight Champion Van Dam courtesy of interference from Jarrett.
After a 30-day suspension from Dixie Carter, Sting returned to TNA sporting red face paint from his nWo Wolfpac days. In keeping with this throwback, he signed himself with Nash and did battle with Jarrett, Hogan and Samoa Joe.
Later on, D’Angelo Dinero would join Nash and Sting in his suspicions that Bischoff and Hogan were up to no good. In a typical TNA convoluted storyline, it was revealed all along that Dinero, Nash and Sting were right when Jarrett, Hogan and Bischoff all turned heel and formed the faction “Immortal”. This in turn meant that Sting, Nash and Dinero were now faces!
Sting’s contract with TNA had expired at that point, so he took a 4-month hiatus from television. Upon his return, he quickly defeated an inebriated Jeff Hardy to become TNA Heavyweight Champion for the third time. He defended the title for about 4 months, dropping it eventually to Mr. Anderson (previously Mr. Kennedy in the WWE).
Sting would re-invent himself yet again, this time sporting a look similar to the late Heath Ledger’s “Joker” character. Dubbed the “Insane Icon”, Sting would grab the title back from Anderson and would later drop his fourth title run to Kurt Angle.
Sting would make multiple attempts to regain the crown, each being thwarted by interference from Hogan. Sting would defeat arch rival Flair for a chance to face Hogan which he did do at the “Bound for Glory” Pay-Per-View event.
After being named General Manager of TNA, Sting then feuded with TNA Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode, but was unable to capture the title. He later would relinquish his GM title to Hogan.
Sting and Hogan were attacked by masked wrestlers that were part of the evil faction known as “Aces and Eights”. This would start a feud between Sting and the group, siding with Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe. At the time, Bully Ray (Bubba Ray Dudley) appeared to be an ally of the Stinger against his half-brother Devon who was a member of Aces and Eights.
As a bait and switch, Bully Ray was revealed to be the leader of Aces and Eights all along, leading to a failed attempt by Sting to win the TNA Heavyweight Championship from Bully Ray. Sting would then re-brand the New Main Event Mafia to wage war with Aces, but they would eventually disband and the feud died out.
He would next feud briefly with Ethan Carter III and Dixie Carter herself, leading to a match that Sting lost against Carter when Magnus interfered. This in turn led to a championship bout against Magnus whereby Sting but his TNA career on the line. Sting lost, his contract with TNA was severed and he left the promotion for good.
In late November of 2014, Sting made his first appearance in a WWE ring at the “Survivor Series” Pay-Per-View event. He attacked Triple H in a Scorpion Deathlock and confirmed himself as opposition to the McMahon-Helmsley Authority.
At this point, Sting was 55 years old and had been resistant all throughout his WCW years of jumping ship to the WWE. He had seen time and time again how WCW loyalists were crushed when they entered the WWE. In keeping, Sting lost to Triple H in a No DQ match at WrestleMania XXXI.
Sting would then challenge WWE Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and job to him at the “Night of Champions” Pay-per-View event. Sting did win a tag match with partner John Cena against Rollins and Big Show, but his short tenure in the WWE was far from remarkable.
Sting was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. He is now retired and is an elder statesman of the sport. He is well admired by fans and peers like with few ever speaking ill of him. He has dedicated much of time and resources to children’s charities and has been outspoken in his religious faith to inspire others. He has truly re-invented himself over time and has become a name synonymous with the greats this sport has ever produced.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.