For years, Sting was one of the hottest babyfaces on the North American wrestling scene. His flashy moves and all-around babyface energy put him alongside Ric Flair as one of the top stars in the territories.
As the facepaint-wearing surfer, the real-life Steve Borden battled almost everyone who came through the curtain to challenge him. His feuds with the likes of Ric Flair and The Great Muta made for some of the greatest matches witnessed by fans in the nineties.
With that said, here are five of Sting’s greatest feuds.
Ric Flair / Four Horsemen
Sting’s feud with Ric Flair is considered one of pro wrestling’s finest storylines. Their first match against each other was a 45-minute Broadway at the inaugural NWA Clash of the Champions event on March 27, 1988. From there on, the two men would have countless classics against each other for years to come.
Not only did the feud establish Sting as a singles star, it helped put WCW on the map during the early 1990s. The two men would briefly form an alliance as part of the Four Horsemen. They main evented the final “Nitro” against each other. Flair also inducted arguably his greatest rival into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016.
Hollywood Hogan / nWo
The Sting-Hogan feud was the hottest storyline before the Attitude Era took the pro wrestling world by storm. The two men had been occasional partners before the Hulkster decided to turn his back on WCW and the fans by forming the New World Order. The nWo kicked off their reign of terror at Bash at the Beach 96. To make matters worse, the trio tricked the fans into thinking that Sting, of all people, had joined them.
Sting’s rivalry with the nWo led to the dramatic reimagining of the surfer gimmick. The Stinger adopted a somber, dark look (based on Brandon Lee’s character from The Crow). The “Crow” Sting would then build-up an 18-month feud with Hollywood Hogan and the nWO. The Starrcade ’97 climax, however, was underwhelming, to say the least.
Vader will forever be remembered as one of the greatest superheavyweights of all time. He was extremely agile for a man his size, and would occasionally hit moonsaults and other aerial moves to a huge reaction from the crowd. Vader shared an extremely stiff rivalry with Sting, and was responsible for putting the Stinger down in front of his loyal fans.
The two men had classic battles during WCW’s formidable years. Their match at The Great American Bash ’92 propelled them to greater heights. It was truly a clash of David and Goliath. Jim Ross’s epic call made the match even more memorable. After 17 minutes of extreme physicality, the big man put an end to the Stinger’s world heavyweight title reign.
Few believed Mick Foley to be a solid contender, let alone a main event player, when he debuted in WCW as Cactus Jack in 1991. The company saw “Surfer” Sting as the perfect launching pad for a raw Jack. The two men were soon put together in a program that led to some fantastic early matches in Foley’s career.
Their feud also saw the involvement of Abdullah “The Butcher,” who would occasionally pop up to cause problems for the Stinger. When Foley joined TNA (IMPACT Wrestling) in 2008, he found himself at odds with the Main Event Mafia (of which Sting was a prominent member). He also defeated Sting after a brutal match at Lockdown for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
The success of the nWO storyline started to cool off following the controversial ending to Starrcade ’97. By 1999, WCW was already getting crushed by rival WWE in the ratings war. With defeat in sight, the company made the decision to put the top title on Jeff Jarrett. As the champion, Double J clashed with Sting, but the feud was not able to help Ted Turner’s promotion turn the tide.
It was in TNA that the two men got to explore their rivalry to its fullest potential. Sting joined the promotion as a full-time talent in 2006. He was soon competing for the world title, co-founding the Main Event Mafia with Kurt Angle in the process. Jarrett also had a brief association with the faction, but it was mostly used to build up a feud with Sting.
The Great Muta
The Great Muta burst on the NWA wrestling scene in the 1990s. The North American audience hadn’t seen such a performer, and were quickly drawn to Antonio Inoki’s disciple because of his incredible charisma and in-ring style. The Great Muta soon found himself in a career-altering feud with the Stinger in NWA.
The two men had incredible chemistry inside the squared circle. Muta’s feud with Sting established the man from the land of the rising son as one of the biggest heels in WCW at the time. The feud came full circle as Sting participated in Muta’s retirement match in Pro Wrestling NOAH on Jan. 22, 2023.
Sting and Rick Rude had an intense rivalry that saw the two put together classic matches in early 1990s. “The Ravishing One” was one of the biggest heels of his era and it was only logical for him to go up against a rising babyface in the Stinger.
As great as the two were together inside the ring, they couldn’t prevent the miscommunication that ended Rude’s wrestling career. Rude suffered a back injury after he took the full force of a springboard plancha by the Stinger at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku in 1994.
Despite the injury, Rude continued the match and went on to defeat Sting for the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. The decision, however, was reversed because of the injury sustained to Rude and his subsequent retirement.
Did we miss any other of Sting’s greatest rivals? Let us know in the comments section below!