At this year’s Survivor Series wrestling fans were treated to a truly unforgettable moment when Sting officially entered a WWE ring for the first time to help propel Team Cena to victory over Team Authority. A good percentage of the fans in attendance had probably seen very little of his work, and yet they instinctively knew that this man called Sting was a player. He was important.
A staple of WCW and later TNA, Sting shone just as brightly as any WWE/F star despite spending nearly his entire career on the wrong side of Vince McMahon’s ongoing war with the rest of the wrestling world. Nothing, not bad booking, politics or changing times could keep The Stinger down – if anything, it all helped forge him into one of the greatest good guys in wrestling history. Any wrestler will tell you, being a fan favorite is harder than playing the heel, and yet Sting has done it better than anybody for over 25-years, even when suffering through personal turmoils behind the scenes.
Here’s a few things you may not know about the life of the one and only Sting…
1) Hulk Hogan was responsible for Sting getting into the wrestling business. Sting, aka Steve Borden, did not grow up watching wrestling, and in his early-20s had absolutely no interest in getting into the business. Bodybuilding was young Steve’s thing and he spent most of his time working out in a Gold’s Gym near Venice Beach. One fateful day former NWA Tag Team Champion Red Bastien came into the gym looking to recruit members for a new musclehead wrestling stable called Powerteam USA, and he immediately set his sights on the man not yet called Sting. Bastien would try the hard sell numerous times, but Borden had absolutely no connection to wrestling, and thus no interest.
Two of these guys became world champions, the other two quit within months. Not a bad ratio, Powerteam USA.
That all changed when a certain blonde, mustachioed WWF Champion started regularly showing up at the gym. The soon-to-be Sting could sense Hogan’s success, and later saw him as Thunderlips in Rocky III, leading him to think that maybe, just maybe, this wrestling thing might be for him. Borden would finally take Bastien up on his offer, train under him and, after a few more bumps in the road, become one of the most prosperous wrestlers of all time. Despite that success, Sting still maintains that he doesn’t really watch wrestling and never has, so it’s a good thing one of the most important wrestlers ever just happened to mosey into his gym.
2) Sting began his career as Ultimate Warrior’s partner in a Blade Runner-themed tag team. Powerteam USA didn’t stick around for long because, well, they were just four jacked-up dudes plucked from random gyms and given a bare minimal amount of training, so they weren’t very good, but the two most promising guys from the team found their way to Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis. Who were these two guys you ask? Well, one was obviously Steve Borden, and the other was Jim Hellwig, aka the future Ultimate friggin’ Warrior.
Initially the duo were known as The Freedom Fighters with Hellwig going by Justice and Steve going by Flash (because “Flash Borden”, get it?) The Memphis crowd, used to cheering for chubby dudes in crowns, turned on the beefy Freedom Fighters but quick, so they went heel, started painting their faces, changed their team name to The Blade Runners and their individual names to Sting and Rock. Yup, the Ultimate Warrior was the Rock back when Dwayne Johnson was still in middle school. The Blade Runners would last less than a year before breaking up, with Hellwig leaving for WCCW in Texas en route to WWF, and Sting doing a short stint in UWF in Louisiana before joining the NWA/WCW. Despite the relatively short tenure of their tag team Sting and Warrior would remain close friends until Warrior’s untimely death this past year.