I’ve watched every single documentary WWE has produced about its famed “Monday Night War” with WCW because, like most of you, I grew up during this golden age. Unfortunately, I’ve left every experience disappointed because the story follows a comically simple narrative: Eric Bischoff stole WWF stars, became successful because of the acquisitions and ultimately failed because of a resistance to creating new stars. That version of the story makes WWF look like the victim, falling prey to Ted Turner’s deep pockets before clawing its way to victory. And while much of that is true, WWE’s version of the war never acknowledges arguably the biggest reason it eventually pulled ahead of WCW: Starrcade 1997.
The WWE narrative of the Monday Wars is made to essentially put itself over. It was their own talent that left for Ted Turner money and they were solely responsible for WCW’s success. This narrative erases any ingenuity from Eric Bischoff and any homegrown star power and essentially gives WWE credit for WCW’s success.
This is bullsh*t. And it does a disservice to the biggest draw in wrestling during the MNW not named Stone Cold Steve Austin: Sting.
If Sting had gone to WWF anytime in the late 80s or early 90s he’d probably be on the Mt. Rushmore of big wrestling draws right next to Hogan, Rock and anyone else. But he stayed in WCW and was one of the best pure babyfaces who could put on a better match in his sleep than Hogan ever could.
Then Hogan happened to WCW. Here’s what happened in the Sting’s first three pay-per-views after Hogan showed up in WCW: he no-showed the Bash ’95, lost to Vader in a triangle match minutes after Vader beat Guardian Angel (formerly Big Bossman), then he showed up at Halloween Havoc to cut a promo about how excited he is to sit in the f*cking front row and watch Hogan vs. Flair.
The burial was on. But Sting kept trucking and, along with Flair, was the hometown favorite in WCW no matter how many WWF guys came in. Then 1996 came and the NWO happened – an NWO that was originally supposed to have Sting as its third man. This all led to War Games 1996. The NWO hatched a plan to fool WCW into thinking Sting had joined their ranks by having a fake Sting show up on Nitro and beat up Lex Luger in the parking lot. Everyone at WCW bought the ruse despite the fact Sting was in Japan and Luger is an idiot who can’t tell if the guy in front of him is his best friend or an a-hole in Sting makeup. When Sting tried to plead his innocence at War Games, nobody at WCW believed him. What happened next created the biggest babyface of the WCW-era Monday Night War.
Sting hit the ring in the middle of the War Games match between Team WCW and Team NWO, wiped out the entire NWO and left the ring. It was basically Goku taking out the Napa in wrestling form. And it was the coolest thing ever. Then Sting donned a Crow-themed outfit, a black baseball bat and stayed in the rafters for 18 months.
For that year-and-a-half, WCW played up a “will he or won’t he” angle where we wondered if Sting was really joining the NWO or coming back to WCW to exact revenge on Hulk Hogan. He’d show up briefly on Nitro and pay-per-views, never saying a word and dropping down from the ceiling once a week.