Sting’s Best Wrestling Matches of All Time: From AEW and WWE to WCW

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AEW Revolution 2024 was a hell of a show and it ended with the satisfying finale of Sting’s time in the ring. The final stretch of Sting’s career was a wonderful chance to set things right for the legendary wrestler, after the wrestling business had constantly let him down over the years. He was once the ace of WCW, but the incompetence and selfishness of others hurt his legacy in different ways at different promotions. But despite being in his 60s, his three years at AEW allowed him to go out on his own terms.

The Stinger is a beloved icon for a reason. While he did get wrapped up in such unfortunate things as the WCW mini-movies, the Shockmaster, the ill-fated Hulk Hogan match at Starrcade, and a really unfortunate PPV main event involving Jeff Hardy, Sting was still one of WCW’s great highlights and kicked a whole lot of ass through the years.

Here are some awesome Sting matches to check out throughout his career at WCW, WWE, TNA, AEW, and other promotions…

The Blade Runners vs. Steve Williams and Ted DiBiase (UWF, 1986)

Sting had only been wrestling for six months in 1986 so this is not what we’d call a great example of in-ring work, but it’s such a bizarre novelty of a tag match that makes for an intriguing watch. This was during the time when he was Blade Runner Sting, teaming up with Blade Runner Rock, known years later as the Ultimate Warrior. Here, they’re up against fellow major names Steve Williams and Ted DiBiase, all while a young Jim Ross is on commentary.

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It’s a very basic tag match, but such a trip to watch. When DiBiase is getting the hot tag and is laying into Sting and Rock as a beloved babyface, the mind can barely process it correctly. It’s also weird to see how much bulkier Warrior was back then. Worth checking out just for the sake of the interesting bookend and remembering a time when Sting was a proto-Road Warrior.

Sting vs. Ric Flair (JCP, 1988)

In the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, the same place where Sting would one day retire, he truly became a star. The first instance of Clash of the Champions aired on March 27, 1988, creating a counterpart to WWF’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. This was the kind of PPV-level show that you would see on free TV in the days before the Monday Night War. The main event had NWA Champion Ric Flair take on the popular up-and-comer Sting.

The match went the distance of its 45-minute time limit, which was risky considering how green Sting was at the time. Luckily, he and Flair had crazy chemistry and they made it work. While a long match due to being a time limit draw, it’s still a great watch filled with a constantly hyped crowd. It would be a couple years before Sting would win his first world title, but you could see here the genesis of a true wrestling superstar.

Sting and Lex Luger vs. The Steiner Brothers (WCW, 1991)

One of WCW’s real strengths through the years was the excitement it built around face vs. face matches. Even when it was ruined with a bad ending, such as in the case of Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash, WCW was still able to make these showdowns feel absolutely electric. One of the better examples is when Sting teamed up with his eternal frenemy Lex Luger to take on their buddies the Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championship at Superbrawl in 1991. It was the top face tag team vs. a tag team of the top faces.

The showdown has a cool dynamic where the two sides play off of each other well and feel evenly matched. It starts out aggressive, though friendly enough, but then things escalate, the energy picks up, and the hits get harder. Soon these two teams of allies decide it’s time to throw off the kid gloves and go for the kill. The crowd loves it and you really wish WCW had been brave enough to give it a decisive ending. Unfortunately, things take a screwy turn and the finale is underwhelming, but everything up to that point is top notch stuff from all four men.

Sting’s Squadron vs. Dangerous Alliance (WCW, 1992)

WCW’s WarGames was a cool idea for a match that rarely hit its potential. The tropes get overused, it almost never feels like a big blowoff match as advertised, and the less said about the latter years of this main event the better. The WarGames from WrestleWar ’92, on the other hand, is just pitch perfect. On one side, you have Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and wildcard Nikita Koloff. On the other side, it’s the Dangerous Alliance, made up of Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, and Larry Zbyszko. In a match type based on exploiting the weak link of the opposing team, the faces go into it at a disadvantage, as Sting and Koloff have tension and might not be able to coexist.

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The match is a collection of 10 fantastic workers just going ham for over 20 minutes in a double ring. The ending is simple, but perfect in how it ties together a match based around teamwork. While the 1996 WarGames (also a big deal for Sting) might be the most important version of the match, this one is easily the most enjoyable take on good and evil battling it out in the Match Beyond. Trademark.

Sting vs. Big Van Vader (WCW, 1992)

Big Van Vader was arguably Sting’s greatest rival, more so than even Flair. He was the Clubber Lang to Sting’s Rocky, or the Bane to his Batman. The two had a hell of a feud with some exceptional and hard-hitting in-ring storytelling. Their title match at Great American Bash is worth a look on its own, as it’s all about Sting going into a fight he cannot win, as he’s not 100% and he’s up against a threat that’s just too much for him. There’s no need for it to be a quick squash or a scenario where the heel wins due to last-minute cheating. It’s just a hero fighting against impossible odds until he can no longer escape his fate. It rocks.

That said, it’s their rematch at Starrcade ’92 that really shines. Vader had to drop the title to Ron Simmons due to a knee injury, but returned down the line. A King of Cable tournament was used for both Sting and Vader to regain their respective momentum, culminating in a finals at the PPV. There’s more intensity in this rematch, as Sting steps up his game and is treated more like an equal to Vader than an underdog. The feud continued with a Strap Match a few months later that’s also worth looking at.

Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page (WCW, 1999)

Once the New World Order took over WCW, it was the best of times and the worst of times for Sting. Having transformed into a Crow knockoff, Sting was treated as a total badass antihero, but this involved a year out of the ring, and some seriously bungled storytelling. That I can’t recommend any Hogan matches is a travesty, considering how major that pairing looked on paper. Simply put, there are few Sting matches to look out for in his most memorable period.

Luckily, he had a couple real bangers with Diamond Dallas Page, one of the other top names who didn’t feel like part of the problem. In 1998, they had a face vs. face title match on Nitro that was slow for the most part, but had some great intensity and an excellent finish. Luckily, they decided to redo that exact finish a year later on another Nitro in another title match. This time, DDP was playing heel and there was definitely more of a pulse to this showdown. The match is somewhat ruined by the rest of the night’s storytelling, but watching it on its own, it’s an example of two great wrestlers meshing together and making me wish they crossed paths more often.

Sting vs. Kurt Angle (TNA, 2007)

TNA has always been a long stretch of disasters but with its share of shining moments. For much of its existence, the promotion was a poorly managed haven for talent who didn’t fit with WWE. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on just why WWE didn’t want them. Sting was happier with the relaxed schedule that TNA gave him and he was always treated as a big deal. In 2007, the promotion put him in a major PPV title match against Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory.

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At the time, Angle was undesirable to WWE due to wellness reasons, but he was still undeniable in the ring. The two truly clicked in this meeting of generational talent and gave us what is probably Sting’s best singles showing in the company. You have to groan when you remember that Vince Russo was on the payroll at the time and there’s a run-in based around a Karen Angle restraining order, but all the overbooking in its final minutes becomes somewhat endearing due to how it ends. Not to mention Sting accidentally screws up blocking a baseball bat to the face and just shrugs it off despite his face exploding. What a badass.

Team Cena vs. Team Authority (WWE, 2014)

We have to mention Sting’s time at WWE, which was largely dire and depressing. His WrestleMania match with Triple H was a mess, his title match against Seth Rollins was tragic, and his bouts with the Big Show were forgettable at best. But WWE did at least get one thing right and that was his debut. Excuse us while we cheat a little.

The setup was a five-on-five elimination tag match at Survivor Series 2014. John Cena’s team faced a team working for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon over the fate of the company. Sting himself wasn’t a competitor in the match, but his surprise arrival played a big role in it. Even without the Sting parts, it’s a fantastic main event and great performance by Dolph Ziggler, who would sadly get no reward for his role in the aftermath.

Sting and Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky (AEW, 2021)

When Sting arrived at AEW, it looked like he was just there to be a cornerman for Darby Allin. Due to his age and what seemed to be a career-ending injury from his WWE run, it didn’t seem like Sting was going to be getting too involved physically. Even his debut match where he and Darby took on Brian Cage and Ricky Starks was a pre-taped cinematic match to work around his limitations. It wasn’t until almost three months later at Double or Nothing that AEW decided to actually see what he could do in front of a real crowd with no extra takes or editing.

Going up against Darby’s rivals, Men of the Year, Sting showed he still had it. Everyone figured that Sting was there to keep the reckless Darby in check and teach him to rein it in a bit. Instead, Sting gradually matched Darby energy, at one point leaping off a giant stack of poker chips onto Page and Sky. It doesn’t hold a candle to some of the stunts he would pull off in the matches that followed, but seeing him finally back in the ring is a great time.

Sting and Darby Allin vs. The Young Bucks (AEW, 2024)

Sting continued to wrestle for AEW, including a special match in Japan to commemorate Great Muta’s retirement. But as time ticked on, Sting decided it was time to call it, announcing that Revolution 2024 would be his last hurrah. In the lead-up, he and Darby won the tag titles off Ricky Starks and Big Bill. That put Sting at 29-0 and his last match would be a defense against AEW co-founders, the Young Bucks.

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Sting was accompanied by his sons, both dressed as earlier versions of their father’s persona. Darby put himself through such a gnarly stunt for the sake of writing him out of most of the match, but at least he’s still young. Sting, who we should remind you is turning 65 years this year, was going through tables and glass! He absolutely performed like it was his last show and all the players involved made the most of it. Overbooked? Absolutely, but it was still something special.

This is the high bar for legends saying their goodbyes and we’re not sure if wrestling will ever see a sendoff that hits this level ever again.

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