Why Sting's WWE Run Wasn't a Success 4 Years LaterNovember 23, 2018
Four years ago to the day, Sting etched his name into the WWE history books when he made his highly anticipated debut at 2014's Survivor Series pay-per-view. His exciting arrival overshadowed everything else that evening and had fans buzzing for weeks on end.
To the company's credit, the moment could not have been booked better. It came at a time when fans least expected it, and as soon as the lights went out and his new ominous music blared throughout the arena, everyone in attendance knew they were witnessing something special.
After refusing to make the jump for over two decades, Sting had finally showed his face for the first time on a WWE-sanctioned show, and it was everything longtime fans could have hoped for.
The followup was key, however. Sting went months without making another appearance on WWE TV, and it wasn't until the go-home edition of Raw before Royal Rumble 2015 that he resurfaced again, interrupting the main event and helping John Cena overcome The Authority.
It was clear at that moment what the direction would be for WrestleMania 31: Sting vs. Triple H for the first time ever. Although it was a blockbuster bout on paper, Sting vs. The Undertaker was the real attraction and could have happened considering The Deadman was slated to compete on the card.
Nonetheless, the build to Sting vs. Triple H at 'Mania was well done and got fans excited for Sting's long-awaited WWE in-ring debut on the grandest stage of them all, which unfortunately ended up being a bit of a disappointment.
Instead of contesting a straightforward, intense one-on-one outing, Sting and Triple H relied on interference from D-Generation X and the nWo to get them through. It was a fun trip down memory lane, especially for fans of the Attitude Era, but the match itself left a lot to be desired.
Worse yet, Sting was beaten by Triple H for no other reason than to drive home the point that WWE was, is and always will be superior to WCW. It was silly for Sting to lose in his first WWE matchup after the heavy hype he had received, and Triple H gained nothing from the victory.
The next night on Raw, Sting spoke about how he didn't know what his future held, giving fans an inkling of hope that he'd be back eventually to redeem himself. Sure enough, Sting made a surprise return to Raw five months later to set his sights on Seth Rollins, the WWE World Heavyweight champion at the time.
From a storyline standpoint, Sting did nothing to earn a shot at the strap since he lost the last time we had seen him in action. In fact, there was no real reason for him to be back at all, but WWE needed a marquee main event for September's Night of Champions, and Sting vs. Rollins fit the bill.
In the weeks that followed, The Icon lost almost all of his mystique by being booked like everyone else on the roster. He also spoke way more than he needed to and even wrestled an unadvertised match on Raw ahead of Night of Champions.
Considering the circumstances, Rollins and Sting had the best bout possible, but halfway through, Sting suffered a neck injury that would ultimately end his career and eliminate any chance of more matches in WWE.
Even had Sting not been injured, he likely still would have fallen short of capturing the title that night, raising the question of why he was brought back in the first place.
While there is something to be said for putting over other talent, it was imperative for Sting to be established as credible upon coming over to the company, and WWE failed with him in that respect.
If nothing else, Sting's brief WWE stint answered the question of what would happen if he were to ever sign with WWE. Fans' worst fears about him being misused came to fruition, though it's unknown if it would have been any different had he made the move years earlier.
Assuming Sting didn't have his career cut short due to injury, it's possible he would have been in action at WrestleMania 32 and scored a meaningful victory before hanging up his boots for good.
Virtually nothing was accomplished from Sting appearing for WWE in 2014-2015, aside from producing a few cool memories with someone most fans never thought they'd see in WWE. It's also questionable he hasn't been utilized in any regular role on WWE TV since retiring nearly three years ago.
At long last, the last true outlaw from the Attitude Era had put pen to paper with WWE. Although his legacy in the industry wasn't at all ruined during his time spent with WWE, his run could have been so much more than it was had it been handled more carefully.
There is no denying Sting's place in the WWE Hall of Fame is well-deserved despite never experiencing any success in WWE, but it's a shame he couldn't have closed out his career on a more satisfying note with the company.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.