By Goose Mahler, Columnist
There are times where the wrestling world enjoys nothing by negative news, articles, and rumors. When this starts happening, I turn to old wrestling magazines, DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s, and WWE Network to watch some of the stars that made it cool and fun to be a wrestling fan.
I was watching Sting Untold on the WWE Network the other night and it brought back some great memories I have of watching Sting. From the surfer look to the Crow, Sting was one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. I feel like we were robbed by him not winning the WWE title at any point, but the title does not make the man.
The crowd reaction does.
The first time I remember watching Sting on NWA Saturday Night on TBS, I was in awe of how strong, quick and athletic he was. He was wrestling Gladiator 1. He wasn’t as crisp as he was against a Ric Flair or Arn Anderson. He didn’t bring out the Scorpion Death Lock or have the Scorpion Death Drop. Simply put his opponent away with some elbows, a slam, clotheslines and then the Stinger Splash in the corner.
When he finally got his chance against Flair and won his match, I remember marking out like a little kid in a candy store. Flair had this uncanny ability to bring out the best in his opponents win or lose. But he also knew when he saw something special how to put them over. Sting had that IT factor that Flair loved to put over and he had no issues making Sting look like a 5-star wrestler and dropping the NWA and WCW title to him.
WCW when Sting transformed from one of their more colorful characters in wrestling to the Crow over betrayal and lack of trust within WCW and the newly formed nWo, he brought a darker edge and attitude to wrestling. I went to the United Center to see WCW and remember sitting in the upper deck and Sting was right to the left of us in the rafters watching Roddy Piper and The Giant in the ring. He didn’t wrestle and the pop he got was deafening. If that isn’t star-power I don’t know what is.
His TNA Impact run for a wrestler his age was solid. Won a title, put people over, but I think one of the biggest impacts (no pun intended) was helping Jeff Hardy. In what should have been one of the best matches of 2011, ended up being a dud because Jeff went out high at Victory Road. Sting being the professional he is, did the right thing and just hit Jeff with a Scorpion Death Drop and pinned him. The match sucked, but Sting gave Jeff the eye opener he needed before he crashed and burned forever. It’s not always the best match or feud that makes a great wrestler, their caring for people in general can put them over the top to fans too.
Sting made his last appearances in the ring with the WWE. This wasn’t the Sting from WCW, but it gave us fans some closure. He got to Wrestlemania. He went into the Hall of Fame. He graced a WWE Video Game with his presence.
Sting is without a shadow of a doubt one of my favorite wrestlers.
Now my morbid side of positive. I was 18 years old and got a tape from a friend of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Shane Douglas throwing the NWA title into the trash and declaring Extreme Championship Wrestling. But that isn’t what caught my eye. It was a fresh faced babyface wrestler that looked like he stole Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart’s tights from the New Foundation named Tommy Dreamer. On the tape was Sandman with 10 lashes of the Kendo Stick. I couldn’t believe as Woman watched the Sandman and Dreamer just taking it. Dreamer was starting his path as Mr. ECW and wasn’t going to stop.
His feud with Raven over Beulah was epic. Each lose, each heartbreak made Dreamer stronger. It had its weird twists here and there, but these two brought out the best and worst of each other for 2 years. Dreamer didn’t get that elusive W until Raven’s last night in ECW before he jumped shipped to WCW. And they never disappointed when they were in the ring together.
After Raven, Dreamer got some mainstream attention with a feud against the WWF’s Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler kept calling ECW Extremely Crappy Wrestling.
Dreamer was defending the new style of wrestling. Don’t get me wrong here, their match was not good. But the fact that ECW was getting the attention of a major promotion and got some media coverage was huge for the entire roster that people didn’t know. It even earned ECW time on Monday Night Raw with the Eliminators, Sandman, Dreamer. Heyman, RVD, Sabu, Tazz, Fonzie, among others.
Dreamer didn’t need a championship for fans to know he was the face of ECW. But when Mike Awesome signed with WCW and was still the ECW champ, the WWE was again were in business and Taz was loaned to ECW to take the belt off Awesome. Dreamer was the first to congratulate Taz and then dethrone him for one of the shortest title reigns ever. But it was what needed to be done.
Tommy isn’t going to be known for putting on classic wrestling matches. But the way he interacted with the crowd and stood for ECW until the very end makes him one of my all-time favorite wrestlers.
And then there is my favorite wrestler of all time. The Junkyard Dog!
To me JYD was one of those wrestlers you had to pull for. The first time I saw a match of his in the Mid-South Wrestling Association I was hooked on him. The headbutts, the big Thump Power Slam. He was entertaining, the fans loved him, and he had this IT factor that you don’t see in wrestlers nowadays.
When he went to the WWF he was the winner of the Wrestling Classic in Rosemont, IL (Cheap pop for the Chicago Sheep’s). He was a Slammy winner. What bothered me was Dog was always a chaser for the Intercontinental Title, but never won it. It didn’t stop him from putting on a show. I mean he lost to King Harley Race and still managed to get a massive pop from the fans prancing around with his crown and rob.
No matter where he wrestled on the card for the WWF he always had a smile and slapped hands with the fans and brought kids into the ring to juke and jive with the Dog. His personality was as huge as his smile.
Then JYD went to the NWA. He didn’t have the success he had in the WWE, but he was still over with many of the fans. He won a $50,000.00 Bunkhouse Battle Royal after Starrcade 88’ in a dark match. Feuded with different partners against the Russian Assassins He even had a run at “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s gold. But the feud just never had steam and never made any sense. And never got going in a way that either wrestler look good of comfortable. He went back to tagging with different partners and still have that smile on his face.
We lost JYD way too young after a car accident. I will always remember the wrestler that came out to “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Grab them Cakes.” He was a wrestler that always put a smile on my face and made me happy because his energy was off the charts. He wasn’t the best wrestler, but he was a fun one to watch.
It’s funny that some of the best advice I got was from my Uncle Joe. He told me on a job interview he told the interviewer that he needs to be home on time on Monday’s to get home to watch wrestling. A lot of people laugh when I tell them I did the same thing. The reason is regardless of dirt sheets or certain reports. Wrestling still makes me happy. I’m proud to be a wrestling fan. With that everyone have a great weekend. Sheep… Out!