There are few men that can achieve worldwide wrestling icon status without a successful career within the WWE, however, Sting - who is one of the greatest of all time - has done exactly that.
He was franchise of WCW and the face of the company throughout much of the 80's and 90's. But following WCW demise, he had seemingly retired from the ring along after the demise of the company he had given so much to.
It took until 2003 when the Stinger signed for TNA, that wrestling fans remembered him, fell back in love with him, and could watch a living icon of sports entertainment back in the ring.
The former 15-time World Champion competed for TNA between 2003 until early 2014 when he left after losing a Career Vs World Title match against Magnus. He left with Dixie Carter's blessing and after many years of speculation and false dawns. The Stinger finally made his WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014.
Famously he came face to face with Triple H before delivering the scorpion death drop to him and leaving without saying a word. He is rumoured to be facing Triple H in his first WrestleMania appearance.
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Just think Sting at WrestleMania, the biggest stage of them all! Or could he be set for a shock appearance in this months Royal Rumble? Who knows, it's Sting after all!
Before that though, let’s take a look at his 10 best moments in TNA.
10 - TNA DEBUT
After a few years of semi retirement and sporadic independent show appearances, Sting signed a deal a short term deal with TNA committing him to four appearances including lengthy interviews with Mike Tenay discussing his amazing career in wrestling.
The Stinger was back on TV again and his return also at the time amassed TNA's highest Pay Per View buy rate, his arrival also engaged some old WCW fans of his, to the new company.
It was also the first time TNA had a star of his calibre on the show. He initially joined at their first anniversary show joining Jeff Jarrett to defeat AJ Styles and Sean Waltman, however, in his later appearances that year he feuded with Jarrett and for the first time since 1999 competed for a World Championship, defeating Jarrett by disqualification in a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
In December 2005 at Turning Point, as Jarrett stood in the ring celebrating another World Title victory, the lights in the arena went out. Scorpion image along with the date 1-15-06 appeared. Spotlights then illuminated the ring, revealing a chair bearing Sting's signature trench coat and a black baseball bat in the centre of the ring.
He returned to the roster in January 2006 and head first into a feud with Jarrett finally defeating him for his second NWA World Heavyweight Title reign at Bound For Glory 2006.
It was Sting’s first major title since 1999 and he became the only person to win the NWA World Heavyweight both before and after TNA existed. He would go onto to be one of their most reliable stars until his departure earlier this year.
9 - BEATS KURT ANGLE
Whichever way you cut it, back in 2007 Kurt Angle was the man in TNA. He led the company while Jeff Jarrett was gone and did an amazing job of it. One of the best years in TNA was 2007, with Angle in fine form and aiming to prove the WWE where wrong to let him go.
Continuing on from his victory over Jarrett in 2006 he headlined Bound For Glory 2007 from Atlanta, a city in which he had enjoyed great success in, previously with WCW. The Stinger overcame interference by both Karen Angle and Kevin Nash to defeat Angle and win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
8 - RETURNS TO BEAT JEFF HARDY
Following TNA's big build to their 10-10-10 Bound For Glory pay per view in which, Jeff Hardy turned his back on the company. In winning the TNA World Title, he aligns himself with Hogan and Bischoff's Immortal stable who had stolen power from Dixie Carter who was in her infancy as an on screen character.
Shortly after, Sting - who had be trying to warn everyone - packed his bags and left. Following a few months of WWE rumours after his TNA deal expired in late 2010 and an extended break from TNA impact, in which Immortal had been running roughshot over TNA, Hogan and Bischoff received a nasty surprise from another power figure "The Network" had ordered Hardy to defend his title on Impact against an unknown opponent.
Throughout the show Immortal tried every trick and tactic they could but they couldn't find out who'd be facing their champion. With Jeff Hardy in the ring waiting the lights dimmed and that familiar music hit as one of the loudest "pops" in TNA history greeted the retuning Icon, truly a mark out moment.
Sting cleanly defeated Hardy, as the live crowd refused to calm down and thrust him back on a collision course with Hogan, more on that later.
7 - FIRST TITLE WIN
As previously mentioned Sting was the first and only wrestler to hold the NWA World Championship before and after TNA's association with the NWA. The former 15-time World Champion beat TNA founder Jeff Jarrett at Bound For Glory 2006 by Scorpion Deathlock to lift his first major title since 1999.
Despite Jarrett's inability to allow others into the TNA World Title scene, the build to this match up was done exceptional well. Sting laid down the challenge, with Jarrett only accepting if the Stinger put this career on the line.
The Icon agreed to the stipulation and the match in Detroit was on. Sting retreated to the hills to train and returned for the main event in great shape. With Kurt Angle as special enforcer and latterly special referee, TNA threw in all they could to make it a big match up. With the Icon ending the night standing tall with the World Title aloft.
6 - UK TOUR RETURN
Despite working a full-time TV taping schedule with TNA since 2006, it wasn't until 2012's Maximum Impact tour that UK fans had the chance to see him in the ring.
Marketed as his first wrestling appearance in the UK for almost a decade, many fans taking the chance to see a worldwide wrestling icon seized the chance and booked their tickets filling each arena stop on the tour.
Needless to say he received a massive reception from the UK fans that ensured when he had the chance to return - thanks to Jeff Hardy's travel ban - he jumped at the chance to join the 2013 Maximum Impact tour, which may have been his last wrestling visit to the UK.
5 - BOUND FOR GLORY 2008
Sting faced then World Champion Samoa Joe at TNA's Bound For Glory 2008 from the Sears Centre in Chicago. Both Joe and Sting tore the house down in this match including brawling in the crowd, big moves and the use of submission holds.
It was during the crowd that Joe undertook an insane spot and delivers a flying dropkick out a press box onto a waiting Stinger who's on the steps. This set off the obligatory TNA chants from the well attended arena.
Joe dominated the match up and could have put Sting away for the three count many times but chose to inflict more punishment. The match proved to all in attendance that even then in his late forties, he could still be the man, takes punishment and could still go in the ring against TNA's young guns.
The Stinger came out on top striking the winning Scorpion Deathdrop following Kevin Nash’s interference he continued his winning streak at Bound For Glory.
4 - BOUND FOR GLORY 2011
Two of the greatest icons in wrestling history faced each other at Bound For Glory 2011, with the fate of TNA hanging in the balance. If Hogan won he would continue his evil running of the company aided by Immortal. If Sting won the company would be returned back into the hands of Dixie Carter.
The Insane icon had been on a collision course with Hogan, since the Hulkster had seized power a year earlier with the successful 10-10-10 angle. Sting had excelled in 2011 with his Heath Ledger inspired Joker gimmick and successfully earned a shot at Hogan following a victory over long term rival Ric Flair.
Much like their match at Starrcade 97 the match wasn't the best spectacle and needed the outside involvement and interference of Ric Flair and heel referee Garrett Bischoff to move it along.
The match ended with Hogan tapping out to the Scorpion Deathlock, however the action wasn't finished despite a front row Dixie Carter celebrating wildly. Eric Bischoff led Immortal down to the ring and proceeded to attack Sting and Garrett Bischoff with steel chairs.
That was until the real Hulk Hogan "awoke" to the loudest pop in TNA history (15.55 in the YouTube video below) joining forces with the stinger in clearing the ring and knocking Eric Bischoff's lights out to the utter adulation of the live Philadelphia crowd.
3 - JOKER GIMMICK
Sting has always been able to adapt his character from a blonde haired surfer to the infamous crow inspired gimmick. In 2011 following losing his TNA World Title to Mr. Anderson, the Icon started to resemble the Joker inspired by the late, great Heath Ledger from 2008's The Dark Knight, Batman movie.
Complete with the movements, laughter, rubbed face paint and mannerisms. Sting has once again added a new twist to his character and quickly gained popularity with the wrestling fans.
Dubbed the Insane Icon he regularly began stealing the show on each episode of Impact. With his wild laughter, crazy actions, mocking of Hulk Hogan, and his seemingly random comments, it was entertainment!
The Joker direction of Sting's character seems to be one of an individual who had finally snapped and is taking out his madness on everyone else, especially Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan, who Sting was desperately trying to save from himself and bring back the "real" Hulk Hogan.
Over the weeks and months, Sting has attacked various wrestlers and rubbed red face paint all over their faces. He faced many members of Hogan's Immortal stable eventually he was granted his wish of facing the Hulkster at Bound For Glory 2011, as per number 4.
2 - MAIN EVENT MAFIA
Sting joined the original Main Event Mafia in October 2008 following his hard fought victory over Samoa Joe at Bound For Glory 2008. When it became official that Sting joined the MEM. It began probably one of the best TNA storylines and indeed all wrestling has had in the past five years because the realistic story that there was to tell.
The members of the MEM didn't want to allow the younger wrestlers in TNA, notably the TNA Front and World Elite main event status. It was playing out in front of the fans, but it was what many fans had witnessed in WCW, WWE and TNA over the years.
They began to dominate Impact and demand respect that they deserved from younger roster members, if they didn't get it they would attack whoever they wanted. It was the best stable Sting had been a member of in his career, and after a successful run imploded at Bound For Glory 2009 losing all their titles matches to TNA's younger talent.
1 - HALL OF FAME
Sting was given the honour of being the first ever inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame and can anyone argue with that? His Hall of Fame announcement was made at the Slammiversary 2012 Pay Per View after he had been with the company over seven years.
Sting was the first big star TNA signed and helped them in signing with SpikeTV initially. As well as being one of their most recognisable stars he helped increase the level of Pay Per View buys and important TV ratings.
Despite his status, the Stinger went to bat for Dixie Carter like no other star of his calibre has done so far in TNA history. Sting took his place in the TNA Hall of Fame at Bound For Glory 2012 and clearly was a big moment and him, TNA and his family who were in attendance.
Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on Sting's time in TNA via the comments section below or via twitter.com/EPJwednesday.
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