Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Sting interview

Last updated 16 January 2000

The following is a transcribed interview that the Miami Herald's John Patton did on the afternoon of July 9, 1999 with Steve Borden, best known to wrestling fans as Sting.

Question: Could you talk a little bit about your biggest career highlights?

Sting: Without any doubt, one of them would have to be the very first time I won the world title from Ric Flair in "The Great American Bash", 1990. That was after they reconstructed my knee. I had hurt it in February of that year at a "Clash of Champions" - it was Corpus Christi, Tx. And I came back five months later to wrestle Flair for the world title in Baltimore at "The Great American Bash" and won. That was a great thing.

Question: That was your patella you tore, right?

Sting: Right, patella tendon.

Question: How many times have you won the world title since then?

Sting: I think it's around the eight number. There was one...

Question: I know there was the hour-and-a-half one recently.

Sting: (Laughs) Yeah, the hour-and-a-half one. There was also one in Germany that not many people here know about.

Question: When you were out the year or 15 months, and then came back for the match with (Hollywood) Hogan, how does that rate on your career highlight list?

Sting: Well yeah, to continue on that, it's beyond, I mean definitely that would be up there probably at the highest. That was big because I think the anticipation with all the fans, and even with, I think, a lot of the wrestlers... it was sky-high. And so, that was huge. And everything that built up to it, the storyline that built up to it was... I thought it was fantastic.

Question: At all during your career when your contract has wound down, have you ever considered leaving WCW?

Sting: Yeah, I've talked to (World Wrestling Federation owner) Vince (McMahon). I've talked to him before, and even recently, I talked to him just before I signed this last one. I was going to meet with him, but I have a... on a handshake - I'm a handshake kind of guy, and on a handshake, I was going to stay here because I shook hands with (WCW President) Eric (Bischoff). We made a deal verbally, and so I... I'm an honest guy (laugh). But, the other thing is, (the WWF has) turned into an adult-entertainment channel with a little bit of wrestling sprinkled in. And I just didn't want to go up there. I didn't want to do that. I've got two kids, and I would never let them watch one second of that program.

Question: If you had left, would you have been able to take the "Sting" name and likeness with you?

Sting: I own it.

Question: Oh, you do own it? OK.

Sting: It's a registered trademark that I registered in my name. I actually own name Sting. The rock singer does not own it.

Question: That's interesting...

Sting: Yeah, a lot of people don't know that, but it's the truth. And, yeah I could have gone up there as Sting.

Question: Are there things about the WWF that you do like?

Sting: I like that there is another place for some of the guys to go. I would never want to see one wrestling organization only. You know, we're not union. We're independent contractors, supposedly (laugh). So yeah, if one promoter had the monopoly on everybody, and not being union at the same time, that'd be a double-negative. It wouldn't work. It wouldn't be beneficial for any of us.

Question: Bret Hart and Jesse Ventura have talked lately about the need to unionize wrestling. Do you agree with that?

Sting: (pause) You know, to be honest, yes I do. I do agree with that. I mean, it's hard for us to go out and get insurance - life insurance, medical insurance... It's tough. And even trying to buy a home. A couple of homes that I've bought in the past, I had to put down "independent contractor." They wanted to know how much money I made. I put down my salary, and (they said) "no, I'm sorry, you're an independent contractor. You're too much of a risk." (I said) "Now, wait a second now, I'm on salary. I'm guaranteed a certain amount of money every single year for the next two, three years or whatever the contract is." And I had to get special documents written up from the legal department up there at WCW -- in order to buy my house -- which would satisfy the bank. (They say) "OK, you call him an 'independent contractor', but he's guaranteed X-amount of dollars. So, alright we'll go ahead and do this."

Question: Would there be other reasons that a union would be necessary? What I'm leading into is, like with what happened with Owen (Hart). That's what sparked Bret to talk about a union being necessary. And you've been put in the rafter in that kind of situation. Is that something...

Sting: No, I was put in there, but it was my decision to do that. I was always given the option, "Look, if you don't feel comfortable doing this, don't do it." So... I can't say that it wasn't scary. It's scary every single time I do it, and it's a risk every time I do it. But every time you step into the ring, it's a risk.

Question: When you heard about Owen and how he died, how did you feel? A: Very, very sympathetic towards Owen and the whole family, of course, because I know what it's like to be up there when you have 10-to-20,000 fans screaming at a fevered pitch. Music, lasers, lights... and you need to go down on your cue and all... Man, there's a lot of chaos all at one time, and you can't even hear yourself think sometimes. So, it can be pretty rough.

Question: Where were you when you heard about it?

Sting: I was flying, err... on my way to LAX and I was flying to, I forget where, we were doing a pay-per-view or a Monday Nitro. Oh, it was a Monday Nitro. That's what it was, and I was scheduled to come out of the ceiling. And I knew... I saw the guys that set me up to do that. They were on my flight. And, I had just... somebody called me - my wife called me and told me. She said, "Somebody died, and I think it was Owen Hart. And you're not gonna believe this, but he died coming out of the ceiling on a cable." (I said) "You've got to be kidding me." So, what ended up happening is I ended up landing wherever it was we were doing the show (Greenville, SC), and it was confirmed. I had it confirmed definitely Owen had died. And I saw the guys that do my set-up and I said, "Guys, you won't be setting up anything for me tonight. I will not be doing that. (There are) two different reasons: No. 1, it would be completely disrespectful. No. 2, I was too shaken to do something like that.

Question: I can understand that. Did you speak to Bret on Monday (when Hart addressed the crowd at Nitro for the first time since the accident)?

Sting: Yes, I did.

Question: How was he doing?

Sting: He is not doing very good. I think that it may have helped him to get encouragement and acknowledgement over it from some of the guys, some of his friends. And to know he's had a lot of support, which he had mentioned, from fans all over the world, and to be there with a group of guys that, first of all, had total respect for Owen, knew he was a great guy, knew he was a family guy, and of all people, why... why Owen? And just there to support Bret, I think that probably helped him. But, of course, he's saddened heavily by it. I hope he can move on some time. Sometimes, people are affected by these things for the rest of their lives, and I hope that he can get some sort of closure or satisfaction in whatever way he feels he needs it.

Question: Did you know Owen?

Sting: Yeah, I knew him, but I never had a chance to really work in the same wrestling organization with him. I think he was here at WCW for a brief period in the early 90s, maybe?

Question: Yeah, he was going to be put with either (Chris) Benoit or (Brian) Pillman, I believe. I think they were going to be called "Wings"...

Sting: Yeah, something like that. And so, I really never got to know him, but I've heard so many stories about him. You know, Owen had a great personality, and he loved to rib. He was a great ribber, and ribbing is a big thing in wrestling (laughs). And Owen was one of the best. So, anyway... I can't think of one person that did not like Owen Hart. I never heard a bad thing said about him.

Question: Do you imagine you could be called to testify when this goes to trial?

Sting: Yeah, I mean, the words that you have coming out of my mouth right now are the first words that I've said to anybody publicly about this. So, and yeah, I know that I could come testify about it. I absolutely do not want to do it, but I know what it's like to be deposed against your will and testify. And it's no fun.

Question: Do you imagine ever coming out of the rafters again?

Sting: Never say never. Never say never. People are going to do that in different professions, and it's just what the entertainment business is a lot of times. These special maneuvers, and all the bells and whistles that go with it, and yeah, there is a chance that this could happen again.

Question: How big a loss will Chris Jericho be for WCW? What kind of potential do you think he's got?

Sting: I think that Chris Jericho has a lot of potential. I mean, he can be a big star up there, and I do consider it a loss. I don't know who's at fault. I couldn't point my finger at Chris or whoever he did his negotiating with. I can't point a finger at anybody because I don't know if Chris was being unrealistic or if our company was being unrealistic, but I do know that I believe it'll be a loss because we've got to start... I almost feel like we're almost a dying breed in some ways. I mean, some of the younger guys need to be developed and we need to start creating new big names - not just stars, I'm talking about superstars. Bill Goldberg... I can't tell you how many years that I did this and I thought, "when is somebody gonna come along and just have great, great impact?" And, you know all the years I've been here at WCW - it's been 10 years or more. Twelve years, whatever it's been. And nobody really ever came along. And a lot of guys came and they tried to come up with these great gimmicks, and they even got pushed by the promoters, and it never worked. And then Goldberg came along, and Goldberg was a phenomenon. He was the first guy to come along and really have superstar impact on the world. And some people might think that they're a superstar, but superstar status is completely different than a big star. A superstar is... you put him on a wrestling card and you're gonna sell out the arena. Of course, it takes two to tango. You've got to have an opponent that people want to see, you know, get murdered (laugh).

Question: Do you think WCW gave you vs. Goldberg away a little too quickly?

Sting: I thoroughly believe that. Yes. Yes I do.

Question: I think it's something, like you and Hogan, something that should have been built up to a big pay-per-view like Starrcade or something. Is that kind of the way you feel about it, too? A: Definitely, and I pushed as hard as I can possibly push for that... to no avail.

Question: You mentioned the dying breed as far as the superstars in wrestling, but you're kind of a dying breed also in another way in that you've been with the same company for a long time. I can't think of another guy that's done that without at least jumping once. All the free agent moves, is that bad or good for wrestling?

Sting: What do you mean, exactly?

Question: The fact that people move around as much as they do. It used to be that people would stay with one company for a long time, and that's where they were known. Like Ric Flair, for the most part was known as NWA and WCW. He had a short run with Titan, but he is mostly known as being with you guys. You are completely identified with WCW. Are you pretty much a dying breed in that regard?

Sting: Definitely. I'm the only guy. There's nobody else. Name one.

Question: I can't.

Sting: There's not one that hasn't been either here or there. The Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart were about the last two big, big names, and they've been both places now.

Question: Also another dying breed is the guy that never turns. Is there a point down the road you could see Sting being a heel?

Sting: Sure. Oh yeah. I believe if the wheel isn't broken, why try to fix it. If things are going good the way they are, then I would like to continue the way things are going right now. It depends on who you are, and what your motives are, you can look at it two different ways. You can say, "Wow, he's never done it, so if he does do it, it's gonna be big. Let's do it." And then again, you could say, "He's never done it. He's the only guy that hasn't ever done it, and it's not broken, let's keep it going. This is strong. This is really good."

Question: With you and Goldberg down the road, if they were to do a program, could that work with two babyfaces... because of who the two of you are?

Sting: I believe if you have two names that are big enough and there's enough of an interest and they believe in both babyfaces enough, that yes, it could definitely, definitely work. And the fact that it's already been done takes away a little bit... It's kind of like smoking for 20 years, how many years did it take off your lifespan? If we'd have never done it, I think that the buyrate might have been a little bigger or the ratings to lead up to it might have been a little bigger. I mean, it's a tough thing. But anyway...

Question: As far as the ratings go right now, you guys are struggling a bit. I know the ratings aren't bad compared to where they started a few years back, but compared to the WWF, they're down. What can be done to fix things or change things around?

Sting: Well, that's sort of a long explanation from me, but I believe a couple things are going to begin to happen. And one of them being that I don't think that they can sustain those high ratings forever, and I believe that their ratings are going to start to come down. I don't know whether or not advertisers will eventually pull out. If they would have pulled out, they would have done it by now. I don't know that part of the business that well, but if I had to guess, it sure seems like they would. But it just seems strange to see T&A, sexual innuendos and just trash-talk, most of it not blurred or bleeped, and the commercial content is for SuperSoakers. So, who are they gearing to? Who is their audience? A lot of kids. A lot of families. A lot of parents let their kids watch this stuff, which is mind-boggling to me. It's kind of like Jerry Springer. Two, three years ago, if you're sitting at home or in your hotel room and you start flipping through the channels and you see Jerry Springer and one of their shows, you go "oh my gosh, these people are crazy." And you find yourself watching for two, three, four, five minutes and you go "what am I doing watching this stuff?" And then you might flip it. Or then again, you might say, "I'm watching this whole thing. This is (pause) incredible." But now, two, three years later, it's the same exact thing every single episode of Jerry Springer. And I find myself, personally, if I'm flipping through the channels and I see Jerry Springer, it doesn't matter what they've got on there, I don't even take time to find out what it is because it all looks the same. You've got people on there fighting, and a lot of it is staged, probably, and some of it's not. But it's just so bogus that I flip through and I say to myself "Isn't the rest of the country doing the same thing? Aren't they all kind of sick of this?" And when we first started Monday Nitro, Lex Luger was scheduled to be on Monday Night Raw and he showed up on Nitro, the very first Nitro. Well, that's like a dream-come-true for so many wrestling fans across the country to see those guys vs. us guys. And, well here we had one of them that showed up on our TV. There's a lot of realism there. And a few months later, we had Scott Hall come in -- some realism. And then he said he was going to bring his big buddy in, and (Kevin) Nash came in. That was pretty good. And now, we're really going now. Then Hogan switches heel. Then we create the n.W.o. and this whole thing. I mean, there was so much realism there. People wanted to see Hogan switch, and it worked. And so, I looked at us at the time, and we had a lot of realism with our storylines. And you looked up there at those guys, and they had all this crazy... I mean, just completely way over the top storylines going on. I remember Pillman... No, I think it was (Steve) Austin after Pillman with a gun or something at one time, and you just go "Man, these guys are... I mean, this is... It's too much over the top. You're insulting all the fans. No wonder they're watching us." At least we had some realism and some, as Eric Bischoff called it at the time, "spontaneous combustion." And when your creative juices are flowing, when you've got a group of people bouncing great ideas off each other, man, it's like a dream to work like that. That whole period of time when I was coming out of the rafters, and the big build-up with Hogan and all that, we had a group of people coming up with unbelievable ideas. Hall and Nash. Eric had great ideas. Hogan had great ideas. Sting had great ideas. We all bounced great ideas off each other. And then sometime down the line, whether it be egos or personal problems, which some of us have had - and I've had mine, too. I'm not pointing the finger at anybody because I was right there with all the rest of the guys... We, all of the sudden, started to get too, in my opinion over the top and insulting to the people. And they had a lot more realism in their show. So, we kind of flip-flopped somehow or another. Their spontaneous combustion was off the scale, and ours, in my opinion, has just turned to hell. It's the same old kind of thing. When we advertise a main event on our show, on Monday Nitro, and you look at your watch and it's 10 minutes before the end... Well, if I'm a fan at home watching, I'm going "well, they've got 10 minutes here, what's going on?" And then there's an interruption in the match, and then you don't deliver. There's no payoff for people watching. You've advertised this main event the whole program, and there's no payoff. There's no winner, and there's no loser. There's a run-in. There's something else. So, I just think that we need to start giving fans what they want, and we need to be creative with our storylines. We need to start developing younger guys, and making some new stars that turn into superstars. That's just part of it. Obviously, I can go on and on and on and on about this, but those are some things, big things there that I think would really, really make a difference. I wish also, last but not least, I wish that we would get the right group of people together again and start working on this whole thing... together. And then focus and concentrate on our TVs, which I think would really help our pay-per-views, also, and also drive our house shows. The people that matter up at WCW totally disagree with this philosophy. I know all the promoters disagree with the philosophy, but they want to continue with those house shows. And you've got a bunch of guys that are running like crazy... It's hard to perform at your optimum on these shows that are hurting severely at this point. And it's hard because you've got all those people saying "well, all those guys are doing it up in the WWF." They come in with all the bells and whistles on all their house shows - lasers, smoke, even Vince McMahon shows up. But, hey, that's not going to last forever. They've got a lot of problems up there with guys getting injured and needing time off, and same here. So, I know that pace cannot continue.

Question: As far as storyline development goes, it seems like the current thing leading into "Bash at the Beach" with the fake Sting, I thought it was good a couple of years ago, but rehashing it now seems to show a lack of creativity. Would you agree?

Sting: Uh, yeah, yeah. Been there, done that. Been there, done that. And, maybe some people believe because it worked so good before, maybe it'll work again. But uh (laughing), I'm out there doing it. I can feel... I can feel it.

Question: Have you ever wanted to book the company?

Sting: No, I would never want that pressure, but I wouldn't mind being a part of a group of people, a committee or whatever you want to call it. I wouldn't mind that.

Question: Have you ever watched ECW?

Sting: No, I don't think I've ever seem 'em one time.

Question: So, do you know anything about their product?

Sting: Not a lot. I mean I think that they're pretty much hardcore blood and guts, and guys that are going there and killing themselves every night.

Question: After what happened at Columbine (High School), did you hear anything about the trenchcoats (you wear to the ring). Did WCW decide not to have you do that for a while, at least?

Sting: No, I decided not to do it. I did not want to do it any more because of that. So, I asked Eric Bischoff and he agreed. (He said) "I think we can hold off on that." Then again, I had other people give me some really good, sound advice, too. It's like, you know, the group KISS. They paint their faces, and they did in the 70s, and here they are doing it again. They're more popular than ever. But people identify with them. KISS is KISS. They're not... If the guys at Columbine painted their faces like the guys from KISS, KISS wouldn't stop painting their faces like that. I mean, KISS is KISS to me. And Sting is Sting. Sting had the trenchcoat, and Sting had the painted face and all that, so I think people know who I am. But, then again, you always have to think about the other side and the people that might be offended by it, and say "what kind of message are you sending?" So, that's where I am.

Question: I know you do a lot of charity work. I heard a story about a girl in New Port Richey (Fla) with lupus that you called and sent some things to not long ago. How difficult is it to do things like that knowing that she didn't have a whole lot of time left?

Sting: It's a real heartbreaker situation, but I'm so thankful that, first of all, I have the opportunity... I'm completely honored that somebody would want to talk to me like that. And then, I'm thankful that I'm able to be me and be upbeat and be positive, and just be straight up about things, and not beat around the bush and be sad. So, I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to put a smile on this little girl's face. I've had this opportunity so many times over so many years now. I've done this many, many times. She was very special, though. I never did get to see her face. They say they're going to send me pictures, and I really do want to see her. But, I did it on a Thursday. The following Monday, I was going to say "hello" to her on TV if I had the opportunity. And, you know, many times you don't, and she died that morning. But the contact person from Fulfill A Wish Foundation had put a text message on a pager of one of the people in our PR department, and she showed me the message, that she died with a smile on her face. So, it makes it all so worth it. I've never said "no" to one of those, nor will I ever. And there was no way for me to get all the way out to Florida (from home in California), so we were lucky enough to set the whole thing up via satellite through CNN, and it worked.

Question: Is that one of the more rewarding aspects of your profession? A: You bet. No question about it.

Question: When you first started, you were in PowerTeam USA. It was you, Jim Hellwig, (Mark) Miller and someone else. Who was that? And do you keep up with those guys?

Sting: The other guy's name was Garland Donohoe. I haven't talked to 'em for years. I hear Mark Miller's name come up occasionally, and I think he had tried over the years somehow or another to get involved (in wrestling). But Garland, I don't think he ever did anything. I don't know what ever happened with Garland.

Question: Do you still speak to Jim Hellwig on occasion? I know he was in with you guys last year for a little bit.

Sting: Yeah, we can go two, three years at a clip without ever talking to each other. Usually, when we do (talk), it's either bumping into each other or, for example, he had tried to come in one time a few years ago and contacted me, asked me a lot of questions. And then, this last time around, it was pretty much the same thing?

Question: I read somewhere you played a little college basketball?

Sting: Yeah, it was just a junior college in California - the College of the Canyons.

Question: Did you play other sports in high school?

Sting: No, I only played basketball. I should have played football. That's what I was best at.

Question: Do you still play basketball now?

Sting: (laughs) Ahh, yeah. We had a little three-on-three up in Baltimore two or three weeks ago. In college I was a 6-foot-2 power forward. I had pretty good jumping ability for a white man.

Question: Could you dunk?

Sting: Ahh, yeah, I can dunk.

Question: Your athleticism and energy have always been some of the strongest parts of your ring presence and work. Did you know early on that you were different than some of the other guys?

Sting: I remember when I went through wrestling camp here in southern California. Early on, I did this move and Red Bastien, who was instructing, said "do that again." So, I did. He told me I had a lot of natural ability and great moves. He said I could go a long way with that. And I kind of had to have that. I broke in with Hellwig and he was 285 pounds and as big as a bus. I was 255, and looked like a little guy next to him. So, I had to rely on my athleticism.

Question: Have you ever taken steroids?

Sting: Yes, I have in the past. In the mid-to-late 80s, I was in competitive bodybuilding. I did it on and off in minimal amounts my first two years in wrestling.

Question: Why'd you stop?

Sting: I saw the long-term effects they were having on friends of mine during bodybuilding, and watched their bodies get completely wrecked. There were lots of health issues, specifically thyroid problems. It got to the point where it was complete insanity, and I didn't see it being worth it. Also, after I quit, I couldn't stand it when I would go to Japan, still very big, and reporters would asked me if I used steroids. At the time, the answer from me was "no" because I didn't. Still, they would notice how big I was, and I kind of got the feeling they questioned how honest I was being. I didn't want health problems, and I didn't want to have to answer those types of questions all the time, so that's what made me stay away.

Question: Does wrestling have a steroid problem?

Sting: I don't know. You tell me. We get randomly tested a couple of times a year, and it has been that way for five years. I was just tested last week, in fact. I think WCW does what it can to combat use.

Question: What is your workout schedule like?

Sting: I'm in the gym four days-a-week and do cardio work three or four days, as well. I got really out of shape a few years ago, and that wasn't a good thing.

Question: I want to play a little name association. I'll give a name, and you tell me your first thought.

Sting: OK.

Question: Hollywood Hogan.

Sting: Made wrestling a household name.

Question: Steve Austin.

Sting: Great guy who had all the technical ability in the world and has found his niche.

Question: Goldberg.

Sting: Phenomenon.

Question: Lex Luger.

Sting: Greatest physique in wrestling.

Question: Eric Bischoff.

Sting: New, young innovative wrestling mind and businessman.

Question: Vince McMahon.

Sting: Sold his soul.

Question: Rick Rude.

Sting: One of the best at being hated. He did the heel's job to perfection.

Question: I know accidents happen in the ring, but I also heard he never really forgave you for his neck being injured in a match against you. Is that true?

Sting: No, it's not. When he came back to WCW (from the WWF), he walked right up to me and shook my hand. We were friends until the day he died.

Question: Mick Foley.

Sting: Cactus... He deserves to be where he is. He has a very talented wrestling mind, and he's a very hard worker. He's also a really funny guy.

Question: Sting with blonde spiked hair.

Sting: Had an uncanny ability to hold the interest of fans.

Question: Will we ever see him again?

Sting: Never say never.

Question: The current Sting.

Sting: The most fun I've ever had with a character is this Sting. (long pause) That's tough. I really don't know what else to say. That's real tough.

Question: How much time do you have left on your contract?

Sting: Two-and-a-half years.

Question: How much longer do you anticipate wrestling?

Sting: At this point, I can't see myself doing it longer than the terms of my current contract. Other names like Hogan, Savage, Piper, Flair, those guys have been able to stick around for a long time and continue to be impact players. I just don't know if I have it in me to go that long, though. We'll see, but right now, I'd say I'll be done with active wrestling in two-and-a-half years.

Question: Some say that some of the older guys may have stuck around too long. Do you ever worry there might be a point where people say that about Sting?

Sting: I don't want to get in that situation, but I'm sure there are some people that say that already. I hope not, but I'm sure they do. There's too much time spent driving down the road for people in the business not to talk about things like that. I guess in a way it's human nature to observe and critique people. You'd like to please everybody all the time. Unfortunately, you just can't.

Question: I understand you were born again not long ago. How has that changed your life?

Sting: I think I set a better example now. I still make mistakes. For example, I did something pretty stupid on Nitro a few weeks back. I thought the cameras were off and I said that "I've got two words for ya..." thing. I was thoroughly embarrassed, and I shouldn't be saying stuff like that. First off, it's kind of a ridiculous thing to say anyway, and second, it is something from the other guys, and not us. So, I still make mistakes like that. But I set a better example for my kids now. Some persecute religion and some are anti-Jesus Christ, but I'm a lot more at peace with myself now. I was so wide-open with my life before. I'm a better father and a much better husband now. It makes wrestling more of a challenge because I won't do certain things I used to do. For example, if I was wrestling Flair and he knocked me down and then gyrated above me, I would have to gyrate in front of him after I got him down a few minutes later. Now, I've found myself and my spirituality, and I won't compromise that. I know some people will want to see that other stuff, but I hope some people will appreciate what I'll do now. It would be nice if we could all think about doing what's right. And the same goes in wrestling. Let's make lots of parity. Let's be creative with our storylines and characters, and rise above the crap that is so much a part of wrestling nowadays.

Question: That's about all of the questions I have. Thank you so much for all of your time and openness.

Sting: No problem. (Laughs) Man, am I gonna get a lot of heat for this interview.

Question: I really do appreciate your candor. Good luck with everything.

Sting: Thank you. Take care.