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Borden changed his ring name from Flash to Sting, while Hellwig became known as Rock. Following a match against Terry Taylor in mid, Gilbert interfered on Taylor's behalf, costing Sting the match. Adams cleared the ring and then asked Sting if he was with him or against him in his feud with Taylor and Gilbert.
Sting turned face by declaring his allegiance to Adams. Behind the scenes, Gilbert endorsed Borden by telling a dirt sheet that Sting would be a megastar in the future.
Rhodes used then-unknown Shane Douglas as the transitional champion from Gilbert to Taylor because Rhodes did not want to diminish Sting's growing stardom with a brief title run. Sting partnered with Michael P. Hayes and Jimmy Garvin in a six-man tag team match against Gilbert, Steiner, and Larry Zbyszko  that ended in a minute time-limit draw.
The match ended in a draw after the minute time limit expired and the ringside judges could not declare a winner. Rhodes, as booker, identified Sting as the face who was most over with the fans, despite knowing that turning the Road Warriors heel would be no easy task.
Rhodes himself teamed with Sting to challenge the Road Warriors for the tag team championship at Starrcade '88 that December. Rhodes and Sting got the win by disqualification, allowing the Road Warriors to retain the titles. Sting returned to singles matches in , starting the year off by wrestling Flair to a one-hour draw in Atlanta's Omni on New Year's Day.
The match was booked with a classic, controversial Dusty finish even though Rhodes the namesake of the technique had been fired months earlier.
Sting got the three-count and was announced as the winner, but a replay showed Muta's shoulder was up at the count of two. The NWA decided to declare the title vacant. Eventually, Muta won a No Disqualification match against Sting at a live event in September by using a blackjack to get the win and the title.
After Flair got the victory, he was attacked by Funk's stablemate, Muta. Sting came to the aid of his old rival Flair, and the two feuded with Muta and Funk for the rest of the summer and fall, culminating in a Thunderdome Cage match between the two teams, which Flair and Sting won, at Halloween Havoc ' The alliance with Flair resulted in Sting joining the newly reformed and now-face Four Horsemen along with the Andersons, Arn and Ole kayfabe cousins.
Sting finished out the year by winning a four-man round-robin Iron Man tournament at Starrcade ' In the final match of the night, Sting defeated Flair to accumulate the necessary points to win the tournament. Feud with The Four Horsemen — [ edit ] Sting was summarily dismissed from The Four Horsemen on February 6, , at Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout after refusing to relinquish his title shot against Flair, thus restarting their rivalry.
Later that evening, Borden suffered a legitimate knee injury while interfering in a steel cage match featuring the Horsemen. Lex Luger was chosen to challenge Flair at WrestleWar. During the match between Flair and Luger, Sting came down to motivate Luger to come back and beat Flair.
Before this Sting and Luger had been at odds. When Luger was close to winning Sting was attacked by Ole Anderson. Luger opted to save the already injured Sting and ended up losing the match by countout while assisting his friend. Behind the scenes, WCW officials had wanted Flair to drop the title to Luger at WrestleWar, but Flair refused, saying he had promised Borden he would hold the title until Borden could return to the ring.
Despite the injury, Sting was still utilized on television and pay per views when necessary. In a promotional crossover, Sting was rescued by his buddy RoboCop.
Vicious appeared to defeat Sting in a title match at the Halloween Havoc , but the "Sting" that Vicious pinned was revealed to be an impostor played by Horseman Barry Windham.
The real Sting appeared soon after and pinned Vicious to retain his title after the match was restarted. During Sting's title run, a masked man known as The Black Scorpion would taunt and attack Sting on many occasions.
The cage match ended with Sting pinning and unmasking the Scorpion, who turned out to be Flair in disguise. WCW World Heavyweight Champion — [ edit ] Sting in his surfer gimmick Sting's first world championship reign ended January 11, , when Flair defeated him in a rematch from Starrcade.
Sting then took part in what many consider to be the best match of , teaming with Luger to face The Steiner Brothers at the SuperBrawl I pay-per-view for the world tag-team titles. The Steiners won by pinfall after Koloff, who had been feuding with Luger, interfered in the match by swinging a chain at Luger but hitting Sting instead.
Consequently, Sting feuded with Koloff throughout the summer of At Starrcade '91 , Sting won the first-ever Battlebowl battle royal, for which he received a Battlebowl championship ring. Sting then became embroiled in a feud with the Dangerous Alliance , headed by manager Paul E.
The stable targeted Sting because he was the so-called "franchise" of WCW, and the Alliance vowed to destroy both Sting and the promotion he was the face of. Sting engaged in many matches with Dangerous Alliance members, especially Rude, who was the group's biggest star.
Dave Meltzer awarded the match his highest rating of five stars. Near the end of Sting's battles with the Dangerous Alliance, the seeds were sown for what became arguably one of the most famous feuds of Sting's career.
During the match, Vader splashed Sting, cracking three of Sting's ribs and rupturing his spleen. Sting recovered and defended his title on July 12 against Vader at The Great American Bash , dropping the belt to Big Van Vader after missing a Stinger Splash, hitting his head on the ringpost, and receiving a powerbomb.
Rude recaptured the title on May 1 at Wrestling Dontaku in Japan , but the decision was reversed because Rude had allegedly hit Sting with the title belt during the match; this was to cover for a real-life back injury Rude sustained in the match that forced Rude into retirement.
Sting spent the second half of and most of teaming with new arrival Hulk Hogan in his battles against Kevin Sullivan 's Three Faces of Fear and its successor stable, The Dungeon of Doom. Sting defeated Meng in a rematch for the title at Bash at the Beach Sting was on the first ever Monday Nitro in a match where Flair defeated Sting by disqualification as a result of a run-in by Arn Anderson to attack Flair.
Anderson and Pillman had attacked Flair earlier in the night, rendering Flair unable to come out for the first part of the match.
Sting fended off his opponents until Flair emerged. Sting defeated Flair again at the World War 3 pay-per-view. Sting's alliances with Hogan and Savage led the Horsemen to attack them as well.
Sting's second U. Feud with the New World Order — [ edit ] Sting right drastically changed his appearance in after the formation of the New World Order which included Kevin Nash left. Early in , Sting's appearance started to change: he grew longer, darker hair, replacing his blond flattop haircut, and he often wore black tights with a multi-colored scorpion , although he occasionally wore his colorful ones and maintained his colorful face paint.
The team often retained the championship as a result of Luger's cheating tactics, to which Sting remained oblivious. Harlem Heat eventually won the titles back on the June 24 edition of Nitro.
In the summer of , Sting was the first to stand up to The Outsiders : Kevin Nash and Scott Hall , who had recently competed in the WWF and whose alliances and agenda were unclear, had been infiltrating and causing chaos at WCW events.
Hall and Nash started the bout without their third partner, but the WCW's temporary three-on-two advantage was short-lived: Luger left the match after he was accidentally injured by a mistimed Stinger Splash. The two-on-two match continued while Hogan, who had been a fan favorite for nearly fifteen years, emerged at ringside.
Hogan appeared ready to back up the WCW wrestlers until he attacked Savage with his leg drop finisher in one of wrestling's most famous swerves. The match was ruled a no-contest, and Hall, Nash, and Hogan declared a new world order in professional wrestling.
As part of this, Sting and Luger went up to rivals and Four Horsemen members Ric Flair and Arn Anderson some time after Bash at the Beach and asked them to team with him, saying that they needed to put aside their differences for the good of WCW.
They would be facing the nWo's team of Hall, Nash, Hogan, and a fourth member yet to be determined. A vignette was shown where the nWo had a recording of Sting's voice playing in its limousine as Luger was being lured into the parking lot.
Once he was there a man dressed as Sting, played by Jeff Farmer , attacked him and the crowd at home was led to believe that Sting had joined up with the nWo and would be their fourth man against what was now a three-man WCW team.