For as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching wrestling. Most lifelong wrestling fans have the moment they can point to and say, “That’s what hooked me”. I don’t have that. I have vague memories of very late-stage WCW, but no definite starting point. What I will always remember is my first favorite wrestler: Sting.

Even though I was four years old when WCW closed its doors, Sting always stuck with me. I rented WCW pay-per-view on VHS for years after the last Nitro, eagerly anticipating Sting’s match and hoping that he would show up again on my TV every week. I watched the familiar faces from those WCW tapes show up one by one. Hogan, Hall, Nash, Mysterio, Goldberg, but Sting never came.

In 2005, after years of exclusively watching WWE, I started watching TNA when it debuted on Spike. Just months later, the Stinger was back on my television weekly. I was a new wrestling fan all over again. Just like the WCW pay-per-views, I was being introduced to a roster of new wrestlers, names like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Jay Lethal. Wrestlers who opened my eyes to the wider world of wrestling. Wrestlers who made me aware of the concept of independent wrestling promotions.

I got to watch Sting work with them all.

After spending the mid to late 2010s watching independents and New Japan, AEW reignited my interest in American television wrestling. A roster full of people who I had been watching, a batch of new favorites, and a year later who walks through the door but Sting.

Even crazier, he went on the greatest run of his career.

I watched my first favorite wrestler dive off balconies 20 years after I first saw him. I got to watch him no-sell table bumps and superkicks. I got to see him team with Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito. And tonight, I saw him come down from the rafters one last time.

Sting is, for lack of a better term, an icon for wrestling fans who don’t believe WWE is the be-all and end-all of wrestling. He was the soul of WCW, the elder statesman of TNA, and now he’s the legend of AEW. I have been a wrestling fan for over 20 years, and I can trace all of it back to Sting.

I will continue being a wrestling fan after Sunday, but there will always be a little piece missing going forward.

For one last time, it’s showtime.

Our pro wrestling trivia podcast, Five Star Match Game, devoted an entire episode to Sting! Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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