Sting looks to turn fortunes abound at Slammiversary against TNA champ Bully Ray

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Will the fourth time be the charm?

“Well, that is definitely my belief, yes,” said the Icon Sting.

Sting challenges TNA champ Bully Ray in the main event of the TNA Slammiversary pay-per-view at 8 p.m. EST Sunday, June 2 from the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University.

This marks Sting’s fourth main event title match at Slammiversary, which celebrates the company’s 11th anniversary. He is 0-3.

“It’s another opportunity for me to wrestle for that [TNA] world title,” Sting said, “and the stipulations are pretty high.”

If Sting loses, he can never wrestle for the TNA world title.

He continued: “So it’ll be a big night for me, no matter how you look at it.”

Sting will have his work cut out Sunday, facing one of the best singles’ wrestlers going today.

“Bully Ray’s been pretty impressive. He’s done a great job; that’s for sure,” Sting said. “He’s figured it out.

“A lot of times guys, who’ve been in the tag team situation for that many years, it’s hard for them to transition into singles. A lot of them who have tried have never really successfully done it, but Bully Ray has found a niche and a way, and he has done a good job.”

Bully Ray, also the president of Aces & Eights, will bring it in a big-time match in a big-time pay-per-view against a big-time opponent. Bully Ray has the momentum, but Sting has the experience in these big-time singles matches.

“To wrestle at this level, it’s always exciting, especially as many years as I’ve been in it,” said Sting, 54, who’s wrestled many main event title matchups against other top stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Vader, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy. “Even now, it still is exciting to me.

“Knowing the stipulations [at Slammiversary if Sting loses, he can no longer wrestle for the TNA world title], it makes it a little more interesting for me, and hopefully it will be interesting for everybody.”

At this stage of Sting’s career, is the goal to win, to main event, other?

“After all the year I’ve been doing this, I want [TNA] to be a good product. I want wrestling fans to be satisfied. I want to please people. The overall goal is to be entertaining -- to keep people very interested in tuning into TNA.”

Fans enjoy Sting.

“I know there’s some negativity out there as ell, but for the most part, it’s the whole nostalgia thing that I keep talking about. Retro fans just don’t want to say good-bye to Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair or Undertaker or Sting,” he said. “There’s only a handful of my generation. Of course, Flair and Hogan, they’re the generation before me. They don’t want to say good-bye to the last remaining few, and that’s a good thing for me, a good thing for us, and I appreciate it. I’m grateful for it.”

Sporting red, white and black, the face-painted Sting walks that aisle (stop, look and yell). Older fans continue to show their support while some younger fans paint their own faces, make signs. Some are close enough for a Wolfpack touch with the Icon.

Old or new, fans reciprocate with a return yell.

“I never believed ever I’d be in the wrestling business this many years,” said Sting, who is in his 28th year of face-painted mayhem. “I thought I’d compete at a high level, be successful enough and then get out, but here I am 28 years later. I still get pumped up. I still love being in the ring. I love the storyline. when it’s good and meaty, and wrestling fans are into it and the roar of the crowd. I love all of that.

“The physical part of it, I can’t do a lot of the stuff I used to do. So I’ve had to come up with different ways to get around in the ring, trying to be a little more creative in a lot of different ways. Physically, the body does not recover like it used to, and a lot of times you can’t train the way you need to train. Even in the gym, I got to figure out different ways of training, get my cardio up. It has been very challenging, and obviously as the years go by, it gets tougher and tougher.”

And still Sting remains one of the top fan favorites in the business.

“At this point of my career, I don’t over-analyze it,” he said. “Just one year, and I can’t exactly tell you when that was, I had a resolve about it. This is what I do. This is who I am. I’m a pro wrestler, and I love what I do. So I’m going to stick it out ‘til who knows when.”

Sting overcame some personal demons during his career. A key to his turnaround, finding God, becoming a born again Christian in 1998.

What advice would today’s Sting give Every Man’s Nightmare Sting?

“Stay away from drugs, pills and alcohol. Stay away from the women. Stay away from the politics -- the behind the scenes stuff that goes on,” Sting said. “Just get out there and entertain. Work your butt off, take care of yourself in and out of the ring and turn to God.

“That was a huge part of my wrestling career, turning to God. If I didn’t, I probably would have ended up like one of those guys who you’ve read about.

“I’ve had wrestlers over the years, many of them, including last week [Impact Wrestling at the USF Sun Dome] in Tampa, one of the biggest names talking to me about God and asking me questions. There’s a reason for it. They know I was them. In other words, I’m not going to condemn anybody or point my finger at anyone. I ran with the best of ‘em and did what I did all those years on the road, and they know it.

“They have seen a change in me, and they ask, ‘How’d you do it?’ And I tell them how I did it. Some of them have been in and out of so many different types of trouble and rehabs. I’m there to try to be a rock solid sounding board for some of the guys, and that’s been a good thing.”

Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert forged an alliance with Sting in the early days of his illustrious career. Gilbert was Every Woman’s Dream, and Sting was Every Man’s Nightmare.

Facepaint is symbolic to the wrestler Sting.

When Sting began wrestling in 1985, he teamed with Jim Hellwig, who you know better as the Ultimate Warrior. As the Blade Runners, they wore facepaint in the Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis.

Trail and error is the best way to describe their facepaint and how to apply it.

“We painted our faces because we wanted to get tag matches with the Road Warriors,” Sting said.

The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) made facepaint fashionable in pro wrestling. The Mel Gibson movie “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.”

“In the beginning, it was real simple [with the facepaint],” Sting said. “Then one year, after Warrior and I had split off. He went his way, and I went my way. I was working for Dusty Rhodes, and he said, [Sting surprises with a pretty good Dusty voice], ‘I want you to put some on, baby.’ Anyway, I started to add color and got some colored tights and all the neon and just started coming up with my own designs.”

Sting’s all-time personal facepaint favorite is his Crow design. but he also acknowledges very highly the American flag design for his NWA world title match against Ric Flair at the Great American Bash in 1990 in Baltimore. Sting pinned Flair to win the title for the first time. Sting is a 14-time world champion.

• STING BYTES

How is the Hulk Hogan in TNA different from the Hulk Hogan you worked with in WCW or is there a difference?

“There’s a major difference. [In TNA], Hulk is not looking out only for himself. It’s not all about him. He’s considering the younger guys and trying to enhance the whole company -- plug in wherever he can in the best way that he can. He’s a more humble guy now, too, and a lot more transparent than he ever was. I have a very good professional relationship with him. He’s definitely a different man now.”

The marketing for a face-painted wrestler.

“It’s been good for me. Action figures, marketing, merchandising, it helps. Kids want to have an action figure that has a painted face or a mask.”

Sting discusses his face-painted favorites.

“One of the coolest ones I’ve seen is Johnny Depp [as Tonto] in the new ‘Lone Ranger’ movie. I love the way that looks.

“The Joker [from the Batman movie] was good, too, for sure.”

What about Jeff Farmer’s facepaint?

“His sucks. He’s the bogus Sting, c’mon.”

Setting the record straight on the Crow Sting

“I’m going to go down in history as one of my characters being the Crow Sting, but it actually started with Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall [in WCW] with one of their nWo vignettes, an edgy, brainy kind of deal. Wrestling was changing, and my character hadn’t changed, but I knew it was time to do that. I was sitting in a hotel in Casper, Wyoming. I was with Eric Bischoff and Scott Hall, and Scott said, [Sting impersonates Scott Hall -- not bad], ‘I’m thinking trenchcoat and put white paint all over your face.’ So I started thinking about it.

“I remember going through an airport, and you know how the magazine stand has a 100 magazines. Well, there was Marilyn Manson of all people on one of the covers, and he had this weird looking paint on his face, and I went, ‘Wooooh.’ So I kind of took a little bit of that and then just created what I created.”

•  Fourth Time The Lucky Charm In BOSTON?

This marks Sting’s fourth main event title match at Slammiversary XI. He is 0-3.

2006: Jeff Jarrett won the NWA title, besting Christian Cage, Abyss, Ron Killings and Sting in a King of the Mountain match at the TNA Impact Zone at Universal Studios Orlando.

2010: TNA champ Rob Van Dam defeated Sting at the TNA Impact Zone at Universal Studios Orlando.

2012: TNA champ Bobby Roode defeated Sting at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.

2013: TNA champ Bully Ray vs. Sting at the Agganis Arena in Boston.

• TNA Wrestling brings its high-impact brand of professional wrestling to Boston for the very first time with Slammiversary XI, a live pay-per-view event celebrating the company’s 11th anniversary.

Slammiversary XI emanates live from Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University at 8 p.m. EST Sunday, June 2. Tickets for Slammiversary are on sale through the Agganis Arena box office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone 800-745-3000.

“Slammiversary XI is our biggest show of the summer, and we’re so excited to bring it to Boston for the very first time,” TNA Entertainment President Dixie Carter said. “The Northeast has such a great connection to the world of professional wrestling, and we can’t wait to showcase the Impact Wrestling stars to this audience, not to mention celebrate our company’s 11th anniversary.”

Impact Wrestling stars including The Immortal Hulk Hogan, The Icon STING, TNA champion Bully Ray, Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, The Charismatic Enigma Jeff Hardy, X-Division standouts including X-Division champ Kenny King and Zema Ion, plus Knockout Gail Kim and more will appear at Slammiversary.

• The Slammiversary VIP Weekend will include TNA Slammiversary’s Fan InterAction on Saturday, June 1 and additional events in the Boston area. Details are available at www.ShopTNA.com and www.IMPACTWRESTLING.com.

• Follow TNA on Twitter @IMPACTWRESTLING, @TNADixie and @TNAPR, and on Facebook at www.fb.com/IMPACTWRESTLING for its latest social news.

•  Slammiversary matches

No Holds Barred: TNA champ Bully Ray vs. Sting. (If Sting loses, he can no longer wrestle for the TNA world title.)

Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles.

TNA Tag Team Elimination Title Match: Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (champs) vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) vs. Austin Aries & Bobby Roode vs. James Storm & Gunner.

TNA TV champ Devon vs. Joseph Park.

Ultimate X champ Kenny King vs. Suicide vs. Chris Sabin.

Samoa Joe, Magnus and Jeff Hardy vs. Aces & Eights (D.O.C., Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco)

Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell.

Gutcheck Tournament Final: Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw.

• TNA Impact Wrestling is 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.

Read more Wrestling stories from the Miami Herald

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