There was a lot to like about Wrestlemania 31. The opening ladder match for the Intercontinental title was great, Cena and Rusev did a good job with a grand entrance from Rusev, Paige, AJ, and the Bellas had a good match, Stephanie, Triple H, the Rock and Ronda Rousey was gold, and Seth Rollins cashing in to win the WWE Championship was the right call. However, despite all these highs, there was a deep low. Sting lost and it was the wrong call. Here is why.
Paul Heyman once said wrestling is High Plains Drifter. It’s a simple but effective story. Bad guys take over a town and run amok. Clint Eastwood rides into town and makes their lives hell, leading to a showdown. (It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie so don’t be nitpicky) Sound familiar? It should.
In November, Sting made his long awaited debut in WWE, costing Triple H and the Authority control of the company by interfering in a match. Sting disappeared from TV and while he was gone the Authority regained power. He would return to cost Triple H a victory in a match where if his wrestler’s won he could fire some wrestlers who were a thorn in his side.
Sting’s debut was High Plains Drifter in a wrestling ring. Depth was added to the story by having Sting as the noble, exiled, leader of WCW and Triple H as the heir to WWE. And it was good. Sting played his role as the silent avenger perfectly. Triple H played his role as the corrupt boss perfectly. The match was great, the crowd was into it. I didn’t mind the DX vs. NWO subplot (Why would the NWO help Sting?). Then everything came crashing down.
Sting broke the handle of Triple H’s sledgehammer with his bat. Sting went for a Stinger Splash and Triple H nailed him in the head with the head of the hammer, pinned him for the three count, and killed the angle.
Why am I upset about this? It’s a fake wrestling match, right? Wrong. (See this video for the answer.) It’s bad storytelling. Imagine High Plains Drifter and in the showdown Clint Eastwood gets hit in the face with a rock then gunned down. You’d hate that. Or imagine Lord of the Rings with Gollum knocking out Frodo and Sam, putting on his “precious,” and casting the hobbits into the fires of Mount Doom and allowing Sauron to take over Middle-Earth. Would you like that ending? After all the time you invested in those stories and characters would you be satisfied if the bad guys won? I wouldn’t. What’s the point?
What was the point of bringing in Sting only to have him lose? Well, the answer came today in the form of conference call with Vince McMahon. According to PWInsider’s report Vince McMahon said he took Sting out of “obscurity” and made him a star thanks to the power of WWE. That’s harsh. But it sums up how Vince sees WCW. Vince sees WCW as an organization that took an idea from Japan, combined it with stars he created, (The NWO) and created TV gold for a period of time. The story wore itself out, WCW couldn’t create it’s own stars, and the company folded with it’s assets and stars bought out by Vince McMahon. (Where they were killed off in the infamous “Invasion” angle). Should we be surprised that Vince would treat WCW’s franchise player this way? Probably not. Vince tends to intentionally blow dream matches. But lets imagine Sting won and where the story could go.
Imagine Sting won. Imagine Vince coming back, relieving Triple H and Stephanie from power and installing Sting as GM. Imagine Sting as a fair General Manager who makes decisions like a regular authority figure. Imagine all this leading to a match between the two players in the Monday Night War who never switched sides: Sting and the Undertaker. How cool would that be?
What are we going to get? The Authority stays in power with no comeuppance. Sting and Undertaker can still happen but does it matter with Sting being 0-1 in WWE and ‘Taker being 22-1? No, because you told the WWE audience that Sting cannot get the job done.
You blew it WWE. You left money on the table. But, given how WWE has booked WCW stars in the past, are we really surprised they did this to their franchise player? We shouldn’t, but we can still be disappointed.