The Man They Call Sting

Taylor Baucom/The Players’ Tribune

I’m dangling out of a helicopter. 

I’m 100 feet in the air, hanging there by a rope and harness. This is March 1998. The height of nWo vs. WCW era. I’m in the “Crow” Sting face paint. Usually, I’d be sitting way up in the rafters of the arena, brooding. Not saying a word. Then at the end of the show, I’d come rappelling down from the ceiling to give the bad guys a proper greeting with my black baseball bat. 

But this time is a little different. This time we’re in Panama Beach for a special Spring Break edition of Nitro, and there’s no rafters. There’s no roof. They put on the whole show at an outdoor beach club, right in the middle of all the Spring Break madness. So there’s no way that Sting is coming down from the heavens to haunt the nWo tonight, right?

Schiavone is selling it. Bischoff is selling it. Hogan is selling it. 

He’s on the microphone, taunting the fans. “There’s no way Sting is showing up tonight, bruther.” 

That’s right when the helicopter starts circling the ring. The wind starts to pick up, and everyone’s hair starts blowing. Bichoff literally flies out of the ring, and 10,000 people look up into the sky at the same time. 

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. 

“It’s Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!” 

And I’ll never forget that feeling, that sound. The helicopter starts descending, and I’m slowly rappelling down into the ring, and Hogan and Macho Man are the size of peanuts, and they’re pointing up into the sky in disbelief. The roar of the fans is coming up, and the roar of the helicopter blades is coming down, and it was like all the sound met in the middle, and I couldn’t even hear myself think.


I felt like a real life superhero. Even in the Marvel movies, if you’re Captain America, there’s a stunt double, right? There’s CGI. There’s no live audience, losing their minds. But I actually got to wear the cape. I actually got to save the day. 

I had money. I had fame. I had power. I had an amazing family waiting for me at home. I had every earthly thing you could ever want. And you know what? I was completely and utterly miserable. I was spiritually empty. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was an addict. The only time I was sober was when I was doing my job. The other 20-some hours of the day, it was a steady diet of painkillers, muscle relaxers and booze. A never-ending cycle. It was only a matter of time before I was dead. I knew it. But the physical and mental addiction to the opioids was so intense at that point that stopping was unthinkable. 

You’re an addict. You’re a liar. Why can’t you stop taking these pills? Why do you feel so empty inside? 


I remember I got back to the hotel after that Spring Break Nitro, and after all the backslaps and the beers with the boys and all the talk about the ratings and how great we all were, I went to my room alone. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I just felt this total darkness and emptiness and despair. 

At two or three in the morning, I remember going into the bathroom and looking at myself in the mirror for a long time, and I thought….

You’re an addict. You’re a liar. Why can’t you stop taking these pills? Why do you feel so empty inside? 

Sting | The Man They Call Sting | The Players’ Tribune
Taylor Baucom/The Players’ Tribune

Why? WhyWhyWhyWhyWhyWhyWhy?????

God, I don’t know if you’re out there … but I need help. 

I don’t want to die. 

Please, please help me. 

This was not supposed to be my life. Until I was 22 years old, I had no idea what pro wrestling was. For some reason, we didn’t get it on our local TV stations. But I came of age at the height of the bodybuilding era in the early ’80s — Arnold, Pumping Iron, Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, all that stuff. So after high school, I was trying to be a bodybuilder myself, and I was kind of aimless. I was bouncing at a bar in Hollywood and around ’84 I ended up managing the sister gym of Gold’s Gym Venice Beach out in the San Fernando Valley.

It’s almost impossible to explain that era to someone who wasn’t there. We weren’t drinking kale smoothies, let’s put it that way. Guys would go out into the parking lot and have a cigarette and then walk back in and squat 600 pounds — the bar is nearly bending in half, the whole gym is going crazy. Anyway, I’m working the front desk, and one day this guy Rick Bassman walks in, and he’s got these three huge dudes with him. Rick asks me if he can put up some posters around the gym. I think they literally said: WRESTLERS WANTED. 

I said, “Wrestlers? Like the Olympics?” 

He said, “No, no. Pro wrestling. I’m putting together a team of four monsters. I want to train them up and get them into the WWF.”

I said, “What’s the WWF?”

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He thought I was joking. He said, “You know, like Hulk.” 

I said, “Hulk? The big blonde guy who works out here sometimes?” 

The guy thought I was messing with him, but I truly had no clue. I told him sure, he could put up the posters, no problem. But after a few weeks, nobody called him, and he still needed a fourth guy. So he came in again one day and he said, “Hey, what about you?” 

I told him, “No way.”

But he stayed on me, and eventually he convinced me to come to this WWF show at the old L.A. Sports Arena with him and the other three guys. 

He said, “Just come along. You’ll see.” 

O.K., sure. I’ll have a few beers and a laugh. At the time, I didn’t have much going on. Some friends had convinced me to go to a few auditions around Hollywood, and I had actually just got down to the final two for a goofy part in this little movie. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The producers said my look wasn’t quite right, and they went with the other guy. (The little movie turned out to be Revenge of the Nerds. The goofy part was for Ogre.) 

Anyway, as we’re getting ready to leave for this WWF show, Rick says, “Here, put this on.” 

He hands us four pairs of neon spandex pants and some Gold’s Gym muscle shirts. I guess he thought maybe we’d get noticed in the crowd by talent management or by Vince or who knows what. We all just looked at each other and shrugged. So just picture four huge bodybuilders sitting in the crowd at this WWF show, sipping on Cokes and eating popcorn in neon spandex like four total marks. You can laugh, but honestly, my life was never the same. 

Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan. Iron Sheik. Big John Stud. As soon as I heard the roar of the crowd, it was like magic. It wasn’t like a football game. People were losing their minds. Halfway through the show, I turned to Rick and said, “O.K., I get it.”

He said, “You want to be a wrestler?”

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I said, “I want to be a wrestler. What’s next?”

Well, turns out what was next was poverty, pain and about 100,000 miles on my ’83 T-Bird. Back in those days, wrestling was all about the Territories. The regions were still carved up into smaller promotions, so you had to find a way to get your tape to the boss of one of those regions. Well, we were so green that we didn’t even have a tape, so we mailed out packets of photos. Like headshots you’d get taken at the mall, except we were all oiled up and flexing. 

None of us had any training whatsoever, so Rick sent us to this wrestling school that had been set up in a racquetball gym to learn the ropes from Red Bastien. After a few weeks of getting tossed around and learning the most important lesson you can learn (Oh, this hurts), one of the guys just disappeared. He scattered to the wind, and we never heard from him again. 

The guy who kept showing up with me was this big monster from Atlanta, Georgia, named Jim Hellwig. Six-foot-three, 280 pounds. Shredded. At the time Rick found him, he was studying to be a chiropractor or something. He was a unique individual, to say the least. He could be so unbelievably intense, but I remember he had this dog that he’d bring everywhere with him. It was a big fluffy chow named Blueberry. The dog was out of its mind, but Jim loved him. 

One minute Jim would be pacing around the gym, doing his whole routine — veins popping out of his neck, turning himself purple with adrenaline, eyes bulging, almost snarling. Then the next minute Jim’s playing with this dog, doing little baby voices and everything. 

“Boo-boo! Hey, boo-boo! How you doing today, Mr. Boo-berry? You want a treat? You want a treat, boo-boo?”

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(Years later, Jim went on to become The Ultimate Warrior.) 

Jim was actually staying at my house at the time — him and Blueberry, much to my chagrin. We had sent out these packets everywhere. I think we even sent some to Japan. Never heard anything back. Finally, one day, out of the blue, my phone rings. I pick up and it’s Jerry Jarrett. He was the boss of the old CWA out of Memphis. I muffle the end of the phone like you used to do in those days and I whisper, “Jim!! Jim!! It’s Jerry Jarrett!!!” 

Jim runs into the other room to pick up the other line so he can hear. 

Jerry says, “I got this picture of you boys here, and I like what I see. But we got a problem.” 

I said, “Yes sir, what’s the problem?”

He said, “Well, there’s four of you here. I only want two.” 

I said, “O.K., well, which two do you want?”

I can hear Jim breathing into the phone. There’s a long pause. Our lives are hanging in the balance. No big deal. 

Jerry says, “Uhhhh. The two fellas on the left.” 

(It was me and Jim.)

I said, “You’re talking to ’em. What now?” 

Jerry said, “You got a car?”

I said, “Yes, sir.”

He said, “Good. ’Cause you’re gonna need it, son.” 

The next day, me and Jim got in my car and started driving east. Wrestling fans always ask me what Jim was like in real life. I only know one way to answer that. 

Jim Hellwig wasn’t The Ultimate Warrior. 

The Ultimate Warrior was Jim Hellwig

For a year, we drove around to every small town in the South and wrestled nearly every day. If it was a TV taping, we’d get 25 bucks. If not, who knows. You’d hope for a fiver. Sometimes there was no shower. Or no dressing room at all — not even a sink. An old-timer would come around with a bucket of rubbing alcohol and you’d hold your nose and pray that it would save you from a staph infection. Or you’d wrestle at some cow palace in Texas, and you’d be stepping through manure on your way to the ring. Five or six matches in, the mat would turn brown.

Sting | The Man They Call Sting | The Players’ Tribune
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On holidays, we’d do two shows a night. We called it a “double shot.” Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve. Easter Sunday. It didn’t matter. You had to eat. 

And I hate to admit this, but at one point, me and Jim were so broke that we used to go into the grocery store and take one of those hot-and-ready rotisserie chickens from the deli counter and put it in the front seat of the cart. We’d go down the aisles doing our shopping and one of us would keep a lookout while the other guy snuck bites out of the chicken. Then when it was stripped to nothing but bones, we’d hide the box somewhere without paying. I’m certainly not proud of it, but we were pretty desperate. 

I remember Jim would never shut up about Waffle House. His dream was to get enough money to eat at “Wuffle Haus” every day. We’d be driving in the middle of nowhere, and he’s telling me all about how they put melted cheese and onions over the hashbrowns in this special way, and he’s getting all worked up. “Scattered, covered and smothered, brother. It’ll change your life.” 

I’m a California kid, so I don’t know what the heck he’s talking about. 

He’s got the neck veins popping out, and he’s saying, “The first Wuffle Haus we see, Steve. The first Wuffle Haus we see, we’re stopping. And you’re going to see the power of scattered, covered and smothered.” 

A lot of the time, that T-Bird was our only address. 

And I guess in retrospect, it’s kind of an incredible image — Sting and the Ultimate Warrior sleeping in the parking lot of some Waffle House in Oklahoma — but back then, we were just “Flash” and “Justice.” Two jobbers with a dream. We were broke and hungry, and not very good at wrestling, to be honest. This business is about so much more than painting your face and bleaching your hair, and we had no idea about the psychology and pacing and storytelling that draws people in and makes a match come alive. 

I’ll never forget Jerry Jarrett coming up to me one night after a rough match and saying, “Well, I’m going to have to finish you boys up.” 

I said, “Finish us up? What does that mean?” 

He said, “It means you’re done here. But don’t worry. I like you boys. I’ll make sure you land somewhere.”

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He got us a spot in the UWF out of Louisiana, which was about as low as you could go and still technically get paid. But after a year together, me and Jim went our separate ways, and that’s when I transformed into “Sting.” 

I remember my fiancée came out from California to visit me, and we were driving on I-10 in Louisiana on our way to a show, and for some reason I was just so beaten down. I saw the exit coming up, and we were going 70 mph, heading west, and I said, “You know what? This is crazy. The money sucks. I'm a nobody. We could just keep driving west on this highway and be back home in California in two days.” 

I thought for sure that’s what she wanted to hear. She was a California girl. Her whole family was there. We were getting married in six months. She didn’t know a thing about wrestling. But for some reason, and I still don’t know why, she said, “I don’t know … every time you’re in the ring and you do your “Woo!” thing, I see a lot of people in the crowd going “Woo!” right back. Especially the kids. I think you’re close. I think you have to keep going.” 

If she didn’t say those words at that moment, at 70 mph, we don’t take that exit. I don’t become Sting. None of this ever happens. 

But she said them.

A few years later, after a lot of grinding, I had worked my way up to the NWA. The crowds were a little bigger. The money was a little steadier. And then I’ll never forget, Dusty Rhodes was the booker — the guy who could make or break you — and he was standing in the gorilla position behind the curtain one night as I was about to go out, and he said, “Hey, Stinger, bay-bay. Guess what?” 

I said, “What, Dusty?” 

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He said, “Baby, I think I’m gonna put you with the Nature Boy. Yeah, you know what? I think I’m gonna do that. Tomorrow night, you’re wresslin’ Ric.” 

I said, “Wait, I’m gonna wrestle Flair?

He said, “Oh yeah, baby. So get ready. Get some color on your face. Get some color on your tights. Got some color on your boots. ’Cause we gonna get funky like a monkey, if you will.” 

At that time, Ric Flair was the king. I remember watching him do a promo, and he’s got on his diamond bezel Rolex, and his alligator shoes, and his neck veins are bulging and his blonde hair is flopping, and he’s talking about limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’, dealin’ son of a gun, and he’s saying it with so much conviction that I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I think this guy believes what he’s saying.” 

It felt real. There was no off switch. He was living it. Honestly, it was one of the best lessons I ever learned in this business: When that mic is in front of your face, you have to mean it. 

So when Dusty put me with Ric, I knew it was the chance of a lifetime. Immediately, there was this great chemistry between us. I remember the first time we squared off, I was in the ring and Ric came down the aisle with The Four Horsemen, and they’re all decked out in tuxedos, and they’re arm-in-arm with a bunch of women. We get into a showdown, and the whole thing ends with somebody throwing champagne in my face. It was perfect. The crowd was on fire. 

We ended up having a 45-minute match at Clash of the Champions in ’88, and it was the first time a match ever went that long, commercial free, on cable television. We wrestled to a time-limit draw, and it was like the magic of that match somehow transmitted through the airwaves into people’s living rooms, because everything changed after that night. We drew a 7.1 rating on TBS, which was insane for that time. Because of the power of cable TV, wrestling went from a regional thing into a whole national deal. 

All of a sudden I started seeing all these kids showing up to the show with their faces painted like the Stinger. And then I’ll never forget, I was walking through the Pittsburgh airport one day to catch a flight, and I saw Andre the Giant coming the other way. He was going to some WWF show, I was going my way. And as we were crossing paths, I couldn’t help myself. I said, “Hey, Andre!” 

I was so worried that he would have no idea who I was. Immediately, I felt like an idiot. But Andre looked down at me and his face lit up and he said, “Hey, Sting! How you doin’, boss?” 

I had always heard that if Andre called you boss, that meant he liked you. We shook hands, and that was it. He went his way, and I went mine. But that moment has stuck with me forever. I felt like I had really made it. Three years before, I was sitting in the crowd in blue spandex watching Andre. Now he’s calling me boss? Incredible. 

Looking back, that was the start of a really intense 10-year rollercoaster. Sometimes it felt like the fame just happened overnight. I mean, you’re on the road so much, hopping on and off planes, working 300-plus days a year … you don’t really have any perspective. Wrestling was kind of a bubble back then, especially before social media. 

I remember getting a call from someone at WCW in the early ’90s, and they said, “Hey, Sting. So Sting wants to meet you.” 

I said, “Sorry?”

They said, “Yeah, he’s coming to play a show in Atlanta, and he wants to meet you. Can you go?” 

I said, “Sting? From The Police? HECK YEAH.” 

So I go to meet Sting backstage at his concert, and he comes straight up to me, and with his nice British accent he says, “I’ve got me a nine-year-old son at home, and I went into his room one day and I saw this bloody poster up on his wall. And I said to myself, Who is this other Sting fella? I’ve gotta meet this guy.” 

Honestly, it was kind of mindblowing how fast everything happened. By the mid-’90s, when the nWo invasion started, we had two young sons at home, and we were trying our best to shield them from the business and keep their lives “normal.” They actually used to go over to their friends’ houses and ask why they didn’t have any Daddy Dolls. They thought every family had one of those little stuffed wrestling dolls with their dad’s face on it. 

I tried so hard to be home as much as humanly possible. I’d leave the house for the road at the last possible minute, but, obviously, the strain on my family was very real. I was juggling a lot – trying to be a father and trying to be Sting at the same time – and for some reason, around ’96, I really wasn’t sleeping well. Maybe four hours a night. It was starting to take a toll on me, and I had to go overseas for something, and I remember I had this fleeting thought, and that one little thought ended up taking me down the darkest path you could ever imagine…. I thought, Hey, maybe a painkiller would help me pass out. 

And the pills were everywhere, back then. Somas, Vicodin, Lortab, muscle relaxers, whatever. They were floating around like candy. You could take them for pain, or to pass out on planes, or just to have a good time. For some reason, they were never my thing. But I just couldn’t sleep, and I had a million things going on, and so I thought…. Hey, what’s the big deal? 

So when I got to my hotel room, I took a painkiller and drank two beers, and I slept like a baby for the first time in months. 

The thing about painkillers is that they sneak up on you. The feeling you get addicted to is that moment when your head hits the pillow and you don’t have a care in the world. It’s not so much euphoria that you’re chasing. It’s more like peace. At least you think it’s peace. But it’s so, so, so deceptive. 

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Taking a little pill and a beer or three becomes automatic. You don’t even think about it. And then before you know it, you can’t remember the last night you didn’t take one. So you’re in the hotel bar after the show, and you say to your buddies, “No, no, I’m good tonight. I’m taking a break.”  

And they look at you like you’re crazy, and they all laugh, and they say, “O.K., Stinger, whatever you say, bro. They’re here when you need ’em.”

Then you try to fall asleep, and it feels like your brain has an itch that you can’t scratch. You can’t settle yourself down. You’re restless. Your brain is going a thousand miles an hour. You want one of those pills. Tomorrow, you won’t need it. Tonight though, you’d kill somebody for that little pill. And so you go and get one — just to get you through the night. You drink a glass of wine. You turn on the TV. You nod off watching a movie, and you sleep like a baby. 

Now you’re trapped. 

And, believe me, I knew how dark it could get. I saw it all around me. I saw guys drop to the floor and start having seizures. I saw guys get paddles to the chest — “CLEAR!!!!” — and get brought back to life. I went to friends’ funerals. But, by 1998, it was inconceivable to me to stop taking painkillers. The mental and physical addiction was so intense and so deep that I knew that I was probably going to die, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was just … blank

And you know, fans have come up to me over the years, and they’ll tell me, “Your eyes, man. You knew how to tell a story with your eyes.” I don’t know if it was the facepaint or the fact that I was silent for a lot of the nWo era, but fans seemed to be able to connect with me just through the look in my eyes. I can look at pictures of me from that time, especially when I switched over to the red and black face paint in the summer of ’98, and I can see the complete hopelessness and despair in my eyes. It was not an act. It was not a character. I was lost. 

I remember I’d be backstage before a huge pay-per-view, and I’d be at the sink putting on the war paint like I’d done 5,000 times before, and in my utter misery, I’d paint that last black line on my face, and I’d look at myself in the mirror and say, “It’s showtime, folks.” 

That was my cue. Somehow, I would flip the switch. I would become Sting. I’d go out and try to give the fans everything I had. Then as soon as the match was over, and I stepped back through the curtain….

Painkillers. Muscle relaxers. Booze.

Painkillers. Muscle relaxers. Booze.

Painkillers. Muscle relaxers. Booze.

Total oblivion. That was the only goal. Feel no pain. Think no thoughts. 

Sting | The Man They Call Sting | The Players’ Tribune
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Guys would come up to me and talk to me about 12-Step, or about finding Jesus. And I’d always say, “Man, get that Jesus Freak stuff away from me. I don’t wanna hear it.”

That entire summer of ’98, I was an empty shell of myself. I wanted to live, but I was just in so much despair. I didn’t see any way out. And then one day, in August 1998, for some reason, I just experienced this … miracle. I don’t even know how to describe it, except to call it my Moment of Truth. 

Over the years, my wife had asked me to tell her the truth so many times. She wasn’t stupid. She knew what went on in the business. She knew about the partying and the carousing and the pills. But I had become so good at lying that I could make her feel guilty for even bringing it up. 

But one day I was home from the road, and she came into the bedroom, shut the door so the boys couldn’t hear, and said, “I know I’ve asked you before. But I’m going to ask you one more time. Have you ever…?” 

And I don’t know why, but I simply could not lie anymore. I looked her in the eyes, and I told her everything. She fell in a heap on the floor, crying her eyes out. She couldn’t even speak. She couldn’t stand up. I had to carry her over to the bed. 

Words can’t do that moment justice. I had betrayed my wife and my kids. I was completely broken. I went into the closet and I got down on my hands and knees and I literally begged God to help me. 

Before that day, I had gone through the motions. I had tagged along to church with my brother and my parents a few times and I said the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” I wanted God to wave his magic wand and fix me. I wanted to be saved from hell. I wanted my fire insurance. But I wasn’t sincere. It wasn’t real

It wasn’t until that moment when I was on my knees in the closet that I fully understood the power of those six timeless words from the Bible: “The Truth Will Set You Free.”  

There was no more pretending. No more lying. I sincerely cried out to the Lord to save my soul, and in my utter despair, I felt his grace. It was a profound and supernatural experience. I don’t know what else to call it but a miracle. 

At that point, I was so physically addicted to the opiates that I probably should’ve been hospitalized and had blood transfusions and a full medical detox, but I quit everything cold turkey. I won’t lie to you — it was absolutely excruciating at times. But I just stopped everything that day and I put my life in the hands of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

And trust me, I heard it all. Some fans started rumors that I was in a cult. People said I was brainwashed. Some of the guys looked at me a little funny. But I simply didn’t care. The guys still tried to get me to come out with them after the show — “Come on, Stinger!! Just once!!” — but I would wave them off and tell them, “No can do. But you guys are all welcome to come up to my room for some Bible study and a little milk and cookies.”

It’s hard to believe that was nearly 24 years ago. I have been sober ever since. 

Somehow, at 62 years old, I am still in this wonderful business. 

I’m still putting on the war paint. 

I’m still getting butterflies right before the show. 

I’m still doing what I love. 

Sting | The Man They Call Sting | The Players’ Tribune
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There are definitely days when I’m putting on my boots and I feel every bit of 62, believe me. And then there are days when everything is clicking, and the building is electric, I still feel like I’m 22, heading out east in the T-Bird with Jim, wondering, “What does this crazy world have in store for us?” 

The coolest part, for me, is that my kids get such a huge kick out seeing their dad on TV, still flying through tables. Especially my daughter, Gracie. She was born a couple years after I got sober, and she completely missed all the WCW stuff. It’s only since I joined AEW that she’s really started to poke around YouTube and understand my career. Because of social media, she started seeing all these old clips, and now she’s so into it that she’ll text me after every match like a regular fan would text me.

“You really beat him up dad! He was trying to diss you, and you BROUGHT IT TONIGHT! You’re the man!!!!”

AEW gave me the ability to write a proper final chapter, not just for me but for my family. And so I want to be a little bit of a beacon for the young men and the women in this dressing room, if I can be. If they want me to be. I don’t go around preaching. But I’ve seen my share of darkness, so anything I can do to be a light for the next generation of wrestlers, I’m happy to do it.

For me to be able to work with guys like CM Punk and Darby Allin — guys who are just so passionate about wrestling and so meticulous about everything they do — I mean, that’s priceless. Darby hardly ever wants to take the paint off. I have to remind him when we go through the airport sometimes. He breathes this business. And it was actually Punk who reminded me of some of these old stories about Ric and Jim and the old days. He came up to me backstage on one of my first days in AEW, and he’s such a student of history that he just wanted to pick my brain a bit. And I remember he told me, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to bother you every day. I’ve got so many more questions!!!”

It really touched me, because back in the day, if we saw a 62-year-old guy backstage, it was usually, “Oh man, get the old-timer out of here. You had your day, old man.” 

But for whatever reason, the mentality is so different now. The first few times I was backstage, more than a few guys came up to me and handed me their phones with a big smile on their face. You’d see this little six-or-seven-year-old kid dressed up as Sting for Halloween. Black and white face paint. Trench coat. The dark scowl on their face. Big bag of Halloween candy. 

They’d say, “That’s me! The paint wouldn’t come off for three days!” 

But the best one was probably Isiah Kassidy. He showed me this picture from some WCW autograph signing like 20 years ago. He must’ve been about five years old, and he’s standing next to me with this huge smile on his face.

He said, “Man, you’re the reason why I got into wrestling.” 

It kind of leaves you speechless. Somehow, with whatever I was doing, I was able to transmit a little bit of magic through the TV and reach this little kid growing up in Brooklyn. Those are the moments that stay with you forever. The pay-per-views and the belts and the big draws are all great, but what sticks in your heart is when someone looks you in the eyes and tells you, “I know this is probably going to sound crazy, but I feel like I know you. I was bullied as a kid, and you helped get me through junior high.” 

Or maybe it’s, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but me and my dad used to sit down together and watch you on TV every Monday night. Wrestling was the only relationship we ever had.” 

People come up to me all the time with tears in their eyes, and they say, “I know this sounds crazy….”

But you know what? It’s not crazy at all.

That’s the secret of wrestling, if there is one. Ric had it totally right. You have to give them everything you have — with every fiber of your being.

Because you’ll get it back, tenfold.

Even when I was at my absolute lowest, whenever I walked through that curtain, I felt that roar, that magic, that connection

There’s no faking it. Not in this business. Not in this life.

Sting | The Man They Call Sting | The Players’ Tribune