For some reason I’ve been really interested in watching World Championship Wrestling from the late summer to early fall of 1999. This would be right around the time that the company was obsessed with bringing in musical acts to play on Nitro and Kevin Nash had “retired” after a loss at Road Wild in August.
It’s also the last several months that Eric Bischoff was in control of the company. The last major program that occurred on his watch was a WCW World Heavyweight Championship feud involving Hulk Hogan, who had just gotten back into the red and yellow, against his on again off again friend, Sting.
I’ve got to provide some background to really understand what was going on. Right after the July pay per view Bash at the Beach, Hulk Hogan returned to the company and reclaimed his “rightful spot” at the top of the company when he defeated new WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Randy Savage in the main event on the 7/12 Nitro.
Over the next five weeks, Hogan would align himself with Goldberg and Sting to feud with the heel trio of Kevin Nash, Sid Vicious and Rick Steiner. Hogan focused with Nash & Sid, Sting dealt with Steiner and Goldberg was after Sid, as well.
For the most part, the good guys dominated the feud and Hogan was appreciative of his friends. So much so, that he offered to give Sting a title shot on the 8/23 Nitro from Las Vegas.
The dastardly Total Package making his move to ruin a friendship.
Everything was going all fine and dandy until Lex Luger returned to WCW television on the program and told Sting that he didn’t have a good feeling about Hogan. Lex suggested that Sting not trust Hogan. Sting dismissed the allegations and was focused on regaining the championship later on in the night.
As per usual with WCW Nitro main events, Sting and Hogan battle for several minutes until Sid and Rick Steiner caused the bullshit no contest. Hogan offered a rematch with Goldberg and Luger watching their backs to get a decisive winner.
The following week, Hogan went on the offensive against Lex Luger saying that he would never stab Sting in the back and wanted to see Luger’s proof. If Lex were to be trying to frame him, he’ll just kick his ass. Later on in the program, Lex shows Sting a picture of Hogan standing next to a white hummer, which had been a topic over the summer when someone drove a hummer into a limo that then WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash was in.
Luger’s evidence that Hogan is a real bad guy. He drove the HUMMER!
Hogan denied the allegations, but the news seemed to be making Sting think about everything. Sting even said “How many times have you stabbed me in the back? Why am I supposed to believe you?”
At the end of the 8/30 Nitro show, Sting walked into Hogan’s locker room to see Randy Savage sitting with his girlfriend Gorgeous George. It was looking more and more like Hogan had been lying.
On the following weeks 9/6 Nitro, Hogan warned Luger to stay out his business with Sting. He also noted that he drives a black hummer and not a white one. Why wouldn’t he have made note of that last week? Plus, he swears he didn’t know that Randy Savage was in his locker room.
Later on, Sting and Luger walk into a locker room where Hogan and Bret Hart are talking. The lights go out and a brawl appears to take place. When the lights come back on, Sting is laid out and there is almost a fight between Luger and Hogan over what just happened.
That would leave Hogan and Goldberg to a disadvantage in a handicap steel cage match against Sid, Rick Steiner and DDP. Of course, Sting made a miraculous recovery and helped his team win the match. Afterward, Luger was livid with Sting and hit his friend with a punch, only for Sting to return the favor. Perhaps Sting was coming to his senses?
Hogan and Sting would meet for the first time on pay per view in a singles match since Superbrawl VIII on September 12th at Fall Brawl. Of course, they were the main event. The ending of the match saw Bret Hart and Lex Luger come down with Luger bringing a baseball bat into play. Sting had the bat and proceeded to use the bat on Hogan to effectively turn heel and reveal that is was all just a screw job so Sting could be champion again.
The next night, Sting and Luger teamed to take on Hogan and Hart in a huge tag team match. Luger and Sting got the victory after Luger whacked Hart in the face with a baseball bat allowing Sting to get the pin fall.
On the 9/20 Nitro, Sting continued to try and get fans to boo him by viciously attacking Hogan’s left knee with a baseball bat, but the jeers just weren’t happening.
The following week there was supposed to be a six man tag match with Sting teaming with Luger and DDP to take on Flair, Hogan and Bret Hart. However, at the start of show Sting attacked Hogan by pretending to be a fan and strikes the bad knee several times. As Hogan gets checked on by the doctor, Sting comes into the room and delivers a baseball bat shot to the knee.
Hogan recovers to come down to the ring after the main event ended in a disqualification to fight off the heels with a bad leg because Hulkamania overcomes the odds. Hogan would get some revenge when he cleanly pinned Sting on the 10/4 Nitro in a tag match that saw Flair team with Hogan and Luger teamed with Sting.
In a weird moment on the 10/11 Nitro, Hogan cut a promo saying that the internet made him sick and didn’t want to come out and wrestle. He also told the guys in the back at he’d get the last laugh at Halloween Havoc when he wrestled Sting for the title.
The ending of the feud, which was over two months and was the focal point of the end of the summer and most of the fall, saw Hogan simply lay down and allow Sting to pin him to retain the title.
WCW never learned from their mistakes.
As if WCW hand’t learned their lesson from January and the Finger Poke of Doom. Hogan would vanish from WCW television until February of 2000.
The weird thing is that the angle had a lot of poetiental to be something good for the company. Luger’s role in the feud was the first time in years that Lex had been used well. I mean, he had a good run in 1997, but 1998 saw him being used as a cheerleader for Kevin Nash. The return of a douche bag Lex Luger was exactly what needed to happen.
Having the heel turn at Fall Brawl didn’t accomplish anything positive for the storyline. Sure, Sting turned heel, but nobody wanted to boo the guy. I don’t think anyone has ever truly hated Sting when they were supposed to.
Lets face it, by this point people had grown tired of Hogan, especially the internet. So, everyone wanted to see a guy who had been held back by the Hulkster to get the better of him, and they ate it all up. The attempt to get heat on Sting with the association of Luger helped, but obviously Luger benefited from the angle more than anyone else. It really helped rejuvenate his career in the company.
Eventually, Sting would turn back into a good guy, Luger would break his arm and they would wrestle at Starrcade 1999, which Sting won. So, the heel turn lasted all of two months, if that.
Prior to the Sting/Hogan feud, WCW had a fun three vs. three feud with Hogan, Sting and Goldberg feuding with Nash, Sid and Rick Steiner, as noted before. Had they continued that throughout the fall, and perhaps have a WAR GAMES match at Fall Brawl, it would have been more successful.
You could do the same angle, but have Sting realize that Luger is a liar. So, at the pay per view it would be Hogan, Goldberg, Sting and Bret Hart vs. Sid, Steiner, Nash and Luger in a WAR GAMES match. That could have been some fun with mega star power in there. Maybe even have a Hitman heel turn to set up Hogan/Hart at Starrcade?
Now I’m just having too much fun with this.
What were your memories of WCW circa the fall of 1999? Did you believe in Sting as a heel? Are my ideas ridiculous? Was Hogan/Sting played out by this time?