Monday, 14 September 2015

The Best Of Sting

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 432 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 13 2014

After WCW folded in 2001, the one truly big name who never came to WWE until fairly recently was Sting. Just before his arrival at Survivor Series 2014, we finally got a DVD covering his career, which had been anticipated for many years. Still, whilst it is an enjoyable recap of Sting's highs and lows, the title The Best Of Sting proves to be something of a misnomer.

We begin with a Blade Runners tag team match, an interesting chance to see Sting and The Ultimate Warrior at a very early stage of their careers. Sting appears in another tag bout alongside Rick Steiner which is okay, before the first WCW match of the compilation against Ric Flair for the NWA Title. Sadly, what builds as a promising natch suddenly ends as that TV broadcast concludes; this is very annoying from a DVD viewer's point of view, but more so for fans at the time who must have had to put up with this every week.

Disc one includes more of Sting's early WCW matches against Stan Lane, Butch Reed, Mike Rotunda (where he won his first WCW championship, the Television Title), Ron SImmons and The Great Muta, before we see his first WCW World Title win, a historic victory over Ric Flair from the 1990 Great American Bash that deserves to be here. This would have been a good end to the disc, except we then get a match against Dutch Mantel (who newer fans will know as Zeb Colter) as Sting's odd feud with The Black Scorpion continues.

Disc two sees Sting in action against Nikita Koloff and in tandem with Muta against The Steiners in a really good tag match from Japan. The DVD then focuses on Sting's feud with Vader, but in a bizarre way. We're told about their late 1992 belters, but then get an early '92 match between them as part of the build to Sting's second WCW World Title win against Lex Luger.

A good 8-man follows in the run-up to the Luger bout, but then the collection jumps to a TV match where Sting faces Barry Windham, thus negating the Luger bout. The rest of the disc consists of a match against a young DDP that doesn't last very long at all, an intriguing match with Steve Austin (yes, Steve Austin), a 1995 Monday Nitro win over Ric Flair, and another Nitro scrap with Arn Anderson, notable because the announcers ignore it to discuss Hulk Hogan joining the nWo the previous night. Never has a match containing big names which lasted so long been ignored so much, even if Hogan joining the nWo was a massive story. We get Sting and Randy Savage vs. The Nasty Boys to end disc two.

Speaking of the nWo, disc three starts by profiling Sting's transformation into the Crow-based character, caused by the damage from the nWo to WCW, which after one initial segment takes us to Sting vs. Hogan from Starrcade 1997. One or two more Nitro segments from the build-up would have been good; more notable is that Hogan's nWo music is overdubbed (ridiculous since the theme is featured later on), and that the fast-count when Hogan tried to pin Sting wasn't that fast, which dampened the result of arguably the biggest match in WCW history. Still, it does have its moments and it had to be here.

The remainder of the disc consists of various TV matches, where Sting teams with Luger (against Hogan and Savage; what a star-studded doubles bout that is), Kevin Nash (who he fights and later teams with during the Wolfpac phase), Scott Steiner (in between the Nash bouts) and teams with Warrior against Hogan and Bret Hart in another big-name tag scrap. Needless to say, it's cool to see him and Sting reform against Hogan and Bret Hart in a star-studded tag match. Sting also faces Bret, Savage, Booker T and Jeff Jarrett as the demise of WCW draws near. A match pitting Sting, Booker and Goldberg against KroniK is an odd inclusion, but a logical entry (which ends the DVD) is Sting vs. Ric Flair from the last Monday Nitro.

Since the DVD has been released, Sting has of course officially debuted in WWE and fought Triple H at WrestleMania 31, with a WWE Title match against Seth Rollins coming up at Night Of Champions, and a potential dream match with The Undertaker on the horizon (hopefully). This means that Sting will be the subject of another DVD later this year, containing a documentary, which I will review when it is released in late 2015.

Back to this DVD though: longtime fans of the Stinger will be disappointed. On the plus side, the action is largely good, there are plenty of matches with a lot of variety and almost every star name who Sting ever fought in WCW, and we do see the evolution of the Stinger from the Blade Runner team to his bleach-blond surfer-like character to his famous Crow persona. However, of his most famous matches (and this is The Best Of Sting after all), very few are included. Sting's WCW Title wins over Flair at TGAB 1990 and Hogan at Starrcade 1997 are here, as well as his last WCW match with Slic Ric. But where is Sting-Flair from Clash Of The Champions (the classic that launched Sting's singles career); Sting-Luger from SuperBrawl II (especially since two matches featured here are designed to promote this very match); Sting-Cactus Jack (a great Falls Count Anywhere meeting from Beach Blast 1992); a more famous Sting-Vader match or two; Sting's mid-card gems with the likes of Rick Rude; his Starrcade rematch with Hogan from SuperBrawl VIII; bigger WCW PPV clashes with Bret and Savage; some great Nitro meetings with DDP and, to a lesser extent, Goldberg; and his final WCW Title win over Hogan at Fall Brawl 1999? And that doesn't include other TV matches which aren't here, along with multi-man classics like War Games from Wrestle War 1992. Astounding.

This DVD would have been better presented as Sting: Rare Gems, with the famous three matches taken out and released in about three years time, allowing for the true best-of Sting for the Vigilante. I have seen the match listing for Sting's next DVD, and while some memorable bouts are inserted there, we still don't get a collection of Sting's finest work that his fans will truly appreciate. To be fair, most of his top bouts are on other releases, but hey this is meant to be highlighting Sting's finest matches; why not do that?

To wrap this up, The Best Of Sting is entertaining and does give a decent glance at the career of Sting, but as a best-of for The Icon, it is unfortunately a disappointment. And I must add that on the original DVD artwork, WWE somehow used an image of the Fake Sting/nWo Sting instead of the genuine article, despite hundreds of potential photos being available for use! (This has since been changed for future reproductions.) If that admin error doesn't sum up the care that this DVD was shown, nothing will. Sting fans will like it, but they won't love it.

Overall Rating: 6/10 - Reasonable

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