The final segment of this past week’s Raw with Sting standing tall in a WWE ring alongside Randy Orton was awesome, bittersweet, and somewhat cathartic for this long-time wrestling fan. Awesome because of the moment that was produced; bittersweet because moments like the one Monday night – which occurred on a weekly basis during the height of the wars – are few and far between; cathartic because whatever remnant of WCW or the Monday Night War that might have still been festering 14 years after its untimely death, it can now slumber peacefully forever in our hearts, minds, and the treasured vaults of the WWE.
First things first: seeing Sting over the past several months has made it emphatically clear that any remaining feelings of disdain, denial, or resentment that anyone might have about the death of WCW and the Monday Night Wars should finally be laid to rest. The last vestige of the once-proud WCW franchise is finally behind enemy lines – and the results couldn’t have been any better. The stalwarts of WCW during the height of the wars have all previously crossed either before, during, or after the battle – you know the names. Only one man stayed away. That man is now on the precipice of performing on pro wrestling’s largest stage and has the opportunity to further enhance his legacy in six months with WWE than he ever did the previous 14 years since the end of WCW.
If you managed to watch the post-show interview on the WWE network after Sting and Orton cleared the ring of The Authority to close Raw, you heard Orton say, “I gotta admit, that was pretty damn cool.” Indeed it was. Orton’s sincerity – as if he were speaking as a fan – resonated deeply with those who were treated to moments like that during the chaos of the wars. The crowd on Monday definitely helped the overall impact of the moment and, for one frozen moment in time, the end of Raw felt like something from 1998. It felt special and Sting – as he rightfully should be – was presented as someone special.
Sadly, moments like the one we all witnessed on Monday are extremely rare in today’s landscape. More often than not, Vince McMahon and Co. haphazardly try to create moments to make fans care, but their efforts are often wasted on talents and storylines that the fans could care less about. To a lesser extent, the proliferation of social media might play spoiler but it doesn’t diminish the impact any given moment might have in the world of professional wrestling. Watching the fans fervently chant “We want Sting” and seeing him appear – even as the news was leaked hours before broadcast that he was in Des Moines – made the moment no less special. Knowing that Brock Lesnar was in Miami and seen with WWE officials during Wrestlemania 28 didn’t diminish my surprise or excitement at seeing Lesnar return to the WWE the night after Wrestlemania. Even back in 1999, just as the internet wrestling news business was beginning to explode, word that Chris Jericho was to debut on Raw in Chicago didn’t change the absolute joy on my face – and the enormous pop of that crowd – when “JERICHO” appeared on the Titantron for the very first time in Chicago.
The simple truth is that great wrestling moments aren’t created on a sheet by a staff of writers, nor are they ruined by Instagram photos or tweets; great wrestling moments are created – and to be cherished – by wrestlers who exude genuine passion and reciprocated by fans with a deep affection and respect. Sting has earned – and deserves – all of that and more. Let’s enjoy these moments while they last, because the end of a legendary era – although coming to an end – is riding off into the sunset looking better than ever.
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