By Mike Mooneyham
Dec. 25, 2005
It’s being touted as an event that will change the face of the wrestling industry. While that lofty billing appears somewhat of a stretch, it may in fact alter the course of Total Nonstop Action, currently the only wrestling company in the country with a chance of catching Vince McMahon’s attention.
The publicity-garnering event that TNA hopes will make a splash for the struggling promotion is the acquisition of one-time wrestling superstar Sting (Steve Borden). While the official announcement has yet to be made, the deal has been strongly hinted at on recent TNA telecasts, and the company coup is expected to be made official after midnight on New Year’s Eve during a special TNA-Ultimate Fighter block that will air on Spike TV beginning at 8 p.m.
While TNA is banking on Sting being that one major star who will attract mainstream attention and hopefully lure a legion of former WCW fans back into the fold, there are more than a few critics who question if the 46-year-old performer is still relevant to today’s wrestling audience.
“He has no idea what he’s getting himself into,” TNA talent relations coordinator Terry Taylor said in a recent radio interview. Then, again, maybe neither does TNA.Sting, who took up full-time ministry work after WCW folded in 2001, has said on numerous occasions that his heart is no longer in the wrestling business. Even during the final few years of his full-time wrestling career, he admittedly never was able to recapture the zest he had for the profession during his days as one of the most exciting and charismatic performers in the industry.
A devout born-again Christian since August 1998, Sting filmed a movie about his life titled “Sting: Moment of Truth” that came out on DVD in 2004. He has made numerous appearances on Christian-related broadcasts since retiring from the squared circle, with a common theme being that today’s wrestling business was no longer one of his priorities.
One of the few top names of the ’90s to have never worked for WWE owner McMahon, Sting has worked occasional dates for TNA over the past three years as a favor to company co-founder Jerry Jarrett, who helped Sting get his start in the wrestling business in the mid-’80s. While his appearances helped business on a short-term basis, TV ratings and pay-per-view buyrates quickly dropped to previous levels with little or no follow-up, and with no new stars created in his wake.
His safer but outdated style of working in the ring also is in stark contract to the more exciting and wide-open style that has marked the TNA product since its inception several years ago. Presumably he is being brought in for a program that would lead to him winning the TNA title from Jeff Jarrett, whose stranglehold on the strap has created controversy not only among fans but also among those within the company who feel that the title would be better served around the waist of younger, more dynamic performers such as A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe.
Sting’s one-year contract at a reported half-million dollars, part of which is being financed by Spike TV and includes first-class airline tickets, also isn’t likely to be well received by a TNA locker room that works at an extremely high level for considerably less pay. TNA has used the “big name” concept in the past with such performers as Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Diamond Dallas Page being paid big money to work a limited amount of dates. None, however, helped TNA turn the corner in its quest to become a self-sufficient, money-producing player in today’s wrestling industry.
Sting is tentatively scheduled to team with Christian Cage (Jay Reso) against Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown on the Final Resolution pay-per-view Jan. 15 in Orlando.
– Christy Hemme, WWE’s 2004 Diva Search winner, recently was released by the company. Hemme, who posed for Playboy earlier this year, had a sizable fan following but reportedly was a victim of a relatively fat contract that WWE wanted to excise from its books.
Hemme, who had started full-time with Ohio Valley Wrestling after returning from an overseas promotional tour, issued her first public statements since her release last week on her Web site.
“Even though the partnership with WWE and I did not end very well, I am truly thankful for the experience. All I can say at this time to clear up some of the rumors, there was no battle over money. Money was never my motivation for working. Truth is that I was completely dedicated to the company and believed in everything I was doing. I trusted it. I was willing to put my personal life aside to give everything I had to what I was doing and become a better wrestler/performer. I was told that I was a budget cut and creatively they didn’t have anything for me.”
“I am very disappointed in the WWE, where I learned a very important lesson,” added Hemme. “I am a very determined person with a huge amount of energy for my life and my career. Everything happens for a reason and anything that has happened in my life that has knocked me down has only built me back up stronger. I feel stronger than ever and I am hungry for this huge future before me.”
– Ashley Massaro, this year’s Diva Search winner, is the subject of a six-page layout in the January issue of Maxim. WWE diva Stacy Keibler is in store for some major publicity as she will be featured in ABC Television’s new season of “Dancing With The Stars.”
– WWE agent Ted DiBiase was released from the hospital Wednesday after passing out and collapsing at company headquarters in Stamford, Conn., the previous day. DiBiase was held overnight for testing and observation.
The Village Voice recently reported that the former “Million Dollar Man” is looking to acquire the rights to his old WWF theme song. The rights to the song currently belong to longtime WWE music producer Jim Johnson.
– James Laurinaitis, the son of WWE star Road Warrior Animal (Joe Laurinaitis), may get the start in Ohio State’s Fiesta Bowl matchup with Notre Dame on Jan. 2. Laurinaitis has been taking all the practice snaps at first-team strongside linebacker.
“If you’re a tough-nosed guy, like (Andy) Katzenmoyer or (Chris) Spielman, my dad’s going to love you,” the Buckeye freshman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week. “And that’s how he raised me to be.”
The Minnesota native says his parents are diehard Buckeyes fans, and he’s glad he made the decision to come to Ohio State.
“People say that Penn State is Linebacker U., but if you look at it, what college really breeds pro linebackers and All-American linebackers?” he asked. “Obviously Ohio State pops to mind. It was the first school that popped into my mind. And that’s why I came here.”
– Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently visited the troops stationed at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, said in a speech that he was sorry he missed WWE’s Tribute to the Troops show there a week earlier.
“It’s good to be back at Bagram Air Field, and to express our country’s appreciation to every man and woman in Joint Task Force 76,” said the VP. “I’m only sorry I didn’t come earlier this month. Somebody told me I missed a chance to meet Vince McMahon, Big Show and Triple H.”
– Lex Luger was extradited on Tuesday from jail in Minneapolis back to Georgia where he’s facing drug charges.
– Actor David Arquette, who held the WCW world heavyweight title briefly in 2000 as part of a publicity stunt, has been caught in the middle of a sex scandal following a romp with a stripper in 1997 that has come back to haunt him in the pages of a supermarket tabloid.
According to stripper Erika Keith, the Hollywood actor allegedly got into a sex romp with her back in 1997, before the star started dating his current wife Courteney Cox. The stripper claims that she and Arquette had sex on the dance floor of an Atlanta club and she has photos to prove it, which she took to the National Enquirer.
The tabloid claims Keith’s story stands up because the 32-year-old, now a masseuse, passed a lie detector test.
– Former WWE agent Dave Hebner recently made his debut for TNA. Brother Earl, also fired earlier this year by WWE, is expected to make his debut shortly.
– Quote of the week comes from Bret Hart. On a recent edition of TSN’s “Off the Record,” Hart said of arch-nemesis Shawn Michaels: “He’s probably the one Christian who should be fed to the lions.”
– Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) was named worst “bottle blond” male celebrity in the annual Sally Beauty “Best ‘Tressed” American hair survey. He beat out Brad Pitt and Billy Idol for the dubious honor.
– Joey Styles, who signed a five-year deal as Raw’s lead announcer, recently acknowledged on the company’s Web site that he’s filling some mighty big shoes.
“Jim Ross is the greatest play-by-play man there has ever been in professional wrestling. And if Jim Ross and WWE ever came to an agreement to bring him back to call Raw again, I would do the right thing and step aside and do something else for the company. Ideally, I would slide over and be the color man. To work with Jim Ross would be an honor. But my goal is to one day meet the standard that Jim Ross has set for professional wrestling play-by-play.”
– The local wrestling community lost one of its biggest fans with the recent passing of Ronnie Caraviello. Ronnie, who would have turned 59 this month, was an old-school fan who continued to keep up with the business and always had an entertaining insight to share. Ronnie, older brother of longtime S.C. State Athletic Commissioner Bobby Caraviello, was retired from Piggy Wiggly Carolina Warehouse.