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WNS Column: Analyzing A Possible Sting vs. Undertaker Match

WNS Column: Analyzing A Possible Sting vs. Undertaker Match

WWE.com recently posted a video of a fantasy match between Sting and The Undertaker. This video only added fuel to an already raging fire, sparking even more interest in what could very well be the most anticipated and talked-about match-up of all time, which would presumably take place at a WrestleMania.
The Undertaker has been with WWE for more than 20 years now and is currently their longest-standing performer. Sting is unquestionably the most accomplished and most popular wrestler of all time that has never competed in World Wrestling Entertainment. Ever since 1996 when Sting adopted his dark gimmick which was inspired by the movie The Crow, fans have drawn comparisons between Sting and The Undertaker.
Both men are multi-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champions. The Undertaker is a seven-time WWE World Champion, while Sting is a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time WCW International World Champion, and a four-time TNA Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion, making him a 14-time World Champion overall. This does not include his reign as the World Heavyweight Champion of the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars promotion, which lasted from 2001 until 2003 and the "World Championship" status of their Heavyweight Title is/was a subject of debate.
Due to Sting never being under contract with WWE, a match against The Undertaker has never been possible for the man known as "The Icon". Between his time in the NWA, WCW, and his tenure in TNA from 2006 until earlier this year, Sting has never been contractually available to perform in a WWE ring, with the exception of his five-year sabbatical from wrestling after WCW went out of business in 2001 until he signed a full-time deal with TNA in 2006.
For nearly 20 years now, fans have wondered what would happen if WWE's "Dead Man" were to take on the Crow-inspired Icon known as Sting.
Sting is no longer under contract with TNA Impact Wrestling and rumors have been circulating that he may in fact already be under contract with WWE. However, The Undertaker's undefeated Streak at WrestleMania was just broken at the hands of Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. And so one has to wonder if the fantasy match between Sting and The Undertaker could, or should, even take place at all.
It's no secret that both men are in the twilight years of their in-ring careers. The Undertaker is 49 years of age and Sting is 55. Both men have paid the price and sacrificed their bodies in the ring for decades. Fans have noted that both men seem to be showing signs of their old age in the ring. This was never more evident than Undertaker's recent match against Brock Lesnar, where Lesnar virtually dominated the entire contest and The Undertaker appeared to be simply too tired to continue. Sting's matches in TNA have been considered lackluster by a portion of the wrestling fans as well.
This brings up the question: even though Sting seems to be contractually available to perform in WWE, should he really have any more matches, and more importantly, should he compete against The Undertaker, who is also seemingly in a fragile state?
For many fans, the most important element of this fantasy match-up would be the storyline itself leading up to the match. As previously mentioned, the two characters of Sting and The Undertaker do share obvious similarities. However, one major difference between The Undertaker and Sting is that while The Undertaker is known as "The Demon of Death Valley", Sting's character has taken on more of a religious element over the years. This is because Sting, or Steve Borden in real life, is a Christian man.
One might imagine that a Sting vs. Undertaker feud could be a classic story of "Good vs. Evil". "The Light vs. The Darkness". "God vs. The Devil". "Heaven vs. Hell". But looking back, this is a story that has already been told. Look no further than The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, who is also a Christian man, from 2009 leading up to WrestleMania 25.
If a Sting-Undertaker feud were to take place, would a religious storyline really be the best idea? There could be some riveting promos from both men, and it would certainly make for some interesting vignette packages, but would it really be better than anything that Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker did back in 2009?
Let's say that the religious element does not come into play. What if Sting were to be presented as what he essentially was back in the mid and late 90s in WCW: a similar entity to The Undertaker. A dark and mysterious character. Unfortunately, this too is a story that has already been told.
The Undertaker had a legendary rivalry against his own half-brother Kane that went off and on from Kane's debut in 1997 until just a few years ago in 2010, where the two "Brothers of Destruction" waged war over the prestigious World Heavyweight Championship on WWE's Friday Night SmackDown program.
The story of The Undertaker taking on a character similar to himself is a story that was told for nearly 15 years.
Whether given a year's worth of build-up (like John Cena vs. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) or just a few months or even just a number of weeks, one has to wonder if a Sting-Undertaker storyline could really surpass, or even just match, anything that we've already seen before involving The Undertaker.
As for the match itself, it seems impossible that the physical performance itself could ever live up to 20 years worth of anticipation. The Undertaker is visibly not the man he was five years ago or even two years ago, and Sting's matches in TNA had been lacking athleticism for years.
However, it's been proven that a match does not have to contain a lot of physical athleticism in order to have good storytelling. One of the most emotional matches in professional wrestling history was Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24. Ric Flair, in his old age, was extremely limited in terms of what he could physically do in the ring. But the emotion shown from both men, the facial expressions, the body language, the words spoken, the course of the match itself, all came together and proved to be one of the greatest matches in the history of WrestleMania. A match could contain a thousand different moves and look like a video game, but without storytelling and a display of human emotion, a physically athletic match may not always deliver the goods.
Could Sting and The Undertaker have an emotional match with good storytelling? Both men have 30 years of experience under their belt to draw from. But again, recent history suggests that both men have seen better days in the ring. In recent years, both men have appeared to be... uninspired. But maybe a match-up of these proportions, the fantasy match that fans have talked about for so many years, could bring out the very best in both Sting and The Undertaker.
However, the final and most crucial element of this match would be the finish. The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak has already been broken, and some would even say tarnished. Many would argue that having one last match would be pointless, regardless of whether he were to win or lose. He would be entering the bout at 21-1. The "One" is already there. For some, the fact that The Undertaker has already lost means that he should simply walk away and retire. But what if The Undertaker were to have that one... final... match? And what if he were to redeem himself at WrestleMania by going out with a victory, even after he already lost to Brock Lesnar? But on the other hand, should Sting have what would seemingly be his last match as well, and go out with a loss? Should Sting lose to The Undertaker? And especially if this match were to happen at WrestleMania, should Sting lose to The Undertaker after the Streak has already been broken?
The finish of the match would be complex to say the least. What if Sting were to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania? This would even further diminish the Streak, taking it to 21-2. Perhaps then, this match should not take place at WrestleMania, but at a different event. But at the same time, to have a match of this magnitude on any other show besides WrestleMania would seem unfitting.
Who should win and who should lose, and when and where would the match take place? This sounds like a promoter's (Vince McMahon) ultimate and worst dilemma.
In conclusion, although this match is undoubtedly the most talked-about fantasy bout in wrestling history, it might be best to just leave Sting and The Undertaker's respective careers alone. Could the build-up really deliver? Could the match itself truly live up to the hype? Would the fans, any of the fans, truly be satisfied with the finished product?

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