Complete shock with this one — after the rumors of no WWE talent being allowed on Ric Flair’s show due to his reaction towards the controversial Reid Flair mention on RAW last month, didn’t think they’d get a guy like Sting on! Been perfectly happy with Ricky Morton and Mike Johnson over the past couple of weeks though, but Sting as a guest on Flair’s podcast was absolutely outstanding.
I might have a bias though…
As usual, once the intros and ads are out of the way, the real fun begins.
05:40 Interview Starts with Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson talking to Sting
Ric Flair introduces Sting in a touching fashion, expresses joy over the fact that he’s finally in the WWE even after Flair’s been trying to get him to go over for twenty years. Sting is humble and low-key in his response while Flair goes over the history of their friendship before launching into the actual interview.
06:55 Sting Health Update
Ric Flair asks how Sting is holding up after his main event match against Seth Rollins at WWE Night of Champions:
“Obviously that night I had some problems. Both buckle-bumps, not Seth’s fault, completely mine, I had no idea what I did. I have no idea but my neck whip-lashed on both of them. On the second one, he picked me up, and I’m having a casual conversation in my own mind as I’m hoisted up on his shoulders thinking, ‘Ok, Steve. Tuck your chin, do what you know how to do. This is ridiculous.’
I wasn’t worried at all, even though the first one I had a shock going down the left and right side both down to the fingertips. You can see me in the ring, I’m trying to shake my hand out and trying to get feeling back in my hand. The second time, again – having a casual conversation – and for whatever reason, I clicked out, checked out. I don’t know what happened but I did the same thing. This time it affected my leg, there was no strength. The power in my legs was just kind of going away and I felt like I had no control over them… and I didn’t. I had temporary paralysis, and for a few minutes I thought that I couldn’t continue. I thought. ‘I’m done. I can’t do this.’
Sting mentions getting enough feeling back long enough to get out of the match and finish it before revealing that he will need surgery to fix his neck. Sting is hoping that procedure won’t call for an actual spinal fusion, but he’s not positive what needs to be done for the two “troublesome” spots on his neck causing cervical spinal stenosis. There’s hopefulness in Sting’s voice when going over his health issues as he mentions that Dr. Maroon would be the one operating on him – a man that’s done surgeries on several WWE guys with great success. Sting says that he’s lucky a catastrophe didn’t happen that night against Seth Rollins.
Ric Flair goes over a conversation he had with Dr. Maroon the first time they met before joking over how the WWE “had twenty-five guys” going after Sting during his WrestleMania match. “They had four waves of cavalry hitting you and you never stopped punching, man!”
Sting mentions how there’s no type of training that can replicate being in the ring in regard to cardio and stamina. Flair commends Sting for his match and how well he held up in it.
13:30 Sting’s European Trip + More on Sting’s Injury
Ric Flair brings up Sting’s recent speaking tour he did with Inside The Ropes over in Europe and is relieved to hear that his neck injury was severe enough to prohibit him from traveling. Sting mentions ripping off the cautionary neck-brace the medics put on him after his Night of Champions match, thinking he was OK as he walked backstage on his own accord. He gave into the pleas of Triple H and Mark Carrano to go to the hospital to get checked out and goes into the “intense” pain that hit him that night:
“It stayed really, really tight, down to my left trap and the left side a lot. Kind of a aggravating and dull ache is what it turned into. It was strong enough that night where they were pumping me full of pain medication and all that just to get me into the MRI.
The funny thing is that I feel normal. Aside from an occasional — at night when I sleep, sitting in a car, sitting down for too long, or if I’m standing in one spot for too long — these kind of things bother me. It’s like gravity is not my friend. Otherwise, I feel normal. I can stay in the gym. I can function absolutely normal.”
Ric mentions being ecstatic over this news update before bringing in the “WCW/NWA/WWE Walking Library” that is Flair’s podcast co-host, Conrad Thompson.
16:50 History of Sting and the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Conrad asks Sting how he and Flair first met, Sting replies that it all happened through Crockett purchasing “a smaller wrestling organization” and says he was “adopted” from that along with Rick Steiner and a few others. Conrad asks how Crockett differed from how Bill Watts ran his territory, Sting answers that it felt like “the big time”. He was aware of the NWA, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express and looked up to them all. Ric Flair says that the first time Sting walked through the door, he knew “there were dollar signs with this guy”.
Sting says he paid dues, worked hard, was respectful and got success out of it. Sting talks a bit about where the NWA Championship was at the time. Apparently, once the title went back to Ric Flair from Ronnie Garvin, Flair was supposed to face Ricky Morton (Sting’s not positive Morton was the correct person here), but due to an injury, Dusty Rhodes decided to pair up Flair and Sting.
22:20 Working Hard + TNA Reunions
Ric Flair puts over Sting’s work ethic as he knew how many dates The Stinger was putting in, jokes that it shouldn’t have been too tough since Sting was working with “The World’s Greatest Athlete” (Flair referring to himself). Everyone laughs.
Flair goes back to complimenting Sting as Sting never partied a lot, stayed focused and kept being family-orientated. “How do you just not release, man!? You can’t do this – maybe you’ve haven’t been doing it long enough – but you’re gonna have to find some vehicle of recreation after this because it’s a long night, every night…”
Sting responds jokingly, “Well, you wore me down, Ric. You ended up wearing me down, that’s for sure. Everybody did.”
Ric Flair says that he hadn’t seen Sting in ten years before running into him at TNA and felt like neither one had lost a beat. Sting said it was a good reunion and goes into a quick aside about the younger TNA talent being blown away at the visual of Sting and Ric Flair meeting again backstage. Ric Flair reveals his own amazement of how Sting was just able to walk away from wrestling for a while since Flair himself felt lost after his “retirement”. Even to this day, Flair says he has to drive one-hundred miles in the morning before going to the gym because he’s just not used to a life of laying around (unless there’s a LeBron James or football game on).
26:12 Final Nitro Match
Ric Flair asks Sting how long he stayed away from wrestling after their final match on Nitro, Sting answers:
“[The Final WCW Monday Nitro] was a pretty emotional night for me. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and here I am wrestling, once again, Ric. The flash of all the years before that, all the matches, and then all of a sudden, ‘What? What’s going on?’
It was just surreal.”
Ric brings up that he was vehemently against Vince McMahon’s request to wrestle Sting that night as he felt that he was out of shape, points out that Sting had an injury as well at that time. “I argued with Shane McMahon all day, Sting and I aren’t ready! Why can’t we be remembered for what we were because this won’t be anything like it tonight. (laughs)”
“I said, ‘Steve can you press-slam me?’ and you said, ‘Nope. The elbows aren’t doing it’. So, [the match] was just a smidgen of what you and I brought to the business. I actually was embarrassed but at the same time, I was so happy because that place was gone.’
Flair points out that WCW would always put him against Sting on television as it was always a guaranteed pop for ratings. Sting circles back around to answer the original question that he had been out of wrestling for five years before TNA (save for some one-off events here and there). Ric talks about his own injuries for a moment before Sting interjects that Ric is the most durable of all wrestlers since he somehow ended up being better after a plane crash. Flair jokes to Sting, “I would rather take a press-slam from you, a suplex from the top-rope — anything like that — than some of the stuff I had to do with Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen.”
Ric Flair briefly brings up their in-ring formula before Sting takes back over:
“I can’t tell you how many times in the later years when [WCW] would put [Ric Flair and I] together, and you’d say ‘Ok, you ready for the press-slam? You ready for this or that?’ and I’d go ‘Ric, we’ve got to change it up. Let’s do something different!’
You’d go, ‘Steve. Steve. They come here to see me flip over the top-rope. They come here to see you beat on your chest.’ and I’d go, ‘Ok.’
I forget who it was but you’d used to watch [him]. You said, ‘If you didn’t get to see him go do that flip over the top-turnbuckle, you’d feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth.”
Flair laughs and says that he would get “so damn mad” as a kid if Ray Stevens wouldn’t do that top turnbuckle flip that he’d go home and yell, ‘I may not watch wrestling again!’
32:00 Wrestling Against Sting
Ric Flair laughs and says that the great thing about Steve is that he would let him “wack him”. After a brief second of silence, Ric describes how Sting wasn’t afraid to get chopped as that was all of Flair’s offense beyond a knee-drop and falling on his face. Sting remarks, ‘You go around thirty days straight doing that — every night, you’re black and blue going into the ring, and by the end of the night, you’ve got trickles of blood going down your chest.’
Flair quips, ‘And that’s if I didn’t catch you with the blade I had in my finger! [Steve] Austin called me Edward Scissorhands!”
Sting laughs hard before Conrad Thompson gets invited in by Flair to ask some questions.
32:45 Clash of the Champions
Sting and Ric Flair go over their match at Clash of the Champions, Flair runs down the importance of the event due to several reasons with one being how they were running against WrestleMania at the same time. Flair assesses that what defined their forty-seven minute match against each other was how much wrestling both put into it without slowing down, without relying on rest holds to get through.
(To Ric Flair) “I’m always outspoken about that [Clash of the Champions] match, and what it did for me. I know that you always wanted it to be as good as you could possibly make it. I know also that you had the power to make or break me that night. I’ll never forget it, I’m glad that I had the relationship I had with you because you decided to make me. It put me on the map, that was it. I was off and running.”
Ric Flair laughs and maintains his belief that the two nicest guys in the business are Sting and Ricky Steamboat. Some times too nice for them to be in this “insensitive business”. Flair mentions how the business changed for him once Turner came into the picture and quickly runs down how crazy it all became for him soon after with Hogan, Savage, Bischoff, the nWo and others were all in WCW. “For me, I just couldn’t get to the bar fast enough with “Mean” Gene [Okerlund] to get a martini!”
Sting politely replies that he was right there with Flair, doing the same thing.
36:56 Eric Bischoff Story + Sting’s Injury in 1989
Ric launches into a story where Sting and Flair teamed up against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman (at Halloween Havoc 1995). Flair proclaims that they tore the house down where Flair turned on Sting in the match which led to a singles match between the two the following night on Nitro… where the two proceeded to tear the house down again.
Afterward, Eric Bischoff went back to the locker-room and was ecstatic, “Sting’s back! Sting’s back!!”
Next thing Flair knew, Sting was gone. Taken out of Flair’s story to be put somewhere else, Flair says he felt that anytime something got over with him, Eric would be there to shut it down. Sting laughs and brings up the heat when Flair turned on him at Halloween Havoc where the crowd was pissed. Sting compares it to the time Flair sucker-punched him years prior when Sting was a brief member of The Four Horsemen. This leads to the story where Sting was injured that night coming off the side of a steel cage:
“I was going to jump onto the cage, climb in, and you and I were gonna do our business. I jumped off that one leg, and it just snapped. Literally, I thought somebody had whacked me with a pipe or something. I looked back and everyone was sitting there — I reached down, I felt my knee and the kneecap was way up into my thigh. So, I jump down onto that one leg, hobbling around. Doug Dellinger is there with Wahoo [McDaniel], and he goes, ‘Ric? Well, he’s climbing the cage…”
I go, “Stop him, stop him!’
My leg, my patella tendon is gone! I only have one leg right now, Doug goes ‘I’ll stop him.’
There was no stopping [Ric Flair].”
Ric had no idea Sting was hurt when he ran down to attack him. Ric apologetically assures Sting that couldn’t have known that there was something wrong with Sting’s leg when he tackled him.
41:50 Original Plans for Sting Before the Injury + Real Estate Steve
Conrad asks if either knew what the initial plan was to make Sting the champion before the injury happened. Ric Flair answers that Sting was planned to win the title from him “at the next whatever”, but once Sting got injured, Jim Herd just flippantly decided that Lex Luger should be the one to win the title. Ric refused to do so and it all led to some major heat on Flair from Herd over the matter. Both Ric and Sting stay on discussing the changes that were occurring in WCW with Jim Herd at the helm and how bad things became:
“We were a wrestling company producing wrestling, then we turned into a TV company producing wrestling.”
“That was the first time I’d just about left and went to New York. I hadn’t had any conversations with Vince [McMahon] at all aside from an (?) convention once, a few words here and there… very friendly and all good. Then, it came time to negotiate my contract with Jim Herd. He threw an offer out, and I said, ‘Whaaat? What?’
I’m thinking Road Warrior money. Flair money. And I said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna do that.’, and he says, ‘What do you think?’. I threw a number out there, and he just about gagged. He said, ‘Well, I see no precedent for that. Steve Avery, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, he’s only making $100,000 a year!’
I said, ‘He’s going to be making a million coming up here! That’s his rookie year, and I’m not in my rookie year, by the way. I’m standing firm on what I’m presenting here.’
After holding out for more money, Herd eventually caved in and gave Sting what he wanted, but for a while, Sting felt that he might end up in New York if WCW refused to pay. Ric Flair jokes about some real estate that Sting owned back in the day and the conversation turns into a lesson about 1990’s Atlanta Properties put on by Real Estate Steve. Sting reveals that he made a killing on the 40-acres he ended up selling to a desperate buyer willing to meet Sting’s “ridiculous” asking price.
*Slight Commercial Break*
Conrad asks if the real estate interest came about from Sting owning gyms, Sting mentions that a property he helped a friend sell gave him the cash to invest into his first Gold’s Gym. More money talk ensues, Ric Flair goes onto a tangent over the number of gyms he used to own and cannot understand how all these gyms nowadays can make any money in a flooded market. Flair credits Lex Luger and Sting for helping him get into the gym-owning business.
57:27 “The Total Package” Lex Luger
Conrad asks Sting about his friendship with Lex Luger, pauses, and asks Ric Flair what it is about Sting and Lex Luger that stood out to him back when the NWA was transitioning into WCW. Ric Flair admits that even though people have had issues with Lex in the past, Flair always had fun with him and thought he was a nice guy. Flair points to Luger coming into the NWA with an agent that got him “big money” as to being the reason for the professional jealously some of the boys (and Flair himself) had towards him. Ric gives the opinion that Sting evolved into a great performer while Lex never did, but softens the blow by saying Luger didn’t have time to do so as he was thrown into the main event immediately. Sting jumps in and runs down all the dues he paid, how he learned and adapted along the way while Luger was put at the top right away with his “Adonis” look. Flair gives Luger and Kerry Von Erich the nod for having the best bodies in wrestling at the time and tells a brief story about just being worn out around Luger who’d exercise 24/7. “It did take me a couple of weeks or a couple of months, but I did crack Luger. I had him on the vodka/cranberries. Didn’t take him long!”
Sting agrees that Lex Luger did indeed love the vodka/cranberries before getting back into discussing how cocky Lex was back when he first started. Sting discusses how the two took a while to feel each other out, but eventually they became great friends due to Sting helping Luger with training and planning out a proper diet.
“[Lex Luger and I] ended up in the cock pit of the car, traveling from town-to-town and became business owners, pretty close friends over the years. Then, we drifted apart because of his lifestyle and my lifestyle. Then his life completely changed…”
“He got saved, gave his life to Jesus Christ and he’s a completely transformed person. The same thing happened to me in 1998. This is what kind of kept us… alive.”
The mood turns somber for a bit as Ric Flair sheepishly admits to Sting that he doesn’t believe he’ll ever be remembered as the world’s greatest father due to being more focused on being Ric Flair. There’s a slight hint of regret in Flair’s voice when he discusses how outrageous he used to be, even though drugs were never his vice (entertaining himself was). Flair feels like even though everyone was taken care of while he was in the business, he still feels like he’s changed over the years and is relieved that everything turned out well for him. Flair is also happy that Luger is doing well too, after everything that Luger has gone through. Nikita Koloff’s name gets brought up as there’s a small patch of confusion whether Koloff actually lives with Lex Luger currently or is close enough in the same small town to where he’s constantly around. Sting chats up Nikita’s upcoming wedding and Ric goes on about it perhaps being the best thing for himself if the “Nature Boy” retired to a life in a small town… and a dry county.
1:08:24 What’s Next?
Conrad asks if 2016 is the year for Sting’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame and if that does happen, who would he want to induct him? Sting pauses for a second before naming Ric Flair as the only person that could do it that makes sense. Ric jumps in and says that he cornered Sting two years ago on the matter over wanting to induct him! Sting laughs and can’t think of anyone better to do so, Ric says Sting needs to put the pressure on the WWE to make it happen at WrestleMania next year.
Ric Flair takes a minute to tell Sting how happy he was over The Stinger finally being in the WWE, he even throws out the belief that if Sting went to the WWF at the same time Hulk Hogan had gone, there would’ve been no Hulk Hogan. Sting laughs and humbly dismisses the notion, but Flair powertalks through, “If you could’ve dealt with the politics, and [Vince] would’ve given you the green light, you would have had something nobody at that time had in the business. Yes, Hulk was phenomenal in his role, but he was a much more limited performer than you were. The paint and everything – it was the right time.”
Sting reveals that he’s happy he went to the WWE as well, feels like he has bragging rights now that he’s had a WrestleMania match and a main event shot for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He feels like he’s done “just about everything”.
“[With the] several times that I did talk to Vince [McMahon], I would always end getting what I wanted with WCW financially and Vince would say, ‘Just remember to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Someday I know we’ll do business together.’
He said that a couple of times over the years, and here we are doing it. He was right, a prophetic thing I guess, I don’t know. I’m glad that it happened.”
Ric Flair jokes that Sting must’ve been in shocked coming into WWE as “it’s a little bit different from TNA, man!” Sting says that the difference is like night and day, Ric goes over all the first-class amenities and hard workers that are there at WWE.
Sting feels like the WWE is in a class of its own from top-to-bottom and ends with saying that his run was “a short one, but a good one.”
Ric Flair compliments Sting for always being a gentlemen before quipping about how much ego is involved with Titan Tower and Vince’s personal WWE jet. Flair says it’s like the Ritz Carlton on a plane, Sting reveals that he almost jumped on it to go be on the RAW after Night of Champions but couldn’t do so due to the neck injury. Ric Flair thanks him again and throws out the challenge to have one more match between the two.
1:16:00 End of Interview and Sting’s son
In the final three minutes of the show, Ric Flair brings up meeting Sting’s son and compliments him over how well-mannered Stinger Jr. is. Ric tries to get a “Wooooo!” out of Sting in the final moments of the interview but an shy Steve Borden manages to evade it altogether.
Good listen overall.
38-year-old World Championship Wrestling fanatic/collector/hoarder. Safety officer by day, scanner of wrestling magazine by night.
He’s got posters on the wall, his favorite rock group’s KISS.
Great podcast and great report! Thank you very much for your work!