When Sting finally appeared in a WWE ring at the Survivor Series….it was historic for a couple of reasons. Firstly and obviously, it was something many fans had clamored to see for years. Ever since the demise of WCW in 2001, Sting was the one man who WWE fans wanted to see the most. Despite years of could have beens and near misses, Sting finally appeared in 2014. As great as it was to finally see him in the WWE, it also signaled an end of an era.
The era I speak of, is the one of fantasy bookings and dream matches. For fans who had the privilege of watching pro wrestling with not just one promotion…but two, if not three or more they know what I speak of. The days when you wondered what it would be like if Ric Flair wrestled Hulk Hogan…the Road Warriors taking on Demolition…Goldberg versus Steve Austin….WWE VS. WCW etc. We were fortunate to see many of those “Dream matches” eventually take place. Some lived up to the hype, while others not so much….but for the most part…we as fans got to see them happen.
Who will ever forget the first time as a fan seeing Ric Flair on WWF TV? The surreal feeling as if it weren’t really happening before our eyes. The same with seeing Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard on WWF TV after years of being on NWA/WCW TV. Long before fans wondered about a Sting Vs Undertaker match….fans fantasized about Sting Vs The Ultimate Warrior. With two major promotions in existence, fans were given more choices and with more choices came more ideas of what if’s…..What would it be like if a wrestler from the WWF wrestled someone from the NWA in an AWA ring?
The tremendous success of the NWO’s initial run in WCW wasn’t so much fueled by the star power of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash…but wrestling fans finally living out the ultimate wrestling fantasy of WWF vs WCW. The WCW invasion angle, while successful, wasn’t nearly good as it could’ve been because the lack of star power involved. It was still tremendous to see Diamond Dallas Page first appear….the same for Booker T.
Those days though of wanting to see certain wrestlers who were built up elsewhere to appear in another promotion are now over. Would some fans still want to see Kurt Angle take on Rusev? Of course, but Kurt has already been in the WWE….there really isn’t that mystique left. Sure, he would get his pops for nostalgia and the like, but those “Holy Sh!t” moments are pretty much over now that Sting finally debuted.
In all honesty, are fans really demanding to see TNA stars take on WWE stars? I am taking nothing away from the talent in TNA. They have vastly improved in recent months. I just don’t think people would care to see Bobby Roode Vs John Cena or the American Wolves take on The Usos. Would the matches be solid? Probably, but the demand isn’t there….at least not yet. There might be more of a demand to see NXT stars square off against the main roster guys.
The WWE has attempted in the past to manufacture those dream matches by splitting up Raw and Smackdown in to separate brands. While semi successful…it just never had the same cache of WWE Vs NWA/WCW. It has become incumbent of the WWE to create stars and keep fans interested in their product without relying on bringing in established stars from other promotions and territories as in days past.
With Sting now being utilized…the end of an era has indeed occurred. There are no more wrestlers who fans have never seen compete in the WWE with enough star power that would create dream match ups and possibilities. It’s depressing in a way, as I look back as a kid and wonder who would win between Flair and Hogan…..who had the better overall company…the straight forward NWA or the cartoonish WWF? While those days may be forever gone…..it is now time for pro wrestling to create new stars, new options and reinvent itself….once again.