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June 23, 2011

Q&A with TNA star Sting

I conducted a phone interview Wednesday with TNA star Steve “Sting” Borden, who was promoting his recently released direct-to-DVD Christian movie, “The Encounter.”

In addition to talking about the film and his faith, he discussed his infamous match with Jeff Hardy at the Victory Road pay-per-view, how close he was to signing with WWE earlier this year, his current story line with Hulk Hogan and more.

How did you become involved with “The Encounter?”

I have a buddy of mine in Boston named Tom Saab who does Christian film festivals all over. He started out with one in Boston, and I was actually involved in another Christian movie that he wanted, and he remembered that and we’ve just stayed in touch all these years. He’s tried several times to get me in different Christian movies, and because of schedule, mostly because of wrestling, I just have not had a chance to do it. But this one here, he contacted me and the schedule was open and we did it.

tnasting.jpg

Tell me about the premise of the movie.

It’s about five people traveling down a road, and due to weather they all get stuck. They end up at a diner, which maybe one or two of them saw, and the rest of them never did. They go into the diner and have an encounter with a guy named Jesus, who actually ends up being Jesus Christ. He meets each one of us where we are in our lives. We’re all then forced with a choice to make, to either accept him or not. It really covers pretty much every walk – every person who has that choice.

Would you say there were similarities between the character you play in the film – a self-absorbed, wealthy businessman – and where you were in your life before you became a born-again Christian?

Oh, absolutely. The Bible says it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich man to make it into heaven, and I know being rich is all relative, but I had as much money as I needed. I could travel wherever I wanted to go, I could buy whatever I wanted to buy, and I didn’t need God – or, at least, so I thought. The biggest match of my life was against God, and he thankfully wrestled me down to the ground before it was too late.

You’re brother is a pastor, correct?

Yeah, my brother is the pastor of our church. We’re Rock Community Church in a little town called Waxahachie, Texas. He was the first one in our family to give his life to the Lord and to be saved. Those terms and those words I don’t use loosely. It’s been a huge transformation in his life and a huge transformation in my life as well.

How can people see “The Encounter?”

It’s been released on DVD. You can go to pureflix.com or amazon.com. I believe you can go to places like Target and Wal-Mart and Christian bookstores nationwide.

Do you have any more film projects in the works?

It’s so tough [because of the wrestling schedule]. I’ve had to pass on a couple other projects with some really good people, but I’m looking forward to doing some more. But, yes, I know that I will have time coming up here and I’d like to do a whole bunch more.

There is a lot of adult content on Impact Wrestling. As a man of faith, is it a concern for you to be on that type of show?

Absolutely. There’s no question about it. This is something that many Christians will use as their ace in the hole, and I’ll use it, but I’m not going to use it in a real loose way, and that is that Jesus Christ himself went in amongst the sinners – the murderers, the adulterers, the idolaters, the drunkards, and so on and so forth. And he didn’t come to judge them, he came to save them, be a doctor to them. I’m not putting myself on that level obviously, but at the same time, we are in the world, we are not of the world, if we are believers. I’m not going to put myself in a shell – it’s just not going to work that way. You have to get out there somehow or another and try to be a light or be the salt of the earth, and that’s all I’ve tried to do. As far as the content goes, I will only involve myself in situations that will not jeopardize my walk or my witness. You won’t hear vulgar things coming out of my mouth or sexual innuendos and all that kind of stuff.

In your current story line with Hulk Hogan, it almost seems as if there are some religious overtones as far as you trying to save the Hulk Hogan character and get him back on the right path. Is that the case or am I reading too much into it?

You know, there’s probably a thread of that in there for sure. Most of my story lines do have some sort of a redemptive quality to them. Vince Russo is writing a lot of this stuff, and many people may not know this, but he also is a believer. He writes with that kind of flair. The other thing, too, is I really believe that because of the nostalgia of Hulk Hogan – you know, he made an appearance on “American Idol” and got a huge, gigantic reaction – wrestling fans all over the place would love to see the story line for real. I think they want to see him come back and just be Hulk. I’d like to see it.

Do wrestlers in TNA ever come to you for spiritual advice if they’re going through a difficult time?

Absolutely. I’ll leave it to them personally to come public if they choose to do that, but you would be surprised at the names, whether it be office people, whether it be wrestlers or people behind the scenes. All kinds of people have come to me and asked me for either advice or some kind of counsel, whether it be about their marriage, about finances, about their job, about heaven and hell, about Jesus Christ, about drugs – trying to come clean. You know, because I have a history there with drugs and alcohol and muscle relaxers – the whole package.

Speaking of the whole package, that’s the perfect segue for my next question. “The Total Package” Lex Luger, a longtime friend of yours, fell on some very hard times, but you were instrumental in him getting his life back together in recent years, correct?

Yeah, I definitely was because I knew where he was headed. Man, his testimony is unreal. I would call him and I knew he was there, but he would never pick up. He would just listen to me leave my message. I just said to him, “Look, I know you are in a world of hurt, bro. Just don’t do something stupid and don’t continue down the path you’re going on. I’d love to be able to walk with you through it, come clean, get off all the stuff and let’s talk about something beyond wrestling, something beyond ourselves. You know, there is such a thing as heaven and hell and the devil, who absolutely hates us and wants to take us out. He would listen to those messages, and he’ll talk about it now and say that I was instrumental, and if I was, then that’s great.

And he’s doing well now?

He’s doing fantastic. I talk to him, on average, probably every couple weeks. His body is getting stronger all the time. You’re talking about a guy who from the neck down had nothing for a good three days or so [after suffering a spinal stroke], and then slowly but surely was able to move his arms and his legs. They did a surgery on his hips and that helped huge. They said he would never walk again, and he’s walking now without a walker or a cane. He does get tired and he’ll need to sit down for a few minutes. But he’s a completely different person now. He used to talk about nothing but himself [laughs], but now he’ll ask about other people’s lives and what’s going on.

What was your reaction when WWE began airing the mysterious vignettes early this year that turned out to be for The Undertaker’s return, but initially had a lot of wrestling fans believing that the videos signaled that you were coming to WWE for to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania? And the second part of my question is: Did WWE contact you to come in and do something at that point?

I’ll answer the second part first. Yes, I was contacted by WWE people. The vignettes I can honestly tell you that I do not understand that one even now, unless it was some kind of deal where they were just trying to test the waters, I really don’t know, because so many people were saying, “I hope it’s Sting, I hope it’s Sting.” I thought, “Gosh, I wonder if they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot there by making this choice, because if things do not work out, why did they do it to begin with?” I had all kinds of things going through my head. But, yeah, I was very, very close to going up there, and I believe there probably would have been something with Undertaker. That was the word at least.

What are your thoughts on what went down the night you faced Jeff Hardy at the Victory Road pay-per-view?

I want to be careful with my words here because I really like Jeff Hardy. I’m hoping he can come back because that guy is so talented, but he has personal issues in his life and it just became too much for him, too overwhelming, and he just couldn’t cope and didn’t know how to handle it. So he made some bad choices and he’s having to deal with those choices and the consequences now. I hear he’s doing much, much better. Last I heard, he was riding his bike 10 miles a day and just getting in great shape and his life was getting in some kind of order.

It seemed that things were happening on the fly on live TV that night when you and Hardy got in the ring, and no one really seemed to know what was going on. Is that accurate?

That’s pretty accurate. I’d say a good 45 minutes to an hour before the match actually happened, things started to deteriorate, and I just went, “Oh, boy.” I kept hoping maybe somehow or another he’ll come to his senses and snap out of it, but it didn’t happen. It was just out of hand and I didn’t have a choice other than to do what I did.

You’ve said in the past that you intended to retire several times, but every year when your contract comes up in TNA, you get talked into staying for another year. At this point, how much longer do you plan to continue wrestling?

You know, you’re right. I think I’ve said every year for at least the last four years that this will be my last year. And I’m speaking the same way again now. I think I’ve smartened up a little bit. When I know it’s done, I’ll know it’s done. I’m going to go as long as I can, but, honestly, whether I want to or not, I cannot see going too much farther.

Photo courtesy of impactwrestling.com


Posted by Kevin Eck at 2:04 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Q&As
        

Comments

You should have asked him why he didn't signed with the WWE, especially since their PG-rated direction is a lot more family friendly than TNA...

RESPONSE FROM KE: He has stated previously that he was cautious about signing because of the way other WCW stars had been treated after signing with WWE.

Refreshing interview. Well done. My follow up question(s) would have been you say you were very very close to going up there(WWE) what was the deal breaker? Can you see yourself going there in the future for something short term?

So the movie is basically telling us that Jesus is a creepy looking lousy actor. I'd rather go to hell than watch this.

Hey Kevin. Great article. Where do you consider Sting on the All-Time list of Greatest Professional Wrestlers? Top 50, Top 20, Top 10, or Top 5?

RESPONSE FROM KE: Here's my list.
http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/wrestling/blog/top_50_wrestling_stars_of_all_time/

A very good and thoughtful interview i think you do ask the right questions and you should do more of these.As for the film not into religious flicks but i do like suspense it does interest me and i will check it out.Steve has always impressed me as a honest man i was greatful to meet him once and i wish him the best.

"The Encounter" sounds like a gas! Count me in, Stinger!

Sting has always been a favorite of mine and I will definitely check the movie out But in response to the last question hasn't he already signed on to do Impact's European tour next year?

Thanks for the great interview. I've been a Sting fan since the 1980s and I really admire him for not shirking his faith in a tough environment.

Outstanding article, loved it I am so glad to hear that the business of wrestling is warping the Stinger's moral and christian values. I can't wait to see the movie. I am glad also to hear that Lex is still pursuing his christian walk. I can't wait to see the movie.

Sting comes across as real and sincere in just about every interview I've seen with him. Thanks for the interview, Kevin. Hey, I missed the "Ask Kevin" feature while I was on vacation. Are you accepting questions for a future installment?

RESPONSE FROM KE: Yes, send them in.

On the other hand, I'm really sorry, Kevin, that you posted that link to your Top 50 and reminded me that you put Bret Hart - BRET HART! - at No. 26. Ugh.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Too high or too low?

@ Logan, yes, Sting is being promoted on the UK dates (but not the German dates) of TNA's European tour next year.

But let's not forget those 4 crucial words 'Card subject to change'.

Personally, would have been happy to see Sting leave following his BFG match again AJ.

Re: Travis' comment

Anyone who wasn't in love with Shawn Michaels would think that placing Bret Hart at #26 is too low!

Sorry, couldn't resist... :p

Great interview as always. I'm glad Sting's being open and not evasive about things like Jeff Hardy and the WWE. If you ever get to interview him again (or Shawn Michaels, for that matter), I'd be interested to know what they think of CM Punk's character.

I'm curious, Kevin: how much interaction did you have with Sting back in your WCW days? Does he recognize you from way back then, by name if not by face or voice?

RESPONSE FROM KE: The word I would use to describe Sting when I was in WCW is aloof. Not a bad guy, just not a guy who would go out of his way to talk to you. I interviewed him once when I was there and that was literally the only time I spoke with him until this interview. So to answer your question, if he remembered me, he didn't say so. But he was very friendly.

I don't blame him one bit for not coming to WWE. You can be one of the best in the business, but if Vince McMahon didn't create the character you're never breaking through the glass ceiling. Perfect example is CM Punk, the guy can carry a match, a promo, and a feud but he's still treated like a glorified jobber. I'd rather Sting stay in TNA than have him inevitably job to Super Cena

Great piece, on a legendary performer.

I completely agree with Mike. Sting has no reason to jump to the WWE. He would inevitably be treated poorly. After an initial buzz McMahon would then discard him And use him as a comedy act. It's more a male ego thing.

What I like about Sting is that he is a real role model for the younger wrestlers. People constantly criticise Ms Carter-Salinas for going out of her way to sign Sting. They point to the ratings and say he's a failure.

I'm sorry wrestling is more than just ratings. He brings huge dividends in merchandise and has a core fan base that still want to watch him regularly. More importantly he is well respected by his peers. As this interview shows people backstage see him as a father figure and go to him for advice.

I would guess that it's such a morale boost to have him around the locker room.

In his recent run he seems to be really motivated. It's just a shame none of his opponents have turned up to the races to help carry the main event matches. Now he is channeling the Joker, he has got me intrigued.

Sting is the consummate pro. You never hear about him carrying on outside of the ring and he never has any problem putting people over in the ring.

Ms Carter-Salinas and TNA should be thankful and hope that he sticks around a little longer because he is a real asset.

I suppose that solves the Hardy question---although it still points to the unfortunate "boy who cried wolf" web that the TNA primaries have wound around themselves.
I did have a thought---I wonder how much Borden being involved in a one-on-one program with Anderson, who was previously portrayed as an edgy tweener---had to do with Anderson's sudden and inexplicable change to a full heel?
Was Borden uncomfortable in helping to put over in a positive way a character that he may not have liked and agreed with?---I remember the story with him smashing out Anderson's truck windows a few weeks ago, and there was a mysteriously awkward moment where Anderson used the Dave Chapelle "I'm rich, bi%$h", to which Borden replied something inaudible, which caused Anderson to say on the mic, something like "I didn't, I called you a BEE-yatch..."
Just a random thought I'll throw out there for what it's worth. I also continue to find the notion that Vince Russo is a "believer", which I'd known before, somewhat bizarre. It's sort of like Dick Cheney coming out as a proclaimed Tibetan Buddhist.

I like Sting!

Pro Wrestling/Entertainment needs guys like him that want to do the right thing.

And he is an electifying entertainer as well when he is on. I suspect his religious beliefs help fuel his ability to present an interesting character on TV.

He has been on fire the last two weeks or so taking on HH and Bischoff and acting somewhat possessed in the process. Good stuff!

Maybe TNA can get on a roll....

I hope he considers ending his career in the WWE. They brought back DDP briefly. They're also not making fun of Booker T anymore.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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