Sting vs. Sting: Whose Hits Were Greatest?

There isn't much overlap among fans of pro wrestling in the late-1990's and English new wave soft rock enthusiasts, but within that tiny section of the Venn diagram rages a fierce debate: Whose career was more impressive — Singer Sting or Wrestler Sting? We compare five key metrics to make a mostly worthless determination.

Solo Act

At the peak of his career, Wrestler Sting defined "solo".

After falling out with some of his World Championship Wrestling (WCW) comrades, Sting morphed from an outgoing, brightly colored surfer to a silent, brooding menace with allegiances to no one.

Initially the driving force behind WCW's efforts to stave off the invasion of the New World Order (nWo), Sting soon found himself courted by both parties. The "free agent" went more than a year without speaking, but in that time became one of pro wrestling's hottest attractions during its most successful era.

By any metric, Singer Sting has had an equally tremendous solo career. Few artists of any variety extend their résumé into a fourth decade without embarrassing their fans or putting their plastic surgeon's children through grad school. Singer Sting is truly an exception.

But can you name any of his top-10 Billboard hits? Probably not. "Fields of Gold" — which peaked at No. 23 in 1993 — is likely his most recognizable solo work, at least for passengers of our family van during every road trip through 2002.

Simply put, while "Seven Days", "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" and "Brand New Day" might fill the gaps on your local soft rock station, Sting's lasting influence lies in an earlier era.

Advantage: Wrestler Sting

 

Group Work

After nearly two years of cultivating a feared vigilante persona, Wrestler Sting was more or less wedged into the nWo machine at the tail end of Monday Night Wars-era WCW.

This development thrilled 12-year-old me. Sting in red face paint entering to the best theme song at the time? Print the shirts and order the birthday party supplies, I'm all in.

But in retrospect, this made almost no sense. The detached, silent assassin who refused to be boxed in suddenly looked like a guy just happy to be invited to a work function.

Mercifully, an injury put a stop to this nonsense after just two months. Most history books compare it to "Sunshine"-era Jay-Z.

Singer Sting's group efforts were not only more sustained and successful, but far more organic.

His career began with The Police, and he only ventured off when his stardom left him no other choice.

Most songs we associate with Sting ("Roxanne", "Don't Stand So Close To Me", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Every Breath You Take", holy shit look at all these hits, "Message In A Bottle") are the works of The Police, whose names are irrelevant because we're not comparing The Police to the police.

Bottom line: When you think of Singer Sting, you think of the stuff he made with The Police.

Advantage: Singer Sting by a landslide.

 

Stalker Tendencies

Webster's Dictionary defines stalking as:

"Creepily hiding in arena rafters with a hawk before drawing the attention of your target  and a spotlight  at precisely the right moment."

Certainly Wrestler Sting is guilty of this. For years he was able to access secret maintenance areas around the country in an effort to intimidate potential opponents and drive home the point that he was truly a lone wolf.

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But the thing about pro wrestling is that it's not real. Singer Sting straight up wrote a song about stalking, and in the process gave The Police 1983's biggest hit.

"I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it's quite the opposite." 

- Sting talking about "Every Breath You Take"

Suddenly that pleasant-sounding "every sin-gle daaaaay" has a little different feel to it.

Advantage: Wrestler Sting because we don't promote actual stalking around these parts.

 

Later Years

While Wrestler Sting has experienced a renaissance following his WWE debut last October and a nostalgia-filled Wrestlemania 31 match against Triple H this spring, most of his last decade and a half was spent mired in the second-tier promotion Total Nonstop Octagon Action Impact Wrestling or something like that.

The work may have been worthy of praise, but that tree fell in the woods when no one was around. 

Plus, Sting's TNA tenure birthed this embarrassing Heath Ledger Joker knock-off, "The Insane Icon". Yikes.

Singer Sting, on the other hand, has aged far more gracefully than most rock stars from his era. He's an active philanthropist, sharp dresser, and he wears sixty-three years better than I wear twenty-eight. But my diet starts tomorrow so it's fine.

Music-wise, Sting's most recent album (2013's The Last Ship) went double-platinum in Poland. So I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious.

Advantage: Singer Sting, mostly by default.

 

TIEBREAKER: Surprise Bad Boy Moment of 1997

Few drop-ins from Wrestler Sting were as exciting as his surprise appearance at the end of 1997's Uncensored pay-per-view. As the nWo celebrated victory in the main event, Sting plunged to the ring and answered questions about his allegiance by disposing of all four nWo members (at least until the next night). It was bad ass.

But the best surprise bad boy moment of 1997 belongs to Singer Sting, who stunned viewers of MTV's Video Music Awards when he appeared on stage with Puff Daddy and the Bad Boy Family:

By lending his voice to "I'll Be Missing You" — Puff and Faith Evans' homage to the late Notorious B.I.G. — Sting reached a new generation of Tomagatchi-owning fans and legitimized Puff Daddy's heavy sampling as a respectable art form.

1997 was sweet.

WINNER: Singer Sting

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