Halloween tips from WWE icon Sting
In the facepaint and spandex world of professional wrestling, the name Sting holds particular reverence. Known as 'The Icon', the character spanned a 30-year career, constantly re-inventing himself, before eventually retiring at Night Of Champions' 2015 following injury an during a World Title match against Seth Rollins.
For Sting fans, the new edition of WWE's video game WWE 2k18, comes with the ability to unlock and play as the FIVE different versions of the character that spanned his career. Ahead of the game's launch (and Halloween), Esquire Middle East sat down with Sting to discuss his dream match, where the idea of his trademark baseball bat came from, and face-paint tips for Halloween...
ESQ: In the new 2k18 game you can play as 5 different versions of Sting. In your mind, how does each one differ?
Sting: Surfer Sting was flamboyant, charismatic, colourful and over the top. The kinda guy who constantly played to the balcony. Where as Crow Sting was way more stoic. For that guy, it was about less being more. He didn’t speak a whole lot. In fact, doing that character, I didn’t speak at allfor around an entire year. Wolfpack Sting, with the red face paint was more of a fun spin on the crow-era.
ESQ: Do you have a favourite?
Sting: Yeah, I’m partial to Crow Sting. Even though I started with ’88-’89 Sting, there wouldn’t be any others if that character didn't take off. The Crow adaptation is where I really came into my own.
ESQ: Who came up with the Crow make-up pattern?
Sting: Actually, it was Scott Hall. Wrestling was changing, the product was evolving and I knew that the flat-top bleached hair and neon face-paint had to go. And so I changed with it.
ESQ: Have you played the 2k18 game?
Sting: I’ve played it one time. I’m not much of a gamer, but I did play it at an event in California. I played Sting vs Undertaker. I think it would be kinda cool to play Crow Sting vs Surfer Sting!
ESQ: Is there anyone you regret never having a program with?
Sting: Yeah. That would be Undertaker. I always wanted to wrestle Taker, I think it was a dream match around the world for many fans, and it was dream match for me too.
ESQ: Did the opportunity ever come up?
Sting: Not really. I think at one point there was an opportunity, but there was something already etched in stone between him and Brock Lesnar.
ESQ: What can aspiring talent learn from the entire career of Sting?
Sting: Respect. Respect for the industry and for all those who came before you. Also, what I would tell others is to not talk but listen. That is how you learn the most, by listening.
ESQ: Where did the baseball bat come from?
Sting: Aw man, you remember that ‘80s film The Warriors, where that guy puts the glass bottles on his fingers and he’s rattling them saying “Warriors… come out to play-ay!” That’s where it came from. The street gangs were fighting with pretty much every tool, but nobody had a baseball bat!
ESQ: Are you a baseball fan?
Sting: Nope! [Laughs] I like baseball, but I’m not a huge fan.
ESQ: Is there a chance for you to come back to the WWE, maybe in-front of the camera in a Kurt Angle style GM role?
Sting: I don’t really have an interest in doing that, but I would consider it if ever given the opportunity. I’ve been asked it a lot by fans, so I have thought about what I would do if I were to come back. I suppose I would have to consider what was expected of me and the commitment it would take.
Your last match was a Night of Champions, against Seth Rollins. In your opinion, is he the standard bearer for the future of the company?
Sting: Yeah, Seth. He was being groomed that way, when I wrestled him at Night of Champions for the World Title. I mean he’s now the cover of 2k18, and is definitely someone who will be around for a while. He’s had knee injury, but he came back. The way he trains, and the way he carries himself, I think he’s gonna be around for a long time.
ESQ: For Halloween, are you bombarded by people dressed as Sting?
Sting: I come as myself when people knock on my door for trick-or-treat! Actually, whenever I do a public appearance or signing I always have loads of people dressed up as various iterations of Stings. Some of them are so elaborate! Or sometimes people will pull out a picture of and show me saying “this was me, Halloween 1994.” So with Halloween coming up it’s always a fun time to be Sting.
ESQ: Have you always done your own make-up?
Sting: Yes, I’ve always done it throughout my whole career. From Surfer, to Crow, to Wolfpack – I always did it myself. But, it’s not make-up, man! It’s war paint, bro!
ESQ: How long does it take you to put it on?
Sting: About 15-20 mins.
ESQ: You take it off every night with the same process?
Sting: Oh yeah. As a matter of fact, in the beginning of my career we would do several TV tapings and so I would be changing my paint, tights and jacket 2-3-4 times per night!
ESQ: That must have been pretty tough on your skin. Did you use any products to stop your face from getting ruined?
Sting: I didn’t! And the amazing thing was that I used to use acrylic paint, which is made for canvas and not for human flesh! I don’t use that any more, I got a little smarter and now use stuff that is made for your face.
ESQ: Do you ever watch your matches back?
Sting: I’ve seen some over the years, but generally, after 30 year of being in the business, I never really watch my matches. I’m very critical of my work, so it’s hard for me to watch. But if there’s something that I really need to understand why it didn’t work then I’ll watch that part back to learn what went wrong. Otherwise I never did.