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This is the Truth Network. Once a world champion wrestler, now a champion for Christ. Once the Russian nightmare, now the devil's worst nightmare, and your tag team partner, Nikita Kolov. It's time to man up. Today, the man, the myth, the legend, the icon.
No, I'm not talking about the singer Sting, but I am talking about the wrestler, the stinger, Jethoita. It's time to man up. I probably say this on every single show, but I actually mean it when I say it's a joy, it's a pleasure, it's an honor to have each and every guest on each week. And this is another special one. I mean, this is one very close to my heart, a special man that I know you are going to really enjoy this interview today, this show. As mentioned at the top of the show in the opening, someone who has had an iconic career in professional wrestling, of course, I am speaking to and with today and welcoming to the show, Sting. Welcome, my friend.
Hey, Nick. Wow, what an introduction. I don't know if I'm worthy of all that. I know I'm not, but hey, thanks for having me. Well, thank you. And I really am a very appreciative.
I know your schedule is always very full and very hectic. And I really truly mean it's an honor to have you on, a privilege to have you on, especially with your recent debut back into the mainstream wrestling. And so thank you for just taking some time out of your schedule to be a part of the show. Oh man, Nick, it's my pleasure for sure.
I mean, anytime I get a chance to talk about the great things God has done in my life, I'd like to capitalize on it. And thankfully it's with a buddy of mine. Well, I appreciate it. Speaking of that, I mean, I was trying to think the other day and you can probably help me out as well as I was preparing for this interview that our relationship, I'll just start with that. Our relationship, I believe goes back, I think around 33 years back to 1987, when we first met and we're going to kind of talk about your journey in professional wrestling. But that relationship, I believe that's about when our relationship started and then morphed into or transformed into what I consider to be a, you, one of my dearest closest friends in today's world.
It definitely didn't start out that way. I mean, I was the curtain jerker kind of a guy and you were a main event kind of a guy. And so, yeah, we knew each other, but we didn't really run in the same circles at that particular time. It took some time for a lot to happen in your life and in mine and in wrestling in general before we got close. But anyway. Well, and on that note, and again, we'll let this unfold here in just a minute, but it didn't take you long to go from as you just like, quote, curtain jerker to main event star status. So, but speaking of that, let's back up. Cause I, we have some, a lot of similarities, you and I, I mean, for one thing, we're only 11 days apart in age, like literally 11 days apart.
We're almost born on the same day, but we were born in the same year. But that said, if I'm not mistaken and again, correct me if I'm wrong, but like myself, you didn't really grow up with wrestling on your radar of, of dreaming. Like, like many of these guys do and it was, and it's okay of dreaming of being a pro wrestler, right?
That is correct. I grew up in an area in Southern California, about 50 miles Northeast of LA and the little valley. Well, it's not so little, the Santa Clarita Valley at that time, you know, we had just a few channels on the television and we didn't, the wrestling was not one of them.
We just, we didn't have any pro wrestling on TV. So I didn't even know what it was until I matured into a young man and bought into a, didn't buy into, but I became partners with a guy named Ed Connors, who was the treasurer of Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, who bought a sister gym to that one in the San Fernando Valley, which was just south of Santa Clarita where I was. And, um, you know, I own this gym and a big guy with blonde hair would come in and the whole gym would freak out. And, you know, don't you even know who that is? I know, I have no idea who that is. That's Paul Kogan. And I said, I don't know who Paul Kogan is.
I've never even heard the name Paul Kogan. And, uh, you know, they'd say, well, the guy from the Rocky movie, and I knew him from the Rocky movie, but I did not know anything about pro wrestling. So, okay. Uh, and it's funny because, you know, that happened in that gym, but I was also approached by a guy named Rick Bassman, uh, maybe a year later to get into pro wrestling. So it's funny how things work.
It is. And again, that kind of, I'm reminded as you share that story, Hulk, who Hulk Hogan, who, um, you know, again, now I did see a little bit of wrestling growing up, you know, the AW at Vern Ganya and the AWA, and, you know, surfing our three TV channels. But, but I, I never was, you know, I wasn't one of those who was just fascinated by it or any of that. You know, I watched it of course, you know, worked out in, in my college days at the Jesse, the body Ventura's gym. And, um, so like yourself, actually crazy enough as it might sound my, my debut in wrestling in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Dorton arena, they're introducing me to a bunch of guys and I'm like, your name's dusty. What?
Oh, dusty road roads. Okay. And, uh, yeah, you're, you're right. You're King Kong.
Who King? Oh, King Kong Bundy. Yeah.
So there is a lot of parallel there. So, so you're introduced, uh, to, to professional wrestling as you just described and, and what, what, what happened from there? I mean, it's now, you know, who Hulk Hogan is, what happens? Well, like I said, I was approached by a guy named Rick Bassman, who I'm still in contact with to this day. He came into the gold's gym that I had in the San Fernando Valley. There was actually in Reseda and, uh, he came in and he was trying to break into pro wrestling as a manager of four guys. And he had three, he was trying to recruit a fourth. So he asked if he could put a poster up in the gym and I said, yeah, go ahead. And so the guys worked out in there and one day, oh, probably a month later to two months later, even because he, he didn't have any bites at all. He said, you know, what about you?
You ever think about this? And he had pictures of magazines and you were mentioning dusty roads and, you know, I saw a picture of dusty roads on this, uh, magazine wrestling illustrated and going through and thumbing through all these, you know, pages and just thinking, you know, I, I don't, I don't have an interest in getting into this. And he talked me into going with these three guys to the sports arena in LA. And I saw a wrestling event, Hulk Hogan. It was a live event, non televised, Hulk Hogan, Andre, the giant, the iron chic, the British Bulldogs, Adrian Adonis, big John stud. I mean, all the big names, you know?
And so, and, and it was, you know, I always tell the story the same exact way. It was pandemonium to 80, the 80s phrase and, you know, red and yellow bandanas everywhere. And, you know, the, the crowd chanting for Hulk Hogan. And I mean, I, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I could, I honestly, I couldn't believe it. The credit was almost deafening.
The noise was so loud. Yeah. And, and I thought, okay, you know, for me, I saw a way to potentially travel and make money. And that that's what it was all about for me in the very beginning. And so, you know, we, we ended up doing it and we had, we had four guys, one guy ended up leaving. We had to recruit another one about halfway through a wrestling camp with red best scene.
Red best scene was the, he was under Vince McMahon senior years ago and living in California and had a wrestling camp out there. It was short lived. I think we were the only one that he ever did, but, uh, we needed to re replace this big guy. And, uh, I remembered meeting Jim Helwick. And so I called, called Jim and had him come out from Atlanta and, uh, you know, about eight of us in all. And it ended up just Jim and I were the only two that ended up, you know, finishing completely and, and moving on and wrestling. Well, and, and once again, kind of a parallel there in that when I stepped into the, uh, the world of professional, like yourself, uh, again, I didn't go in cause I was a fan boy growing up.
I went in cause I saw it as a business as an opportunity to travel, make money, exactly what you, what you said. And, and from so day one, that was my mindset up until the day I retired and, and left wrestling. So, well, let's, let's, let's fast forward from there. So you and Jim Helwig, uh, are the last two standing and, and if I'm not mistaken, uh, Tennessee and eventually mid South is kind of where you guys got your start then. Right. The blade runners or what? Well, no, it was before the blade runners. We were, we were the freedom fighters.
Okay. He was justice and I was flash Borden and, and, you know, the red, white and blue and just, we were so green. We were horrible, but Jerry Jarrett, you know, he saw a picture.
We sent out press kits all over, even into Japan at the time. We got one phone call from all those promoters, Jerry Jarrett. And he said, yeah, I see four guys in this picture. Jim Helwig's on one line.
I'm on the other line in my house in California. And, um, okay. Well, which two do you want?
Well, I like the two guys to the far left, but I said, okay, well, you're talking to both of us. Wow. He says, get in your car and come on out, you know, so to Tennessee. So Thanksgiving day, 1985, uh, channel five in Memphis, Tennessee with Lance Russell. And, uh, we started our career, uh, that day destiny destiny is involved in that. So Tennessee eventually going on to bill Watson in the mid South. And I'm kind of fast forwarding here because man, the time goes so fast and your story's so fascinating.
I don't want to, you know, miss, miss out on anything here. You go down to the mid South, eventually Jim Crockett promotions buys the mid South and, and, and the stinger, uh, from, from Louisiana territory into the Carolinas as part of the NWA. And as you mentioned, you got, you know, opening matches, but, but ultimately, I mean, it's amazing from the NWA to WCW to TNA, to WWE, to now AEW, it's amazing your, your career stinger and, and, but yet, so you come to the NWA and your career, as I said, doesn't take long.
It, I mean, it catapults to stardom in a, in a pretty short time. Yeah, it was, it was pretty quick. Uh, as a matter of fact, I, I, I told this story on, on national TV, you know, through AEW on TNT, uh, last week, it was a true story. And, um, you know, we, we all love to imitate dusty roads, but I'll never forget, you know, being that young guy. And we were at a house show somewhere.
I don't remember where somewhere in the mid Atlantic area. And, uh, I'm watching through the curtains. Somebody's wrestling and dusty and I are watching. And, um, I think Ricky Morton was set to do a program with flair, but Ricky got hurt.
So dusty was in a panic trying to find somebody to, you know, wrestle Rick or do some kind of storyline, which in Dorton arena, by the way, is, is where it all, and for me, similar with yours, another parallel there, but dusty and I are watching and, you know, dusty said, single baby. We go, we go. Cause at the time I was still kind of blade runner-ish just, just black paint, just a little bit of black paint on my face with black tights, you know, single baby. We're going to put some, some color on you. We're going to put some color on your face and color on your boots and your tats. And I want you to glow in the dark and we going to get funky like a monkey. If you will, I'm going to put, I'm going to put you with a nature boy, Rick flair, you know, Ricky, Ricky, Ricky's hurt.
So I'm going to put you with Rick flair. Come on boy. So anyway, we did a storyline there in Dorton arena with, you know, the four horsemen and JJ Dylan is the manager. He threw champagne in my face and it was, it all started right there, believe it or not.
It was great. Well, hold that thought. When we come back, we're going to continue on with that story. So we're going to take a break. If you feel you're receiving value from this show, it's time to Man Up.
And you'd like to support the show along with Koloff for Christ Ministries, go to koloff.org, koloff.org and make a donation of any amount. A note, you want my latest book and you receive a personalized copy of Nikita, A Tale of the Ring and Redemption. Welcome back.
It's time to Man Up. We're talking, of course, the one and only, the icon Stinger. And gosh, we're just in the midst of his journey from Tennessee to Mid-South to the NWA, eventually to WCW. He was just sharing how his career was really catapulted into stardom through the American dream death of Ruth. I like to imitate him too.
You're right. We all like to imitate him. And so he puts you with Ric Flair and I mean, gosh, things just explode from there, right Stinger? Yeah, Dorton Arena. We did a little quick little storyline, Ric Flair Day. And next thing you know, I'm wrestling Ric at the first class champions, March of 1988.
And 45 minute commercial free, first time any sporting event of any kind ever went that long without commercial interruption. And we, you know, we got an incredible rating and that match literally, I mean, literally put me on the map. And to this day, you know, I give so much credit to Ric. He was sort of mentoring me without knowing that he was mentoring me.
I mean, I learned so much from him, but to say that you were in the ring against Ric Flair, not to mention for the world title was as big as it could get, you know? And I felt like, wow, you know, I've arrived now. And I get it. Go ahead. No, I was just going to say, no, I get it. And because once again, I mean, it's just uncanny how similar our stories are in a sense because only 13 months into the business, I was thrust into main event with Ric at the very first ever Great American Bash. And same as you, I have the same feeling and so grateful and thankful to Ric teaching me and mentoring me without knowing really in a sense without knowing he was.
And yeah, it just, and I know like I said, your story just takes off really from there. Quick question. I'm curious, who came up with the scorpion finish? Just curiosity, random question. Yeah. You know, um, Ricky Choshu, Ricky Choshu from Japan. Um, I, I had gone to Japan on a trip there while I was still working for bill Watts. It was my very first trip over there. I went over there by myself. Had no, I didn't know anybody and didn't know what to expect, but I went there and, and learned a lot. It was, it was nine days.
Um, I wrestled Danny Spivey in Budokan and, and, uh, I saw Ricky Choshu wrestle and I loved his finishing move and the, you know, the way the crowd reacted to him. And, and I thought, you know, I think I'm gonna, I'm going to use that. Yup. Yup.
Okay. That's where it came from. That's where it came from. And I, I'm, I too remember, he was quite, quite an avid, uh, he was quite, quite the wrestler as well.
I had a number of matches against him in Japan myself. And so, I mean, and your character Stinger, your character, I like to phrase it this way. It's like timeless, really. I mean, and I mean, we only have so much time on the show today. I guess one day I'm going to have to have you back. We'll talk more about your journey through, you know, as it went through WCW. In fact, I will mention this though, as well, you know, speaking of Ric Flair, you had the very last concluding match of WCW's history against The Nature Boy. And eventually, you know, you, you headed off into, into TNA and eventually WWE, as I mentioned, now AEW, which your character is timeless. And what I, what I mean by that is I mean, with the face paint, the trench coat, your Stinger regalia, you know, I'm, I'm thinking you could be the next Lou Thes, uh, uh, Stinger.
This is funny because so, so many people don't even know who Lou Thes is now. I mean, he's, I understand your point, which, and then by the way, you know, um, we should just do a two-part radio thing here, you know? I mean, I'm just throwing it out there. Okay. Well, okay. Well, Steve, I'll produce my show.
You do your thing and I'll ask the questions. All right. No, actually a couple of people said, dude, you're going to like do two parts with him, right?
I'm like, I wouldn't be if, you know, if he has the time. So if you're offering the time, uh, yeah, we can make that happen. Of course. All right. Of course, Nick. I mean, yeah, let's, let's do it the way you'd like to do it.
And let's do a two parter. All right. Well, that fair enough. All right. Fair enough.
So, well, let's, let's then let's talk. You said you understood, you know, a lot of people maybe don't know who Lou Thes is, but so who, uh, uh, share with our listeners what I mean by that. When I say you could have a career like Lou Thes. Well, Lou, Lou, Lou Thes was, uh, wasn't he an amateur wrestler as well? I can't remember that he was. And I mean, he had, he had vice grip type, you know, grip. Uh, I mean, he got literally, I guess he could squeeze an apple and break it. He could, uh, grab a pair of pliers and break the pliers and, uh, but you may, he, he was around for decades, seven decades.
In fact, his last match was in Japan, uh, in his eighties, seven decades, Lou wrestled and won many NWA world championships. Yeah. Well, Lord, please don't allow me to be.
No, thank you. I'm just saying, I mean, you know, you keep your look, you keep yourself in shape. I mean, on a serious note, you keep yourself in, in really great shape and, uh, just say it with the advancement of technology and cinematic and all of that. I mean, there's no telling what, what else you could accomplish Stinger. Yeah.
Well, you know, at 80, I guess you just have a bunch of young guys running into your fist and that's about all you're going to do. I don't know, Lou. Hey, Lou is.
Either that or just do a lot of good talking. Right, right, right, right, right. Good, good. Well, Lou, I mean, he was amazing. I mean, and, and I, you know, I'm good friends with his wife, Charlie, who, who, uh, you know, is his widow and, and, uh, and so many incredible stories about Lou and how he kept himself, like literally kept himself in shape, even into his eighties and was able to go in there. And of course he was a, he was a grappler, right? So, you know, I didn't have an amateur background.
Did you, did you ever, you didn't wrestle in high school or amateur, did you? No, I did not. Okay. Yeah.
See, I didn't either. So the guys who did that, I said like Steiner brothers and some of the, Mike Rotundo and others, I said, Hey, you start doing any chicken wings or single legs and stuff. You know, you'll find me in the, in the dressing room, you can get your hand raised. I don't care, but don't be pulling none of that amateur stuff on me. I'm here for the entertainment side of this thing and to make some money.
Absolutely. But so, so, so you have this progression of, of, you know, working your way up, up until, and again, as I mentioned, you know, you, you have the very last match on, on, on WCW there's, there's a break in the action there for you. You come back to TNA, you have an amazing run with, with, with TNA. Any, any highlight that you would mention from, from TNA that, that comes to mind? Man, you know, I, I, I had a lot of fun, you know, actually wrestling with TNA and, you know, I changed my character a few times over the years.
And one of them was during my time with TNA. And I did, I did a little, uh, what, what they call the joker's thing, you know, so you got surfer sting, Crow, sting Wolf, fax thing, joker's thing. And, and, you know, uh, so I, I had a lot of fun because I kind of came out of character. I broke character and just turned into, well, a joker type character. And, uh, you know, I did storylines with, you know, Hulk, Hulk again, Hulk came on to TNA. Uh, the hope was that if I came on board there, there'd be a lot of other guys that would come and sure enough, you know, Paul and Nash and Hogan and, you know, a lot of the big names, Kurt angle, a lot of guys came in and so it was, uh, an exciting time, but, you know, I, I think honestly, one of the highlights was, uh, was changing that character. I'll never forget being at Wembley in London and, you know, the crowd, so many of them were painted up like me and like the joker's thing.
And, you know, in, in England, all over the UK or in Europe, I mean, they just, they love that joker character, not so much here in the United States. It was sort of hit and miss here, but I had a lot of fun doing it out of all of the different ones. So you just described a number of different ones out of all the different ones, uh, which it was the one that was your favorite.
It's a, it's a tough one that, you know, I, there, there's a tie. I mean, you know, surfers thing is where it all began pretty much. And then Crow sting is, you know, when I, I kind of came into my own, you know, uh, after all the years and, you know, the, the maturity level was there and the, I was seasoned just enough to sort of kind of become my own character, my own, you know, I brought my own material, my own ideas, my own innovation, a lot of it, you know, not all of it.
I mean, some of it was given to me as well, but, um, it was just a real good creative, innovative time for me in my career. Well, and, and certainly, you know, whether it's back in, as, as fans have said, the golden, what they've, what many have said to me, and perhaps to you as well is, you know, that era that, that we were a part of back in the eighties and, you know, early nineties and, you know, the goal, what they call the golden era of wrestling, right. And so many, as you know, so many loyal, wonderful fans that, that are, are still out there that, that remember those days, but you're, you know, you're touching a whole new audience now because you eventually out of all the amazing matches and guys that you've wrestled through the years and TNA, and then eventually into WWE. And any highlight from WWE that you would mention to our listeners today? A couple of things, you know, number one, the first time I stepped foot into a WWE audience, it's like, how are they going to take to me, you know, after the Monday night wars, you know, how are they going to receive you? Right. Right.
You have loyal WWE fans, you have WCW fans, and, you know, it's all these years later. I mean, how are they going to react and, and, uh, boy, I was, I was just blown away at the reaction. And so that, that was amazing. The, the very first initial, and then also of course, I mean, you know, to say that you did a WrestleMania, you know, that's, that's, uh, that's pretty big. It's a big deal.
Absolutely. And so, yeah, to, you know, wrestle triple H one of the greatest ever, you know, that that's big. And, you know, even a world title match against Seth Rollins, there's a few highlights there. So I mean, and again, I mean, some of the guys that you've, you've wrestled, I mean, honestly, the best of the best of the past.
I mean, you've put just on this short time and we were almost out of time on part one already. Um, but, uh, gosh, some of the names you you've mentioned, uh, over the, over the years that you've been able to step in the ring with, uh, I know it's hard to really kind of narrow it down or, or pinpoint, uh, any, any one, but we are going to, so we're going to do this. Um, we're going to take a break here and, and bring you back for, for part two. And when we come back for part two, we're going to talk about, uh, your recent debut and AEW wrestling and, and what that entails or what you envision there and for the listeners out there.
So you're going to want to tune in when we continue our conversation with a one and only Sting, the icon of professional wrestling. And as I like to conclude each and every show and, and say this, uh, if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, man, today would be such a good day to make that decision. Wherever you're at, wherever you're listening, you know, pull off to the side of the road, close your eyes, don't be driving, but pull off to the side and just surrender your heart. If you're in a hotel room or wherever you're listening, surrender your heart to Jesus. God bless you.
Stay tuned. Men, I would like to challenge each of you to consider spending five days with Lex Luger and I at Man Camp, pursuing the heart of God. Ladies, if you're listening, we'll send your men home better equipped to be men of God, Godly husbands, and Godly fathers that appeals to you. Give them your blessing and encourage them to sign up today at mancamp.info. Pastors, if you would like to bring Koloff for Christ Ministries and Man Up Conference to your community, go to koloff.org and email me. Remember this, it's time to man up. This is the Truth Network.
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