Phoenix New Times in preparation for his Hall of Fame Induction tomorrow as well as Bound For Glory. He spoke about the Aces and 8s, TNA Creative, what young guy he wants to work with and when he thinks he will call it quits. Highlights of the interview are below:
This Sunday at Bound For Glory, you and Bully Ray are facing off against the dastardly gang Aces & Eights. You've made a career out of battling cabals of villains like the Four Horsemen and the NWO. Is that what the Sting character does best?
Well, I suppose there's some similarities [between] the Horsemen and the NWO, but in this case its not really about me any more. Its about Aces and Eights.
How do you think the Aces and Eights story has gone thus far? And when it finally climaxes, will TNA fans be satisfied with the conclusion?
Well, I tell you what. That is always a concern and I've been on both sides of the fence when there's been a big buildup happening and there was not a payoff and there's nothing worse, believe me. But, man, when the payoff is there and delivery is made, its awesome. Only time will tell. My hands have not really been around this one like in the past because it's not about me. I just want to try to make it as good as I possibly can.
What were your feelings about angle a few weeks ago where you and Hulk Hogan were kidnapped by Aces and Eights? Some fans felt the storyline was becoming too much like Sons of Anarchy.
Yeah...I do have a lot to say about that but, you know, I just need to play it safe for right now. I can say that we were real close to needing S.A.G. cards, you know? (laughs) We need to be with the guild here if we keep going like this.
At least that will get you access to really good health insurance.
You're a devout Christian. Has there even been anything that TNA (or even WCW) asked you to do that you ultimately vetoed?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean its been from small to the bigger things. For the most part, people know who I am. And they're not going to ask me to do anything that they know I'm not going to want to do. But occasionally, things like that will still happen and you just find yourself in a situation like that. And I've learned over the years that you just don't say, "No, can't do that," you'd better come up with a better idea.
TNA has been on something of a hot streak lately with storylines, characters, and in-ring action. Conversely, the WWE has been struggling and recently demoted their head writer. What's your opinion about the differences between the two companies right now?
That's encouraging to hear those words. It means a lot. I have not really watched their product for some time now, occasionally I'll flip though and I'll see little bits and pieces here and there, but I really don't know what's going on up there. And for 27 years I've been doing this now, and I have never -- hardly ever -- watched our product. Watched anything that I've ever done. So I'm more of a hands-on guy while I'm there in the thick of it and it's happening. But watching it happen on TV after it's already been done? You know, I just never have done that.
I'm glad that the storylines are what they are now...eh, I don't agree with everything happening, but, again, whatever is put before me, I will always just try to enhance or tweak or make changes that I think will make it better for everybody. And I'm not just talking about for myself, I'm talking about for everybody.
Would you ever work in India for TNA's sister company Ring Ka King?
You know, if it comes about, I wouldn't say no to it. I'd like to say I did that at least once. So yeah, I'd be willing to do something like that.
How much longer do you think you'll be in the business as an active wrestler?
You know, this is an honest answer. That question comes [up] about once a year and its a legitimate question. Every year I think, "How long am I going to do this?" And its one of those play it by ear and see what happens kind of things. The last year was a lot of fun for me. I had fun changing my character up again. Some people liked it, some people didn't. But the bottom line is, I had fun doing it. Just trying something different. To step way out of my comfort zone and try to change and tweak and move with the times and be new and refreshing. As long as there's little glimpses of that happening every now and then, I'll hang out as long as they'll have me, I guess.
On the day you do finally hang it up, is it going to be really hard to walk away from the huge crowds and the big pops?
Who wouldn't miss that? Anyone that says they couldn't care less about it is lying, because it does mean something. I was out of wrestling for close to five years, from March 2001 until like '06 when I came in here. And those five years I think I had a few moments here and there where I thought, "You know, it didn't end right after all those years and all the sacrifice." That kind of bothered me and I did have some kind of desire to maybe want to come back and do something somewhere somehow. But for the most part those five years I was busy with my family and kids and I was fine. I wasn't going through withdrawals or anything.
Back in 1988, Ric Flair helped make you during that 45-minute classic at the first Clash of Champions. Is there anyone on TNA's current roster of talent that you'd like to do the same: Help make them into the next big star?
Yeah, I thought, it seems like two years ago now, I wrestled AJ [Styles and we had a great match and I thought it was good. I gave him a lot. And I poured a lot into Bobby Roode in the last year and I want to keep on doing that. I see fruit coming from it. So yeah, I do. I want to be a part of enhancing and elevating the younger guys.
Is there anyone else you'd love to work with and help make in the wrestling business?
Yeah, there are. There's some great talents here. Magnus is somebody who I'm watching and going, "Man, there's definitely that could be done with him." He just needs to find his niche. There are few others that I'm interested in working with and I want to do that.
This weekend, you're being inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame. How big of an honor is that?
Yeah, and the very first one, too. And it is an honor and I didn't expect it. At all. I was not in on it. A lot of people think that I knew that it was going to be me, [but] I had no idea. There we were in Arlington doing the [Slammiversary] pay-per-view and I've got a main event match against Bobby Roode and Dixie [Carter] is in the ring and she's making the announcement. And every wrestler from Hulk Hogan all the way down is standing up there and nobody knows.
And, I've told this story a couple times, they're playing the tape of the next inductee and I'm watching it going, "Great, whoever it is, they're showing me getting beat up by whoever the new inductee is." And then I realized I wasn't getting beat up in that video. And [in] the next shot I wasn't getting beat up. It was all about me. Jeremy Borash is standing next to me and goes, "Uh, I think it's you." I was like, "Nah." I'm thinking, if they're going to give it to someone who's still active in the ring, why not guys like AJ, [Samoa] Joe, or guys that came before me like Jeff Jarrett, who started TNA for crying out loud. It's humbling.
Is it frustrating that Hogan's controversy is dominating the mainstream media's coverage of TNA and stealing the spotlight a bit from the buildup for Bound for Glory, the biggest pay-per-view of the year? Or is bad publicity still publicity, period?
Well, I don't necessarily believe that people that are going to buy a ticket or pay attention to Bound For Glory -- whether they just found out about it, don't know about it, or whatever. I don't think the tape or anything like that is going to have any bearing. They're there to see Bound For Glory. People are coming to see the TNA wrestling stars and they want to see the storyline unfold. I don't think that he is outshining TNA (laughs). Maybe from, you know, the rest of the world, but the TNA audience itself? Yeah, I'm sure they're going to be curious about it, but -- for the most part -- they care about the storylines. They want to watch Bound For Glory. That's what I believe.