REWIND: Sting vs Barry Windham, Fall Brawl '88
The big story going into this Clash of the Champions is Sting's inability to win the big one.
In March of the same year, Sting fell short against Ric Flair competing for the World Heavyweight Title. The match went to a 45-minute draw with the judges unable to declare a winner between the two men, allowing Flair to retain the gold.
In June, Sting teamed with Dusty Rhodes to challenge Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard for the World Tag Team Titles. Sting and Rhodes would win the match, but only by disqualification meaning The Horsemen retained the titles.
This time, it's Sting challenging Horseman Barry Windham for the United States Championship. Can The Stinger's desire drive him to finally pull it out and reach achieve championship glory?
On commentary, Jim Ross mentioned that Sting was just a couple months away from celebrating his third year in the business while the veteran champion is in his eighth year. Ross was joined by special host John Ayers who is prepping for a guest referee gig in a future Ric Flair vs Lex Luger World Title Match.
It's a little nuts to think that Sting is still going at a pretty wild level, diving off of just about whatever Tony Khan will allow.
Sting used his youth, speed, and agility early on to keep Windham at bay. A dropkick forced Windham to the floor where he regrouped with the sharply-dressed and fluffy-haired James J Dillon. As Sting sent Windham to the outside with another dropkick, JR on commentary declared "to heck with the game plan!" as the US Champion struggled to figure out the Stinger.
The early several minutes of this match were an absolute showcase for Sting, who had already proven in such a short amount of time that he was going to be a force in professional wrestling. Windham bumped like crazy and even though he's a huge guy himself, standing 6'6", Sting didn't look any smaller next to him.
Windham was able to slow the pace and handle Sting for a little while until Sting caught him with a small package for a flash two count before avoiding a Windham splash in the corner. Windham hit the turnbuckle and did a beautiful balancing act on the top rope, flopping around like a fish out of water who couldn't gain his balance until Sting gave him a little nudge to send him to the floor.
Not a disqualification, though! I suppose it was just Windham's momentum that did 90% of the work and Sting was just the guiding hand showing him the way.
Windham again found control of the contest and slowed things down once more, showing shades of Ric Flair with a focus on the knee leading to a figure four leglock. The hold had to eventually be broken once referee Tommy Young caught Windham using the ropes for leverage, but the damage already looked to have been done on the weakened challenger.
With the theme of the show being about Sting's desire, he showed he had it in loads as he fought back once more against the larger opponent. Coming off of an Irish whip, Sting collapsed to the mat which forced an error from Windham who flew into referee Young knocking him out of the ring.
With the referee out of the ring, Sting nailed Windham with the Stinger Splash and set up for the Scorpion Deathlock. In came Dillon with a chair, but Sting scared him off causing Dillon to drop the weapon in the ring. Windham seized the chair and clocked Sting with it, covering his opponent while Young struggled back into the ring.
As Young made the count, John Ayers leapt into the ring from the commentary table to stop the count. He shoved Windham away from Sting and explained to the referee what had happened with the chair, causing Young to immediately call for a disqualification and awarding the match – but not the title – to Sting.
A bit of a clunker of an ending, but the crowd still went wild for Sting winning even if it was by DQ. I don't think you'd get that same response out of a crowd with the same ending these days. It was a simpler time. Was it a better time? I guess that's up for debate.
The match itself was a lot of fun, though, and Sting looked far more mature in the ring than most wrestlers do in their second year. Of course, he'd already been sharing the ring with guys like Flair, Dusty, and the rest of the Horsemen so he had been sitting under some pretty fruitful knowledge trees.
Barry Windham is a guy who probably goes without the respect he deserves. He's so solid in the ring, he's a huge guy, and he bumps like a maniac if he so chooses. Growing up a WWF kid, I only really saw him in the fed for a short time and, sadly, the best thing about any of his runs there was the nickname "The Widowmaker". It's just such a bad-ass moniker.
Ranking of REWINDs
- Jaguar Yokota vs Lioness Asuka
- Keiji Mutoh vs Shinya Hashimoto
- Nikita Koloff vs Magnum TA
- Kenta Kobashi vs Stan Hansen
- Jumbo Tsuruta, Masanobu Fuchi, and Mighty Inoue vs Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
- Brock Lesnar vs The Rock
- Sting vs Barry Windham
- Cactus Jack vs Terry Funk
- 2 Cold Scorpio vs Sabu
- Big Van Vader vs Davey Boy Smith
- Masahiro Chono vs Kazuyuki Fujita