Sting vs Lord Steven Regal – WCW The Great American Bash 1996

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal

06/16/1996

Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

(reviewed 05/26/2019) Kinda loved this for being one of the gayest matches I’ve ever seen. As with so many wrestling matches, this one starts with accusations of queerness:

‘Straighten you out’ indeed. It’s been a weird year for the Stinger thus far. His longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Lex Luger returned to WCW late in 1995 and since then he’s been running around, cheating behind Sting’s back. I don’t mean cheating on Sting, no no no, I just mean cheating to win their tag title matches. At the same time Sting’s undergone something of a transformation, trading in his signature bleached blonde crew top for a darker, far more butch haircut along with new rainbow-colored tights and pink boots. Seems that the man’s trying to hide something in pointing the finger so loudly at someone else.

Regal, in response to all this, turns up his aristocratic effeteness. Between socking him in the mouth and twisting his limbs around this way and that, Regal spends the entire match dancing around and twiddling his fingers in mockery of Sting’s claims. Before long it becomes a regular habit for him, something he does in most every one of his matches. In his attempt to deny the accusations of a perceived threat, he becomes that which he denies, a pompous, prissy young man flouncing around the ring.

These are clearly the actions of two deeply closeted gay men, which makes their combat all the more interesting to me. In addition to being a great babyface and a great heel, they are individuals adrift on the wind, unable to plant their feet and declare how they feel in a time so dangerous as the mid 90s. They feel a surge of energy in brushing up against a like-minded loner but don’t have the ability to make their feelings understood. Instead they lash out, equally terrified and tantalized, a heartbreaking story older than time itself. In the end it is their signature submission holds that bring them closest to true happiness: each man turns the other on his stomach and mounts them, drawing them in close with practiced precision. Sting’s Scorpion Death Lock finds the victory but neither man walks away having won anything.

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