I talked to Sting. He disappeared for awhile. It wasn't his idea. When WCW was bought out, his contract was not renewed. He moved back to his native California, spent time with his family, bought and sold property, lived a nice life. He let his body heal. He was out five years.
But he missed the juice. He was Sting, one of the sport's biggest stars, and he had an enormous following in Charlotte, which was once his base, as well as nationally. Hearing the fans, walking to the ring -- real life doesn't offer that.
"You can't put a price tag on the pandemonium and the excitement and the expectations of the crowd and being in the ring," Sting says by telephone.
So he decided to come back.
"I was a little reluctant because I didn't know if the new generation of fans would remember and if the ones that did remember would even care," he says. "I was kind of blown away by the reaction. I really am to this day."
I ask Sting, 49, what the appeal is of the '80s icons -- him, Flair, Steamboat, all of them.
"You're almost like a family, you know, especially in the South," Sting says. "You're a family to the other wrestlers and the fans and those fans tend to be pretty loyal. The NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) fans will never die. Every day in some town in the South these fans saw wrestling live and in color, and it was just intimate in those days, I think. It wasn't this world-wide phenomenon then. It was grassroots. And fans appreciated the work ethic of the guys and all the personalities."