On Friday night’s edition of AEW Dynamite, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page interrupted Sting and Darby Allin’s victory speech. Sting gets interrupted every time he speaks, so that’s nothing new, but what captured my attention was when Sky took the opportunity to tell Sting that he smelled nice at Double or Nothing, asking if he was wearing Abercrombie in the ring that night.
Set aside the fact that Sky was insulting the Stinger for a moment—in a sentence, he opened up a whole new world of aesthetic possibility for professional wrestling, as I’d never really considered what cologne or perfume a wrestler might wear before. My assumption, which was based on my prior experience in wrestling and a cursory knowledge of wrestling-specific hygienic bro code, was that wrestlers tried to smell as neutral as possible—so, deodorant, Tiger Balm, and baby oil.
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It seems like a waste to put on anything more expensive than that—it doesn’t enhance a wrestler’s presentation, and the high-intensity nature of wrestling would cause a wrestler to sweat through their chosen scent relatively quickly into a match. Despite that, it’s not an unknown practice in athletics. Cologne was a pre-game ritual for Chicago Cubs relievers Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop during the team’s World Series run in 2016.
So, in other words, it’s possible. But Abercrombie? Deeply disrespectful. Turning it over in my mind for a day, I got to thinking that Sting was more of a department store fragrance counter guy, so I went to the mall to further my investigation. The local mall in Athens, Georgia currently has one department store, and it only has one fragrance counter, only a quarter of which is dedicated to men’s cologne. When I asked the person working the counter what she thought a 62-year-old man who was “kinda gothy” might be into, she said “That’s not my department.” She also gave me a bunch of samples, so what follows is my best guess as to what the man called Sting has worn in the ring throughout his legendary career.
Surfer Sting: Armani Acqua di Gio Pour Homme
This is technically impossible—Armani introduced Acqua di Gio in 1996, the same year Sting put away his surfboard and took up residence in the rafters—but this cologne, which evokes a vaguely oceanic (if not entirely beachy) masculinity through marine notes, bergamot, and cedarwood, fits the bill. It’s a bright, inoffensive scent, the kind of thing a man wears when he wants to make it known that he showers regularly and often visits home to have dinner with his mom despite an active lifestyle full of running on the beach and diving off of cliffs into bodies of water. The Sting of the late 80s/early 90s may have come across like a big dork at times, but it’s hard not to when your main rival is Ric Flair, who spent a lot of his time on the microphone talking about how much he fucked. Sting was less of a braggart in that area, just a nice boy with sick muscles who liked to have a good time. You’re invited, but there’s no pressure.
Crow Sting: Nothing, Not Even Deodorant
From 1996-1998, vengeance was top of mind for the Stinger. Throwing away his colorful jackets, pastel spandex, and every shade of face paint that wasn’t black or white, Sting took on the look of The Crow‘s Eric Draven and began stalking Hulk Hogan and the new World order from the rafters of the United States of America’s many, many basketball arenas. I’ve met plenty of gothy dudes who smell good, but few were on that vigilante life. In order to trick his foes from week to week, Sting had to travel light, taking only what he could fit in his trenchcoat. Given that his coat had a loop for his baseball bat, we can assume that it was tactical, but I doubt it had a toiletry pocket, so the most I can see Sting doing from week to week is splashing some water on his face, shaving with a disposable razor he picked up from the gas station, and painting his face before hanging out in the rafters until he could drop some fools with the Scorpion Death Drop. I mean, his best friend at the time was a vulture. Do you think that vulture cared how Sting smelled?
Tomato Sting: Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb
In the summer of 1998, WCW had the genius idea of splitting the nWo in two so that everybody who already owned a black and white nWo shirt would buy one in red and black. This new stable, the nWo Wolfpac, added Sting and Lex Luger to their ranks, both of them looking more like dads in crisis than cool dudes. Both the weakest and most suggestive fragrance I picked up at Belk, Viktor&Rolf’s Spicebomb, which comes in a grenade-shaped bottle, advertises itself as “a sensory detonation of masculinity,” by which it means “what’s up you little pansy? Know what girls like? SENTS. And what’s in this BOMB you’re holding is a bunch of them. We’re talking chili, saffron, leather, tobacco, vetiver, bergamot, grapefruit, elemi, cinnamon, saffron, pimento berries, and pink pepper!” Edgy shit, you know? So many notes you have to scope multiple sections of ad copy to pick them all up. And then you spray it and it’s okay but you’re neither burning with desire nor from the sheer amount of spice advertised and you’re left wondering “really? That’s it?” which, yeah, it is, until Starrcade ’98.
Joker Sting: Azzaro Wanted
Azzaro Wanted markets itself as a fragrance for suave James Bond types—the kind of man women want and of whom other men are jealous—but that air of sophistication is kinda bullshit, honestly. I mean, look at the bottle. Azzaro’s website claims that “its shiny, showy metal cap recalls the perfume’s solar power,” but it’s just the cylinder of a revolver, y’all. You know who loves revolvers? The Joker. You know who lived in a society like The Joker? Joker Sting. With notes of lemon, cardamom, and vetiver, Azzaro Wanted is spicy like a stand-up comic who won’t shut the fuck up about how close he is to being cancelled by the woke mob. Joker Sting absolutely mouths the word “bang” and mimes being shot while he applies Wanted in the locker room, laughing himself to death every time. This is a cologne for a Sting who has Gotham on its knees.
The Icon Sting: Ralph Lauren Polo Blue (Gold Blend)
While he’ll never fully leave behind the 1996/1997 look that defined his career, since 1999 that look has been more about the steely resolve and earnest ring generalship of Sting than a given mood. In other words, he’s a secure man, both in his legend and in his masculinity. Ralph Lauren Polo Blue is a no-frills cologne, a Dad Cologne, if you will. It’s got citrus. It’s got melon. It’s got vetiver. Add to that its notes of ginger, sage, and incense, and you achieve a balance between the refreshed, relaxed vibe of surfer Sting and the spicier, moodier habits of the man at his most unhinged. It’s also among the more affordable options at your basic fragrance counter, which absolutely appeals to the kind of guy who shows up to a street fight in a Chevy Tahoe. So if Darby Allin is looking to get Sting a thank you gift in return for the man’s tireless work in hyping him up as a successor and doing his best to learn skateboard culture at this stage in his career, he could do worse than to stock up on this. It’s probably on sale, and I bet Sting loves a good sale.