Last time we examined alternatives to the failed Black Scorpion storyline. Obviously, WCW Booker Ole Anderson wanted the fanbase to believe the Scorpion was actually the then-WWF World Champion, The Ultimate Warrior. This was impossible for a plethora of reasons. Instead, the company went with Ric Flair, which made little sense creatively. So who else could have been under the Scorpion’s hood?
Here are the three most logical candidates.
SUSPECT 1: The Angel of Death
Dave Sheldon spent a good chunk of his career working under the name of The Angel of Death. The Angel debuted in 1985 and worked with the original Powerteam USA. The connection to Sting is present, as Sheldon was hired by WCW in the summer of 1990 and played the Scorpion on house shows. Sheldon worked the old Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988, teaming as one of the Russian Assassins, but didn’t do much with Sting at the time. Though WCW would have had to go through a lot of explanations if the Angel was revealed to be the Scorpion, it could have worked. However, Sheldon was used more for his immense build (6’5 315 lbs.) than his coincidental connection to Sting.
SUSPECT 2: Lex Luger
Lex Luger and Sting were inextricably linked through their time in WCW. Their babyface pushes both started in 1988. While Sting’s first major showcase was wrestling Flair at the first Clash of Champions, Luger’s comes earlier at Starrcade ’87 as part of the Horsemen against Dusty Rhodes for the US title. Together, they win the 1988 Crockett Cup, but in 1989 Luger turned heel. However, after Sting tore his patella tendon, Luger was turned babyface and thrust into a feud with Flair early in 1990. In a repeat of their 1988 feud, Luger failed twice to defeat Flair for the title in back-to-back pay-per-views.
The turn makes sense, as Sting did what Luger never could in defeating Flair for the NWA Title. A feud with the jealous Luger, already a WCW main event talent, could have worked. In fact, WCW does the same story a year later, but with Luger as the heel champion and Sting in the challenger role. But there’s still a better fit for the Scorpion out there.
SUSPECT 3: Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
Eddie Gilbert is the most controversial name on this list, mainly because he wasn’t in WCW at the time. However, he is by far the most logical potential Scorpion.
When Jim Hellwig left the UWF, Sting was left without a tag team partner, but not without a manager. At 25 years old, Eddie Gilbert was already a veteran poised to change the wrestling world. The son of Memphis veteran Tommy Gilbert, Eddie grew up in the shadow of the Jarrett/Gulas territory. He had a unique understanding of the business from a young age. Idolizing Jerry Lawler, Gilbert wanted to be more than just a wrestler. He wanted to be a booker. Bill Watts gave him his shot in the dying days of the UWF.
While in Tulsa, Gilbert formed Hot Stuff International, his heel stable that featured himself, the Blade Runners, and a young Rick Steiner. Missy Hyatt would later join and rename the team Hot Stuff and Hyatt International. Gilbert and Sting twice won the UWF World Tag Titles. Eventually, Gilbert would turn Sting, leading the young Stinger to his first babyface run. Gilbert continued to book the promotion when Jim Crockett purchased the UWF in 1987. However, when the UWF experiment died in early 1988, Gilbert left to book the Continental Wrestling Federation. When that failed, Gilbert returned to the now-Turner-owned company as a babyface and helped jumpstart the famous Ric Flair/Rick Steamboat feud in 1989. However, real-life issues with Flair would push Gilbert out of the new WCW, where he would never return.
However, in a perfect world, Gilbert would have been the ideal choice to play the Scorpion. The cunning Gilbert could mix fact with fiction to torment his former protege. Even the Scorpion’s proclivity toward magic had already been established in Gilbert. The Lawler mentee had already thrown fireballs on WCW television, famously missing the Great Muta. The rest of the Scorpion’s tricks are easy to explain.
In the end, the story of Gilbert as the Scorpion would revolve around Hot Stuff’s jealousy over his former charge’s ascension to the World title, something that Gilbert would never achieve. The Stinger could easily explain that Gilbert could have done what he had if he hadn’t been his own worst enemy (another slice of real life). With Gilbert as the Scorpion, the Starrcade 90 main event becomes more personal. It would have provided Sting with the one thing his first run sorely lacked a conclusive feud and victory out of Ric Flair’s shadow.
Perhaps in a different universe.