1. Why didn't he wrestle in 1997?

WCW had a guaranteed contract system which is unique in the world of wrestling.  Their bigger stars had deals which state that they only had to work a given number of house shows, PPVs and TV shows, and then are no longer obligated to work any more. This was the case in September of 1996, as Sting's contract stated that he had worked his required number of shows and would have to paid at a special rate for any more.   So it was decided that Sting would sit in the rafters, attacking wrestlers now and then, and let all his injuries heal while developing a new gimmick.  A feud with Hulk Hogan and the nWo was worked out, and it was supposed to be Sting v. Hogan at Superbrawl. However, the ratings for the "new" Sting were so tremendous that his "debut" was pushed back again, and again, and again, until finally it was decided to simply wait until Starrcade 1997 and build everything around *that*.  In essense, it left Sting with nothing to do but act mysterious and foreboding for a year, which he did

2. Who was the Black Scorpion?

Speaking of mysterious and foreboding, in 1990 Sting won the NWA World title from Ric Flair.  Booker Ole Anderson felt that he needed a major arch-nemesis to build up to a Starrcade clash, so he invented a mysterious black-clad figure from Sting's past called The Black Scorpion.  The implication was supposed to be that it was Jim Hellwig, but it was actually intended to be the Angel of Death.    No problem, right?

Of course, they screwed it up.   You know how when people like to snigger about how low WCW sunk from 1989 - 1994 they point out things like "the Black Scorpion?"  This is why:

First of all, the Scorpion's main gimmick was doing cheap magic tricks to draw heat, and it didn't work (go figure).  Then they had Sting wrestle the Scorpion on a live Clash of Champions broadcast, only they stuck Al Perez in the suit.  Sting squashed him, but it was revealed that there was *another* Scorpion on the other side of the arena.

The whole sideshow was distracting from the fact that they hadn't yet signed the Angel of Death, either.  They had Sting (who couldn't draw flies as champion) pencilled in to meet "The Black Scorpion" (despite not even knowing who it was going to turn out to be) at the biggest show of the year and the writing was on the wall that Anderson was going to be turfed out as booker pretty damn quick.

So they did what they always did:  They went back to Ric Flair. They asked him to play the Scorpion in the blowoff match and reveal that it was all mind-games on his part all along, and as a reward he would receive the World title in January, which he did.   And everyone was happy until the NWA died a horrible death two weeks later.

The moral of the story is never hire Ole Anderson as booker, I think.

3. How many times has he been World champion?

Who knows?  This is very dependant on what you're recognizing as a World title, first of all.  Strictly speaking, Sting is only a seven-time champion, but WCW has somehow managed to pump the total up to nine.

He cleanly defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA World title in 1990, that much we know.   Then it gets messy.

In 1990, WCW officially broke off from the NWA, declaring Sting to be the first WCW World champion, while still holding the NWA World title.   Sooooo, technically speaking, Sting was a *two* time World champion at that point, despite never actually losing the first title *or* winning the second. To further complicate the matter, WCW became an autonomous organization on 01/01/1991, while not recognizing their own champion officially until 01/11/1991, when Ric Flair defeated Sting to win the title.  WCW has since retroactively decided to recognize Sting as the first WCW champion instead of Flair in order to "fill in" the 10 day period, but it all depends on who you ask.   This title reign is almost totally meaningless in the long run.

In 1992, Sting cleanly beat Lex Luger to win the WCW World title (just the WCW title this time...) to become a three-time champion, despite the announcers calling him a two-time champion because the NWA-WCW thing was still taboo to talk about on TV at the time.

In 1993, Sting and Vader traded the WCW World title in London and Ireland, giving Sting his fourth title reign.  Again, it was only called his third.

Sting beat Rick Rude in Chicago mid-way through 1994 to win the WCW International World title, which is not recognized by anyone with an IQ greater than 2 as a legitimate World title, and the title was regained by Rude in Japan, but immediately vacated due to the controversy of the title change. Sting then defeated Vader to regain the vacated title at Slamboree 1994. It needs to be stressed that neither title reign is officially recognized as a World title reign by anyone but WCW.

And of course he beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW World title at Starrcade 97, which boosts it to six reigns, then beat Hogan again at Superbrawl VIII for his seventh title, although they're not pointing it out for some reason.  Sting also defeated Diamond Dallas Page for his eighth title reign recently, although it only lasted 90 minutes. And finally, he defeated Hulk Hogan again for his ninth title in September of 1999.

However, cooler heads will usually point out that he clearly has 7 title reigns and the other two are just semantics.

As always, judge for yourself.

4.

Sting (the character) has developed a reputation for being far too trusting over the years.

Skipping past his UWF experience, his first bad experience came as his good friends, the Road Warriors, savagely turned on him in 1988 and left him for dead en route to going heel.  In 1989, Sting was asked into the Four Horsemen by Ric Flair and was promptly punked out upon asking for a title shot.   While injured from that attack, Sting fostered the friendship of Lex Luger, who then turned on him in early 1992 after winning the World title.  Sting had a good run from 1993 until 1995, when his brain apparently fell out of his head.  Ric Flair once again asked for Sting's help against former friend Arn Anderson, and once again savagely beat Sting at an opportune moment.   Sting turned to longtime friend Lex Luger for help, who turned on him several times behind his back over a period of months.  In late 1996, during the nWo invasion, Sting retreated to the rafters and asked Randy Savage to join him.  In early 1997, Savage proceeded to turn on him and join the nWo.   In early 1998, Sting offered his help to a supposedly reformed Savage, who then turned on him again and rejoined the nWo.  Finally, in recent times, Bret Hart offered his help to Sting, who stupidly accepted it, and Bret turned on him just everyone else has over the years. Lex Luger recently turned on him again after coaxing him into a heel turn.