Where were you when Sting made his surprise debut in All Elite Wrestling? I was watching live and am not afraid to say my level of excitement when his name appeared on the screen was palpable. Not just because it’s Sting, but because of what it means in the grand scheme of things. “The Icon” is arguably the biggest legend in the business who never needed WWE. As we know, when he finally went for a run with WWE, it didn’t turn out how anyone expected.
But I’m not here to go in to what went wrong. However, what I will say is it wasn’t clear if Sting would return at all. The injury with Seth Rollins left a big question mark hanging over his career. There were no signs, no dirtsheet rumors, and Dave Meltzer hadn’t tipped anyone off. The timing of Sting’s AEW debut was so unexpected it became of the greatest moments in the company’s history. 19 years separate the moment and his last match in WCW; when he fought Ric Flair in the main event of the final episode of Nitro. Now he’s back on TNT for one more run, it will undoubtedly be his last. He’s 61-years-old and his expiry date is looming. He’s not in his prime and we cannot ignore the injuries.
Yes, AEW should be about the young talent first and foremost. But without Chris Jericho, the company doesn’t sport many legends who can get over the next generation from an in-ring perspective. Arn Anderson, Jake Roberts & Tully Blanchard do what they can as managers. But there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned program leading in to a PPV. And now Sting has arrived, AEW has two legends capable of this. Even if Sting only has 2-3 matches left in him, it will benefit the future of AEW. Wrestling has always needed the old guard to pass the torch on to the next. This is the circle of life as it pertains to the business. So with that said, let’s look at 5 matches I would like to see featuring The Stinger. That is, if he gets cleared to wrestle.
#1. Chris Jericho & The Inner Circle
Ok, so this isn’t directly helping the future of AEW because it’s one legend against the other. But think of the PPV buy rate if they plugged this heavily?! The two biggest names in the company squaring off, and it could easily include The Inner Circle and other babyfaces to fight against them. Guys who could team with Sting against them may include Darby Allin, Cody & Dustin Rhodes, Jon Moxley, Orange Cassidy and more. Also, the promos would be epic! Especially when you think about how Chris Jericho has enjoyed being AEW’s biggest draw since the company began. He will feel threatened by Sting’s legacy and want to retire him for good.
It’s a special attraction match, and no… it won’t be pretty. Certainly wouldn’t book it as the main event over the World title or anything like that. But it is without any doubt, the single biggest money match AEW can book at this time. I’d be highly surprised if it never happens. So I wanted to get this one out of the way first, because it will get eyes watching the product. Jericho & Sting will draw the fans in, and then it’s up to the rest of the roster to keep ’em tuning in for Dynamite and beyond.
#2. Mr. Brodie Lee & The Dark Order
Or if they don’t feel like having warfare against The Inner Circle, AEW could go The Dark Order route. But they can’t have a goofy stable, they really need to turn John Silver, Colt Cabana and others nasty if they want it to work. Brodie Lee would greatly benefit from a run with Sting, because his momentum has slowed considerably since he was introduced. The Dark Order hasn’t quite gone down the path I was hoping… it has almost become a joke of what I envisioned.
Of course, they would do everything in their power to persuade Sting to their side. I’d really like to see him bring out the cult nature of The Dark Order to a whole other level. The mind games are what will drive them to turn nasty, mostly because of Lee, but I’d also like Evil Uno to play a role. Extreme measures may be taken to recruit Sting in to their group. But it needs to be well done, and Brodie Lee needs to be the single biggest gainer from it. Have a long-term plan and execute it. Otherwise, they might as well disband The Dark Order altogether.
#3. Eddie Kingston & The Family
This would be a far more one-sided affair than the other suggestions, but I’d like to see Eddie Kingston have a small program with Sting. Why? Because I like his work. He knows his way around a mic and I think he’d make it believable and hype it the right way. And yes, The Butcher & Blade would benefit from having some time in the same spotlight as Sting. What would be interesting is if another tag team would come to his aid.
What about Jurassic Express? Have Sting, Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy vs. The Family. That way you can protect Sting and still have a program without putting him at risk. It’s unlikely to be something you could sell as a PPV match, but could be built up for a special episode of Dynamite? Sting’s next rival could even cost them the match, leading in to the next PPV? So by having this mini feud, you open up an opportunity to create a bigger one to follow.
#2. Darby Allin
If there’s one match that can make a career, it’s a feud with Darby Allin. There is a problem though… Darby has been a beloved face since he arrived in AEW. How do you go about this? Do you make Sting the heel? I don’t think fans would buy that. What about Darby as the heel? It’s possible, but you can’t do it randomly. I believe the only way it could work would be to have them team together and have Sting as a friend/mentor. We know Darby isn’t keen on making friends, he’s a bit of a lone wolf, but he could initially appreciate Sting’s guidance.
It would take months of storylines with them overcoming the odds against other heels. And just when it looks like he’s helping his friend in peril… Darby does the opposite. And it’s got to be despicable enough for the fans to turn. Only then could we see a passing of the torch. And it would definitely not be for the TNT Championship. Sting doesn’t need any titles, and no one should defend them against him either. Darby would have lost his TNT title by this time… and perhaps it was partly Sting’s fault? It could plant the seed for his turn?
It might not happen for a while, but if there’s anyone who could retire ‘The Icon’ Sting? It’s this guy. Imagine the heat! Think about the bragging rights. MJF could make a living off retiring Sting for years. Unlike Darby, I think this encounter needs the highest stakes. Everyone hates MJF anyway, so for there to be a possibility of him ending the career of a man so revered? It’s money. You could put MJF’s job on the line too, but I don’t think he should win via cheating or interference. It can’t be a tainted finish because it wouldn’t be getting MJF over as a legitimate threat. Just him winning alone would garner enough heat on his character.
This is what I meant earlier when I said it is beneficial to have legends on your show. Not because you’re making money from the nostalgia, but because you can use the nostalgia to put the next generation over it. This is what didn’t happen in WWE in the mid-2000s, because guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle and others didn’t/couldn’t put over the next line of stars, making it a tougher transition. Sting is very generous and knows how the business works. I am positive his goal in his last run is to help as many of the young talent as possible. And with that said, if it’s possible, who would you like to see in a match with Sting? Please let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading! See you next time.