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Mike Mansury – ‘Sting’s Career Retrospective Brought Tears To My Eyes’

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On a recent edition of the “AEW Unrestricted” podcast, AEW’s Senior VP and Co-Executive Producer Mike Mansury discussed the work that went into Sting’s final match at AEW Revolution 2024 and the career retrospective that was shown before it.

Sting and Darby Allin defeated The Young Bucks to retain the AEW World Tag Team Titles at AEW Revolution 2024 last month.

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:

On the importance of doing Sting’s career justice: “Look, for a lot of us at AEW, wrestling has always been such a big part, whether you got into it early, whether you got into it later in life. When it’s done right, it feels you with a feeling and as a storyteller, that’s always one of my main goals, what sort of feeling do I want to leave the audience with when we’re done with whatever work of art that we’re creating. Going into this, for somebody that had a massive impact on my childhood, to play a part in that person’s swan song. For me, high school was the peak of the Monday Night Wars. My best friend and I were laughing because jeez, how many halloweens did we spend going as the crow sting doing stupid teenager stuff. I was just filled with every sort of emotion to be honest with you. The night that Sting announced that Revolution was going to be the swan song, a lot of people started to feel the pressure because this is one of those send offs that you want to make sure is done right. I was on the other side when Sting had what everyone thought was going to be his final run in the business, we all know how that ended, it wasn’t fulfilling, it wasn’t what it should’ve been. We want to make sure that we, AEW, gave him more than that.”

On the creative process for Revolution with the production team: “Going into that show, we were kinda all systems go in what we wanted to do. We’d spend a few weeks prior to the new year formulating what we wanted to do for the countdown to Revolution and making it so Sting-centric and pulling back the curtain a little bit and talking about his relationships that he has with the roster and the company and really giving the audience that full 360 perspective on what he meant to everyone behind the camera, in front of the camera, and in the seats. Realistically, that’s where it matters. The feeling that man left everyone that he interacted with, we wanted to convey that and package that as best as possible to even do a modicum of justice to what he’s realistically done and given himself for us. To be able to do that — and then going into Revolution, we were in Alabama for the go home Dynamite. The idea was floated down about, what if we gave Sting one last repel. That was something that kind of got everyone perked up and for Sting, it was something that he wanted to do for the fans. It was another moment and a memory that he wanted to leave the fans with. Once we knew how he was feeling, we went all systems go to try and make it happen, working with our partners at the building to ensure safety, the teams that we brought in to test it and make sure that we had the highest safety standards possible. Tony checking with Dr. Martha Hart to get the family to sign off on it. I think everybody understood what this would have been, not just to Sting the talent, but the fans and to have that come together and have it executed so well was unbelievable. Then, the pay-per-view, you couldn’t ask for better. Phil, who oversees post production for us at our national TV studio, Phil had this concept of doing a career retrospective for Sting set to the this track of silence by the Manchester Orchestra. I remember getting the first cut of it and being moved, it legitimately brought tears to my eyes. Coming into TV in Alabama and showing as many people as I could, I was so excited to show that off, it was just a work of art. Shoutout to Rocky Romero for getting us all of the archival footage from Sting in NJPW to be able to feature a bit of Surfer Sting that we all grew up and loved. Jeff Jones and the team at PWI for filtering through all of their digital archives to get us the best Sting stuff, it was just the perfect influx of content that we needed to flesh that thing out. On top of that, Darby and his personal shooter, Max Yoder, he’s done a lot of great stuff with Sting and Darby through the years, putting together that awesome preamble to Sting’s entrance at the theater in Georgia, that was just masterful.”

On Sting including his sons in his entrance: “Then, when you think it doesn’t get any better leading into the match, he wants to include his sons in the entrance. He’s breaking out the gear that he wore at The Great American Bash when he beat Ric Flair for the title, he’s got the Wolfpac Sting gear that his son Steven wore. How could it get any better than that in the build and the execution? The goosebumps are building while we’re doing the show live and it’s coming together, holy sh*t this is awesome. Then the match happens, and the match far and away exceeds any expectation that anyone had. We knew it was going to cook, we knew it was going to be awesome. At the end, he just has the opportunity to soak it in. The best part was, it wasn’t any sort of deal where we were gonna dictate his sign off. It was his, you know what I mean? To me, the funniest thing in the world is that the last image that fans have is him going off the air saying, ‘They’re giving me time cues.’ It spoke to how genuine that moment was. It wasn’t anything we tried to control, we literally turned it over to him and let him have his moment. We live in a day and age where within in a matter of minutes, that content was available on all of our digital and social platforms for our fans. It was Sting’s, it was in his hands, it was his baby. Chef’s kiss for how it went off.”

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