AEW’s Sting never thought he’d wrestle again after his retirement from wrestling – but a surprise gesture by Tony Khan got him ready to wrestle again and had one of the best runs of his career.
Speaking to The Ringer, WWE Hall of Famer Sting revealed that he never knew if he’d be able to wrestle for AEW but Tony Khan did all he could to get him back into the ring. He had retired five years prior after taking a bad bump in a match against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions 2015, causing a neck injury that could have paralysed him.
It was unlikely that he would ever step into the ring again, although once he had been released by WWE in 2020, AEW swooped in to sign the legendary former WCW Champion. While he didn’t know if his body could handle wrestling when he debuted at Winter is Coming 2020, Tony Khan sent a ring to his home to see how Sting would handle taking a bump for the first time in half a decade.
He set up the ring in his “climate-controlled” barn, to see if he could still wrestle. His opponents at AEW Revolution 2021 for his debut, Brian Cage and Ricky Starks, as well as his partner Darby Allin came to his house to train with him, plan out the match and see what they could do together.
“They came out here to my house. We had a ring set up. I’ve got a climate-controlled facility here. It’s a barn, basically, and there’s a gym inside here, but we had a ring set up inside here. Tony sent one here, and these guys were good enough to come and work with me and just kind of see where I’m at.
I didn’t even know for sure, and it was a little rough to be quite honest in the beginning, but they found out where I was and then I was able to improve and shake off even more of the rust and it got better over time. But Allin, in the aspect of knowing my limitations and knowing some of the guys that we’ve wrestled … has just been worth his weight in gold to me.”
Sting also spoke about the match in question. It was a “cinematic match”, a pre-taped bout that featured movie-style fight scenes that would not be possible in a live ring with a crowd watching on. The fight took place inside an abandoned warehouse, with wrestlers crashing through walls, doors and glass, bringing untold carnage never before seen in AEW.
The bout was filmed over many hours during the night prior to the event in March 2021. He revealed that, while this was meant to be a one-and-done match, former AEW Executive and TNT Champion Cody Rhodes talked Sting (referred to as his real name – Steve) into wrestling even more matches, stating that he “can still go” and was still good enough to compete in the ring.
“We got halfway through the filming, and I had Cody saying, ‘Steve, you can still go. You can still do this. Just stop it.’ Tony Khan, same deal: ‘Steve, oh my gosh, you can still go. You can do this, man.’ I stayed away from it as long as I could, but they were so persistent. And then the guys I was in [the] ring with were saying the same thing, and I thought maybe I could try a couple. So we renegotiated.”
Sting and Darby Allin won that match and he felt so good in the ring that they continued to tag together to this day. The duo are undefeated in AEW having wrestled many top teams in AEW, including FTR, Bullet Club and The Acclaimed. They would likely be the top ranked team in the division, if AEW had not abandoned their ranking system around the time of AEW All Out 2022.
Many thought that Darby Allin vs Sting would be the final match of Sting’s 40+ year career – however, The Icon has confirmed that his final match has already been decided and it won’t be what you think. Click below to read more about that.