64 years old. 38 years committed to professional wrestling. Sting has long been called an icon, but he’s the embodiment of an era long ago. In many ways, he represents the positive memories that so many have from watching WCW and the professional wrestling of that generation. With less than a month left until his retirement match at AEW Revolution, All Elite Wrestling is handling the end of his career in a masterful way.
Professional wrestling isn’t exactly combat sports, but it is a close cousin of the industry. It’s rare that an individual goes out on their own accord, with their heads held high. Individuals like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Georges St. Pierre, Floyd Mayweather, and very few others are a hollowed crowd. They walked away from the sport with their legacy intact, adding an additional layer of prestige to their career.
Wrestling is usually the exact opposite. Instead of leaving with pride, there’s an issue where many men in the industry try to hang on well past their prime. This piece won’t call out any of those individuals. Instead, let’s focus on Sting’s run in AEW and how it has worked out perfectly.
Sting and Darby Allin are heading into AEW Revolution as tag team champions to face off with The Young Bucks. This isn’t a story where Sting is trying to hang out to his vestiges as a singles performer. His entire run was meant to uplift Darby Allin and uplift he has. Allin is an exception singles star for AEW but pairing him with Sting immediately shot his stock through the roof with the AEW fanbase.
Sting isn’t booked to have 20-minute classic matches with Kenny Omega or MJF. Instead, he’s presented as an honorable support to Allin and whoever else they are rocking with at the time. This has created some exceptional highlights, most of which see Sting jumping off some ridiculous structure, something that most men nearing their 70s probably shouldn’t do. Seeing them pick up the tag team titles on the February 7 edition of AEW Dynamite gave Sting another accolade and moment in the spotlight, but not in a way that denigrated other members of the roster. (Unless you’re upset about AEW’s booking of Ricky Starks, but that’s another convo for another day.)
Win or lose at Revolution, AEW is letting Sting go out on his terms, which is key. The company is giving him the respect his legacy and fanbase commands. It’s not about him going out on his back to put someone over, or looking like a shell of himself telling the fanbase he has another run in him. This is about a man who has dedicated decades of his life to this industry and going out in a way that allows him to have fun and brings smiles to those watching along the way.
This is what professional wrestling is supposed to be. Sting is that for a lot of people. With a lot of dreadful things going on in the industry, Sting is a reminder of the goods that can be present for fans all around the world. AEW Revolution will be his last match and hopefully, he continues to contribute in another way. But the joy surrounding this moment and the lead-up to it shows that AEW has managed this situation in perfect fashion.