Forecasting Sting's AEW Future on 2-Year Anniversary of Debut
The inaugural installment of AEW's annual Winter Is Coming edition of Dynamite two years ago from this past Friday saw Sting debut in shocking fashion, marking one of the promotion's biggest talent acquisitions up to that point.
Five years earlier, the WCW legend was forced to retire from the ring after suffering a career-ending neck injury in a WWE pay-per-view main event against Seth Rollins. The odds of him ever competing again appeared to be improbable.
Despite that, Sting stepped back inside the squared circle for a cinematic tag team match at March 2021's Revolution event and had a strong showing. Since then, he's had a total of 12 tag matches and has emerged on the winning end of every single one of them.
An AEW press release (h/t Joshua Gagnon of WrestlingInc.com) at the time confirmed Sting had signed a multi-year contract with the company. It isn't known when that deal is set to expire exactly, but he has no doubt made the most of this last hurrah by defying all expectations.
As we surpass the two-year anniversary of his AEW arrival, what will the rest of his run look like going forward?
How He's Been Booked Perfectly Thus Far
As buzzworthy as Sting's Dynamite debut was two years ago, there was no telling whether he'd wind up being worth the investment from AEW.
Although he appeared regularly on Dynamite in the weeks and months that followed, it was clear he would only wrestle on special occasions, primarily on pay-per-view. He proved in his first two tag matches back that he had enough left in the tank and that having Darby Allin as his partner would wisely keep him limited.
At the age of 63, it's quite remarkable what he's shown he's still capable of in the twilight of his career. He's constantly going above and beyond to have one of the most memorable performances of the night while also allowing his opponents to shine.
He's been extremely over with the AEW faithful, has been protected with an undefeated record, and has been booked like a total attraction. He's had several high-profile programs without being involved in any title pictures, either.
However, we've reached a point in his run where his wins should start to amount to something, and chasing a championship would be the next logical step for him.
Chasing the AEW World Tag Team Championship
All 12 of Sting's victories so far in AEW have happened in tag team matches, and yet he and Darby Allin have yet to challenge for the AEW World Tag Team Championship.
AEW has largely utilized the power rankings the past few years to determine who's next in line for a shot at the tag titles, and Allin and Sting haven't been active enough as a team to earn themselves an opportunity.
However, with the power rankings having quietly been dismissed and teams being granted title shots at random, there is no longer an excuse for Allin and Sting to not be considered for possible contention.
Allin and Sting don't have an obvious direction following their latest win over Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett at Full Gear. Uber-popular tandems such as The Acclaimed and FTR being at the top of the division at the moment makes it more difficult for Allin and Sting to slide into that number one contender's spot, but them to not chase tag team gold at any point in the remainder of their run together would be a wasted opportunity.
Sting doesn't need to be a champion for a prolonged period of time, let alone be a champ at all, but it would make for a nice moment before he eventually calls it a career. The two could have plenty of fun matches with other duos in the division and whoever ultimately beats them would benefit big time.
Racking Up Singles Wins Before Putting over Darby Allin
Regardless of whether they're successful or not in their pursuit of the AEW World Tag Team Championship, Sting and Darby Allin won't and shouldn't be aligned forever.
There will come a time when Allin will have to use the tools Sting has provided him with and branch back out on his own. He won't become the main event player he's destined to be if he's in Sting's shadow for more than a few years.
Sting should also embark on a brief singles run before he hangs up the boots. It was understandable for him to be relegated to tag team matches for his first two years in AEW given his age, but he has certainly shown he is capable of competing by himself.
That isn't to say he should be in action every week but rather stick to the same schedule of matches he already has by wrestling on the major pay-per-views. There are a plethora of opponents he can work with from the active roster, meaning there's no need for him to rekindle rivalries with familiar faces from years ago.
It's entirely plausible to keep Sting unbeaten one-on-one until he faces and loses to Allin, which would be the ultimate endorsement of the former AEW TNT champion. That would be an ideal way for Sting to ride off into the sunset, but depending on when it happens, it doesn't necessarily need to mark the end of his illustrious career.
Continuing to Compete Until Demonstrating a Decrease in Quality of Matches
A loss to Allin would perfectly cap off Sting's time in the ring and give Allin the distinction of beating a legend in his final match ever, but that's entirely dependent on how much longer Sting is willing to wrestle.
After two years, it's quite apparent that he doesn't intend on slowing down any time soon. He continues to take big risks in his matches with satisfying payoffs and nothing we've seen so far would indicate that retirement is looming.
Of the dozen matches he's had in AEW, not a single one of them has been below average. Granted, that could change once he eventually starts competing on his own, but until then, it's impossible to put a definitive end date on his run.
As long as Sting continues to deliver at a high level, there's no reason for him to call it quits in the near future. There's much more for him to do and matches to have, hence why it's important for fans to appreciate everything he brings to the table while he's still active.
It's truly a revelation that Sting is back to begin with, let alone having as much fun as he has been. As the only part-timer on the AEW roster, he's played his part perfectly and can round out his run in fantastic fashion if his final years are anywhere near as strong as his last two.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.