What Can Fans Reasonably Expect from Sting in the AEW Ring?

Philip LindseyContributor IMarch 4, 2021

Photo credit: All Elite Wrestling

Everyone loves a good comeback story. There is always a human fascination with proof that someone can turn back the hands of time and defy expectations or conventions.

This phenomenon is the basis of some of the best movies and heartwarming sports headlines. And it's why many fans want to see Sting end his career on his terms, but what can we realistically expect from the 61-year-old in All Elite Wrestling?

The former WCW world heavyweight champion shocked the world of professional wrestling when he made his surprise debut on the Dec. 2, 2020 episode of AEW Dynamite.

We've seen some unbelievable moments over the past few years, but it's hard to imagine anyone expected to see Stinger return to live wrestling on TNT. Even more, it quickly became clear he wasn't just arriving as an on-air personality. He planned to compete in matches again.

The Icon will do just that on Sunday when he teams up with Darby Allin to take part in a Street Fight against Team Taz at Revolution.

The veteran hasn't wrestled since he suffered a severe neck injury during his match with Seth Rollins at WWE Night of Champions in 2015. Afterward, he was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, which forced him to retire before he fulfilled his dream match with The Undertaker.

This sense of unfinished business kept the door open for a return like this, but it felt highly unlikely for a long time.


Sting's Road Back to the Squared Circle

There is some poetic justice to the fact that a WCW loyalist like Sting who avoided signing with WWE until his mid-50s is getting a new lease of life with the first wrestling company to appear on TNT in nearly 20 years.

Seeing his grand entrance every week on network television still feels surreal, but there is also some hesitance to celebrate something that feels like it may be past its shelf life. Then again, The Vigilante represents defiance for a lot of fans and is still undeniably a huge star.

AEW put all the questions about his return to rest when Brian Cage planted Sting with a thunderous powerbomb on the Feb. 18 episode of Dynamite. It was like ripping the Band-Aid off and alleviating fears that there wasn't a plan to ease him back into the ring.

Honestly, you would be naive to believe he wasn't going to wrestle after the company revealed he signed a long-term deal. Still, many were understandably uneasy as they watched their childhood hero laying on the mat holding the back of his head and neck.

This was a violent and abrupt reintroduction to in-ring competition, and it looked believable—almost too much so. But that should have let viewers know that Sting doesn't plan to go easy or do sporadic legends angles like some of the other wrestlers of old who have appeared with AEW.

To the company's credit, it does utilize faces from the past well for the most part.


Sting Changes the Rules in his Swan Song

Don't expect to see Sting in a title program because his very appearance in the ring already has inherent stakes. It's more likely he will use his star power to help elevate others like Allin.

The 36-year veteran still has plenty to offer AEW but the days of championship glory and consistent main events are over. This current run isn't like his foray into Impact or what should've been his last hurrah with WWE.

When The Icon says he wants to go out on his own terms, you don't get the feeling that he wants to relive any of that.

There is no wrestler from the era of the Monday Night Wars who closely fits what AEW represents like Sting.

In many ways, the company is the spiritual successor to WCW, so he will work perfectly with Tony Khan and The Elite's creative vision. They revere him and wouldn't put him in a situation that's out of his wheelhouse or detrimental to his legacy. Instead, they will help him write his final chapter in a place where he probably has more creative control. Even more, they won't shy away from referencing his decades of experience and storyline like other companies might have.

That may not bring in the ever-elusive mainstream crowd or connect with some lapsed fans, but it will help to create a foundation for the relatively new company to build on.

Sting is back for the long haul. As bizarre as that might seem, it will be a riveting homestretch because everyone loves a good comeback story.