Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Match Point: Sting’s Last Match, AEW Revolution 2024

A photo of Sting in AEW.

Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. In this edition, we will focus on the final match of the legendary Sting.

Chasing Perfect

The perfect start to any wrestler’s career is rare. It’s the stuff of dreams and fantasy booking.  Very rarely does a wrestler ever start “perfect”. Even those who get the perfect start face the reality that it cannot be maintained. Peaks and troughs happen.

Momentum is seldom continuous despite what a clever video package suggests. This is the nature of things. Highs and lows. The reality is most wrestlers have time to grow through the stumbles and imperfections. Time to connect with fans.

Build rapport. Tell their story. They have time. Miles and years ahead. There is always time for improvement. Reinvention. Re-ascension.

There are even fewer perfect endings. The history of pro wrestling has been unforgiving to those who hang on too long. More leave the ring on a whimper, as shadows of their former selves. All heroes grow old and prove to be mortal.

Many can’t let it go in time and they pay for this. Terry Funk‘s retirements are legendary but imperfect. Mick Foley still wants one more death match. Ric Flair risked his life, passing out twice during his last retirement match, and then stated he wanted a re-do.

The Undertaker ignored the foreboding that was on his shirt during the Last Ride documentary. “Memento mori”: “Remember you must die”. Even Shawn Michaels, the man who had the perfect send-off, came back for a “tribute act” match. The blemish of which can’t be removed from his legacy.

There are few perfect endings. Yet on Sunday night, AEW, its fans, and the wider wrestling community want one thing to happen.  For the Icon, symbol, the man called Sting has the perfect ending.

Wrestling is Mythology

In ancient times, wrestling was more than a sport. It held religious and cultural significance. Listen to some wrestlers and they will tell you what happens in the ring is a morality play.

Main event storylines play out like Ragnarök. Big matches are made to feel like the end of the world is here. A hero falls. A dynasty crumbles. A story is complete. It’s over—the end. Then the cycle repeats. The end is another beginning.

Within the match for the AEW World Tag Team Championship, Sting and Darby Allin vs. The Young Bucks, two universal themes collide.

  • Young vs. the old: The younger generation must claim victory over, destroy, and move beyond the ideas of the past generations.
  • Man vs. nature: Man fights with his will and mind against the physical limitations placed on him by time and age.

The Return of the EVPs

Sting’s opponents on paper are as perfect combination as fiction and reality will allow. The potential for greatness -immortality- is there. Two of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time, The Young Bucks have returned to form. Both on-screen and in the ring, there is a confidence that had been missing since after Brawl Out.

During a supposedly “putrid year” for The Elite, Matthew and Nicholas Jackson could deliver in the ring. What was lacking was character motivation, layers, and direction. This had existed in prior years at the height of The Elite Saga. The quality of their work was evident in big matches in 2023.

Any initial concerns that stemmed from the muddled backstage presentation of the Buck’s new EVP characters evaporated when they acted. The Bucks reminded AEW fans something about Sting they had forgotten. Almost full circle, The Bucks repeated the trick that made Sting’s first AEW match such a must-watch. They showed the man as human.

When Brian Cage first hit Sting with a powerbomb, fans sincerely feared for Sting’s health. Having been forced into retirement in April 2016, we did not know how much punishment the icon could take. By comparison, the Sting of 2024 seemed ageless and reckless.

At 64 years of age, Sting jumped off a balcony and found a way to win the AEW World Tag Team Championship.

Then The Bucks picked their moment. Their white suits seemed for a symbolic representation that they were the real good guys and contrasts with Sting and Darby’s black aesthetic.

But it was clever foreshadowing. Blood was spilled. White baseball bats took out Darby, Sting, and his sons. Again, Sting was humbled. A human being was left broken on the mat.

Succession

In The Young Bucks’s return interview, their motives were jumbled up with the caricature images of themselves as selfish, passive-aggressive, and immature man-children drunk with power that some fans have claimed is the “real” Young Bucks.

Underneath the new entrance video, its corporate jet, and its new Succession-inspired music, their motives are no different from previous generations of heels. There are two reasons they must retire Sting.

First, Matthew Jackson talked about how in forming AEW, they risked their reputations, friendships, and their legacy on forming this company. The scars and hurt were displayed. When talking about Sting as a model employee, Matthew said he envied Sting.

How fans and people backstage respect and love him. He wishes fans feel the same way about their legacy someday. It’s jealousy. They want something they feel will be denied to them. So, by proxy, they are going to trample on someone else’s legacy. Put a blemish on something they think they can’t have.

Second, things must change. When they started AEW the motto was “change the world”. They did and things changed. Then an “old” symbolic figure brought toxicity. Not Sting. But Sting is symbolic of that same old mentality, despite being a man who reportedly has never asserted this with authority or his wrestling ideology.

Sting is a symbol of that old-school way of wrestling. They are loved by veterans who will never give them the respect they want. It’s not about Sting the man; it’s about Sting the symbol. It’s about putting a middle finger on those who overlooked them.

As with every regime, every dictator, or heel government, they want to destroy the symbols of the past. Build their symbol, their idealogy, on the past’s ashes.

Symbols Defy Age

Sting’s legacy defies age. The face paint has changed with time and the face under it has wrinkled. The hair has been dyed to hide the silver. A t-shirt has covered Sting’s singlet. What hasn’t changed is the energy. The instincts. The ability to be a vulnerable human being who needs our sympathy to keep going.

Then somehow find the inhuman strength to resist a chair shot, kick out of a brutal finisher, and fire up like a match being lit in a firework factory. Being able to switch between both at just the right moment has made Sting the ultimate babyface. It defies logic and realism, but it’s the human spirit.

As a symbol, Sting is the bridge between AEW and its spiritual predecessor, WCW. As a symbol, Sting is one of the few heroes left in wrestling who has not tarnished his legacy with poor in-ring performances or life choices. Sting is as pure and wholesome as a person as any wrestler can hope to be. In an industry driven historically by selfishness politics and abuses of power, Sting is an exception.

This is why many fans want this to be the perfect send-off. This is why fans want the best for Sting. A man whose uncharacteristically been selfless and put the business first his entire career it seems. Few symbols can live up to their legacy.

And yet Sting is a human being. A man who lost his father recently and still had the strength and ability to make that tragedy a story beat. Symbols live forever, but humans do not. Human beings fail and eventually pass.

This is Everything

Darby Allin is not Sting’s spiritual successor or a surrogate son. The daredevil and underdog has been presented as an equal to Sting. So much so that the character’s wild abandonment has repeatedly rubbed off on Sting who has performed dives that no sixty-year-old should perform.

Darby draws his energy it seems from similar magic ley lines as the Stinger. Darby has been perhaps Sting’s greatest tag team partner because of how their differences complement each other as much as their similarities. The past and future teaming up in the present.

Holding the AEW Tag Team Championship fits the narrative. It affirms the legitimacy of the AEW structure- and losses matter- because Darby and Sting have been undefeated. It puts immense stakes onto both champion and challengers because of the fate of a division.

Presuming this is the main event of Revolution, it gives The Young Bucks the match position that has alluded them in their AEW run so far and the champions the chance to leave it all behind.

In Darby Allin’s own words, this match “scares me. This is the very last match. There is nothing left to lose… I know that I’ll stop at nothing to make sure it’s one of the most memorable matches that he’s ever had. People are always going to remember this. It’s my mission statement to make sure that this man’s career ends with the respect it deserves. If I have to sacrifice myself, so be it, a sacrifice must be made.”  (Darby Allin, speaking on the Battleground Podcast).

There are Few Perfect Endings in Wrestling

On Sunday, the world ends again. It’s Ragnarök again. The heroes overcome age, and the establishment and retain the villains prove the symbol is a man and a new era begins. Sting’s legacy becomes immortalized.

The Young Bucks and Darby Allin will move into new roles, changed by the events. It begins again and a new end of the world will be built. Their legacies still have peaks and troughs, highs and lows to reach.

The man called Sting rides into the sunset. Either driving tall, proud, and indestructible like an icon or slumped over, made mortal, wounded, and a man facing death.

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – AEW – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.  You can catch AEW Dynamite on Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night. AEW Collision airs Saturday at 8pm Eastern on TNT. More AEW content available on their YouTube.

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